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ETH

Just 8+6 jets now? That’s reduced a lot from the original 12+12.

Robert

Your last article said Autumn GroupEx would be a 400% increase from the previous 7 aircraft; hence 35… yet here you mention 21 aircraft?

Jayce

A 400% increase on 4 x F35 is 16, Robert.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jayce
Robert

400% increase is an increase of 16 – hence the original 4 plus 16 giving 20 F35 in the next exercise (plus 3 original Merlin plus 400% increase of those = 15 Merlin)

Last edited 1 year ago by Robert
Degradable

I cry foul… bloggers should be wary of citing numbers as you really have no idea….

https://www.navylookout.com/looking-ahead-us-marine-corps-aircraft-to-embark-on-board-hms-queen-elizabeth/

“When HMS Queen Elizabeth sails for CSG21, expect to see 24 F-35Bs and rotary wing assets on board. 12 aircraft from 617 Squadron will be joined by 12 US Marine Corps aircraft, probably from either VMFA-211 or VMFA-122. “

ATH

That was a year ago. Plans change particularly in the current situation.

Degradable

You miss the point…..

BigH1979

With respect plans are not evolving, that is an optimistic government euphemism. In reality changes are being forced on the CSG which are forcing us to sail unprepared and underarmed.

Degradable

You still said 12 + 12 in the article I linked to. Which was what the OP highlighted and Then you say it was never 12 + 12….

Additionally many others in defence circles stated 24 Jets for the first deployment.

This was meant to be a showcase. But it is in danger of being the complete opposite.
Old Escorts in the form of 23 with some updated component parts. Yet the replacements are still on the drawing board OR in painfully slow build.

Type 45 without enhanced power, which gives current serving personnel concerns over the reliability of the vessels.

A carrier with no AEW, which is whichever way we look at it a complete failing of procurement.
Sadly we don’t even have an order for solid support, so Fort Victoria will have to soldier on.

I for one am bitterly disappointed that the procurement process for all services has become a “car crash”, caused by political indecision possibly exasperated by lack of clear strategic plan by “Top Brass”.

Let’s see this for what it is, rather than blundering on with a Pre Covid attitude of “We Brits have the best equipment and ……”

Last edited 1 year ago by Degradable
Duker

Even USMC squadrons going to/have downsized from 16 to 10

andy reeves

strike group my FOOT ! 24 f 35’5 and a few tomahawks lobbed” from an astute. wouldn’t bother tahiti the force needs a more capable cruise missile ability MBD AND bae SHOULD BE TASKED WITH BUILDING A CLUB K LIKE SYSTEM. A CONTAINER WOULD FIT ON EVERY r.n SHIP. 4 CRUISE MISSILES per ship THAT’S A STRIKE GROUP.

Last edited 10 months ago by andy reeves
4thwatch

Will US Marine Corps please bring your LRASM’s with you when you embark? BTW don’t forget to leave them aboard when you disembark.

Nombre

USMC doesnt have LRASM and likely won’t. It is a B-1 and F-18 only weapon right now

X

The USMC do fly FA18. Though they use Harpoon no reason why LRASM couldn’t be flown without much fuss if needed.

Meirion X

LRASM is a useful warpon for the F-35B, even carried on external pylon only, a long range stand off, just like the Storm Shadow.

andy reeves

IF THEY EVER GET STORM SHADOW INTEGRATION WITH THE F 35

Phillip Johnson

That is a brave statement. In the digital world adding a weapon means making the weapon software work with the aircraft software.

X

Brave? Making a ‘statement’ on the internet is brave? Wow.

Do you think there is much difference between USN and USMC FA/18? Do you think if the US needed USMC FA/18 to fly LRASM it would take years and years and years and would be extremely problematic? Or just take a few months?

Brave? FFS.

Duker

Difference between USMC and USN F-18’s ?
Why yes. The USMC has consolidated with the older F-18C and D models, while the USN has moved to the newer F-18E/F/G.
For the the deployed carrier squadrons the Marines ‘could’ be getting the F35C to replace its old F-18s

andy reeves

if we had a single u.k defence force things would be better organised.

Paul

Pretty sad that she sails on her first deployment with only 14 jets? We have more jets and can do better than that so can the USMC. Is this a case of the RAF refusing to deploy the whole of 617? Unfortunately this just reinforces the belief that we have a carrier with no aircraft…….

Dean

it may ‘only be 14 jets’ but the fact its the largest deployed f35 group afloat says how far along the actual build schedule for the jets are

Paul

Good job we’re teaming up with an American Carrier. When you actually look at it, it’s primarily a US Deployment with the UK contributing just 4 jets on our new carrier……..got to be honest, its pathetic

Callum

Oh definitely, this is clearly a US deployment. Apart from the British carrier…with the majority British airwing (with 8, not 4 British Lightnings)…escorted by 4 British warships and a British submarine…supported by British auxiliaries.

If it was any more American, we’d be renaming the Dambusters the Screaming Eagles and trading our beer for piss.

Max Jones

How? Are the 8 UK F-35Bs, ASW/AEW merlin squadron, five-ship escort squadron, two-ship auxiliary force and the carrier itself only support for the USMC’s 6 jets? It’s a joint operation which, in this case, the UK is clearly taking the lead on.

