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The best defence is always a good offence. If state actors know we can hit them back where it hurts then the chances of them firing first are diminished.

I’d say buy more Sky Sabre sets that can be stationed near military and Government sites if needed, but then focus on projecting power. Interim solutions to Perseus, a new force of SSKs or unmanned subs as force multipliers, anti-ship weapons for our frigates, Typhoons and P8s. Plus more P8s.

We cannot have gold plated solutions to every threat but we can reduce all threats by packing a greater punch ourselves.

Gavin Gordon

Since we don’t intend to attack Russia, one can argue that a defensive posture for your land and, to an extent, air forces is valid for the UK and Europe. Outside of the Deterrent, Russia would have to overcome both your in depth weapon stockpiles and delivery / support infrastructure.
However, since no-one owns the oceans, for the most part, such that initial response and re-supply are the major naval concerns, then offensive capability becomes the best chance for survival. Hence aircraft carriers and submarines, suitably equipped, are your primary assets within a naval hierarchy.

Humpty Dumpty

I agree about needing more Sky Sabres, but I’d upgrade them with CAMM-ER and Aster 30 (and a longer-ranged radar if required), backed up with the Skyshield air defence system. Fixed SAM sites could be backed up by MANTIS.

Our ships definitely need a replacement for Harpoon ASAP. There doesn’t seem to be any sense of urgency about getting one though. My preference would be maybe 6 LRASMs and then either NSM or RBS-15 Mk3/Mk4. Or ideally a mix of all 3 (assuming they can all fit in Mk41 cells), because each has its pros and cons. Anything would be an improvement on Harpoon though. If I had to choose just one though, I’d probably go with the NSM because it’s stealthy and presumably cheaper than LRASM. Do you know what it costs btw?

Our Typhoons and Poseidons should really be able to carry LRASM and NSM imo so they’d have a good chance of being able to take out Russian ships approaching the UK if needed.

I’d also like to see an extremely long-ranged VL anti-sub missile be developed that can be fired from Mk41 cells on Type 26s, i.e. longer-ranged than any existing enemy torpedoes so that Type 26s can take out enemy subs beyond the range at which they can fire torpedoes. Combined with new anti-ship missiles, this would provide another effective offensive weapon, which RN ships have lacked for a long time.

And we need to speed up getting Meteor fitted to the F-35Bs. This isn’t due to happen until 2024. Why the delay?

With new anti-ship missiles, new long-ranged anti-sub missiles and Meteor on the F-35Bs, a carrier group would be far more survivable than it is now since it would have new ways to take out subs & ships to complement the Astutes and ASW Merlins, plus F-35Bs with Meteors are far more likely to hit enemy aircraft than they are with AIM-120s. And when they can’t carry much ordnance internally, having air-to-air missiles with a high probability of hitting what they’re fired at is vital.

I wonder though if it would make sense to maybe fly 2 F-35Bs in stealth mode (i.e. carrying ordnance internally) and then have 2 F-35Bs flying dozens of miles to the rear carrying missiles both internally and externally. These 2 F-35s flying to the rear would effectively be Meteor trucks for the forward deployed F-35s, which would make the F-35s more survivable. I think the US is going to use Super Hornets as missile trucks for the F-35Cs, but obviously we can’t do that because the F-35B is the only fixed-wing aircraft on the carriers.

I’ve thought for a long time that we would benefit from diesel-electric AIP subs. Something like the German Type 212. They’d be ideal for home waters defence (English Channel, GI-UK gap, off Faslane). They’d also be good off Gibraltar, to patrol the Falklands and possibly in chokepoints like the Strait of Hormuz and the Mandeb Strait. Throw some uparmed Rivers into the mix (either uparmed Batch 2s or ideally new Batch 3s) and we could have a fairly credible level of defence without breaking the bank and we could have quite a lot of both subs and Batch 3 Rivers. If we don’t currently have the capability to build them, then we should create it imo and it would supply jobs for many years to come. I’d like to see us regularly churn out out diesel-electric AIP subs and Batch 3 Rivers over the coming years. There may even be an export market for them if we can make them cheap enough and well armed enough.

And developing and/or buying drones is definitely something we should vigorously pursue: UAVs, USVs and UUVs.

Imo suicide drones are the most realistic way of taking out Russian and Chinese mobile SAM launchers and mobile anti-ship missile launchers:

Last edited 3 years ago by Humpty Dumpty

You were saying we dont plan on attacking Russia, what about when the attack us,

Humpty Dumpty

Sky Sabre’s not capable of shooting down ballistic missiles or manoeuvrable hypersonic missiles, is it? You’d need a more high-end system I’d have thought.

Diesel-electric AIP subs and UUVs make perfect sense imo to take out ships and subs. The subs could also target land-based missile launchers. Well assuming they can be found in the first place and assuming the missiles are fast enough to take them out before they scoot after shooting.

Last edited 1 year ago by Humpty Dumpty

It’s kind of absurd that the Storm Shadow will not be integrated onto the F-35B. A 5th gen stealth combat jet with a low observable cruise missile would be an ideal pairing one would think, especially given that both systems are already in service.

It would also increase the effective strike range of the UKs carrier strike force by hundreds of km’s. I also think it shouldn’t be an “either or” between which service gets CM capabililty. Ideally the RAFand the Navy (and probably even the army) should have some capability in this area.


I suspect installation on the F35B will be opposed bt the RAF who are keen to keep Typhoon relevant to the stand off strike mission to protect Typhoon numbers.

4th watch

RAF needs a shake up of its place and thinking. Its privileged to go to sea nowadays, so it needs to start thinking about the maritime role and allow surface strike from the F35’s. Or does it think its role is to flounce around every now and then and look pretty on the flight deck. Can someone enlighten us?
It was privileged to get the Bucaneers FAA. Did they have a surface strike role under RAF colours?


Initially I think they did until the Sea Eagle ASM was withdrawn from service.


It’s a mistake for the RAF to own the F35Bs the Navy need for carriers. This middle is what left the RN with shit aircraft in 1939.

