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The Next HMS Warrior Pt 2

January 5, 2010

HMS Daring Type 45 Destroyer-Author Kobus.

What 2 major capabilities do we provide that most if not all of the NATO allied navies (except the USN of course) do not currently have ?

* Strike Carrier with fixed wing aircraft (only France has this capability)
* Major amphibious group including the Royal Marines (although France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands have amphibious capabilities, they are all smaller)
*SSN

All three of these major ‘capabilities’ are actually ’systems of systems’ in that they facilitate the provision of multiple different effects as required by the ‘war fighter’ or in support of diplomacy.

So, if they are all expensive, which one should be cut ? Although I have made many arguments about why fixed wing air is good, and why the CV(F) would provide a great capability (flying Sea Gripens ?) I am also of the opinion that if money can still be saved by NOT building these carriers then they should be cut.

Think Defence

A Carrierless Royal Navy

For the record, I am not anti-carrier, but instead for the deployment of new technology, which often matures and then becomes obsolete very quickly. I’d like to think myself as being equally vocal in favor of manned carrier airpower if this was 1940 instead of 2010.

So we can join Think Defence in proposing the cancellation of the 65,000 ton HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales CVFs. Not only are they relics of the past, overly expensive, but thanks to advances in technology quite common in the history of warfare, they are no longer needed. Recall also that even the current two light carriers in service since the 1980s with the RN, with a third in reserve, were never in full service, “one is deployed, one in maintenance/training, and one in major overhaul“. Since 2006 all have been lacking a dedicated strike fighter with the retirement of the last Sea Harrier. The question remains then, why build aircraft carriers at all if even these smaller, less crew intensive, less costly warships with fewer aircraft are not kept fully functioning?

It is conceivable then that if carriers are not so required on a regular basis, Britain might be the first of the traditional major powers to do without large, or even smaller decks altogether. The risk is minimal if you consider the Navy’s track record in introducing new technologies to the fleet. As HMS Warrior, the first modern battleship was deployed, it not only outclassed every known and potential enemy vessel, but also made the Royal Navy’s sizable fleet of wooden hull ships of the line obsolete, forcing her to start from scratch.

The New Warrior

HMS Dauntless (D33) and HMS Diamond (D34) fitting out on the River Clyde. Author Bob the courier

The same occurred with the HMS Dreadnought in the early 1900s, on up to the CVA-01 cancellation in 1966, the last time the Navy attempted to build large decks aircraft carriers. With each event and new weapon, critics cried impending disaster, but instead we see a pattern of revolutions in war at sea, often coming in at the right moment, to change history. With the cancellation of new carriers, and the retirement of older ships in their due course, we don’t see an ending of the old Royal Navy, but the birth of a New Navy, better equipped for a new era of sea power:

The work horses of the RN (or any ocean going Navy) are the frigates and destroyers…Type 45 is our primary air defence ship class…

The sunk costs are done and dusted, the building of the hulls is apparently now a very efficient process, so I would like to see at least two added to the build as an outcome of having no carriers, for a grand total of 8 – the current buy of 6 is just not enough…T45’s should be fitted with Phalanx mounts as T42’s are retired (preferably with SeaRam) and fitted with 8 x Harpoon’s as T23’s are retired.

Though Think Defence doesn’t declare this specifically, it seems the writer is insinuating the Type 45 class now entering service, not even fully functional, or the surface combatant forces as a whole as Britain’s new HMS Warrior. The point of the Daring class destroyers as being Britain’s “primary air defence ship class” is well taken, and we see this a prime opportunity to lead the way in casting off the tyranny of manned naval airpower, and the increasingly prohibitive cost for all navies, including the mighty USN of deploying attack aircraft carriers. Here is what Geoffrey Till writing at the US Naval War College has to say about the Darings:

With its Samson radar, a single Daring will be able to monitor all takeoffs and landings from every major airport within two hundred miles of Portsmouth, including London Heathrow and Gatwick. Able to engage twelve air targets simultaneously, a Type 45 could single-handedly protect London from air attack. The design, moreover, is spacious, with all the growth potential anticipated by Adam Ingram in 2003…The vessel’s highly sophisticated Samson radar system would allow it to grow into a highly effective ballistic missile–defense role; given the proliferation of missiles around the world, this seems a likely requirement.

