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The Perils of Becoming a ‘Mini USA”

July 1, 2009

Back in May I mentioned how Britain was struggling to maintain a military force which was like the US Military only in miniature. This was in a post titled “Great Britain’s Defense Options“:

The United Kingdom, much like most Western militaries, is shaped in the image of the United States superpower except in miniature. Her fine Army is built around heavy Challenger II tanks, and swift Warrior armored infantry carriers. Her historic Royal Air Force is well equipped with new Typhoon air superiority fighters, older Tornado fighter bombers, and Harrier V/STOL close support fighters. The Royal Navy’s composition makes it still one of the world’s mightiest, with soon-to-be-built Queen Elizabeth supercarriers, ballistic missile and nuclear attack submarines, new Daring anti-missile destroyers, Duke anti-sub frigates, and large Ocean and Albion class amphibious ships.

Not surprisingly and much like in America, the British have found the cost of sustaining an all-high tech military with such exquisite platforms nearly untenable, as she fights a different kind of war in the Third World that requires different sorts of weaponry.

Here is David Sapsted, at the National with the same sort of argument:

Britain should stop trying to be “a mini-United States” and give up maintaining armed forces capable of policing world trouble spots, a report from an influential think tank said yesterday.  After a two-year review, the high-powered panel of experts said the UK simply could not afford its international role and recommended slashing £24 billion (Dh146bn) from proposed defence spending.

The report, prepared by a panel brought together by the London-based Institute for Public Policy Research, is being seen as the most fundamental challenge to the UK defence strategy in 50 years.

Out of a list of 10, I also proposed scrapping Trident, the aircraft carriers, and the Air Force’s Typhoon fighter. Here are the IPPR’s proposals:

Planned spending on new aircraft carriers, an Anglo-American strike fighter project and on new destroyers and submarines should be cut, the report stated flatly. Lord Ashdown said he personally favoured scrapping the Trident programme and replacing it with some other, cheaper and more flexible nuclear missile programme.

We also penned the same advice for Canada a while back, with the intent that medium/small powers should seek their own identity rather than attempt to build a force like the USA. Different economies and powers have different needs, and considering the enhanced capabilities which can be gained from low cost precision weapons, the minor power should take advantage of new technologies to replace aging and shrinking industrial type weapons and strategies. Here is an exert of “From Minor Power to the Major Leagues“:

Like most small powers, Canada is a mirror of the US armed forces in miniature. It maintains the three standard arms: air force, navy, and army. By clinging to this industrial age establishment, she finds it increasingly difficult to replace Cold War era weaponry, including aircraft, helicopters, armored vehicles, and ships. She is also failing to take advantage of the New Warfare of the Digital Age .

A case in point is her navy. Canada currently maintains a destroyer/frigate force, a handful of submarines, and a few logistics ships, while planning to build an amphibious type warship in the near future. Perhaps by focusing on maintaining the most potent of these, her submarines, she could carry out the bulk of her maritime missions at far less expense and with less procurement headaches. More

My friend Alex at the excellent Naval Requirements blog has a rebuttal to the IPPR report.

35 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2009 6:16 pm

    Nice write up…usually I never reply to these thing but this time I will,Thanks for the great info.

  2. Alex. permalink
    July 6, 2009 1:36 pm

    cancelling the carriers now will mean the RN will have 3/8ths of fuck all in that timeframe and still have spent alot of money, not exactly a bright idea, QE class isn’t overly ambitious, £1.9bn per carrier (and £500m in purposely delaying by 2 years or more) whereas it would still cost £1.6bn (a rough estimate here) for a CdeG sized carrier, i know what i’d rather have.

    something else the Falklands proved is that an ASW carrier/LPH is no replacement for a proper carrier! (ok the RN aren’t getting any of those either but the option is still there should they choose utilise it)

    i still remain confident that 2 QE2s is the right descision and as for Wasp-esque LHAs, i’d like to see 2 Enforcer 30000s built to replace Ocean and Ark Royal in the LPH role(it’s at times like these that we could do with still having Swan Hunter building ships on the Tyne!)

