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Like you say good to see more being spent on defence, but it needs to be more again. We need more submarines first and foremost, this could be done inexpensively with say 5 Wyvern diesel electric subs, or another Astute or 2. Also increase the surface fleet inexpensively with more Type 31s and River class O.P.V.s to free up the more high end assets. The the R.A.F. should come 2nd, then the Army. I don’t foresee us fighting any major land wars in the near future and as an island it makes sense to fund the Royal Navy and R.A.F. first, to destroy any enemies before they even get to our country. The Royal Navy also projects and enforces Britain’s influence throughout the World, keeps the sea lanes on which we rely on as an island open, and acts as an ambassador for Britain. Britain has a long, proud history of the Navy, it will be great to see the Royal Navy growing again in modern times.


Delusional. Come up with some sensible ideas for saving money, not spending more.


I agree with your call for conventional DE Submarines and to a great extent more patrol vessels (Type 31e hasnt come to much yet but we can hope and the River OPV is too lightly armed) I believe the RN will need to expand its smaller combatants list greatly with Guided Missile Corvettes – The Russian Navy has quite a few like the Buyan and Buyan-M etc. With shipyards building them in numbers we could have some major shipbuilding growth, more secure border patrol and give officers the chance to command a ship and gain experience ?


Although some of these ideas have merit, the one thing you have not factored in is the state of personnel recruitment into the Navy. Basically, we are struggling and that is not set to improve anytime soon. There is record employment out there and a transitory workforce will not really allow us to meaningfully boost hull/submarine numbers. Alas, the cuts under Cameron have really done their work and it will be a price we pay for another decade or more.


Indeed…Recruitment has been and will be a major issue especially when the world looks more dangerously close to something major happening between the major world powers


This extra money dosnt even touch the sides. There are only 2 ways out of this almighty mess ,hope for a massive war that involves the RN or get rid of you know what.
University boats have got to go,the RN and coastguard have to be forced to work together and the type 31e has to stop, it might be be cheap but it’s an incredibly inefficient method of procurement and is fairly useless.The idea of freeing up high end ships is a fallacy,we’ve got them and we might as well use them rather than hide them round the back near the continental ferry port,even if they are overqualified.


Your pieces are always a good read and provide insight and food for thought. But when people of whatever political or interest cry ‘not enough money’ I always refer them back to where this country was in 2010. I mak NO political point her but just ask people to look at our £150 Bn a year deficit (then) and our £20 Bn deficit (now) and stop wondering why we do not have the money we all would like for the RN, RAF or Army or whatever.

When the Government is damned by its opponents for tackling that huge deficit (which annually adds to national debt) with the label ‘Austerity’ and then damned again when it says we can spend more and critics say the National Debt has risen by £700 Bn ’caused by the Tories’ you can’t blame them for being very careful where and when they do spend money.

I am utterly amazed we have managed to deliver all the new kit we have since 2010. I won’t list the details but maybe ‘savetheroyal’ could do a piece on what HAS been delivered. And I mean for EVERY Force.


Those deliveries were funded by living beyond the RNs means.PFI,the dreaded fitted for but not with,huge manpower reductions and highly inefficient procurement delays. Captain Kyd gave a rather confusing interview in which he appeared to be asking for 10,000 more sailors,who I would guess cost somewhere between £50,000 to £100,000 on average to employ every year.You do the maths, it’s time to stop living in fairy land.


He did not say that, or appear to say that. He was actually very pragmatic about the current predicament. Plus, no one said the RN was too big for its required duties prior to 2010, it was considered too small even then.

The RN does an excellent job with what it is given, even though most of the budget is under MOD control (with treasury meddling), and civil servants and politicians, rather than the admiralty.

As it is underfunded, by definition, it will be suffering degenerative effects unless it is prepared to shirk its duties, which it absolutely does not do.

As far as the economy goes, it is not in the interests of the economy to cut back on the military, primarily the RN which protects it. Particularly so as the navy is a key tool for defence, international trade, foreign engagement and diplomacy.

If a gas tanker were to hit a mine, or rebels block the straits of Hormuz for even a short time, the economic losses to the UK would make the required modest increases in defence expenditure look like pocket change. The inevitable panic in the markets would see to that in short order.


Underfunded-not prepared to shirk its duties,the outcome was inevitable. PFIs and such things as decommissioning nuclear submarines will have to paid for eventually, when do you have in mind?The navy has dug itself into a massive hole which is only going to get worse and all that new kit is going to be scrapped yet again.
I would be in favour of a modest increase in defence expenditure,but I’m not going to vote for it unless the RN can show that it can be trusted with a budget and a realistic strategy.


What would be a realistic strategy in your view? Am genuinely interested.