The aircraft are the carriers’ primary weapon system and need to belong to the Navy.


Yes Bucaneers did surface strike in the RAF.

4th watch

So goes the argument the RAF must continue with that role. At present we are hideously weak in offensive weaponry.
We need to agree two new missiles with the French Perseus hypersonic and
cruise. Doing this you could have a range of options.


Yes. Our forces are short across the board of things that go bang.

Fat Dave

Aircraft carriers are obsolete and the nation has been sold 2 pups

Humpty Dumpty

I agree. What can a RN carrier group currently do? It’s got next to no offensive capability apart from the Astutes and the RN doesn’t have enough of them. Plus they could do with anti-ship missiles, IDAS missiles and Torbuster.

Also Poseidons with LRASMs, Storm Shadows, torpedoes and depth charges would be far more effective than a current RN carrier group, wouldn’t be vulnerable to anti-ship missiles, torpedoes and sea mines and could fire missiles from stand-off ranges beyond the range of ship-based SAM systems and S-400s. Hell, fit the Poseidons with Meteors and BriteCloud as well.

Last edited 1 year ago by Humpty Dumpty

It doesn’t make financial sense to replace Typhoon with F-35s (at £190m a pop), we’re only buying a few of them and they’re not a threat to Typhoon (a platform we already own). Typhoon will eventually need replacing when the airframes wear out and is planned to be replaced by something like Tempest. So why would the RAF try to stop the integration on F-35?

My guess is the cost of integration was high and the thing could only be carried externally which kind of messes with the whole stealth thing (even if the missile is in its flight configuration relatively low observable, it’s still going to have a significant penalty to the aircraft’s RCA).

Meirion X

A F-35B armed with S.S. will most likely be too heavy to takeoff in the short takeoff mode from the deck of a QE carrier. Unless with a reduced fuel load at takeoff. Another reason for AAR!

Last edited 3 years ago by Meirion X

The F-35b total weapons load is 6800 kg. One Storm Shadow weighs 1300kg, so an F-35b could carry two of them and still not use more than half it’s maximum payload take off weight. It’s hard to find the dimensions of the internal weapon bays but Storm Shadows could certainly be carried externally and, if fired from long range (max range at Lo-Lo profile is 560 km), would not compromise the stealth capabilities of the aircraft as it would be well outside the engagement range of even the S-400 (max range 400 km).

So, given the F-35b combat radius of 935km and a Storm Shadow max range of 560 km, the UK carrier strike group could theoretically engage targets out to ~1500 km.

A valuable asset for any maritime task force commander which, as Duker mentioned, has now been cancelled I am sure for no other reason than to save a few pennies. Sometimes you have to wonder which country these decision makers actually for.

Meirion X

I read somewhere that there was a 600Kg weight limit on each ext. pylon on F-35B, due to the STOVL mode.
I assumed that included the warpon bays full of AAM’s.
Due to the warpon bays are about 4m in length, so S.S. is 5m they will fit on the ext. Pylons.

The RAF do have plenty of a stock pile of Storm Shadow, I agreed.

Last edited 3 years ago by Meirion X

It’s kind of absurd that the Storm Shadow will not be integrated onto the F-35B. “

There were plans for this capability, but as usual they were dropped

Meirion X

The Storm Shadow is 1300Kgs each in weight, so a pair is 2600Kgs, this total is without your AA missiles.

Bloke back down the pub

<i>’ It should be noted that an almost stationary SSGN launching a sustained volley of SLCMs would rapidly become vulnerable to detection.'</i>
Your confidence that we could find and attack a submarine that had launched a surprise attack on us is admirable, if slightly unconvincing. If CMs were launched from the Atlantic and flew over Ireland, it would take ages to narrow down their origin.


Let’s get anti air missiles in Ireland now! I’m sure they won’t mind ?

4th watch

We could put some in the north to protect Faslane.


And our nuclear weapons based in the mountains around faslane.

Meirion X

An early warning radar on the west coast of Ireland would be the first priority. Also built on high ground.
Maybe a land based Sampson type radar?


The dutchs did the same with the SMART-L Radar.


Puting a Radar Head on Rockall would be great.

Meirion X

Not really Cam!
The Saxa Vord radar on Shetland is over 900 ft above sea level, on 20 acres of ground.
There is radar at Benbecula also on high ground.
These types of radar are to detect high flying aircraft approaching UK airspace.

To see the horizon of whole country, you need to be at around 70000ft.

You can see some amazing sights from a U2!

Last edited 3 years ago by Meirion X

“Your confidence that we could find and attack a submarine that had launched a surprise attack on us is admirable, if slightly unconvincing. If CMs were launched from the Atlantic and flew over Ireland, it would take ages to narrow down their origin.”

Yeah, absent the missiles are detected when they are launched there is no way to know where they came from, a missile path can have a number of way-points.


Exactly, especially if those missile were targeted at major military ports, radar stations and the new P8 base.


As already noted, the offensive/reprisal option would be where I’d put my money.
It has far wider application than simply defending the home islands, which makes it the more cost effective solution.
As far as who should take the lead, my money is on the RN, with the stipulation that any purchased system should be air launch capable (whether Typhoon, F-35, or Tempest).


Solid logic, but by giving the RN the lead even the defensive option is significantly more viable and useful as well. A destroyer is a self-contained area air defence network, orders of magnitude more capable than a mobile defence system like Sky Sabre, and capable of being deployed “up threat” of the UK in the North Atlantic. Intercepting weapons during the launch phase is far more practical than hoping land based radars pick them up a dozen miles off the coast.

Plus, there are the obvious other uses of a destroyer, compared to the single mission profile of an air defence battery.