Protecting London from air attack, Battle of Britain style is an apt description. With its embedded phased array radar, and long range interceptor missile, you wouldn’t have to wait up to an hour to launch and position naval interceptor aircraft, or even the minutes of an airborne patrol. For the missiles the reaction time would be seconds, and such a capability is deathly required in this new push button age, recalling the loss of HMS Sheffield in 1982. Also, for the CVFs to perform the same mission, you are required to deploy a significant portion of your total fleet. For the Type 45 to perform the same function, you just need one ship.

If the guided missile is the new threat at sea, and all evidence points to this fact, then logically the best counter is a guided missile warship. HMS Daring and her kin are stellar examples of this capability. It is the missile which has forced the manned fighter bomber into heavier and costly self-defense measures, ensuring their numbers sink even as the craft themselves increase in individual capabilities. While many thousands of missiles are produced by countries annually, numbers of traditional military aircraft are now counted in the hundreds per decade. Clearly it is time for the missile firing warship to take its place alongside other revolutionary weapons, from HMS Warrior onward, and what better fleet to take this first bold step than the consistently progressive Royal Navy?

The Future British Battle Fleet

The cancellation of the CVF’s would mean the 3 Invincibles would be retired without replacement. This would leave the Navy with 1 aging assault carrier, 6 new missile destroyers, a score of old frigates, and about 6 Astute nuclear submarines. From here she has the core of a modern, 21st century fleet, the Navy of the Future.

Fitting the Type 45s with Tomahawk cruise missiles would greatly enhance the power projection capability of the surface fleet, as it has already with the submarine force. The weapon’s range of 1000 nm would place the ships safely out of attack range of land-based air and most missile threats, unlike the carrier and its small snub fighters, whose range has actually decreased since the Cold War! Each of the dozen subs and destroyers would be like 12 light carriers, without the expense of escorts (they escort themselves!) or the monumental effort of starting a decades-long aircraft program, for so few weapons produced.

Savings can be funneled into replacing the aging HMS Ocean, a very useful platform in wartime and peace, perhaps even a second such vessel being beneficial and now affordable. The plans to produce large C-1 and C-2 frigates should be canceled in favor of light auxiliary cruisers, corvettes, and patrol vessels, probably based on the excellent and affordable River class, certainly off the shelf. The capabilities of auxiliary ships should not be underestimated considering, along with a few land based fighters, the HMS Clyde has been the primary naval defense of the Falklands Islands. Appearance and armament aside, the effectiveness of this vessel is in what she represents, meaning the quick vengeance of the Royal Navy prepared for future threats, not just clinging to past glory.

33 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2012 2:30 pm

    blue code not a drill.

  2. Jed permalink
    January 6, 2010 8:40 pm

    Mike, I am sorry, I did not mean my comment to read as though I felt I had been “slighted’ – I was just pointing out the ThinkDefence bit as being originated by me, so that you would see the common thread with comments I make here :-)

  3. Jed permalink
    January 6, 2010 8:38 pm

    To all the commentors adding useful and interesting information on when the last Sea Harriers were built and retired etc – I was looking back with 20/20 hindsight when I said I would have liked to have seen further development of the Harrier.

    Although Andy suggests it is technically possible, we all know there would be no political backing for this “backward step” to a simpler, more flexible aircraft which would unfortunately seem ‘old fashioned’ compared to an F35B.

    Still, today Secretary Gates has restructured F35 production – again. The program maybe heading for a Nunn-McCurdy breach (political scrutiny of over schedule / over budget procurements), so I suppose some upgraded Harriers versus no F35’s might have been a better proposition………

  4. Andy permalink
    January 6, 2010 4:09 pm

    @B.Smitty,

    Sorry, should have added to above. The last Shar was bult in 1999.

    Andy.