  3. DesScorp permalink
    July 6, 2009 10:50 am

    Des, I like you idea of the smaller multi-purpose carriers for Britain, but wouldn’t their own LHA’s be even better?

    HMS Ocean has less than half the displacement of a Wasp class amphib. In practical terms, that means many fewer aircraft and Marines than a Wasp carries. If you’re going to cancel the supercarriers… which in their financial position, I would… then you’d need to replace them with something that can project enough power to protect British interests. A Wasp type ship with 12-14 Harriers, a couple of squadrons of Merlins for the Royal Marines, some anti-sub heloes, and some landing craft is what I’d consider the minimum necessary for that mission. While the UK can’t afford supercarriers, the fact is that in the power projection department they’ve been woefully underarmed since the late 70’s. The Falklands proved that, and their fleet is in even worse shape today. The three light carriers they’ve had (now down to two) simply hasn’t been sufficient for their needs. They need something in between their current classes of carriers, and the supercarriers they have planned.

  4. July 5, 2009 5:45 pm

    Actually, it is more likely two America class LHDs, built under contract on the clyde.

    what they plan to axe to is the fact the civil service has 3 civilians in the MOD for every member of the services; the NHS has 10 members of administration staff for every (and I don’t know what this means) product staff; this is before we get on to the plethora of quangos; the £40million a day to the European Union; lets face it there is plenty of waste to squeeze before cancelling projects; and that is before you get on to the bases in saudi arabia and germany

    one of the things you also have to remember is that the conservatives are commited to maintaining british presence in the world, and the british economy. 90% of our trade depends on ocean transport, of which 86% of that goes through one of the 5 major ocean trade choke points. Britain is also committed to so many organisations across the world, requiring our military forces, that cutting them is not an option.

    yours sincerly


  5. Alex. permalink
    July 5, 2009 5:13 pm

    I’m not too sure the tories want to spend any more money than they have to, osbourne has already said that when they take the reigns that defence projects will be first on the block (perhaps i should have said take the axe instead of reigns?) such as A400m and FSTA, the carriers are safe under any government, the RN has let so much go without a fight to get the carriers a score of wild horses couldn’t drag them away from the vessels.

    what will be interesting is what happens to Ocean, she had just entered service when i left (doesn’t feel that long ago, beleive me!) she’s now middle aged although she is likely to be slep’d to maintain service for another 5-8 years past her sell by date, now long ago it was decided that 4 aviation capable ships was essential to britains expeditionary capabilities. With the QE class the need for 4 aviation ships is re-itterated, QE2/PoW cannot re-role as a commando carrier while ocean is unavailable so she needs to be replaced by 2 ships… what i would like to know is what is in mind? 2 Mistral sized ships? surely not; 2 Canberra-esque LHDs?? i’ve no idea

  6. July 5, 2009 3:39 pm


    41, would be the obvious to me; its partly because it is only the marines which are still being successful with recruitment – added to this marines are key to any sea basing intervention strategy.

    the trouble with the subs is the might not be built – its cheaper to give the ASROC capability to surface ships than build the submarines; in reality navies need both in order to be truly capable.

    who knows; if the conservatives honestly what to push forward a more sea based response to crises – then a couple of LHDs, and some more escorts will be neccessary as a matter of course; I just wish more people who knew what they were talking about would get involved in politics! Britian is not like America, its former military and veterens associations try to be so apolitical that they become no-political and thus impotent in raising defence as an issue worthy of debate!

    yours sincerly


  7. Alex. permalink
    July 5, 2009 3:16 pm

    the argument for Asroc can be countered by the argument for more SSNs; i had heard of 7-8 astutes which is the maxiumum that can be made before Vanguard replacement needs to be built which is in turn a far cry from the 10 SSNs outlined in the ’98 sdr (although i appreciate to hope for what was outlined in the sdr is like taking a leak into the breeze… 32 escorts, 12 AAW destroyers, 10 SSN’s, 4 Aviation capable vessels; it’s all something of a fantasy fleet now)

    re-raising another commando unit is joyous news to me, although i’m an old man now (50) when i was a young man, at the beginning of my military career i was a marine in 41 Commando (thats assuming 4-1 will be the new unit, last out – first back makes the most sense to me)

    this has really made my day! i thought they were gone for good, 30 years in hiatus is better than nothing i suppose!

