Subscribe
Notify of
guest
55 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bristol Fashion

Insightful as always! Thanks from me on behalf of the many avid readers normally too shy to post

Mike

Second that. Thank you for a great website. Let’s get Brexit sorted so we can concentrate on the real threat that is China. We are going to need a bigger navy and soon!

Iqbal Ahmed

Easy there, Tiger. We need China as a Post Brexit sugardaddy…sorry…. crutch.

In 2019, we need to stay away from needlessly offending powerful states ‘East of Suez’ and especially China’s backyard. We need to smell the coffee with regards to America’s receding commitments around the world and look after our core interests. The Foreign Affairs Committee are already thinking about a post Trump isolationist America and it’s implications. Besides, with fewer symbolic prestige-building (but substantively meaningless) deployments abroad, we will need fewer hulls and can work on improving the RN’s manpower situation for the ships we already have.

David

Yes, there is really no honour in pretending to be something that you are not. Sending a lone amphibious assault ship to China or a survey ship to Russia is not a show of strength, but really a symbol of how much the UK as a power and Royal Navy have declined. I doubt a relatively unarmed ship with a couple of hundred marines is going to intimidate a country with 1.3 billion people. Similarly, waiving some theodolites around the Black Sea is likely to have a similar impact. In reality they are sending these ships because there is nothing else to send.

While China does have the capacity to pursue much more meaningful deployments than this, it is a testament to their better quality of government that they do not perform “freedom of navigation” exercises around Gibraltar or the Falkland Islands. Such exercises would not be in their national interest just as those the UK is performing are not.

In reality, both Russia and China would be much better off as allies to the UK. These are both large creditor nations and given that the UK is now one of the world’s largest debtor nations, it is not the best practice to antagonise who you owe money to.

Of course forming allies is not in the interests of those companies who sell overpriced weapons to the UK government…

sjb1968

How many have you had. Russia an ally? This is the country that uses chemical weapons in the UK or do you believe they were taking photos of the Cathedral.
As for China they are a real danger and are now openly intimidating the nations around them with their actions in the SCS.
That the UK Government is allowing Chinese investment in UK infrastructure and telecommunications shows how naïve and desperate our politicians have become.
As for meaningless deployments I tend to agree but that is only because we have stripped our capability back so much that we can do little else. With only a small increase in spending we could do far more although I would argue sending an LPD or similar lightly armed warship on a FON exercise shows no warlike intent but demonstrates we do not approve.

David

The government of Theresa May has not provided any meaningful evidence that Russia has used chemical weapons in the UK and is relying on the British people to take them at face-value – much like their current proposal to effectively turn the UK into a European Union colony as being in the public interest.

The UK has no border with China, so what is it doing sending an almost unarmed amphibious assault ship to the territorial waters of a country with a navy more than 10 times the size? The two main countries that do have such a border are the Philippines and Vietnam. The President of the Philippines has described both China and Russia as allies, while Vietnam is a long standing Russian ally. The UK is not allied with any of these countries.

Almost everyone in the UK uses a phone that was manufactured in China or contains a large percentage of components made in China, including the iphone which is made in Shenzhen. The reality is that countries that run consistent large deficits must sell assets to foreigners that produce a surplus, this is why Chinese companies are buying UK assets. It is likely to continue unless the UK’s consistently large deficits are reversed.

sjb1968

Most people get their news from a variety of sources for reasons of balance and it is obvious you don’t. Please watch something other than RT it will help.

Meirion X

The President of the Philippines is an Idiot, like Trump! Next thing he will say, that he hates all nations!! The UK has many allies in South East Asia. You seemed to have missed a few countries out! Can you not read the atlas properly?

Mike

Appeasement of totalitarian states doesn’t usually end well. As for China’s “better quality of government”, I think you may be in a very small minority on that one, and they tend not to treat minorities very well!