  5. Andy permalink
    January 6, 2010 4:07 pm

    @B.Smitty,

    Bae bult seven rear fuselages ( summer 2007) to be put into storage. These were spares for the ‘pulse line’ upgrade effort. This turned them into GR9A standard which, efectively turned into a complete rebuild program. All of the tooling is still in existence. The avionics are being progressively upgraded( on a small scale) and still being manufactured.

    Harier is a very simple airframe. Many of the soon to be made reduntant workers currently building Hawks were also the last to manufacture Shars.

    Bae also has a couple of production lines in warton that it will need to keep busy with Typhoon orders drying up.

    Some of the avionics inparticular the radar are direct descendants of those fitted to Shars.

    Many additional features like new composite wings, afterburning engines and fly by wire controlls have all been developed to a tested prototype stage. They were never introduced because is was felt only cost effective to do so with a new build programe.

    In short, for a UK only project, it is easly within reach if a political masters only wished it so.

  6. B.Smitty permalink
    January 6, 2010 1:56 pm

    Andy,

    But when was the last Harrier of any type manufactured? The line has been closed for years. Reconstituting it would be a MAJOR undertaking.

  7. Chuck Hill permalink
    January 6, 2010 11:30 am

    All in all,I would sy the Burkes and the Darings are very different ships with not a lot in common.–tangosix.

    Did not intend to denigrate the originality of the design solutions, only to say that they are both designed primarily as AAW escorts and there is no quantum leap in capability between the Darings and the 20 year older Burke. I simply can’t agree with Mike’s contention that these ships represent a technological leap on the order of Warrior or Dreadnought.

  8. Andy permalink
    January 6, 2010 10:38 am

    @B.Smitty,

    The youngest Seaharrier at retirement was less than 9 yrs old. The rest of the fleet had been re-manufactured to new when upgraded to FA2 stanard. Continuing to manafacture Seaharrier or a further upgraded version for as long as required was simply not a problem. The only problem was politics, politics and more bloody politics.

    Andy.

  9. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 6, 2010 6:08 am

    Tangosix said “I am surprised that you are so keen on the uber exquisite diamond encrusted “Ferrari” that is the Type 45 destroyer when not too long ago you were describing the tin plated “Ford” Type 23 frigate as “goldplated”:”

    I believe in a balanced fleet. I am not so inflexible to think a corvette or patrol craft can perform every mission of sea control, any more than I think you can use a missile battleship as a coastal escorts. We need capital vessels or “Ferrari’s”. I just don’t believe that is all we should be building, or even very many considering the amazing capabilities provided by new technology. precision missiles and bombers are so much more capable these days, you can build fewer or spread the ones you have around the fleet.

    There would also be enormous savings turning from a carrier centric fleet to a missile based strategy, as I mentioned. For a carrier, these costs not only come from the vessel itself, but an expensive aircraft program, and equally pricey escorts vessels. But for the missile ship, is is far easier and less costly. All you need is one ship and missiles are ongoing in development and individually cheaper. they may not be as cost effective individually as a manned naval aircraft launched from carriers, but they are more practical because of their ease of deployment. Just one ship.

    If you recall a graphic I posted last week, you can see my opinion on the current Navy force structure, applying for the USN as well as the RN. We are top heavy with battleships but I never said lets sink all our high end warships.

  10. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 6, 2010 5:54 am

    “Clyde is able to deter the Argentinians only in so much as her sinking might cause an international incident!”

    But she is deterring, as had HMS Endurance before her. This allows high end warships, except for the occasional visits (as in HMS York?) to be used for other missions more relevant to their enhanced abilities. It is very useful and cost effective for any navies on a budget. It is also historical, once applied also by the USN before she created her “all battleship navy” mindset.

  11. Matthew S. permalink
    January 6, 2010 1:42 am

    “While Burke and Daring (will eventually) have Phalanx,Harpoon and torpedoes,”

    Is that true? How often are ships with the “fitted for but not with” tagline actually fitted with said weapons? Im guessing they will pluck off the phalanx from the Type 42s eventually but I dont know about the torpedoes or harpoons anytime soon.