  8. July 5, 2009 7:58 am

    yes with the death of sea lance and Ikra 2(although did you hear the Aussies have started on something they are calling grandson of Ikra? I am not sure how true it is, but if they are, well things could be different).

    I think the problem is that there are not going to be enough Astutes, to both nursemaid surface fleets, and gather intelligence/assist in special opperations. The current government keeps talking about possibly 2 more – to bring them to 6, whilst the conservatives have only made announcements on the carriers, and future amphibious forces to include a 4th marines commando.

    and helicotpers have to return to their ship to be rearmed; what happens if the sub is not detected early enough, and the helicopter misses; you are left with the option (currently) of either no defence, partial defence, or adequate (though not brilliant defence), the latter being Asroc, the middle one being torpedoes launched from the ship directly into the water; in the end it is better to have Asroc and not to need, than to not have it, and sink.

    yours sincerly


  9. Alex. permalink
    July 5, 2009 7:17 am

    now i’m not sure about 96 VLS Cells on C.1, 64xCAMM, 32xTomahawk/SCALP can’t envisage anything more than that.

    as for ASROC; i don’t beleive that it is a valuable asset in a modern ASW arsenal, if the submarine is out of range of stingray then either Astute with spearfish or lynx/merlin is more useful (thats ignoring the fact that if the submarine is in range of ASROC, you’re in range of it’s heavy torpedos)

    with the cancellation of Ikara 2 and Sea Lance in the 80’s surface launched ASW standoff weapons died

  10. July 5, 2009 6:08 am

    Alex, that would have been best, and it did not even need the SM-2, and ESSM – as we all know the reason the Aster looks so similar to the ‘seawolf’ replacement that BAE were developing, is that it is the ‘seawolf’ replacement….the orriginal aster designs didn’t work…also hence why so many facts and figures of aster and seawolf are so similar. the T45 Daring + T41vls could therefor have been loaded to bare with 16 SM-3s, 32 Aster 30s, 32 ESSM, and 8 Asroc – something which would have been useful.

    I don’t think the C1 will end up being purchased, the deals that are being signed at the moment are all to do with the C2 – which the navy has made so that it can be upgraded…you buy the C2 now, you get enough hulls, and you give it the C1 weapons when you have a government prepared to give you the money. Hence I hope that the C2 is given the T41vls, something I have heard it well recieve, allong with a pair of goalkeepers, two triple torpedo launchers, 2 double 30mm cannon, Harpoon, and the 155mm deck gun – not bad for the ‘cheaper option’ right? the C1 was going to be even more heavily armed, with a pair instead of 1 helicopters, 3 ciws for inshore work, and 2 double 30mm againg; plus torpedoes, harpoon, and somehow a larger amount of T41 tubes – maybe 2x48vls?

    yours sincerly


  11. Alex. permalink
    July 4, 2009 9:18 pm

    Alex, i’m well aware that Sylver is a pile of w@nk to say the least, the problem is that we stumped up most of the cash for Aster and Sylver(even though we wanted mk.41) despite next to 0 workshare, might aswell make the bloody most of it (not sure what the most of nothing is though). i would have much rathered it if Britain had pitched in the the Germans, Spaniards and the Dutch (SAMPSON should be safe considering development dates back to the late 80’s and CAMM is another matter and i wouldn’t want to lose either)

    All that said i like the idea of T45 sporting a 64 cell mk.41 featuring 64 ESSM(reluctantly!), 32 SM-2, 16 SM-3; i know i’m in a minority here but i dont think that T45 is the right place for Tomahawks and not only because it would impede on the numbers of C.1

  12. Alex. permalink
    July 4, 2009 7:25 am

    Gripen isn’t a good choice for the RAF, RAF had no interest in P.106 back in the 80’s (SAAB Gripen is based on BAe P.106 in as much as Typhoon is based on ACA; which in turn is based on P.110/P.120[so if you like they’re both british fighters haha (: ).

