The Royal Navy Discussions and Updates

ASSAIL

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
I was pointing more at the reach the UK still has - we're just out of a ten year air bridge supporting 10K troops in the field for instance - that's something a surprisingly low number of countries can do - and it's why France for instance, turned to the UK for logistics support in Mali when it turned out they didn't quite have the right mix of transports to do the job.

I can't speak the balance between the services (and wouldn't want to, if I were honest) but right now, the there's some stuff the UK does that's still relatively high tier.

As for the Battle of Britain quip, I'm a bit ticked off about that if I were honest - I'm not and never have been a flag waving nationalist - we do some stuff well, could do better on other items and yes, the post Brexit future is either uncertain or unclear, depending on the semantics you're playing on.

I don't think however, there's much of a sense of focus for the Army in Europe these days however - they've spent the last couple of decades in sunnier climes, the bases and commitments in Europe are gone and as I've said, we've not got much in the overall mix that's going to tip the balance in a land war in Europe. We're not sitting in bases, ready to race for the Fulda gap any more and haven't been for decades.

One interesting thing coming out of the later briefings and exercises however does seem to be a renewed interest in one old theatre no-ones been paying attention to for a while - Norway.

We'll see how that shapes up I guess.

The restructuring of the Royal Marines could get interesting I agree (interesting in the sense of the old Chinese curse)

Right now, they're a self contained mini-army with logistics tail and the ability to land anywhere by air or by sea as a light infantry force with some organic artillery etc. The future structure as suggested seems to be to break that into penny packets of SF-lite forces. That effectively takes a formation out from under JCS however so it may be a "to be reviewed" concept.
The “Battle of Britain” analogy had nothing to do with flag waving, I should have explained that better.
Rather it was an attempt to illustrate that Since WWII, the RAF seems to have usurped the RN as the premier service in the hearts and minds of those who govern.
This “Sea Blindness” has helped the slow demise of the capabilities of the RN.
OTOH, the RAF seems to have been “relatively” well resourced And under the scenario which you proposed in your previous post this makes little sense.
Under a “Defence of Britain” and Europe centric scenario, RAF dominance is fit for purpose.
 

south

Active Member
The “Battle of Britain” analogy had nothing to do with flag waving, I should have explained that better.
Rather it was an attempt to illustrate that Since WWII, the RAF seems to have usurped the RN as the premier service in the hearts and minds of those who govern.
This “Sea Blindness” has helped the slow demise of the capabilities of the RN.
OTOH, the RAF seems to have been “relatively” well resourced And under the scenario which you proposed in your previous post this makes little sense.
Under a “Defence of Britain” and Europe centric scenario, RAF dominance is fit for purpose.
I’d argue that this is a myopic, partisan view, without any evidence to support your position.

E.g the RAF FJ force has shrunk significantly since the Cold War, even being reduced about 40% when compared over the last 10 years odd. They have a very limited AWACS, very limited deployability of radars etc, and they have significant shortages in other critical areas. You even alluded in your previous post to your perception of a lack of “deployable reach”. If you compare it to the RN drawdown in the same time (51 Escorts to the current 18-19 with smaller percentage in the last 10 years) the RAF has taken a comparable, if not larger cut in percentage terms to its combat force.

The simplest way to put it is that the entire UK armed forces are under resourced, and over tasked. Cutting the RAF will not end the problems the RN has.
 
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swerve

Super Moderator
That's the problem - and it's been the problem for thirty or more years - making intelligent decisions based on sensible acceptance of outcomes instead of determinedly placing the work locally irrespective of how the results play out.

I was just going over the Chevaline fiasco with a friend - the USN had decided Polaris was long in the tooth and had a working Poseidon, and given the similarity in the centre sections between US and UK boomers/bombers, they knew to the last cent what it would cost. Instead HMG went with stripping out one of the warheads from the bus and replacing it with some decoys and countermeasures.

The original estimate for Poseidon replacement was something on £280 million, Chevaline was costed out from a purely speculative finger in the air at £230 million and ballooned to over a billion,including having to get the Polaris line re-opened to get fresh stages built.