  12. January 6, 2010 1:01 am

    Hello Mike Burleson,

    I am surprised that you are so keen on the uber exquisite diamond encrusted “Ferrari” that is the Type 45 destroyer when not too long ago you were describing the tin plated “Ford” Type 23 frigate as “goldplated”:

    https://newwars.wordpress.com/2009/09/08/battleships-versus-speedboats-pt-2/

    The Type 45 destroyers have cost £1,100 Million each ($1,760 Million),the Type 23 Frigates cost about £150 Million ($240 Million).

    The Royal Navy could have bought 44 Type 23 frigates for the £6,600 Million it spent on just 6 Type 45 destroyers.

    Don’t you think the Royal Navy should be building a larger number of cheaper Type 23 “Fords” instead of these £1,100 Millon Type 45 “Battleships”?

    tangosix.

  13. January 6, 2010 12:25 am

    Hello,

    Chuck Hill said:

    “What does the Type 45 do that the Burke doesn’t already do? It’s not a revolutionary warship. It is one of many Burke class imitators.”

    The type 45 is hardly as revolutionary as Warrior or Dreadnaught but is it revolutionary in one respect,it’s integrated full electric propulsion system (as per the Zumwalt class) is world leading.

    It is interesting that the United States Navy was the world leader in propulsion systems many years ago,it pioneered turbo electric drive pre war and always had more efficient higher pressure boilers than the Royal Navy.

    However,post war the Royal Navy has led the way with gas turbines,diesel electric drive (Type 23,Wave class etc.) and now integrated full electric propulsion on the Type 45.

    However,I can’t see how Daring is a Burke imitator,she is a direct replacement for the type 42 air defence destroyer which preceeded the Burkes.

    Type 42 and 45 both have helicopter facilities and long range air search radar,Burke had neither of these (but later members of the class now have helicopters).

    The Burkes have towed sonar arrays in the Royal navy these are carried only by anti submarine frigates not air defence destroyers.
    Both the Type 45 and the Burke have radar signature reduction features but these were used on the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates which commissioned a year before U.S.S. Arleigh Burke.

    Burke has semi active radar guided missiles and low mounted fixed radar arrays,Daring has active guided missiles and high mounted rotating radar arrays giving her a huge advantage against sea skimming missiles.

    While Burke and Daring (will eventually) have Phalanx,Harpoon and torpedoes,the D.D.G.51s also have Tomahawk,A.S.R.O.C and anti ballistic missile Standard S.M.3 none of which are ever likely to be seen on a Daring.

    The combat system architecture may vary greatly also but I am not too sure about that.

    All in all,I would sy the Burkes and the Darings are very different ships with not a lot in common.

    tangosix.

  14. January 6, 2010 12:22 am

    Hello Mike Burleson,

    H.M.S.Clyde is the Falklands Islands Protection Vessel of the Fisheries Protection Squadron.
    Though the acronym F.I.P.V. is more usually given as Falklands Islands Patrol Vessel,fisheries protection vessels are patrol boats and wear the “P” flag superior.
    With no ability to engage warships,submarines or aircraft,Clyde is able to deter the Argentinians only in so much as her sinking might cause an international incident!

    The Royal navy does have a deterence asset in the South Atlantic,the Atlantic Patrol Task (South) (A.P.T(S)):

    http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/operations-and-support/operations/joint-operations-rn-army-raf-nato/south-atlantic/

    As of yesterday that role is taken by the destroyer H.M.S.York:

    http://en.mercopress.com/2010/01/05/hms-york-has-arrived-in-the-falkland-islands

    tangosix.

  15. Chuck Hill permalink
    January 5, 2010 7:51 pm

    What does the Type 45 do that the Burke doesn’t already do? It’s not a revolutionary warship. It is one of many Burke class imitators. Not to say it is not a good ship, but what new ground does it break?

    Some new “Warrior”s not mentioned were SSN Nautilus, SSBN George Washington, and notably the original Aegis Class.