    Gripen NG flyaway costs are about $60-70m US, a foreign power wouldn’t pay that!, look at the saudi typhoon deal, £37.76m flyaway cost, £61.2m/unit… so in reality the price would be similar both a severe lack in capabilities (Gripen has amazing range it just lacks payload, Gripen could have replaced Jaguar as a CAS bird but RAF needed a proper fighter (something that it hasn’t REALLY had since the Phantoms came about; Tonka was just a ground attack platform with radar and missiles strung from it).

    as for Units Britain signed for 250 Typhoons early in the project, which dipped to 232 units after Germany reduced their order (from 232-180 i beleive). Britain will still get 232 units, the cost penalties for ditching some more units would be huge. More or less Typhoons doesn’t seem to be a problem (although i would have loved to see 9 full squadrons as opposed to 7); what does seem to be a problem is Tanker aircraft, cargo aircraft, and a mk.4 tonka replacement(which is beginning to look more and more like UCAVs as the day goes on) there have been no dedicated strike aircraft since tornado (F-15E doesn’t count, it’s just a fighter with bombs strapped to it, it’s not the same).

  13. Joe permalink
    July 4, 2009 2:07 am

    Hmmm, I left a comment and something apparently ate it. Niiiice. If this somehow shows up with my original, then my apologies. I can type fairly quickly and this is the ASAP recreation of what I’d said before.

    Alex – never meant to compare apples to oranges. I realize program and flyaway costs are different, but meant to also compare that since the Typhoon is a “made from scratch” airframe, has the cumulative investment in it (fixed + variable costs) yielded as potent an Air Force as an alternative strategy of buying foreign might have?

    While Typhoons were cheaper back in the day, so too were the modern variants of the F-15/16. The 1998 cost of the F-15E was $31M per plane and the F-16 C/D was $19M. Enough to make procurement officials of the 90’s go hmmmmmmmm?? All I’m wondering.

    At day’s end, I want for GB what I want for America: For the money you want to spend, what can you buy the most of to assure the strongest possible (in this case) Air Force, w/o having to cut the program because of cost explosions? It’s obvious I wonder that about the Typhoon, just as I most assuredly wonder that about our F-22 and F-35 programs. I don’t begin to question the quality or capabilty of the Typhoon, so what I ask isn’t because I question the validity of the airframe.

  14. Mike Burleson permalink
    July 3, 2009 7:14 pm

    Joe, you hit the root of the problem. We need to have greater faith in new robots, guided missiles, and smart bombs which are changing the way we fight on land, sea, and in the air. I’ve concocted a simple formula over the years which illustrates our present conflict, the answer to all our needs: Smart Bombs+Dumb Platforms!

  15. Heretic permalink
    July 3, 2009 6:18 pm

    Brits should have signed on for JAS 39 NG Gripen. They could have gotten twice the number of planes for less than the cost they’re paying right now for Eurofighters. I mean, the ratio is going to look something like 2.5:1 on price, right?

  16. Alex. permalink
    July 3, 2009 6:12 pm

    ok lets get this straight regarding Typhoon, you are comparing unit procurement costs (IE: the cost of the whole programme divided by the number of units) which is about £90m/unit however unit production cost for tranche 2 aircraft is €55.08m; £37.76m as signed on the day which given that exchange rates were about 2.0 makes it $75m… that’s good value for money, the problem is with the high R&D due to the fact that it has to cater for 4 different nations needs and each one has different political aims delaying the project many years and putting billions onto the final bill, had Britain decided to do a go it alone project in ’82 (lets say P.110 or ACA as the base design) you could have them to be in production by early 90’s, IOC by 1995-6 at the latest (those figures might seem a bit ambitious but it was ’85 before ANYTHING was signed, then with the reuinification of germany and other fuckabouts the project has had nearly a decades worth of delays since 1981.