That pattern of reinventing the wheel isn't something we can afford to keep doing. We do occasionally knock out some good kit but I think it's well past time we had a serious look at what we spend trying to make it locally and perhaps decide that maybe funding more modern apprenticeships or some other more direct industrial offset instead of buying British and getting something that's pretty much what everyone else already got but cost more would be more sensible.
Custom Chinooks that turned out to be inoperable & sat in hangars for years until they were expensively rebuilt. Custom IFVs built in a new factory. Etc.

I can see the argument for maintaining national capacities in some areas, but a hell of a lot of the custom stuff is no such thing. We buy something & tweak it so it's incompatible with the original & can't incorporate new developments paid for by the original manufacturer or other users. Then we don't keep it up to date, because it's too expensive for a small user base.

Even when we do buy UK-developed products, they're often narrowly specified to national requirements so nobody else is interested in them, & thus the unit cost is very high, & we run into the same updating issue. And we don't build on them. Consider SAMPSON. Everyone agrees it's a great radar. So where's the follow-up? Where's the rest of the family, the cut-down versions for smaller ships, the fixed-face models, etc.? How is it that we'll import radars for Type 31?

And so on . . . Some honourable exceptions, but not enough.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
Custom kit, a problem we have as well, JSS and Cyclones come to mind. How much faster and less expensive would Merlins and a non-Canadianized Berlin have been for Canada, a lot!!
 

kato

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
So where's the follow-up? Where's the rest of the family, the cut-down versions for smaller ships, the fixed-face models, etc.?
Wouldn't that "smaller follow-up" be the Type 997 Artisan 3D? BAe is still selling it too, Brazil bought them for the Tamandere class.
 

StobieWan

Super Moderator
Staff member
Wouldn't that "smaller follow-up" be the Type 997 Artisan 3D? BAe is still selling it too, Brazil bought them for the Tamandere class.
Different technology really - Artisan is an outgrowth of the joint US UK ARTIST program -the back end of it owes a lot to SAMPSON and it's sometimes been referred to as a mini-SAMPSON in terms of how it tracks targets but what I think Swerve was shading at is, we built 7 sets I believe of SAMPSON and that's it - no follow on sets in the AESA class, hence Type 31 getting an imported (but fairly capable) radar instead of some light frigate version of SAMPSON . Just seems a waste of effort developing a world class set for six ships and one shoreside facility.


We're definitely doing it wrong and have been for decades. Let's see if Tempest is an improvement in terms of program management and ownership.
 

kato

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
APAR also only had 7 units built initially (Netherlands, Germany) and 3 of the same later ordered (Denmark), with no plans whatsoever for a "small" or "derived" version for non-AAW frigates or similar. SMILE as its more widely spread follow-on from Thales isn't really any more related to APAR than Artisan is to Sampson.
 

swerve

Super Moderator
Wouldn't that "smaller follow-up" be the Type 997 Artisan 3D? BAe is still selling it too, Brazil bought them for the Tamandere class.
Artisan recycles some of the technology, as StobieWan says (I think he knows more about it than I do), but it's not an AESA radar, as SAMPSON is.

At least APAR has an export sale, & Thales went on to develop other AESA naval radars. The RN's about to buy some.
 

StobieWan

Super Moderator
Staff member
Fingers crossed. If partnership with Italy & Sweden works out . . . .
I'm very slightly optimistic in that the idea appears to use Typhoon as a test bed and to then insert some or all of the technologies into Typhoon - so, at the very least, we'd have a fresh and frisky Tiffy fleet in the coming years.

I'd be less enthusiastic with the French and the Germans in the mix (historical issues regarding workshare, responsibilities etc)
 

Toptob

Active Member
I would tend to disagree - the UK still has the ability to support a useful force at a distance of several thousand miles and has a useful "kick in the door" capacity that is only shared by maybe a half dozen countries and outmatched by maybe two or perhaps three.

There's little point in focusing on Europe as a point of influence because there's very little we can do as a country to make a meaningful impact - all of the things we've built up that are relatively novel aren't very useful a land war in the heart of the old world. There's a reason the RN puts little time into NATO taskings - they're usually off elsewhere operating at distances that a number of European navies would find difficult to support.

Add to that, we're still the preferred dance partner of the US due to our proven ability to drop right into a US formation and network effectively.

As for the deterrent - it's useless at most levels of combat - I think we should have it and maintain it (now, more than ever, given POTUS's uh..I dunno how to phrase this and not be political..um..well, let's just say the US appears to have a slightly more inward looking stance.)