  16. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 5, 2010 7:45 pm

    Tangosix wrote “The River class are not “forward deployed to deter a major conventional threat”.
    They are the Royal Navy’s Fisheries Protection Squadron,their job is to stop fishing boats and check their nets are the right size and their permits in order.”

    I was speaking specifically about HMS Clyde, not the whole River class. From the Royal Navy website:

    Greetings and welcome from the Ship’s Company of HMS Clyde. She is the Royal Navy’s latest Offshore Patrol Vessel (Helicopter) and is the Falkland Islands Protection Vessel (FIPV).

    Again I would hope we can look past appearances and what the effect the mere presence of these vessels represent, which is the official backing of the British government and the might of the Armed Forces if required. This was also the purpose of the historical gunboats, often only armed with a Maxim gun, and likewise possessing authority beyond its initial appearance.

  17. January 5, 2010 6:00 pm

    “I think Jed was referring to the thoroughly excellent Blue Vixen radar from the Sea Harrier FA2.”

    Yes. My question was poorly phrased I should have said “or Blue Vixen?” But I think we are singing from the same hymn sheet.

    Good post re FPS tangosix!

  18. January 5, 2010 5:29 pm

    Hello,

    Mike Burleson said:

    “The River’s not perfect, I would admit, but I think it interesting they are forward deployed to deter a major conventional threat against the Falklands from the mainland.”

    The River class are not “forward deployed to deter a major conventional threat”.
    They are the Royal Navy’s Fisheries Protection Squadron,their job is to stop fishing boats and check their nets are the right size and their permits in order.
    Their warfighting capability is just about sufficient to take on an angry trawler captain armed with a particularly large frozen cod.
    See here:

    http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/operations-and-support/surface-fleet/patrol-vessels/fishery-protection-squadron/

    Quote:

    “The Fishery Protection Squadron is the oldest front line squadron in the Royal Navy. With a small headquarters staff based in Portsmouth Naval Base, the Squadron comprises 3 River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels in UK waters and one Offshore Patrol Vessel (Helicopter) stationed as the Falkland Isles Patrol Vessel. The primary task of the Royal Navy, in its role of patrolling UK’s Extended Fisheries Zone, is its involvement in the highly emotive and politically sensitive UK and European fishing industry.

    The Ministry of Defence maintains a formal agreement with DEFRA and through them the Marine and Fisheries Agency for the provision of Fishery Protection in English, Welsh and Northern Irish waters by the Royal Navy Fishery Protection Squadron. Legislation permits RN Officers to be British Sea Fisheries Officers (BSFO), to conduct inspections of all British and foreign registered fishing vessels operating within these waters and to also inspect British registered fishing vessels in international waters.

    Operating from the River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels British Sea Fisheries Officers (BSFO) undertake routine inspections at sea of fishing vessels both by day and night. In the 2008/09 contract year, the Squadron provided 700 patrol days at sea and Royal Navy BSFOs conducted 1102 inspections. These detected 231 infringements of UK and EU fisheries legislation resulting in 8 fishing vessels being detained to a UK port for further investigation, 10 Financial Administrative Penalties (FAP) offered at sea, 33 written warnings and 144 verbal re-briefs being issued.”

    It is illustrative of how little capability can be squeezed into a 1,000 tonne corvette that a 21 knot knot River class with a three week endurance and a single 30mm cannon displaces nearly 2,000 tonnes.

    X said:

    ““flying a Sea Harrier F/A3 (Harrier II+ with Sea Harrier radar”

    Do yo mean the APG-65 radar as used by USMC and Italy?”

    I think Jed was referring to the thoroughly excellent Blue Vixen radar from the Sea Harrier FA2.

    tangosix.

  19. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 5, 2010 4:44 pm

    “How could a gun boat replace a frigate?”‘

    You could also ask, “why are frigates today doing the work of gunboats”? Also easily expanding this to using destroyers as gunboats, aircraft carriers as gunboats, giant amphibious assault ships as gunboats? No wonder we are stretched thin and the pirates run rings around us, because we are unable to fit our Cold War mindset into an era of many small threats. They win by irregular 4th Gen tactics, while we can’t see beyond our 2nd and 3rd generation ideas of massed firepower, with our foes standing still while we bracket them with ordnance.