    Contrary to popular beleif a solo project (which would have been P.110; to my knowledge ACA was proposed to entice germany and italy back into the project) wouldn’t have proved to be overly ambitious or expensive at all, Sweden developed Saab grippen (incidentally the blueprints for that lie within BAe P.106) solo and to France the Rafale. Export potential would have been high; Saudi arabia obviously, possibly the other eurofighter nations (the only obvious candidate is F/A-18E and without sounding arrogant Britain was the nation which held the project together; a German/Italian/spanish consortium would’ve fallen apart in 1990). owing to the earlier production dates and obviously being cheaper due to a shorter production/developemnt pipeline it would have been cheaper and as such it could’ve possibly been an alternative to FA-18F for the RAAF.

  17. Joe permalink
    July 3, 2009 4:28 pm

    Britain and America are suffering from the same defense spending flu. We keep increasing defense spending but keep getting smaller and smaller air & naval fleets, plus smaller ground forces, for the cash spent.

    Take the Typhoon for instance. It’s quality is beyond compare, but at $150M all-inclusive cost per copy, are Great Britain’s defense needs best met by having it or would they have been more adequately served by considering a substantial purchase of much less expensive $55M/copy F-18 Super Hornets, or the $40M F-16I or $80M F-16E/Fs, or even the $100M/copy F-15K Slam Eagles (or some mix thereof)?

    I think GB can have a 3-pronged military well into the future, but smarter choices will have to start being made asap for it to happen.

  18. July 3, 2009 12:46 pm

    Alex; not sure where you heard the ‘dual key’ about, but I have spent a lot of time interviewing, talking to and befriending naval personnel (as part of my work as naval historian…they often know more than the books do), and they are all a chorous of ‘no’, ‘no way’ and ‘these are not the same as chinooks!’; the tomahawaks are not dual key, and neither is trident!

    Scalp is ‘crap’ though, and so is the sylver A50…which is what the RN bought for the T45 Daring, as it is too small to take anything bigger than an Aster 30, hence why it can not carry SM3s and certainly not something the size of scalp (ship launched version of that is larger than a Tomahawk by 11mm – apparently). To carry that you need the A70…version, and if it was not enough that the A50 cost 2.5 times the price of the T41 VLS; the A70 is about 4 times cost – I don’t care about politics they do not justify that cost…and besides if the government changes, then things with the European Union colleagues might become a little less cosy, especially if Lisbon is rejected in a referendum.

    I doubt if you will see C1 at all; most of those I know are expect the RN to end up with 18-24 C2s (in three batches of 8, 4-8 & 6-8), and about 12-16 C3s instead…it would certainly have my support; as that whilst I like the concept of the C1’s…I would rather build 6 Batch 2 Broad Beemed (similar to the Broad Beemed Leanders)T45’s , give them the T41VLS, some torpedoes, and a pair of Helicopters along with some UAVs…The advantage of this is that you have virtually no development costs…as that design has already been done, costed and everything but built as part of the T45 project. if all that was built at max the RN would have 36 escorts and 16 light escorts…enough to maintain operational commitments and presence.

    yours sincerly


  19. Mike Burleson permalink
    July 3, 2009 9:44 am

    Thanks all for comments.

    Distiller, you may be right about sub-SAMs, but it would have the advantage of giving some offensive power back to the boat which is being torpedoed, depth charged, instead just “taking it” as we see in the old war movies. With their enhanced speed and cruise missiles, i see the new U-boats taking the offensive against the hunters. I believe they are that good.

    Des, I like you idea of the smaller multi-purpose carriers for Britain, but wouldn’t their own LHA’s be even better? Those Ocean class are very capable, and I always wonder why the RN didn’t go for a slightly modified version as an Invincible class replacement, especially in a post Cold War era of sparse budgets. As in the US, these procurement planners are their own worse enemies!