David

I would encourage you to visit China to see things for yourself. Spending time in a city like Shanghai and then returning to the UK is now like coming back to a third world country. Times have changed.

Mike

Actually I have been to China. Spending time in Shanghai made my eyes water with the smog!

Mike

I have travelled extensively and I always talk to as many people as I can and try to understand how they feel about their country. In China they know they are controlled but accept this as a payoff for fear of chaos that 1.2 billion disparate people could bring without that control. In Hong Kong they now despair at the level of control the Chinese government is increasingly exerting, not to mention transforming the place in a souless way. Many told me they wish the British were back even though we didn’t behave as well as we should have, and they weren’t just saying this to be polite. No country is perfect and all governments exert a level of control to a greater or lesser extent, but I know which system I would prefer to live under and these experiences have only confirmed that. The Chinese government (not the people although they will be dragged along) want their system to be the world system, that is the geopolitical reality, and those who value a more liberterian and democratic system have to make a stand now before it is too late.

Phillip Johnson

It is a very fair question what the UK deployments to East Asia achieved.
For a Navy so stretched for resources, the RN could usefully concentrate its resources in the North Atlantic, Med and Western Indian Ocean. There they might free up other Navy’s resources.
Token visits to east Asia are just that, Token.
A meanigful carrier force is half a decade away, if it is not spiked entirely by Brexit. The UK east of the Persian gulf appears doomed to play a game of too little, too late…..and not for the first time.

Meirion X

Britain should continue to conduct Freedom of Navigation exercises across the world in International waters, into the future.
UK has a role in the upholding of the International Rule of Law, as being a permanent UNSC member. The UK works in cooperation with regional allies in Asia.

We don’t need a trade deal with China at a high price of blackmail! The Uk will trade with China on WTO terms of trade, like the rest of the world does.

At last the USA is challenging China on it’s unfair trading practices and cheating!

4thwatch

Future planning must include prioritising the next post- Astute SSN’s (at least 10) and submarine drones. I am sure the board understand this.

Iqbal Ahmed

Which part of the surface fleet would you be willing to cut for that dream to come true?

4thwatch

My aim, is increasing Defence spending at the expense of the ridiculous Foreign Aid budget, along with millions of other UK voters.

Meirion X

UK needs to procure 5/6 ‘stretched Astute’ SSN’s equipped with a Vertical Launch System(VLS). Armed with TLAM, and a medium range SLBM, and thr future Perseus cruise missile.

Meirion X

I meant in the future, the Perseus cruise missile. Also Astute VLS could launch Storm Shadow with booster rocket(SCALP), and
RUM-139 VL-ASROC anti-sub torpedo.

Meirion X

I would like to clarify that most submarine VL systems, cold launches missiles(SLBM) from tubes(silos) and ignition of rocket booster occurres at a safe distance from the sub. as it leaves the water.
A booster rocket will still be used to boost a Cruise Missile clear of surface of the sea to cruise height.

Stephen

We definitely need to increase our submarine numbers as first priority when funds become available. We should keep the extra 3 River class O.P.V.s permanently and also order a second batch of Type 31s for a total of 10. We also absolutely have to have more than 48 F-35Bs, we have spent all this money on the carriers they cannot be underarmed, our country’s reputation, prestige and defence against highly armed countries is at stake, this is no place to cut money in an uncertain World and with Brexit. We have to increase spending on defence to 3% or at the very least 2.5% with the majority going to the Royal Navy to keep our sea lanes open, and to show Britain’s presence around the globe.

Riga

You are Mr Bell and I claim a fiver

TimH

Before the RN gets any more kit it needs to achieve and sustained growth in manpower. This needs to be particularly true in the shortage trades.
The RN needs to show results not plans to grow its numbers.

Fedaykin

“A cloud on the carrier project horizon is the RAF desire to cap the UK’s F-35B purchase at 48 aircraft and switch to buying land-based F-35As.“

Pure speculation at this time, there is no evidence that the RAF wishes the F-35B order to be capped and no official statements that an F-35A order is being considered.