    We have to look beyond the notion that our technology alone will save us. It only works if the enemy is in running beside us in the same race. The enemy we have is on a different path, using weapons off the shelf, which are less costly but equally effective. Its more of a mindset, I know, just as is COIN on land. having the best fighter planes, best warships, or best vehicles isn’t enough. We also must have better ideas mixed with alot of determination.

  20. Matthew S. permalink
    January 5, 2010 3:05 pm

    How could a gun boat replace a frigate? That River class boat in the Falklands is there to provide some RN presence and probably for intelligence gathering. It has no defensive capability. I do agree that the FSC at 6000 tons is too large and will be costly. I doubt they will get more than 10 of those to replace 4 Type 22s and 13 Type 23s.

    As far as the carriers go, I think they will be built. Its too late for cancellation. I think they will have to share one air wing and they will have “fitted for but not with” defensive armament. The good thing is, other European navies as well as the Canadian Navy can provide some frigates for escort.

  21. January 5, 2010 2:42 pm

    Hi Michael, in an ideal world you are right but it is all about balancing risk isn’t. My main point is that you stop the Islands being retaken in the first place, not plan another glorious operation to take them back, showcasing the wise decision of CVF and JCA.

    Its rather a thin justification for spending tens of billions of pounds.

    I do tend to agree with you that if you are going to have a warship then you have a good one and yes, the FI should get one on patrol but this need not be a permanent presence because unlike 1982 we have a whole lot of other clubs in the bag including vastly better intelligence gathering.

    Have you seen the state of the Argentinian armed forces, anything would be signaled long in advance, enough time to reinforce with a C17 or ferry flight of Typhoons. I know there is always the sneak attack but what do we do, turn the FI into a concrete fortress or try and balance its defence with other commitments?

  22. January 5, 2010 2:41 pm

    “Your suggestion that a Tomahawk armed ssn would provide a deterent is a non starter,do you honestly think that the UK government would actually use these to attack the Argentine mainland not a snowball in hells chance.”

    While writing recently writing a paper on the utility of deterrence I did come to ponder whether a Vanguard carrying 200 or so conventional cruise missiles would be a greater deterrent in limited warfare scenarios than 1 (or more) nuclear warheads. 1000lb of HE would destroy a building and render the rest of the block unsafe. The more unsavoury elements of the nuclear taboo would be avoided i.e. long term contamination etc. Though a city attacked by 200 or missiles wouldn’t be totally destroyed it would be seriously damaged (and expensive to repair.) But as you rightly say there needs to be a political will. The West feels inhibited dealing with a dozen or so fishermen in little boats.

    This lead to me my current held belief that West is (sub)conscientiously willing its own downfall.

  23. January 5, 2010 2:32 pm

    “Your remarks on a ‘reasonable amount of intelligence gathering,and the ability to read newspapers’ seems rather hollow, I assume we had embassy staff in mainland Argentina in 1982 what on earth were they playing at.
    If they are as inefective today as they were then,your theory is a non starter.”

    The warnings of Argentinian intentions was writ large. The more you read about the war the more you begin to question the capabilities of both F&CO and MI6. I wonder if this is the reason why the late Capt Barker was ignored upon his return from down south.