Very fair point, although from that I infer that you are proposing we expand the destroyer part of the fleet? I’m certainly not against that per se, but it’s probably one of the more expensive options.
Getting ourselves a nice shiny (stealth?) CM that we can fit to any and all of our escorts, as well as launch from our aircraft, is cheaper and less manppower intensive- which is a major issue for us at present.
That said, I think what you suggest is what we would do in a war situation (I’m assuming Russia): reposition our T45s from global to home, move them up and out towards GIUK/Norway, and have the others cruising somewhere up there with the carrier battle group as well. The key thing about that plan would be to get the upgraded Aster 30s so we have an ABM capability, which is a bit of a chink in the armour at the moment unfortunately- especially with the newer anti-ship ballistic missiles that the Chinese have.


My approach would be to expand the fleet as a whole. Obviously destroyers are the best fit for a missile shield, but frigates deployed across the North Atlantic on ASW duties also provide valuable air defence coverage.

I’m certainly in favour of uparming everything though. I’d vote for the cheapest option of a bulk buy of NSM and stick it on literally everything: Lightning, Typhoon, Poseidon, T45, T26, T31. Obviously “cheapest” is relative, but bolt on launcher are cheaper and quicker to install than Mk41, and it’s enough of a capability to show we’re serious until Perseus comes online.


Long term, I agree with you that it’d be nice to have more escorts- but I’m thinking that will be in the “Perseus” timeframe, i.e. once that misile is in service.
For the more immediate situation, where we don’t have enough crew for the escorts we have let alone additional vessels, I’d agree with NSM. Although I think Gunbuster may have said that Harpoon and the RBS-15 are the frontrunners in the current competition. I still prefer the NSM from the perspective of having the secondary land attack option, and the potential for mounting on aircraft (although that may be techncially a different version). Either way, 8 cannister launched ASMs are a respectable capability. Most NATO escorts only pack 8, whether in VLS or cannisters, and the latest flight Burkes don’t carry any at all according to a couple of articles I’ve read.

Last edited 3 years ago by Joe16

Actually, scratch that, I’ve had a look and the RBS-15 has land attack and air-launch capabilities too, with a greater range and heavier warhead compared to NSM. It isn’t stealth, but otherwise I rather like it- I can see why the RN is taking a look at it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Joe16
Meirion X

You would need a lot of destroyers and frigates spread out all over, because even a radar at a height of 25m above the water, the distance to the horizon is only about 12 mile.
I would be very difficult to cruise missiles from space.

I think you would need Synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) aircraft airborne continuously over the North Sea and Eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Last edited 3 years ago by Meirion X

To achieve total coverage, without a doubt you’d need pretty significant numbers of ships. However, even a fairly modest increase in forces deployed closer to the Arctic submarine bastions dramatically reduces the directions an attack could be launched from. Critically, it also increases the risk for the attacking launch platforms, meaning they’ll want to launch from further away to decrease the chance of a counterstrike. Closing the GIUK gap is now more about limiting attack vectors than protecting troop convoys.

A permanent airborne AEW system would be fantastic, especially if it’s networked with escorts in northern waters. Unfortunately as it stands, the 5 Wedgetails are probably going to be used elsewhere instead of for missile defence.

Humpty Dumpty

I wonder if it’s worth looking into airship drones for AEW? Not just in the situation you’re referring to but to protect a carrier group? They could have solar panels and use wind turbines to recharge their batteries. I’d have thought airships could potentially have very long endurance assuming they’re robust enough to withstand strong winds.

Meirion X

Some corrections
I mean it would be very difficult to detect cruise missiles from space.

And enough SAR aircraft to give continuance coverage of the airspace.

Supportive Bloke

The T45 Sampson is actually about 40m above sea level

Meirion X

According to my calculator, the distance to the horizon would be only 22km(14M).

Humpty Dumpty

Why don’t we use large airships for AEW? They’d have great endurance.

Humpty Dumpty

Except (1) we don’t have many destroyers and (2) we could do with SAMP/T in addition to Sky Sabre. It would also make sense to buy MANTIS guns to protect Sky Sabre and SAMP/T. TWISTER will provide yet another important layer of ship-based and land-based defence but that’s a decade off yet. In the meantime maybe we should buy THAAD, SM-3 and SM-6?

Last edited 2 years ago by Humpty Dumpty

Flip the article and you can add in any country by name that the UK and USA have thrown CMs at be they Air, Surface or Sub surface launched.
Even if you have a good Integrated Air Defence System its relatively easy to have CMs fly around known air defence hot spots or to have 3 or 4 missiles pinwheel in from all points of the compass to make an air defence engagement harder.

Unless you are going to spend the entire UK defence budget on AD systems you are not going to stop an attack. What you do need to be able to do is manage any damage and get the systems and assets back online as soon as possible to return the capability to the commanders.


we should have backups for most major sites and millitary instillation like radar points ect, like faslane, we should have Plymouth keeping the submarine homing capability. It’s crazy how little depth In numbers of almost everything we have in our millitary these days. But we do have some things to be proud of.


Now what is it they say about pride? I forget…


That’s what some don’t get about the US. It isn’t just the numbers of teeth arm troops and platforms, but the breadth of their supporting arms, and the depth of their ‘war stores’. And even they are concerned about numbers and capabilities.


Exactly X, we couldn’t fight a large war, we haven’t the equipment for starters, and that takes years to acquire and train on.


It would take about a decade to generate an armoured brigade from scratch.

That’s why FFBNW is dangerous. This isn’t the 1930s. We won’t have 5 years or so lead in. We need platforms armed to the teeth. So when there is a coming together our crews have a chance. And hopefully ‘equality’ in capabilities will lead to a rapid deescalation by politicians and diplomats. Years of long drawn out industrial war are behind us.

It troubles me that we can’t scale our equipment and personnel more easily. Defence experts always allude to capabilities being lost but never say what….. It’s a mess.

Humpty Dumpty

For an air defence site to be known, it would need to be fixed, wouldn’t it? Mobile SAM sites can move around making knowing where they are very difficult even with geosynchronous satellites.

4th watch

It looks to me like our top brass must wake up with their fingers crossed and hope the balloon doesn’t go up.
If only we had that extra 13bn pa to spend on such luxuries as home defence. Oh wait a minute! Meanwhile over at the Foreign Office we have precisely that kind of money in a draw marked fa.