Basically I don’t really know what to do from where we stand now.Following the fall of the USSR the RN seemed to be in search of a role and went from one extreme to another moving from ASW to expeditionary. I can only see one way out and it’s highly unpopular and unmentionable on this site.We have to stop seeing ourselves as a global power and build a well balanced force able to take on a wide variety of scenarios rather than the unviable large carrier battle group idea.
Industrially we need to evolve ships and produce them steadily rather than launch into huge programs every 25years or so and inevitably cut them short losing the economies of scale.A modern warship is extremely complex and needs to be produced in volume and the only way to do this is through collaboration with other nations.


“Basically I don’t really know”.
That’s why no one agrees with your commentary.


The first comment currently has 8 upvotes and a couple of people voted it down.At least 10 people here are in denial and live in a fantasy land.I didn’t get us here and the only quick and ultimately inevitable solution is greeted with horror here. How about making some realiistic suggestions yourself?


Hitherto, in this post, all your comment counts are negative.


So, what do you suggest then Frank?Please don’t suggest building 8 battlecrusiers and equipping the rivers with a big gun and missiles.


At least he’d have a suggestion rather than spamming everyone’s posts saying they’re delusional and then shrugging his shoulders and saying “I don’t know”


Let’s hear it then.


We’re waiting. Enlighten us oh hypocritical one.

Iqbal Ahmed

Dern, Grubbie is the only realistic voice of reason to comment so far. We have to live within our means. Our capabilities should be cut to certain niche areas eg. Amphibious landings while our NATO allies fill in the gap.

On this forum, you can literally weigh how sensible a comment is on the number of downvotes it gets. That is unsustainable for an advocacy group trying to get traction on the defence debate.


Ah a defence debate you say? Shame you seem to use it as a means to come up with your anti-English, Anti-British, racist cry baby waffle.

Meirion X

Dreadnought program is an example of the MoD wanting a gold standard of submarine technology.
I very much think the Dreadnought program will be the main source of drain of the Royal Navy’s budget, over the next crucial decade for RN fleet procurement. Priced at around £8 billion per sub. is of poor value of money for CASD, and needs to be cancelled. The UK does not need the range of Trident D5 missile. A Trident C4 or like type missile should fit in a Astute class sub. and will be sufficient to cover the range of the North east Atlantic to Eurasia. Only the USA needs Trident D5 for the range, of the vast Pacific ocean as well as all of the North Atlantic.
If the UK needed to threaten China now, without war with Russia as well, a Vanguard sub. would need to be sent to the Pacific anyway, just think about it please!
So why not develop the Astute class for CASD with 5 new build ‘stretched Astute’s, including one for SSGN, with a added missile compartment equipped with a new missile. Cost should be around £2 billion per sub.
Maybe UK could buy USA’s old C4 missiles and upgrade them.
Some of the money saved should be spent on a more capable mid range fleet escorts and BMD for UK base’s.


We can only launch Trident with the permission of the the USA .
Dreadnought should be cancelled and the 40 billion allocated to it should be put back into the defence budget over the next ten years.

We need to build 2 warships a year to achieve value for money as per the national ship building plan.
I believe we should never have built the carriers as STOVL carriers but gone the cat and trap route giving us greater flexibility and value for money.
The type 26 should be a 12 ship class and the type 31 should be a 12 ship program as well to give the RN balance.
But that is wishful thinking we are where we are and will slowly lose capability as the NHS consumes ever more of the public spending £ .
There are no votes in defence and the oposition parties would happily reduce the armed services to a home defence force.


So Meirion and Andy, cancelling Dreadnaught would kill the production of nuclear submarines in the UK. After years of struggling to get to speed on Astute you would throw that all away. The gap would be fatal to that production capability. The UK currently shares a pool of missiles with the USA, if we we to stay with the current C4 model our costs over time would rise as our share of missiles in the pool grows larger. There is a base cost for the facilities that needs to be paid for if you have 800 missiles or 80. We also get left behind in developments on the missile, so if in the future you decide you need the next gen of missile E6? The USA is less inclined to allow it as you did not support the previous upgrade.


I believe that the C4 is long gone, if you look at you tube you can see them being destroyed. If you cancelled the Dreadnought you could build Astutes or its successors instead for a fraction of the money.

Meirion X

Where have I suggested that nuclear submarine production would end in the UK? I am advocating expanding Astute production to give economies of scale, with 5 new Stretched Astute’s ordered. Stretched Astute’s will have the same core components as standard Astutes.
Of course a new missile of 10m would need to be developed or use cruise missiles(TLM). Most of the cost of the Dreadnaught program is in the submarines.
We may have access to a pool of missiles(leased) at the moment, (we own the warheads), this will not alwas be the case in the future. We just need another unfriendly president like Obama, who said to the UK ‘get to the back of the queue’!