  20. Alex. permalink
    July 3, 2009 6:33 am

    I’m not too sure myself that C.1 will cost as much as T45, without SAMPSON and S1850, even with a sizeable hull stretch (obviously then needing more expensive propulsion systems), the TAS is being ripped off of the T23s as they retire (or before, HMS St. Albans isn’t set to go until 2036… as much as T23 is a great vessel 35 years for a Medium sized frigate just isn’t right.

    i do agree what will probably happen is that C.2 will be first and will replace T22B3 and some of the earlier T23s that lack T2087 with C&C falling to T45s. seeing as T23s are to be with us until the 2030s chances are that many of them will retire with Sylver and CAMM (and Artisan but whether or not there is a replacement for that in 25 years can’t be known).

    as to Sylver vs. Mk.41 i beleive the choice is as political as it is functional; maintaining links with both the continent and America. I’d also rather see SCALP as C.1s strike missile, Storm shadow is to form a large part of the RAFs strike detail sharing future development, although tomahawk is already present on Trafalgars and will be on Astute they are in essence different missiles from the surface launched variety but the key argument is that to my knowledge UK Tomahawks operate under a dual key system… they’re not really ours even though we’ve payed for them! SCALP wouldn’t be the same.

  21. July 3, 2009 3:01 am

    The ships were originally scheduled to replace the Type 23 frigates, but due to massive budget cuts and the dramatic reduction of the Navy’s fleet, by 2009 the program was set to perform a number of functions. The ships will also replace the Type 22s. The three main categories for the FSC are:

    C1 – Force Anti-Submarine Warfare Combatant (formerly Versatile Surface Combatant)- around ten large vessels for high-threat environments (probably 6 or 8 thousand tons and about as expensive as a Type 45). It would operate as an integral part of the maritime strike group or amphibious task group,” said Cdre Brunton, “offering high-end ASW, land attack and coastal suppression. It would also have an organic MCM capability and facilities for an embarked military force”.
    C2 – Stabilisation Combatant (formerly Medium Sized Vessel Derivative) – around eight cheaper vessels – generic frigates of about 4 or 5 thousand tons would meet the policy requirement for operations in support of small-scale stabilisation operations, sea line protection and chokepoint escort. C1 and C2 would replace the Type 22 and 23 classes and may use the same generic 6,000 ton hull. The most pressing need is the replacement of the four Batch 3 Type 22s from 2015. This C2 requirement (formerly the MSVD) could be met by an “off the shelf” purchase of the Franco-Italian FREMM multi-role frigate, or a version of the Type 45 destroyer optimised for ASW and surface warfare.
    C3 – Ocean-Capable Patrol Vessel [formerly the Global Corvette] – around eight smaller ships [approximately 2,000 tons displacement with a range of 7,000 n miles] to replace minesweepers and possibly current patrol ships – they will replace a far greater number of existing vessels across various classes. Eight ships would be primarily roled for MCM as replacements for the current Hunt-class and Sandown-class vessels. Potential longer-term replacements are needed for the three River-class offshore patrol vessels, the Falkland Islands patrol vessel HMS Clyde, and the survey ships HMS Echo and HMS Enterprise.

    as far as I know, C2 might be the one built rather than C1…following president of the T12M frigate, which was constructed cheap and basic; but with an eye to being upgraded. Further more I know they will not be buying the FREMM as it has been decided it does not fit the bill, and does not have enough commonality with RN systems…which are close to the nations across the pond, rather the nations across the piddle.

    yes the alex things were starting to confuse me; I was wondering at one point if the pressure of marking had finnally taken its toll.

    I hope they don’t buy or install any more Sylver myself; I think we should by the T41 VLS, its cheaper; its got a huge range of weapons, including everything that can be put in Sylver…but also Tomahawk instead of Scalp,

    If they do get the C1, I hope it has multiple helicopters – but who knows.


    you are not far wrong, orriginaly the RN was looking at a 50,000ton Strike/Commando Carrier design, and purchasing 4 of them….but the RAF said they would not fly of them; as they believe amphibious warfare is a dead concept…so who knowns

    the Type 45 only cots £600million a unit, and we are buying 6, including development cost I am sorry to say it only comes £4.9billion…so still less than 25% of the cost of typhoons (a figure which as I have said before, does not include base modifications, upgrade of Tranche 1, 2, and 3, to 3a standard which can carry bombs) and fixing the small problem of the navigation system….which does not like it hot!