We have only had a leak from two RN officers who suspiciously wish to remain anonymous and tiresome paranoid screeching from the Arm Chair Admirals over the evil mascinations of the Air Vice Marshalls!

That the RAF has worked damn hard to get Carrier Strike going is ignored…as usual!

Very tiresome, if the MOD is exploring a split buy as part of the future defence program it means they are doing their job properly and examining all options which is absolutely what they should be doing.

TimH

Very well put.

Fedaykin

Show me the evidence that the RAF has requested that the F-35B buy be capped at 48 aircraft! Sorry NavyLookout unless you can show that everything you have written on this matter is tiresome paranoid nonsense that does more harm than good!

If sources are not prepared to put their NAMES to their accusations against the RAF then they can be dismissed as paranoid self interested $h1t stirrers !

The defence budget and procurement program extends beyond the desires and paranoid fears of the Royal Navy.

David

There were many people who rightly pointed out when these two enormous aircraft carriers were ordered, that there was no way the navy would be able to afford the aircraft carriers AND the aircraft.

Given that the navy cannot afford an aircraft as expensive as the F35b in any significant numbers, admirals strategy seems to be centred around attempting to take over half of the air force. Given that air force leadership understandably do not agree with this strategy, senior sources in the Navy have likely restored to leaking to the media, which is unlikely to help them long-term. If the air force does present a proposal to buy F35A rather than B, it is highly likely to be accepted by the government due to cost savings, especially with declining pound to buy an American aircraft.

The air force has many responsibilities other than taking off/landing from aircraft carriers and they are right to be looking at aircraft other than the F35b – which is the most expensive and offers the lowest performance of all F35 versions.

sjb1968

Typhoon has cost £17.6Bn to design and manufacture 160 aircraft by far the most expensive MOD project ever. The carriers cost £6Bn+ largely because £1Bn+ was spent on slowing the build and belatedly looking at a cats and traps option. A wise council would be now to maximise the potential of both. This means enough F35Bs for the carriers and fully utilising the Typhoons capabilities.
The mid to long term outlook for manned strike aircraft particularly flying over land seems to be limited with very capable missile defences so perhaps the RAF should be totally focused on a drone strike aircraft and avoid what looks like the last manned strike aircraft which is the F35A.
Anyway given according to all you Russian and Chinese loving people why do we need such a complex aircraft when we are only bombing terrorists armed with a Toyota pick up.
As for the MOD doing a job properly sorry just look at the Harrier upgrade and Nimrod debacle and you can see all three services have a poor track record of using their budgets efficiently. Of course that is because MOD procurement policy is actually managed by the Treasury and those stalwart accountants who run defence like a supermarket buying groceries. Add politicians with a total lack of understanding and you have the perfect mix of short term planning that leads to changing demands on defence and service infighting.

David

Yes, in reality this is what the £6Bn+ carriers and £160m+ F35Bs are likely to be used for – bombing terrorists in Hilux pick up trucks. It would simply be too dangerous to use them in any higher level operation. Given that they will be flying at the speed of sound and at 30,000+ feet, they won’t be able to tell with much accuracy that the occupants of the Hilux pick up truck are actually terrorists, much like current operations in the middle east involving fast jets bombing targets.

A plane like the Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano would perform this role much more effectively and at fraction of the cost. For the equivalent cost of the carriers and F35s, the UK would have been able to buy 1500+ of them. This does show you that it is more than possible to reverse the decline of the UK armed forces by removing fixation on gold plated solutions. Unfortunately there is relatively little prospect of that happening.