Meirion X

There are No economies of scale in building Dreadnaught, with only 4 to be built!
The USA is building 12 new Columbia class subs. That is an example of economies of scale!


“We can only launch Trident with the permission of the the USA”.

This old chestnut again – no, no, no!

Trident is a sovereign capability, we do not require anyone’s permission to use it in a doomsday scenario.

However, although I accept that unfortunately we require it, it is an irksome drain on the conventional detterent which obvioulsy is also essential, and offers myriad effects unlike Trident which has one – to ultimately provide the bedrock of British security, and the ultimate detterent.

I agree regarding the NHS – it is out of control, utterly unacountable, and high on ever increasing it’s share of all public expenditure to which it feels shamelessly entitled – all due to political weakness to hold it to account.

Yes, HM opposition is now Marxist, and would probably sail the fleet to Russia to be reverse engineered. The Conservatives are a basket case, but Labour is now Momentum, which craves it’s Marxist disptopia and the destruction of democracy and western society – so we are between a rock and a hard place.


Tony Blair admittedly was a terrible liar but he was prime minister so he should know when he says that in all practical terms trident can not be launched without the approval of the Americans. The Americans can also remove technical support at any time and within a few months we would be out of the game.
At least the NHS makes people better including a huge number of foreigners. The foreign aid budget is mostly ripped off or indirectly supports corrupt regimes.


That has been disputed time and time again by this website, other UK military websites, the MoD, parliament select committees and even the defence secretary himself.


The missiles are maintained in US. Obviously there are agreements, but they can and will be torn up should it suit the US.

Iqbal Ahmed

I couldn’t agree more Grubbie. You have an eye for the priorities of the voting public.

I wouldn’t miss nuclear submarines if they were scrapped or the old missiles retained. However, me and every member of my family would miss NHS capabilities if they were cut.

What I’m going to say next is provocative. Does anyone know if Putin can make the trains run on time, without concentration camp train-like cramming of passengers? Do Russian trains run despite ‘the wrong kind of leaves’ on the track? If he can, I’m all for a Russian takeover.


24 ships ,building 2 a year,that means replacing them every 12years .Do you see what the national ship building strategy was attempting to grapple with?


A better value option instead of Dreadnought would be to develop nuclear armed cruise missiles that can like Tomahawks be launched from an Astute’s torpedo tubes or VLS tubes on a surface ship. Instead of an enemy having to find and destroy the one Dreadnought at sea they’d need to do that to every Astute and Type 23 to avoid nuclear retaliation.

With the money saved:-
a) add the extra 12 VLS tubes to the Type 45’s and develop their ABM ability
b) upgun the Type 45’s to the 5” gun that’s going on the Type 23’s for standardisation across the fleet
c) upgun the River 2 class OPV’s with a 76mm gun like the Thai navy did with theirs, plus some Sea Ceptor
d) push rail-gun and laser development, the saving over expensive missiles makes this both a tactical and economic choice
e) forget about Type 31 (which increasingly looks likely to be a stretched River 2) and which has a doubtful market and build minimum 12 Type 23’s as originally planned
f) build 12 Astute’s total now the 4 Dreadnoughts are cancelled
g) develop autonomous mine-hunting capabilities that can be accommodated in ISO containers on River 2 and Type 23, freeing up crews from existing dedicated minehunters
h) develop vertical take-off and landing drones of various sizes for use from the carriers for AEW, inflight refuelling of F35’s, reconnaissance and combat missions
i) sort out some off the shelf anti-ship missiles for surface combatants pronto
j) ensure all RN and RFA ships have their own Phalanx systems at all times
k) ensure we have sufficient munitions and spare parts stores for a protracted conflict
l) bank any cash left over!


Seriously doubt frigates and amphibious ships have been “saved” for anything other than short term. Sure, if you leave a ship in port indefinitely, let it rust and can’t afford to man it, then maybe it has been “saved” by British Admirals standard.

Royal Navy has hundreds of Captains and only 17 warships ships in 2018. By 2028, predict Royal Navy will have more than one thousand captains and less than 10 warships. Perhaps they can create more then 100 Admirals by then too, I hear they are already getting close.

It costs British government at least 37.5 times the price to buy an aircraft carrier compared to Brazil.

Each new aircraft carrier = size of fleet down
Each new F35 = size of fleet down
Each new destroyer and frigate filled with every expensive unnecessary electronic gadget you can think of = size of fleet down

More £££s to BAE systems – a private monopoly!