However, as a military factor, I think the ability to support ships, aircraft and troops at long distances without much external assistance is significant.

We *could* recast ourselves as a regional power but right now, we're hanging on to the "reach out and touch" capabilities.

Bringing two carriers to the table also makes us "partner of choice" in any international coalition - that's a very big lever to apply to weighty problems.

Even the US, with it's huge carrier force are looking at the UK and really expressing interest in working alongside a UK CSG because it takes a bit of pressure off their stretched forces. Yes, absolutely, the UK CSG isn't a patch on a USN one but you know what, it's still enough of a threat to make a lot of people quite nervous if it showed up off shore.


That's my 2c worth.
I know I'm butting in, and @StobieWan is much better informed than I am. However he brings up some things that raise some question marks. This "useful force" that the UK can support, what exactly would this comprise? And could you really support it for a decade like you state in a later post? To me it seems doubtful that the UK could do these things on its own. Could you really support a division sized force in a hostile environment for that amount of time, and could you as you say "kick in the door" and put this force into contested territory completely under the British Flag? I'm seriously asking, because I have serious doubts about this.

In your later post, I assume you allude to Afghanistan when you mention supporting a force for a decade. But you Brits weren't alone there, just like the Dutch they operated as part of a larger military presence under the umbrella of the US. Was British logistics done independently from the US? Where those troops not supported by that wider coalition? Where assets and capabilities not shared between allies? I'm asking because I may well be wrong about these things. Another important thing is that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars where run on the last remnants of old stocks that the various militaries could hang on to. And most of that materiel is now either run down or obsolete.

But as far as Afghanistan goes, I don't really think this is a fair or realistic example for your argument. As far as I know that was a coalition effort and many capabilities like logistics where shared between participants. The dilapidated Dutch army could send almost 2k troops and even the Belgians sent people. You can look down on France, but they operate in large parts of the Sahel with very modest international support. Yeah they needed some airlift in their initial surge. But again I ask, did the UK forces do all of their logistics in Afghanistan completely on their own? And could the UK for instance deploy a brigade to Nigeria or Kenya when Boko Haram or Al-Shabaab was at the gates of Abuja or Nairobi?

As for the UK's "special" relationship with the US... Well, to me it looks "special" only when it suits the Yanks. Remember the Falklands? As long as you do what they tell you to do you can be their "special" forward depot where they can station some aircraft and personnel so the Yanks can have them closer to area's that are actually important to them. Of coarse they will let your pretty new carrier on the tail of one of theirs if that makes you guys feel "special", but if it's between Britain and something where the US has legitimate interests they'll drop you first chance they get.

That's why the other poster's idea to trade the carriers for expanding the submarine fleet sounded like a refreshingly good idea to. Going from for to six boomers would ensure a much more credible and sustainable nuclear capability. And expanding the number of SSN's from seven to twelve would be a great idea in any situation because one SSN can have the sea control value of a battle group. Nuclear weapons may be an expensive paper tiger, but it is the only thing the UK has left that makes it a world player. Without them you don't get a seat at the table!

Finally I think the "Battle of Britain mindset" for me has to do with Britains idea of itself in the world writing checks it's economy can't cash.
 

Volkodav

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
The “Battle of Britain” analogy had nothing to do with flag waving, I should have explained that better.
Rather it was an attempt to illustrate that Since WWII, the RAF seems to have usurped the RN as the premier service in the hearts and minds of those who govern.
This “Sea Blindness” has helped the slow demise of the capabilities of the RN.
OTOH, the RAF seems to have been “relatively” well resourced And under the scenario which you proposed in your previous post this makes little sense.
Under a “Defence of Britain” and Europe centric scenario, RAF dominance is fit for purpose.
Check out "The Rise of the Bomber: RAF-Army Planning 1919 to Munich 1938" by Greg Baughen


The RAF has had precedence since its creation. It captured the imagination of the public, media and more importantly the politicians long ago meaning that the only time defence as a whole gets it right is when the RAF gets it right, i.e. all the discussion of air mindedness etc. and joint operations are for nothing if the air force doesn't get it or support it, except for when reality kicks in, usually in the form of armed conflict and it is categorically demonstrated that the doctrine was either wrong, or discounted important facts due to the lack of sea and land mindedness on the part of the air force's superb staff capability.