Meirion X

The Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano is Not a STOVL aircraft, so it can not operate from a QE class carrier. I think the US version of the Harrier could fill this role of this type of light aircraft.
CTOL aircraft require over-flying rights and basing agreements, which can be a political minefield!
An aircraft carrier sails in International waters, so aircraft can operate from a carrier in International airspace as well.
And provide best means of protecting shipping from other hostile aircraft operating from land bases.
As I see from your earlier posts David, you are hostile to Britain having a International role in the Rule of Law.
Britain has been a UN Security Council
member since WW2, that is a fact on the ground!

David

A cheap aircraft like the Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano also lacks the ability to fly into outer space and launch weapons from there. Perhaps once the military-industrial complex has finished with the idea of a supersonic “stealth” plane that takes off and lands vertically, this will be the next justification for another two or three fold increase in costs (and reduction in plane numbers).

Meirion X

The military-industrial complexes of both China and Russia are developing supersonic stealth aircraft. Surely if both countries thought that such aircraft were uneconomic, they would not have gone down a dead end route! It is mostly likely China will develop a STOVL version in the next decade. The F-35 versions will get better and cheaper with time.
I think the role of light attack, C.A.S from an aircraft carrier, could be preformed by the Apache helicopter or another more armoured helicopter.

Phillip Johnson

There is zero evidence the Chinese are going STOVL. They are certainly developing a new fighter to go alongside the J-20 and it looks a lot like being carrier capable, but the Chinese are going for catapults on their 3rd carrier which seems to be in build now.
If you can afford cats why on earth would you bother with STOVL.

Grubbie

Why not?Prop planes operated from far smaller carriers with very simple and cheap cats and traps before steam catapults were invented and often operated with neither.Even a swordfish would actually be quite useful today equipped with modern sensors and fill up the empty hanger decks.These aircraft wouldn’t survive very long against near pier opposition, but nor would the carrier battle group as it is currently projected to be configured.

Phillip Johnson

Even the simplest carrier had arrester wires. If you are operating in a secure air environment you could stick bomb racks on a crop duster, in fact someone has.
Doesn’t mean it would represent value unless the role is limited to bombing those with no air defence. A role that western forces have got far to used to.

Meirion X

If the UK was serious about procuring
CATOBAR carriers, the decision should have been made 20 years ago in design stage. I have only seen illustrations of a CATOBAR QE class carrier with only two catapults installed, not 4 like a USN Supercarrier, or even 3. With only 2 catapults it would have low sortie rates similar to the French carrier or old Ark Royal, which would rise questions of value for money. I am not sure why 3 electromagnetic catapults
could not have been able to be installed on a CATOBAR QE class carrier. Possibly it could be power generation capacity.
It’ll be good to hear from someone who does know.
At least with the old STOVL carriers, even though to their small size, did have reasonable sortie rates!

Grubbie

No money

Grubbie

I didn’t say that it was necessarily a good idea, although survivability can’t be any worse than AEW Merlin. Theoretically CAP is supposed to protect them,if there are enough fighters.

Grubbie

The simplest carriers might have had arrestor wires ,but not all aircraft had hooks.The thought of flying a swordfish from the QE2 must have occurred to man.

David

Sticking bomb racks on a crop duster or building swordfish aircraft would be better option than F35s for bombing terrorists in Hilux pickup trucks even on a one-to-one basis, notwithstanding the fact you could probably buy more than 100 for the price of one.

The F35 is basically a flying fuel tank with thin coating surrounding a huge engine. One bullet hit and the whole thing will go up in flames. A crop duster or swordfish will be more survivable and able to visually identify targets. F35 will only be able to fly very high for safety due to its vulnerability to ground fire.

Meirion X

The F-35 can carry a ordnance load of 20000 lb in total, so the airframe must have a lot of strength.
A bullet would never reach a height of 15000 ft, even beyond AAA, which is the height of ordnance release.
Also the price of the F-35B has fallen to $115 Million, Not miss-info of £160M!
I see David, you are still Not making much of an effort to learn much about the F-35!!