It would only take a few cruise missiles into the generating halls of our power stations to ‘take us out’. If half were hit it would cripple the country.

Gavin Gordon

Presumably we’ve just fielded Typhoon to the Black Sea in response to a Russian maritime exercise in order to provide CM defence, since the aircraft cannot harm the vessels.


To decrease the chances of war prepare and arm for war, then in turn that’ll Make state aggressors Think again.

But we have to stop pissing about and properly equip and arm the British millitary, we have cut too much from our millitary and there looks to be even more slicing of the bone in the near future sadly! If smaller nations can build and equip themselves properly then so can Britain, cut overseas aid in half and that gives us an extra 7 billion every year..vanishing the self made defence black hole! Which is just there to justify cuts.


Yes. Our government chooses not to spend on defence. It isn’t that we can’t afford it. And we could afford without taking morning for what are deemed essential services. 5 years borrowing spent on defence instead of ‘foreign aid’ and we could requip the Army (which is desperately needed), and make sure RN and RAF platforms get essential equipment. (And fill some glaring gaps like a 9th T26 and 6th T31, with the latter getting sonar etc).

Something different

Would it not be better to use the aid budget more effectively to prevent conflict or denude support for non state actors who could use such weapons to harm us? It doesn’t have to be a zero sum game, could we not afford effective defence and overseas aid if we reformed the taxation system to better generate revenue? Or perhaps we need to cut elsewhere?


We don’t have a budget for foreign aid. We borrow the money. We have no spare money. If we are prepared to waste money on aid, we should be prepared to borrow for things we need.

I am in no mood for your fantasies about aid.

Something different

We’ll aid served a purpose and is altruistic as well. The issue is the circle of who you care about is limited to your immediate community and/or nation I suspect. Mine extends further in part because of the people from different nations I have known and cared about over the years and also because I realise that in/out group bias does division and discord to the benefit of few . Most people have similar fundamental goals, they want to get on with their lives and ensure they and their families are happy. Why should a national border, which you had no say in, dictate who you should care for or not?

I presume you support the existence of NATO? If so you logically support a form of aid (in terms of military power paid for my the British tax payer) being used to protect the interests of others?

The nation state is an artificial construct of relatively recent origin. The historiography largely supports the view that nationalism became accelerated thanks to the Napoleonic wars, albeit its origins predate that period. It is the 19th century that crystallised many of the National boundaries we know today along with corresponding national identities. This is summed up by Massimo d’Azeglio‘s (Onetime PM of Sardinia) famous quote ‘We have made Italy. Now we must make Italians’.

I suspect I have for more on common with friends and acquaintances around the world than you in terms of educational level, politics and interests (beyond the field of defence where at least there is common ground).


I haven’t read this. ^

But I haven’t downvoted you either.

Something different

No problem, same here. Let’s draw a line under this and keep talking about frigates 🙂


BZ 🙂

David Barry

I really enjoyed your perspective. Thank you.

Something different

Thank you 🙂

Something different

I wonder if there are any hard kill land based defences that we could acquire to protect key installations albeit in limited numbers (considering budget limitations). Any one know the relative effectiveness of Patriot, Iron Dome, land based Aster 30 etc. against cruise missiles? Would procuring another 6-9 air defence destroyers (type 45 or otherwise) to generate 2-3 hulls for UK defence be another option? After all the missiles would have to come cover sea to reach UK targets? To offset the above cost do we need as many Typhoons or is it better to kill the archer rather than the arrow?

Meirion X

The modern archer can shoot many arrows!
Yes, find and watch the archer, really to kill it!

Something different

If that’s the case offence is the best defence. We need to stuff as many cruise missiles into/onto our ships/vessels/aircraft to respond in kind. However, that may not deter non state or semi actors. Thankfully, they should have limited access to cruise missiles and therefore a limited set of AD systems around key sites should suffice to counter the limited set of arrows they can throw out way?


I was thinking that, in the event the world gets nasty, a super cheap way to increase air-defence hulls would be to up-arm the River Class as mini air-defence corvettes. Replace the main mounting with phalanx or something like the Rapidfire Naval CTA (not sure if that’s possible), plus better radar and containerised SeaCeptor. Again I’m not advocating playing fantasy fleet right now, but if in future we do need to up-arm the navy quickly that’s relatively realistic. The River Class are apparently too noisy for ASW and too small to carry load outs for land attack. Set up like this they could screen vital ports while being difficult for any enemy CM to take out, unlike a static land based system. They could also be used for littoral air defence. Wouldn’t be too hard to give them a little extra punch with twin 30mm and Martlet and they’d be able to assist in the Gulf or elsewhere.


Any actual serious threat to our “Small Island” would result in much scrabbling around trying to either find answers or Scapegoats . For too long now our Governments have Ignored the Basics of what made this Country so resilient and effective as a world Beating Force for Good. Millions of ordinary folk have paid the ultimate price over Centuries to keep our shores safe from Invasion. Not to sure If people will be quick to Die to help save the UK in the near Future.

David Barry

It is a very alarmist article. In it, I missed the point about why someone would lob cm’s at us?

As in all things, call signs state we would have advance warning of a threat and prepare.

Now, knowing Russia with China and Mutley plans to co-ordinate an attack on the UK in 12 weeks leaves me non-plussed with how we build enough platforms to defend the UK in that time-span.

We need a solution!

Let’s join a neutral, non-aligned country who are a force for good in this world! Let’s ask Ireland if we can join them.

David Barry

Some people don’t do black humour.

Rob Collinson

Truly scary !!!!!!!!


The key thing to note here is how the Russians have invested in missile technology and the relevant launch platforms to make them as effective as possible. We are years behind, why? Complete lack of investment and spending on Defence, getting involved in wars that have eaten large amounts of our pitiful defence budget. In Russia the top man ensures the necessary money is spent. In the west ill informed politicians ensure exactky the opposite!


The Russians aren’t coming. It wouldn’t be in their interest to destabilise us or Western Europe even further. We are doing a fantastic job of that ourselves.