    Mike, small budgets will make or break a military; and we do not have anyone like Anson left, who managed to ride the golden median between undue cost and ruinous parsimony.

    yours sincerly


  22. Alex. permalink
    July 2, 2009 9:08 pm

    haha Alex, i’ve made a few comments under this name in the past month, if you’ve done a double take more than once!

    by FCS do you mean FSC? there was a discussion on here about BMT Venator about a month back, i know what i’d like to see but what we’ll get is a complete cake and arse party of a frigate force(or Farce, you decide, it’s the same result)

    C.1 should be a large frigate, cruiser at a pinch, room deck for 2 merlins and a hangar for 3, 48 Sylver cells (32 SCALP + 64 CAMM) new hull mounted sonar, T2087 TAS, 155mm mk.8, Artisan radar, based off of a stretched T45(say 165m/about 8000T[which means propulsion would have to be revised to get 30kts+]).

    what C.1 will be: T45 done on the cheap without SeaViper/Aster but with VLS for SCALP and CAMM, T2087 TAS

    C.2 SHOULD be a medium sized frigate (130m~ 4500T), 16 VLS (64xCAMM), Harpoon launchers ripped from T23, hull mounted sonar, no TAS, hangar for merlin/2 wildcats, 155mm mk.8, emphasis on a lean crew and keeping operating costs down.

    C.2 WILL get binned, SLEP for T23 after the T2087 has been ripped off.

    C.3 should be a design based on BMT Venator minus missiles (i think it has Artisan too! which should go) 114/155mm mk.8, 30mm/40mm CTA remote control turrets.

    C.3… who can tell?

    also the numbers division seems a bit odd, i have read of the MOD looking at 10 C.1 and 8 C.2, why they would look at having 10 C.1 with only 8 T2087 TAS…. they’re not going to pay for any more so 2 would be naked with regards to towed arrays, C.2 not sure of the numbers myself, the raison d’etre is unclear, it seems to be poly filler for the holes in the RN fleet and cheap to deploy flag flyer with expeditonary capabilites which is dangerously close to C.3, it’ll be interesting watching how this one is played/how it unfolds to say the least!.

    – Alex.

  23. DesScorp permalink
    July 2, 2009 8:49 pm

    Forgive my Clancy flashback. Scratch “Typhoon”, and insert “Trident”, please.

  24. DesScorp permalink
    July 2, 2009 8:41 pm

    No surprise that when British Army and RAF guys are asked what should be cut, they go “the Royal Navy!”.

    That said, a lot could be cut from the RN, but there’s a lot to be trimmed from the other branches too, especially RAF. They’re already talking about cutting their Typhoon purchases in half. What’s a Typhoon costing now? $150 million apiece, flyaway?

    I agree on killing the Typhoon programs… to protect British interests, nuke-tipped Tomahawks are enough. And I’d kill the two supercarriers, but I’d replace them with 6 U.S.S. Wasp-type amphib carriers.

    While the UK is losing influence, they are and shall always be a nation dependent upon the sea for their survival, so a small flotilla ain’t gonna cut it. They have to have the ability to project maritime power, or they’re in real trouble. And I’d make this a priority over both the British Army and the RAF. The amphib carriers, something in the 45K ton class like our Wasps, would be perfect for this… a couple of squadrons of Harriers, a couple of squadrons of helos, and a few hundred Royal Marines with combat vehicles on board. That’s the kind of power projection carriers they need.

    Balance this out with a mix of nuke and diesel subs, and then pick a single destroyer-size battleship that can do both anti-air and anti-sub ops (NOT the Type 45, though, which at £6.46 billion, they’re the British DDG-1000). Cut your fleet numbers if need be, but get that mix right. Maybe from 83 ships to 65 or so. Six amphib carriers instead of two or three aviation-only hulls will give you more influence.

  25. Mike Burleson permalink
    July 2, 2009 5:17 pm

    Thanks to both Alex’s. I was writing a while back for all armed forces to EXPECT CUTS. They never do and rarely plan for a decade or so of lean budgets, mainly just complain that they need more. In lean economic times like these we need to make do with less, but the military always think themselves exempt.

