Donald Trump’s recent ascendency to the position of the Republican Party’s presidential candidate has been controversial to say the least. Throughout his campaign, Trump hasn’t minced his words or left anyone in doubt on a number matters. The issue of American defence spending has not escaped Trump’s attention, specifically his nation’s contributions to NATO.More
Following on from the 2015 article about the stretched Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service, this is an update on current operations. Like the naval service, manpower shortages, tight budgets and industrial issues, together with ever-increasing demand for its services are creating a perfect storm of pressure on the RFA.
In an earlier article we considered how the RN needs more weaponry to sink enemy warships. At the same time, the development of an increasingly dangerous new generation of weapons for use against surface ships is evolving. The RN is currently completing the design of the Type 26 and beginning the design of the Type 31 Frigates. It is vital that these 2 platforms are equipped to successfully resist these new threats. There are six emerging weapon categories that are of particular concern; hypersonic missiles, ballistic missiles, cavitating torpedoes, rail guns, lasers and UAVs. In this article we will focus on the missile threat.
Two Royal Navy submarine officers recently participated in the US Navy’s ICEX 2016. Two American attack submarines (SSNs) navigated under the Arctic ice and surfaced where a camp was established on an ice floe. Shortly after the exercise concluded it was announced that an RN Trafalgar class submarine will conduct under-ice operations in the Arctic in the near future. Although a strategically wise decision, this is another pressure on the RN’s stretched SSN fleet which numbers just 7 boats.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (Lightning II) programme has been one of the most controversial defence projects of all time. The decision to abandon CATOBAR for the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers means their credibility rests largely with the effectiveness of the F-35B Lighting II. Born in the internet age where critics can spread negativity in a few clicks, (guilty your honour) the overwhelming public and media perception of the F-35 is of an expensive disaster. Those who dare to champion the aircraft, or are at least willing to give it a chance are ignored, written off as establishment stooges or seen as part of a sinister conspiracy.
In the immediate post-Cold War era the focus of naval operations changed from conventional open-ocean warfare towards maritime security, coastal operations and amphibious warfare. The possibility that fleets of warships might again have to slog it out against each other on the high seas seemed increasingly unlikely and even rather old-fashioned. Geopolitical changes manifest in the revival of the Russian Navy and the rapidly growing Chinese military are now driving western navies to seriously re-think their ability to sink warships.More
The case for Trident – answering common arguments against renewing Britain’s nuclear weapons capability and the Royal Navy’s successor submarines.
In 2016 Parliament approved the construction of 4 replacement of ‘Successor’ ballistic missile submarines for the Royal Navy. Despite majority public support, a very vocal minority opposes British nuclear weapons and the subject continues to be hotly debated.
Although far from perfect, the decisions made in the SDSR appeared to offer something good for all the UK armed forces. At first glance the RAF appearing strongest; retaining its Tranche 1 Typhoons, orders for F-35s and 9 new P-8 Poseidon aircraft. The Economist breathlessly reported “Spies, special forces and the Royal Air Force are the main winners”. In fact the SDSR was very maritime-centric with the RN the main beneficiary.
It is no secret the RN has been struggling with a serious manpower shortage, particularly with technically qualified personnel. The modest increase of 400 people for the RN announced in the SDSR was greeted with disappointment in some quarters and criticism that shiny new kit was being prioritised ahead of the people needed to operate it. Although the RN would undoubtedly benefit from having more people, the true state of its manpower resources is more complex than may appear.More