The Russians have weapons. We have weapons. The French have. The US has them. China has them. And so on.

What gets me is that cruise missiles are just so cheap. We could have a stock of a few thousand easily if wanted to do it. T45 should have been build with an extra VLS just for cruise missiles. As should have T26. And the Astutes should have VLS too.

Our problem isn’t so much the missiles but sensors and systems. For detection we could invest perhaps in an OTH systems like the Australians and French have. Doesn’t cost much and is easily updated year and year. And more AEW aircraft. TAS patrol ships around our coast. But where we Brits really miss out is ‘recce birds’. Everybody has them, even the Germans and Turks, but we don’t. We rely on the US for all that sort of intelligence. That means we could be ‘blinded’ if they chose to do so. So even if we had lots of missiles we don’t have a targeting system.


I see the childish down voting has started early here at ‘Sink the Royal Navy’.

Clown site for a clown world.


I just had a Downvote too, Well actually, It’s just another to add to the collection.


If I said some utterly ludicrous then yes down vote. But here it is done out of spite. A part from saying the Russians ain’t coming I don’t think I said anything too out of place. Some sick thickos here are desperate for war.


I see the mystery down voter has made another pass.


Jindalee Operational Radar Network watches air and sea movements over 37,000 km2 with a range from 1000 km to 3000 km. It can also read wave heights and wind direction.
comment image

Last edited 3 years ago by X

And the French Nostradamus OTH system………..


didn’t track MH370 though.


It was not in operational mode in the timeframe concerned. It does not operate 24×7 unless there is a military or intel reason to do so. Had the Malaysian civilian & military authorities picked up on the irregularities & been actively co-operating together, an urgent military request to Australia may have seen that rectified in time to be useful.


I am quite sure that 4 AEWs can do the job just fine. Maybe there is the need to buy some more P8s…And arm the type45 and aircraft with some serious anti ship missiles to deter SLCM platforms.
Plus in the medium term there is a need to create layered A2/AD bubbles maybe with centurion- Starstreak HVM- Sky Sabre- aster 30 block 2.
As for the crushing response the F35 /Typhoon SPEAR 3/SPEAR EW in Sead roles first, then followed by ahuge Typhoon/storm shadow attack is quite a devastating strike. But may be the storm shadow is beginning to show his age.. slow with no serious stealth design clearly needs an upgrade. I think everything is going in the right direction for now, but there is a lot of work to do yet.


Didn’t the MoD but 900 or so Storm Shadow? Expensive and short range.


200 miles or so less than B3 cruise missile; other versions of the latter have much longer ranges. And we bought many more than the French.

Simon m

It depends if we have deployed a force to mainland Europe & want to defend that too we simply do not have enough assets – Aster is not even under consideration at this time we aren’t participating in its upgrades & we haven’t joined Italy in CAMM-ER program everything is on the Typhoon in reality & we don’t exactly have massive numbers especially now earmarked to ground attack. The army own sky sabre and are pretty much going to need them to defend the deployed force. With the review coming up the RAF will not want to lose any Typhoons or F35 where will the money come from for AD?

Paul T

If its right that the UK has no active involvement on Aster Block 1-2 upgrades and CAAM-ER,surely that wont prevent the MOD from buying either should the need and funding arise ?

Simon m

As far as I know ER is an Italian program and Aster NBT is Franco/Italian.

It’s not just the missiles it is the lack of launch platforms basically T45 is our only Aster launch platform & struggles to include larger more advanced versions of the missile.
Sky Sabre launchers are limited. You then have to train crews etc as well as procure more platforms. Also if you’re not part of the programs then you don’t know the true capabilities – so you would have to get permission to see the data on the missiles without buying them to at least simulate you have them.
Never mind trials etc. It’s not like popping to the MBDA supermarket and say give us 500 CAMM-ER & 300 Aster 30 NbT slot them in the launchers (that we don’t have enough of) & you’re good to go the next day.
We need to be investing more seriously in this area overland so the Navy is not pulled away from its primary tasks but also including either adding the extra 16 cells to T45 and/or upgrading A50 sylver to A70 standard.

Jorge Sanchez S

Se espera que las 3 grandes potencias en el futuro desarrollen el arma láser aunque se continúe mejorando detalles faltantes del arma misil en sus Ene usos y variantes.


To be brutally honest, lasers are still a long way off from being anything more than a close in weapon system. The other main problem that the UK would face is the maritime climate, where it is not always guaranteed to have a nice clear sunny day. Thereby with inclement weather the dispersion of the laser will mean its effective range is lessened.

In the future we may see either rail gun or coil guns replacing normal chemical guns, but again at the moment that is quite far off. The best option is still the surface or air launched anti-missile missile.


Guy Fawkes has a lot to answer for.

Mickey G

You should all read Sharkey Wards latest novel ‘Top Gun’. Some interesting and disturbing comments on the RAF’s ability on Britain’s air defence capability and the use of carrier born aircraft.


Many in the defence establishment don’t like Ward. I think it is because he is plain speaker with an insight founded in experience. You can’t knock his record. A record many of his detractors just don’t have.


X, please tell me you didn’t Downvote me here, I couldn’t live knowing that you had, after all the time I have Upvoted you on here.


No I don’t down vote.


I will add Sea Harrier over the Falklands is one of favourite books.

The RN back in 82 was huge. And surprisingly many more stayed on normal duties than went south. And some of the former were a bit jealous.

Mickey G

It’s true that Sharkey doesn’t hold back and says it’s as it is. I spent tome in the RN and MOD and it’s about time some one cut through the flannel and missinformation


Well if we can’t listen to a chap with a proven record who lead his squadron well in what was thought to be an impossible war by many then who can we listen to?

As you say there is a lot of flannel, misinformation, and simple lying in the MoD.


Sharkey Ward, Won the Falklands Air war, Single handedly……. So I read in one of his other Books.


Oh look, A down vote, were you there then ? I was.