Royal Navy in 2028 will consist of two carriers , mostly empty although containing a handful of F35s that require so much maintenance that they fly less than the F22 and Eurofighter. Most of the rest of the fleet will either be sold at firesale prices, left to rust or be scrapped. But £££s will keep flowing to Admirals, BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin!


It would be interesting if someone could do a comparison of the amount of spare brass in the RN and other navies. This problem is widely perceived to afflict all three services but difficult to research properly.


Er, yeah right.

There is so much semi literate and innumerate tosh in there I don’t know where to start.

Are you and Grubbie the same person?

“It costs British government at least 37.5 times the price to buy an aircraft carrier compared to Brazil. ” Priceless, particularly as the only one they have is an end of life LPH bought from us for £50m, whilst HMG has two brand new 5th generation 65k tone fixed wing fleet carriers.

Brilliant comparison well done.


Ah, now I’ve become the bogeyman for those who wish to live in a land of make believe and ever increasing gun barrel diameter.


I am not a fan of the dreadnought program due to the massive cost overruns that already seem to be happening.
My main problem is that it is being paid for out of the defence budget instead of the treasury special funds as the vanguard and Polaris subs where .
It will cause major funding problems for all 3 services and have a huge impact on other programs.
Osborne SDR was a brutal hatchet job that destroyed whole areas of capabilities in all 3 services and now we are paying billions to try and restore those capabilities and in doing so are robbing Peter to pay Paul and discovering Peter has no money so we decide to break his legs by taking 13 years to build 8 ships but only funding 3 , wanting 3 RFA but only building 2 , require 8 subs but only building 7 and that just the navy , the army is even worse off .
10 years and the carriers will be gone.

Matt Green

I think it’s worth clarifying to readers that the extra NHS funding is spread out over several years. The full £20 billion of additional funding will not be spent in one budget alone (as was implied the article).

Extra funding for the service will begin next year (2018/2019) and will rise to £20.5bn in 2023/24.

Of the £1.8 billion of extra funding that the MOD has received to date this year, approximately two thirds of it will be spent on constructing new Dreadnought submarines.

The key fiscal events for the MOD will actually be the 2019 & 2020 budgets. By that time, the effects of Brexit will be known and so will the state of the government’s books.

Martin Tolley

Sorry, but the increase to the NHS budget is GRP20.5Bn per annum. The increase to be in full affect by FY2021/2022 (Source: 2018 Red Book).


Personally I think that the overseas aid budget should be halved – this would release about £7bn PA for things such as defense, policing education and the NHS. I don’t think that throwing £20 bn at the NHS will do any good – it smacks of panic. There needs to be a close analysis on unit costs. Why for example surgical gloves 6 times more expensive in one Trust than another?


If you think that the NHS is inefficient, you should try working for the MOD,billions have been wasted from a much smaller budget.
If you really want to make the world’s poorest citizens richer you should totally do away with the foreign aid budget and reduce tariffs which destroy their ability to trade. All foreign aid is wasted.


Grubbie there is hope for you after all. You are quite right, foreign aid is a massive waste of money.


Foreign aid is designed to keep people dependent , Countries which have successfully escaped the clutches of the Toyota Land Cruisers do gooders have prospered .


It’s the active destruction of a democratic government. Why vote for politicians on the basis of their management of schools and hospitals if western governments are doing it?Vote for whoever doles out the most bribes.A high percentage of the money never leaves the UK, having been snaffled up by NGOs and consultants.
The argument is often made that aid increases our influence and we are thought better of by the recipients, Pakistan proves that argument wrong.


Also, we must stop stealing trained health professionals from developing countries.
A bit of thread drift,in the unlikely event of this scam ending, the MOD won’t see much of spare cash.


What we need is investment into a new recruiting program, we should be sending armed forces recruitment representatives to all schools in the country every year, addressing assembly’s etc. Explaining what an excellent career can look like in the armed forces. We should also put armed forces pay up considerably, if this means cutting more ships then so be it because at least we would have all our ships fully manned! When we have recruitment sorted then we should start worrying about the number of ships we have. We need to invest in more T31e frigates, maybe about 8 to free up the valuable assets like the t26 and t45, also more OPVs to carry out patrol duty’s so we don’t have massive warships having to carry out that duty when they should be out there serving the country in the most contested areas of the world.

Iqbal Ahmed

There will never be enough money in the kitty for the ever expanding list of over priced, feature stripped and late arriving glittering toys on Santa’s wish list.

We need a realistic appraisal of what level of defence expenditure our economy will sustain and our electorate will tolerate. We have needed this appraisal ever since the USSR collapsed but one govt after another has tried to continue with business as usual and kicking the cab down the road, but without the finances to back that up. We are fast approaching the inevitable results of this approach.