    I have held Britain during the Cold War up as an example. Faced with an ever shrinking Empire, at least by the 1960s they gave up any semblance of Big Carrier power projection and focused on a single area of war at sea-antisubmarine warfare. I think this was the appropriate response, as Soviet submarines were ALWAYS the principle threat from the start of the Cold War to the end IMHO. And then when such as force geared for asymmetric warfare at sea is called on for a traditional expeditionary role, as in the Falklands and later in Iraq, the new RN proved flexible enough. But it is much harder for a conventional trained force to do COIN, as America proved in Iraq.

    Small budgets can make or break a military, just according to your attitude, whether you will make the best of it, or live in denial that you can be something you are not.

  26. July 2, 2009 3:38 pm

    I didn’t think I wrote that.

    I concur with the other alex, not only cause they possess a brilliant name, but because the point about the paddling pool seems to be unfortunately correct; I will be posting of the FCS soon, that is a real barrel of laughs!

    what we need is a defence review conducted without accountants!

    yours sincerly


  27. Alex. permalink
    July 2, 2009 3:32 pm

    as much as many bodies are jumping up and down with either “British armed forces trying to emulate US armed forces” and “we are procuring these cold war era relics” both are simply not true, what is true is that nearly 20 years ago the cold war ended, most of the cold war era designs are gone/going exceptions being T23 (which has really become more of a general purpose frigate than a ASW frigate) and Typhoon (although speculating on a tiffies ground attack capabilities until Tranche 3 is moronic) so what is happening is that the Royal navy and indeed the structure of the whole british armed forces from a more defensive mindset to a much more rounded force with formidable expeditionary capabilties (which is vital when thinking about probably theatres of the near future)

    however, to do that requires cash and until somebody is prepared to spend any RN will go from a master of anti-submarine warfare to a fleet not fit to patrol a small paddling pool (although those that sit up high ontop of our income tax bills will maintain that defence spending has increased in real terms since 1991 and the fleet is more capable now than it was then (despite being half the size[not an exageration]))

    i recently read an article with the shadow chancellor saying “defence is no longer a no go area for cuts” which blatantly spells curtains for certain industry projects, A400m and FSTA are first on the chopping block IIRC (and as much as i adore the VC-10 they’re getting on a bit!). and again this should be no suprise whenever ANY government comes to power they are under the influence that defence spending is more than too much and cuts need to be made without having the foggiest idea what they are doing… 2010 isn’t going to be a good year for defence projects in the UK.

    CVF (or should we call them QE2 class now?) recent 25% price hike should come as no suprise to anyone delaying commission for 2 years only saves money in the short term, but it adds much much more on the final bill)

    btw: nuclear armed short range missiles? i never rated ASMP myself and i wouldn’t like to see an anglosised one(especially as it would mean the end of our bombers!![boomers to the USN]), no doubt this would have to be storm shadow based rather than tomahawk and 400miles seems a bit short to put it lightly.

    – An entirely different Alex.

  28. Mike Burleson permalink
    July 2, 2009 9:58 am

    Thanks for the link Alex! I know our land based deterrent goes back to the late 1960s, early 70s, the Minutemen III. I have proposed we do away with this vulnerable and ancient fleet and depend exclusively on SSBN’s which are more survivable anyway.

  29. Mike Burleson permalink
    July 1, 2009 7:26 pm

    Thanks Alex!

  30. July 1, 2009 3:53 pm


    many a true word spoken in jest

    yours sincerly


  31. Heretic permalink
    July 1, 2009 3:38 pm

    they want to arm the Typhoons with nuclear tipped short range (400 miles) cruise missiles

    Gotta keep Jerry from crossing the channel, ya know! Wot wot!

  32. July 1, 2009 2:36 pm

    just to clarrify mike, they want to scrap the JSF not the typhoon – they want to arm the Typhoons with nuclear tipped short range (400 miles) cruise missiles

    and on this topic I point you to Iain Ballantyne letter here

    yours sincerly



  1. Navies and the Forces of Anarchy Pt 1 « New Wars
  2. Aircraft Carriers:The ‘Bigger is Better’ Myth Pt 3 « New Wars

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