I agree with the article. The cruise missile (CM) is still a very effective weapon and is incredibly difficult to stop. The question on how effective the Russian/Syrian air defence system was at not only detecting the Tomahawk and Storm Shadow attacks but intercepting them is debatable. Would Russia admit that they didn’t detect any or shoot any down, or claim they shot the majority down? The satellite after attack assessment images showed that a good number definitely reached their targets. It is however worrying, that the attack on the Saudi oil plant “seemed” to get not only past Patriot but to do so with only a last minute detection. This either showed the Saudis being asleep and not using the system correctly or that Patriot is not all its cracked up to be. It may also explain why Israel developed Iron Dome, Barack 8 and David’s Sling as a multi-tiered defence, as they have been operating Patriot for many years. It also shows that even “old tech” relatively slow non-stealthy CMs like Tomahawk or “locally” manufactured suicide drones, will have a very high probability of reaching their target.

For me, the best defence is a multi-tiered approach, but it will need investment. The main focus is network integration based around cooperative engagement capability (CEC). The air based surveillance platform is still the most effective means of detecting CMs. Land based radar and IR sensors will always have geography as their main Achilles. The curvature of the Earth limits the sea level detection range (explain that flat-earther). We are purchasing five E7 Wedgetails to replace the aging E3D Sentries. The Wedgetail has a better chance at detecting sea skimming CMs compared to Sentry. As recent test have proved by combining the sensors of a E3D Hawkeye or a F35 with a ship’s AEGIS missile system. Low flying targets can be engaged without the ship being in view of the target. This is where CEC comes into its own, as the Hawkeye controls the engagement, from detection to prosecution. We already know that a Sentry can use a Typhoon’s AMRAAM to target other aircraft. For us the Wedgetail should be able to do the same, if its equipped with CEC it allows more flexibility and capability, especially if there is a destroyer or frigate in the vicinity.

The main issue is that you really need two Wedgetails to cover the whole of the UK, 5 will not be enough, even when crews do extended hours. The Wedgetails need a back up. We could purchase more Wedgetails, which would be the sensible thing to do, but I don’t believe we have the budget. I would not look at Erieye as the cost would be near a Wedgetail, if based on a Bombardier regional jet. It would also need modifying to include air to air refuelling. No, the option I would look at is something that has more duration, the Hybrid Air Vehicle, Airlander 10. This airship can carry a payload of 10 tons for a range of around 4000km or a duration of 5 days. It has the space for a crew operating area and rest areas. But perhaps more crucially, it has the space to fit a 3 or 4 sided AESA radar in the envelope, to give it a field of regard (view) of 360 degrees. You could fit a Crowsnest system if you needed to do it on the cheap. The Crowsnest Searchwater radar, even though old tech, use an X band radar, specifically designed to look for sub periscopes. This means it will also have the resolution to detect sea skimming CMs against the sea’s surface clutter.

The next issue is the hard kill, what to use? The Aster missile is the obvious choice. By using either the Aster Block 1NT or the Block 2BMD will give the missile a significant stand-off range, as well as the ability to counter a ballistic missile. However, if the missile was networked via CEC and controlled by either a Wedgetail or F35 etc, it would allow a good probability of intercepting a CM. There is the small issue of getting the intercepting missile through civilian airspace without hitting anything, though I’m sure could be worked out!

Therefore, the air defence system is a development of what we currently have in place with the Sentry/Typhoon being the outer screen. But replaced by a switch to a networked system using Wedgetail and the Airlander 10 as the main sensors. The hard kill would be controlled by the airborne platform and use what ever is closest and available, but backed up with ground based Aster missiles. With the range of Aster, you would only need a couple of permanent locations in the UK. This would allow Sky Sabre and perhaps Wedgetail to be better focused on supporting deployments.

It has always baffled me, why we didn’t follow the French by using the maritime version of Storm Shadow, the MdCN version? It has a similar range to Tomahawk and there is a submarine launched version. I’m pretty certain that the missile could be integrated with the Mk41 VLS cell without much difficulty, as it’s not too dissimilar from the A70 Sylver launcher. MBDA have shown that it can be fired from a cannister launcher, so it could be fitted to a ship if it has the space and doesn’t have VLS.

Simon m

More Wedgetails would be definitely most welcome. But Don’t forget we have a number of land based systems as well.
My main concern is hard kill though – in that we pretty much don’t have any. Sky Sabre is short ranged & owned by the army who might actually need to defend themselves. I can’t see any reason as to why meteor couldn’t form the basis for a long ranged air defence missile add booster technology from CAMM scale both up 4/5 systems could potentially cover the UK? Typhoons etc can concentrate on attacking the source. Why not retain rapier as well? Its capable of cruise missile defence?

Aaron D

The retaliation threat is all well and good, but given a containerised launch from a cargo ship it could ve weeks or months before we even knew who fired at us. A cargo ship might be unaware of what it is carrying until point of operation?


I theory yes. But how it is garanteed that the container is not deep in the ship so unable to fire. Also if found – assuming it is a first surprise attack a la Pearl Harbor mission- it would be a disaster for said attacker.

Simon m

Great article self-defense should be priority 1 IMO

I’d add if things escalated the other major threat would be cruise missiles launched from strategic bombers and the range of their cruise missiles & the typical load would mean typhoons would be busy dealing with the missiles launched & never actually remove the source. Consider SLCMS at the same time & a relevantly small Typhoon forces/RN etc. (Also probably needed elsewhere) & it doesn’t take much imagination….

Having a defence system that has a longer range such as aster 30 allows engagement & re-engagement of the missiles backed up by sky sabre & HVM also gives more security meaning Typhoons can be sent hunting.