    TBH it is a wonder we aren’t all speaking Russian………

  24. Michael permalink
    January 5, 2010 2:22 pm

    Think Defence,
    Of course it has something to do with surface naval assets if only from the aspect of keeping up a presence,ask the Falkland Islanders if they would be happy to see the resident guardship go.
    I think it might just take their memorys back to 1982 and the MOD in its wisdom leaving the islands with no RN presence except for a small company of Royal Marines.
    Your remarks on a ‘reasonable amount of intelligence gathering,and the ability to read newspapers’ seems rather hollow, I assume we had embassy staff in mainland Argentina in 1982 what on earth were they playing at.
    If they are as inefective today as they were then,your theory is a non starter.
    As for the typhoons whilst they are a generation more advanced than tornado they are still only four in number,and if the Argentine could get in a sneak attack on mount pleasant things could alter within hours.
    Not too far fetched when you saw the proffesionalism of the Argentine pilots the last time around.
    As Mike is always promoting quantity over quality,it is not beyond the realms of possibility that these four aircraft could be overwhelmed long enough for attackers to get through.
    Your suggestion that a Tomahawk armed ssn would provide a deterent is a non starter,do you honestly think that the UK government would actually use these to attack the Argentine mainland not a snowball in hells chance.
    In my opinion you need a type 23 or at least something with an AAW capability, the current OPV is basicly a sacrificial lamb unable to defend itself to any degree.
    It’s only use being that if you attack it you attack Great Britain and ‘here we go again’
    South America being as unstable as it is,I wouldn’t discount another dictator having a go.

  25. B.Smitty permalink
    January 5, 2010 12:52 pm

    Jed wrote, “Personally I subscribe to your small (and cheaper) can be better theory, and would have preferred 3 Cavour class size vessels, flying a Sea Harrier F/A3 (Harrier II+ with Sea Harrier radar).

    Weren’t the Sea Harriers retired?

    Buying carriers that will last 30+ years, who’s primary aircraft has not been in production for decades, doesn’t make much sense to me. The Harriers are getting old and will be all gone long before a new Cavour sized carrier reaches the end of its service life.

    The F-35B really is the only option if you want STOVL.

  26. January 5, 2010 12:39 pm

    “flying a Sea Harrier F/A3 (Harrier II+ with Sea Harrier radar”

    Do yo mean the APG-65 radar as used by USMC and Italy?

    The lack of this capability annoyed me too. I do think that the question of which carrier fighter is secondary to the question of what AEW should be fielded.

    “The other thing I am against is fitting Tomahawk to T45 or any other vessel in the surface fleet. I believe ’strategic’ land attack should be the purview of the submarine and as such at least 8 (instead of 7) Astutes would be a good idea.”

    Yes and no! I think the RN fielding (the tube launched) Tomahawk is more a gesture towards solidarity with the US than a real capability. If “we” were serious about this capability surely Astute would have had a dozen or so vertical launch tubes included in her design like the latest US SSNs? Using a billion pound boat deliver a 1000lb of HE is a bit silly. How many cruise did “we” launch during the Gulf War?

    Considering the range of recent cruise variants I think surface vessels are suitable; there would be a lot of sea for a ship to hide in!!!! It is cheaper and more convenient to carry missiles on a surface vessel.

  27. January 5, 2010 11:39 am

    The true defence for the Falklands has nothing to do with the River class or indeed anything to do with surface naval assets but the Typhoon Flight at MPA, both a regular and reserve garrison on the islands themselves and the ever present threat of a Tomahawk armed SSN.

    Combine this with a reasonable degree of intelligence gathering, being able to read the newspapers and you have a situation where no matter how much sabre rattling for domestic consumption the Argentine government does it is not going to be retaking anything, FI included.

    To base your plans and twenty odd billion pounds on the expectation of retaking the Falklands back after rather carelessly letting them be invaded is too foolish, even for the MoD.

  28. Chuck Hill permalink
    January 5, 2010 11:18 am

    An OPV like the River Class is no real defense for the Falklands. It is only a trip wire. Meaning if the Argentines wanted to take them they would have to kill someone.

    The true defense is the expected reaction and the actual capabilities of the British to once again retake the Islands.

    If there are no carriers, that capability is seriously in doubt.

  29. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 5, 2010 10:03 am

    Michael wrote “what you are suggesting is that the RN play some kind of equality game where we fight like with like.’

    Well not exactly but very close. The OPVs are more than adequate for chasing pirates and smugglers, the primary adversary faced at sea this past decade and with all appearances ongoing into the next. Note that I also call for high end missile armed corvettes, and the RN are well experienced building these for Arab nations.