Joint operations incorporating air, armour and infantry were successfully demonstrated between the wars, initially under RAF command, worked very well but the second the army was put in charge of any operation the RAF refused to play. Same with naval operations, if the RAF had been given command of the carriers as well as the pilots, maintainers and aircraft, I have no doubt there would have been RAF support not only for Naval aviation, they would have been lobbying for additional escorts to protect the carriers.
 

Sandhi Yudha

Well-Known Member
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swerve

Super Moderator
True. But plenty of space & weight allowance for more weapons & other equipment, so no difficulty upgrading, which was one of the worries I had about some of the smaller candidates. I was reminded of frigates for which installation of anything new had to be done with great care, e.g. the RAN ANZACs, which needed ballasting to counter increased top weight & enclosure of the previously open quarterdeck, & top speed was reduced by the increased draught.
 

StobieWan

Super Moderator
Staff member
True. But plenty of space & weight allowance for more weapons & other equipment, so no difficulty upgrading, which was one of the worries I had about some of the smaller candidates. I was reminded of frigates for which installation of anything new had to be done with great care, e.g. the RAN ANZACs, which needed ballasting to counter increased top weight & enclosure of the previously open quarterdeck, & top speed was reduced by the increased draught.

Yeah - I'm perfectly happy with the choice of Arrowhead 140 - one of the few bright sparks in recent RN history in fact. It's a big box,plenty of room and will have better sea keeping as a result. Also, better DC outcomes if it's tapped as opposed to a smaller, more tightly packed ship. Also, better suited to some of the constabulary roles (more space for embarked specialists or guest accommodation for uh...naughty people etc)

Would I have preferred 13 Type 26? Hell yes. If that's not on the table, this isn't a bad outcome.
 

StobieWan

Super Moderator
Staff member
Addendum, was talking an RN warfare bloke and he did point out something I hadn't thought of - that these ships will be the best equipped bog-hammer plinkers in RN service - a 57mm and the 2 Bofors Mk 4's are way better suited for operations in crowded wars requiring a rapid and lethal response. I hadn't thought about it that way but he's right - everything else is carrying two 30mm and the RN 114 mm jobby.

I'm wondering if they'll expand the use of the 57mm to some other ships - we did discuss ripping off the main gun on the Type 45's and fitting the 57mm for instance. Sounded sensible to me.
 

Albedo

Member
Addendum, was talking an RN warfare bloke and he did point out something I hadn't thought of - that these ships will be the best equipped bog-hammer plinkers in RN service - a 57mm and the 2 Bofors Mk 4's are way better suited for operations in crowded wars requiring a rapid and lethal response. I hadn't thought about it that way but he's right - everything else is carrying two 30mm and the RN 114 mm jobby.

I'm wondering if they'll expand the use of the 57mm to some other ships - we did discuss ripping off the main gun on the Type 45's and fitting the 57mm for instance. Sounded sensible to me.
In fact, Downey said, the 57mm gun — selected years ago for the DDG 1000 as a close-in weapon and in service as the primary gun for the littoral combat ship and Coast Guard national security cutters — is overrated.

“They were significantly over-modeled on the lethality,” he said. “The results of the actual live test-fire data was that the round was not as effective as modeled.”
The original DefenseNews article seems to be gone, but the above site quotes from that original article where the DDG-1000 program manager defended the switch from the 57 mm Bofors to the 30 mm Mk46 because their real-world evaluations found the 57 mm Bofor's lethality to be significantly overstated. This was from 2014. Has this been refuted since then? I'd have to think so since the US Navy itself required the 57 mm Bofors be fitted on the just selected FFG(X) and the RN has the 57 mm Bofors on the upcoming Type 31. There also doesn't seem to be reports of complaints from other 57 mm Bofors operators. If the original US Navy testing was based on the 57 mm Bofors on the LCS, maybe it's just an LCS related issue since for example I believe the 57 mm Bofors is not integrated into the radar or CMS on the LCS and just uses independent EO fire control.
 

JohnJT

Member
The US navy plans to equip their 57mm guns with advanced munitions such as MAD-FIRES and ALaMO. I wonder if the RN may also be looking at these for the T31 in the future? They look like a great capability.

 
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