The Asymmetric/proxy Ballistic Missile threat is one that we also have no effective defense again purchase of an aster 30nbt based system could also actually aid us in this. Pretty much every other major European countries have these capabilities we can’t even be bothered to invest in CAMM-ER & the number of sky sabre is lamentable especially as they’re likely to be deployed with the army as RAF has pretty much now given up its SAM’s. Not sure why rapier is being scrapped TBH yes not the most modern system but capable of defence against cruise missiles & cheaper than procuring more crewing could be done by civilian volunteers – something a lot of people maybe keen on joining

Meirion X

To combat ballistic missile, you would need to deploy anti missiles relavitily close to the launch sites of ballistic missiles, to intercept them in their boost stage. When the missile has reached about 60 miles altitude, most of the rocket will have jettison leaving just a warhead and guidance which will reenter the atmosphere and speed up to reach terminal speed which will be hypersonic at the target point.

Simon m

That’s incorrect missiles can be intercepted at up to midpoint in it’s trajectory. You’re referring to boost phase defense. When patriots shot down Scuds debris fell in & around Tel Aviv which was their target so how were they intercepted in their boost phase? The debris would have been on the border with Iraq or inside Iraq if intercepted in the boost phase.

Simon m
Phillip Johnson

General Comment – The USSR imploded more than 30 years ago, that is a generation and a bit.
As a result of the consequent demise of a serious immediate threat to the West there is an entire generation of leaders out there, civilian and military, who experience of military action is going somewhere obscure and facing a threat no more serious than small arms and home made IED’s.
Until something occurs that forces said leaders into the 2020’s, talk will be much more prevalent than action.


And that’s no bad thing. Jaw, jaw still much preferable to war, war.


As a result of the consequent demise of a serious immediate threat to the West”

Field Marshall Bramall whos service began in WW2 including Normandy landings and commanded a division in Germany during the Cold war said he considered a Soviet attack highly unlikely during the 1970s. However his American counterpart thought it could come ‘next week’
There is even less chance of a Russian attack now than the 1970s. The Russians are even less prepared for open warfare than everyone else in Europe.


I wouldn’t say less prepared. Just not coming.


The Russian are investing in a lot of equipment. Probably as much as anybody in Europe for example the Poles. But they are not going to invade. Why would they?

Some here are so thirsty for war it is sickening and not really good for this site’s image.


I hope we have contingency plans in place to defend our critical infrastructure (eg. Faslane) or a potential adversary may well manage to do to us what we wanted to do to Rio Grande airbase ie. nobble the Etendard threat at source.

In terms of deterrence, could a cheap way to hold others more or less constantly at short-notice risk be to find a way to bolt storm shadows to our P8s? If we could also chuck a few quid at air tanker to get some booms, we’d then have a rapid global counter-strike capability on the cheap. I’m assuming that SS has a range of more than 500k in reality.


Compared to the previous Nimrod, the bomb bay of a Poseidon is tiny (about 3 and bit metres long). It can fit 5 Mk54 (2.75m long) torpedoes, but there’s not much spare space length wise. For the P8 to carry the just over 5m long Storm Shadow, they would have to be used from the 4 wing hardpoints. The US are due to integrate the AGM-158C LRASM with the P8, this is slightly shorter at 4.3m long and is probably too long for the bomb bay.

The LRASM is based on the joint air to surface standoff missile, but has a more effective sensor suite. It is designed as a stealthy anti-ship missile, but can still attack land targets. Storm Shadow is primarily a land attack cruise missile and has a sophisticated imaging infrared sensor for target recognition that it uses to compare a target’s image against. The blurb states it can be used against a static ship target, but there’s nothing stopping it from attacking a moving one.


Think outside the box. For CM defense you would like something that is both combat effective as well as cost effective. Traditional missile based interception is not ideal solution. I am thinking HEL, medium caliber “smart” ammo like MADFires and BAE developed HVP. As a matter of fact just recently US demonstrated shooting down a CM target using 155mm howitzer firing HVP projectile.

Last edited 3 years ago by Joe123

The bickering between the RAF and RN on this forum explains a lot of the reason why the armed forces in this country are outdated and lacking man power.
The different forces are incapable of aligning and influencing key government stakeholders as a single, unified and powerful entity. Thus the government can easily decline the bits and piece proposals and spend the money on other departments.


The obvious answer is that the UK needs to be able survive a limited but relatively undefended and surprise CM first strike to vital military infrastructure. By that I’m talking Faslane, the P8 base and naval harbours where the small number of RN warfighting ships are base. Feel free to add to that list. An initial strike could be airborn, could come from land based missiles at Kalingrad, from Russian subs or even from a customised civilian container vessel. It is almost impossible to prevent the launch of an attack like this militarily. So our key infrastructure and assets either need strong protection or we need strength in depth. After that we then need to be able to make the pain level for any adversary to get within launching range of our shores to be completely unacceptable. That means the ability to strike at land based missiles, the ability to dominate air-space and the ability to hunt down and destroy any hostile subs.

Always Right

where the small number of RN warfighting ships are base.”

The large number Jim. The Royal Navy by ships and tonnage being one of the largest navies in the world.


We should have more underground or hardened bunkers for our tanks, aeroplanes, submarines, etc.


I think Russia has been very smart in how it spends its money and the UK should apply some of this as lessons learned.

  1. build upon proven skillsets – keep what we know works
  2. for Russia this is long range fires, Wide Are Air Denial, nuclear and fighter jets
  3. expansion of their historically strong intelligence and cyber capabilities
  4. Invest in low cost solutions where possible and be very focused on high spend items
  5. where there is a capability gap – fill this with relatively inexpensive hybrid warfare solutions and disruptors.
  6. Pursue innovations to support non physical warfare – such as Cyber and other non traditional methods.
  7. Where you cannot compete – go asymmetric or create a “killer” product, such as hypersonic carrier killers
  8. Where you have limited assets, make those assets fully functional (small ships that are fully loaded) and capable to fight.

In short they have invested in kit very wisely either to offset clear areas of strength of NATO or to improve areas of national capability, whilst using low tech solutions to offset key capability gaps.