    These smaller warships will also be affordable platforms for sea launched UAVs and unarmed vessels. I am certain the C-2 will be unaffordable much like the USN LCS class ships: a patrol boat armament, on a frigate hull, at a destroyer price. Why not just build patrol boats from the start and lots of them?

    I see the high end ships like the Type 45s forming a Cadre, considering their enhanced capabilities, with low tech ships like the Rivers only forming the bulk of the total force. This is historical, perhaps not the same type but warships fitted to deal with a specific threat. I am specifically against the modern notion that a single warship class can fit all problems of seapower. This latter in fact is a new, unproven theory in warfare. Its main fallout has been to push Western fleets into record low numbers, stretched thin with over-worked crews.

    Jed, well done. Didn’t mean to slight you. I only saw the “Admin” reference at the top of the page.

    I like the idea of small carriers, but I suspect even their day is passing as strike weapons. It is probably too late for the Fleet Air Arm, or at least the RN may have a game-changing force already if they can get the Type 45s in full service. It is not an insignificant capability along with the Astute subs.

    Please see my further thoughts on the Sea Viper ships posted for this afternoon.

  30. Jed permalink
    January 5, 2010 9:18 am

    Mike, the bit you quote from Think Defence is from one of my recent “guest” articles I have written and that they have kindly posted, within their series discussing a future defence review.

    Let me say this; I am not anti-carrier either – this is all about the money – IF we had the budget for these two carriers, with full air groups and at least 28 to 32 major surface combatants, then I would say ‘bring them on’. I am however definitely “anti-F35” for many reasons.

    When these carriers were first mooted in the last (1992) Strategic Defence Review, I am sure they seemed like a good idea. Personally I subscribe to your small (and cheaper) can be better theory, and would have preferred 3 Cavour class size vessels, flying a Sea Harrier F/A3 (Harrier II+ with Sea Harrier radar).

    The other thing I am against is fitting Tomahawk to T45 or any other vessel in the surface fleet. I believe ‘strategic’ land attack should be the purview of the submarine and as such at least 8 (instead of 7) Astutes would be a good idea.

    With our without carriers, only 6 Type 45’s is not enough.

  31. Michael permalink
    January 5, 2010 8:38 am

    Mike,
    The effectiveness of the Victorian age gunboat is not in question,alas we are no longer fighting natives with spears and bows and arrows as in the age of gunboat diplomacy.
    Dozens of countrys in the middle east and particularly Asia are now acquiring state of the art frigates corvettes and OPV’s,what you are suggesting is that the RN play some kind of equality game where we fight like with like.
    Surely the whole point of warfare is to outclass and outgun your opponents,that being the case you are then beholden to build bigger hulls capable of carrying more armaments of more sophistication capable of destroying your enemy before he even gets near you.
    So we are back to escalating size and complexity and I see no way out of it, and if we really want to destroy them at a distance then CVF is a must !!
    We are NOT going to get any more T45’s, so C1 C2 need to be as capable as possible.
    That means blue water operations ASW/AAW put more weapons on them than has traditionaly been the case with RN ships, and this may be a contentious point but why all the talk about humanitarian assistance capability being built in.
    Firstly they are warships and should be designed as such,whatever other needs they are to carry out should be secondary and not to the detriment of their primary objective.
    Preventing/Fighting wars.

  32. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 5, 2010 8:08 am

    The River’s not perfect, I would admit, but I think it interesting they are forward deployed to deter a major conventional threat against the Falklands from the mainland. In the same case for the USN, they would do to the South Atlantic what they are doing to Guam, and nothing less than a carrier strike group would do!

    For all their faults, the RN still remember the frugality but effectiveness of the Victorian age gunboat.

  33. January 5, 2010 6:54 am

    We didn’t get Tomahawk capability because we went with the Euro launcher. Another instance of our government putting Europe before us. It couldn’t have been driven by the admirals.

    I think the Rivers are handsome ships. Their bridges are well laid out and spacious and very business like. Their main failing is no flight deck which was a stupid shortsighted decision. I think that decision though can be laid at the door of the admirals………

    The shape of the navy is dictated by how far the UK wants to project power (as part of a co-operative effort.)

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