David

This is a bit like saying a house with paper walls is secure because it has a strong steel or timber frame,

It’s nice you seem to have more information on the price that the UK parliament’s own defence select committee, which both the Ministry of Defence and Lockheed Martin have refused to provide accurate information to on the overall cost of each plane.

Lockheed Martin PR shills certainly active here.

Meirion X

Earl Howe has just clarified in the HoL that UK F-35B’s to be delivered at a price of $115.5M each.
The F35’s skin is composed of ‘carbon composite’,most info on this type of material is classified. But this type of material is much stronger then fiber glass, just think of diamond!

David

I trust this claimed price includes the engine and all parts necessary for the plane to fly. Evidence is that the ones already purchased for more than £160M did not cover all necessary equipment.

Bea

You are Andy and I claim a tenner!

Andy Tiller

Thanks for a very interesting informative article. The one blot in the year for me is the decision to open up the RFA contract to international tender, rather than building in the UK and supporting the shipbuilding industry. This is needed to ensure continuity of work at Rosyth for example. If you agree then please sign my petition at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/235377

Ian

Thanks – this is one of my favourite sites. It’s a rare detailed insight into The RN.

For me, it’s great to see so much of the long term pipeline start to really show itself. We have quite a lot of shiny new & existing tools and they look to be as good as anything out there.

QE’s, Astutes, T-45s, T-26s, F-35s, Sea Ceptor & Merlin’s are all world class.

Also very pleased that Gavin Williamson seem to have at least stemmed the rot of ever deeper cuts.

However, the fundamentals remain the same as they have for the last few years, too little mass in critical areas – SSNs, Frigates, F-35s, Merlins, Helicopter carriers, offensive and defensive weapons & personnel, plus the insanity of building new RFA ships abroad.

Tories talk tough but flatter to deceive, Labour just avin a laugh planning to put Smarties in those sub tubes means there is still no leadership on defence worth a vote. MDP names China / Russia as threats but not made any moves to counter that other than stopping further cuts. Zero faith in any current political leader to change trajectory & after recent events which looks like both are locked in for years yet.

Have great faith in RN, our sailors and our tech – just want some political leadership to match the threat.

China is coming.

Grubbie

2019, reality strikes.The MOD has spent and largely wasted all its money for years to come.If only the politicians hadn’t been so weak and allowed them to get us into this vast hole in order to feed the military industrial complex,rather than for any reasonably thought out strategy.

Grubbie

£100,000,000 spent by the government on extra ferries to cover potential mess from brexit.This is a marvellous opportunity for the navy to make itself useful or at least appear to be useful. Has any planning been done, or will it be the usual last minute unworkable sham effort?

Merlot

Grubbie, please explain exactly how you envisage the Navy “making itself useful” in the circumstances you refer to.

Grubbie

Point and bay class.No,I don’t think it will be particularly effective either, except in dire circumstances.
But look what happens every time, and will happen again. Strike action, volcano in Iceland, etc. Government panics under pressure from the population and the navy either volunteers to help or is pressured. Some ridiculous scheme is thought up that involves an assault ship or aircraft carrier (those with not particularly long memories will confirm that I kid you not)and will be ready within a couple of weeks,by which time its all over.
The whole coastguard/navy mess is being demonstrated in the channel as I write,and the “I thought it was your responsibly “approach at Gatwick. The navy needs to be ahead of the curve.

OOA

Thanks for providing a really enjoyable read in 2018. I find it a real treat when a new article gets posted here and look forward to more in 2019.

Captain Nemo

2019?

The navy needs to start playing a long game and institutionalize rolling production within the UK to put some voters, unions and MPs in its corner.
The coming year offers the opportunity to make a start with the Type31; as I’ve said elsewhere I’d like to see a long production run replace a number of classes and with a bae win I’d love to see it putting jobs and money into Merseyside.
But can you imagine the noise if anyone ever tried to take it off them?

Grubbie

“Experience has seen the core ships complement requirement grow “and we are no where near operational yet.Incompetence or fibbing?