The UK could apply this as follows

  1. build upon 100 years of sub surface fleet
  2. Precision fires and Strike
  3. Invest in a UK missile manufacturing and storage solution for NATO.
  4. UK wide area air defence with long range missiles and radar shield
  5. Enhance our Cyber capabilities
  6. Enhance our elite forces capabilities and depth

I think we should firstly ensure the UK has the ability to provide a comprehensive air defence shield as a first step, manage the northern flank for NATO (leaving Central Europe to other allies) and maintain carrier strike, cyber warfare centre of excellence and the Nuclear Deterrent should be our priorities.


Unless the perspective is confusing; the vessel in the top photo looks like a corvette. If they are able to fire CMs, possibly hypersonic, from such a vessel then the MOD needs to review the lightly armed,” fitted for but not with” RN.

Gavin Gordon

See German navy has signed up for RBS15.

Barry Larking

The real and present threat to the nation is here already.

A. Smith

We need to design and build unmanned and autonomous capable drones in the UK made up of several classes (E.g. Low, Mid & High-End / range) as our future drone replacements.

We should also build a new class of 100m long unmanned and autonomous capable vessels (similar to the BMT designed Sea Fighter in use by the US Navy) that would allow for vessels to reach locations quickly, expend missiles and then get out quickly.
Or build an unmanned and autonomous version of the River Class and upgrade the engines to increase the speed.

Last edited 3 years ago by A. Smith
Humpty Dumpty

Why not equip Sky Sabre with CAMM-ER instead of CAMM?Additionally it could do with Aster 30, Aster 30 Block 1 and Aster 30 Block 1NT as well to provide protection at different ranges as with the S-400 system. And then provide additional defence with a mobile version of the Skyshield Air Defence System. And if MANTIS can be made mobile all the better.


Amazing to think the UK has allowed such a glaring gap in its defensive shield to grow over time without having put in place the optimal asset acquisition policy to cover the gap for something so fundamental as IAD of the motherland.


While I agree with most articles written by these guys, this is just paranoid scaremongering. Any attack on British home soil by a foreign declaration of war, something that has not happened for the past 70 years because now we all have nuclear weapons, (based on how close we came during the Cuban Missile Crisis etc and no attacks were even then made…) it would be HIGHLY lively to snowball into a nuclear war which even the Russians and Chinese want to avoid.

There will likely be actual shots fired in proxy wars, as well as on the borders of Russia and China where they might seek to expand their territories (eg the Crimea). But we are on the other side of the world from China (so what would they gain from attacking us risk provoking a huge international response?) and on the other side of a bunch of other allied NATO nations from Russia, so we’re one of the last they would go after.

Terrorism is a possibility, but few of those have submarines, nuclear-powered battlecruisers or Tu-160 bombers… (and it would be quite obvious who sponsored them if they were to get their hands on any). Especially with the new carriers, the threat of reprisals against any nations sponsoring terrorism has vastly increased.

Fair enough to protect a few key sights as a precaution… But it would be a waste of our very tight national defence budget to spend it all on trying to protect Britain from a threat that is FAR less likely than countering other more likely threats. Like attacks on our overseas territories, or Russia & China trying to exert soft power.


Time for a rethink after Putin’s attack on Ukraine.


Last I checked, Russia invaded Ukraine, not the UK.

If the UK was on the border of Russia, then it would be a very different situation and we would need extensive anti-air/missile batteries all around the country.


It would appear that the motto of the Royal Navy “fitted for but not with” does not translate into Russian, or Chinese for that matter. Despite being constantly faced by inferior British warships, and knowing that, in moderate numbers only, they can wipe the Royal Navy off the face of the ocean, the Russians still persist in building ships designed for purpose, for war, and command of the seas on which they sail. Maybe being British allows you to display to the world that £1 billion Air Defence destroyers have a very well equipped weights and physical training area instead of sea to air missile silo’s, maybe giving American Marines “the best time of my life” on a cruise around some of the worlds hot spots is important for when our backs are up against a wall, but in my book sorting out the b—–d who wants to put a great big hole through the side of your floating home is all that matters.


” the Russians still persist in building ships designed for purpose, for war, and command of the seas on which they sail.”

With all due respect this statement didn’t age well. You would hope a T45 would have easily dealt with an attack like the one on the Moskva.

M Carpenter

I was looking to gain some understanding of the UK’s defence capabilities against missile attacks on the mainland, so I just wanted to say thanks for making a summary available which is nuanced and detailed enough to cover the complexities without being unapproachable for the layperson. It would be good if the author’s name was included so a reader could find more of their content!


UK Complacency and Hubris reigning is the one message I get from reading this. This article should be compulsory reading for every MP and military officer.

Humpty Dumpty

How about using airship drones for this role?
They have long endurance and can stay airborne for days, weeks or possibly even months.

Their altitude would give them excellent radar coverage.

If fitted with lasers and operating in the stratosphere (where AIUI there’s little moisture or wind so the lasers would work optimally) then they should theoretically be very effective at shooting down all sorts of missiles. Not just cruise missiles, but also ballistic missiles and manoeuvrable hypersonic missiles. Possibly even nuclear ICBMs. They could also defend themselves from AAMs and SAMs.

1+ megawatt chemical lasers already exist and as electric lasers become more powerful they could be powered using Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). I’ve read the smalllest current SMRs can fit in a shipping container. The airship company Flying Whales makes a cargo airship that can carry up to 60 tonnes. Since the UK and Ireland are surrounded by water, using SMRs would be far less problematic compared to land-locked countries for example. This would also mean towns and cities wouldn’t be full of air defence systems, although given the choice of that or what the Ukrainians are currently going through the decision isn’t a hard one.

Other options:
– Land-based SAM systems of varying ranges and capabilities, e.g. Sky Sabre, SAMP/T, David’s Sling, THAAD, Arrow, Aegis Ashore, GBI
– Ship-based SAM systems: Aster 30 Block 1NT, Aster 30 Block 2 BMD, SM-3, SM-6
– Land-based SHORAD/C-RAM systems: MANTIS NBS, Oerlikon Skyshield and Oerlikon Skyguard
– Land-based chemical lasers and microwave weapons
– In the future the TWISTER air defence system which is currently being developed

Last edited 1 year ago by Humpty Dumpty