TrevorH

I think this is the point… The first plane flew an age ago. It is still evolving. If everybody had waited till the fully finished and tested plane had been ready, then we would ever have got any in service.

borg

Hello Paul, We Have more Jets, yes but only a few ( Squadron) of F35’s that are capable of embarking, hence only the 8 that are mentioned in the article. Given time, we will have more, how many ? we will not really know for some time as it’s all up in the air (so to speak) but I share your views here to a degree, It’s just that We as a nation are not too cash rich lately and neither do we as a nation see it as a priority ( History has a nasty habit of repeating itself ) I for one though, love to see the RN going in the right direction and a few other Countries will be a tad envious ether way.

Gavin Gordon

I’ve mentioned before, tongue in cheek, that if we really wanted to repeat history / temp fate in this instance, we’d send POW.

Gavin Gordon

‘Government have yet to decide where the SCG21 will be sent’. I feel this indicates that, if we decided on a freedom of navigation move close to SCS bases or the Chinese decide to make a fleet move in counter, the USMC will augment their F35B numbers or we’ll run in concert with a US SCG.

Mark

Thanks. Great detail and informative.

Masterblaster

Whilst this is all good news, and it’s great to finally see things coming together towards a complete CSG; The economy has contracted significantly (Covid + Brexit = mess), so even if the government maintains 2%, it’s still going to be a massive reduction in real terms spending ability. Essentially, the armed forces are about to get a thorough gutting in the upcoming defence review (again) which raises the serious question as to whether Britain can afford to run two carriers, their air wings and supporting assets given the ambitious modernisation programme that both the Army and Navy are attempting to work through right now. Worrying times.

RobW

I think we can expect a few cuts but less than which has been reported in The Times. It is always the same, leak details of big cuts so when the actual announcements are made everyone breathes a sigh of relief rather than focusing on what has been lost.

What we really need is a strategic direction so we can focus our budget on what matters most, not on trying to keep a complete range of capabilities but without the mass to make it work.

Stephen

I agree. I think we could lose amphibious capabilities, which have been in the firing line for a while.

4thwatch

We should make a reduction of the aid budget to 7% of actual GDP for 36 months and ring fence Defence with an actual increase in GDP % terms. When push comes to shove Defence should have priority. A cut in immigration would also save money in Education, Soc Security and Health spend. The French are much better at prioritising Home Grown industry. What is wrong with our civil service and politicians? Have they learned nothing from the last election?

ATH

Defence spending doesn’t win votes. It’s clear the government is going to prioritise infrastructure spending to keep the most people in jobs.

Gavin Gordon

That’s true, but counting votes is for Parties to angst over. A Goverment’s job is to govern to the best of it’s abilitywhilst in power – with regard to the overall economic and security benefit of the populace, as you know. The Cabinet are currently presiding over a useful majority with low interest rates and should make it count in these parlous times.
Regards.

ATH

In an ideal world that might be true. I the real world the PM will be hearing from the chief whip and party chairman about what the backbencher and wider party want to see done to help win the next election. These days most parties start the next general election campaign as soon as their election night party hangover clears.

Joe16

I’m not sure if you noticed, it hasn’t made a lot of news (when it really should), but China has escaped serious censure at the UN over Hong Kong. Even with so many western countries up in arms about it, even more countries actually sided with China. These were, in the main, developing countries that have heavily benefitted from the Chinese belt and road initiative and they’ve reciprocated by backing China in international politics.
That is why we have a foreign aid budget, it is practically useful in generating international support for British goals, in addition to the long-term reductions in immigration due to improved stability and opportunities in the countries that we support. Cutting it would not be at all dissimilar to cutting our forward presence in the Baltics, from the point of view of lost international support and influence that would result.
I fully agree with you regarding home grown industry though; not sure why we can’t use some of that economy kick-start money to order more Merlin and Wildcat (or even a Puma replacement?) that could be manufactured by Leonardo in Dorset, or the FSSS ships from a UK yard, or bin troubled JLTV and go with the UK developed one that everyone likes (name escapes me, but I think it’s Foxhound or Jackal). Those are just things that I can think of off the top of my head that would boost jobs and provide long-term investment in the economy, specifically the more deprived regions of the UK, and provide our miliitary with UK-made world-class gear they have a clear need for.

Cam

China pays well to support their corrupt ways….

Stephen

China may indeed give money to build roads etc., but they certainly do not allow millions upon millions of foreigners to live in China like we do, which leads to all kinds of frictions and divisions in a country which weren’t there before, not to mention gang rapes of underage girls, terrorist attacks, etc.

We are already around 20% non native in the U.K., we have allowed more than enough immigrants in by now.

I completely agree about supporting British industry though.

Cam

Your a retard, the uk is still 87% white! Scotland 97% white….

Joe16

I’m not sure where you’re going with this…?
Your argument is enormously broad and, as many of my closest friends are immigrants, offensive.
Most recognised economic theory pretty clearly shows that immigration is good for the economy rather than bad for it; European immigrants, for example, on average contribute more to the UK economy than the average British person. If you want to look at it from an economic perspective, surely you’d want to maximise the numbers of these immigrants coming into your country?
The recent Brexit and Coronavirus news has shown very clearly the key role that immigrants play for farming, and in the NHS (let us recognise that COVID-19 mortality amongst black and minority ethnic groups is skewed higher in no small part because they are disproportionately represented in the medical and care professions, and honour that sacrifice).
I am not going to gloss over the fact that there are some very unpleasant parts of other cultures that have unfortunately not been left behind when coming to the UK, honour killings and suchlike. But if 20% of the UK are immigrants (I dont know if that’s true, but I’ll take your word for it), then the proportion of that behaviour is very small.
I honestly don’t think that the whole immigration issue is a zero sum game; it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that the whole economy is functioning as productively as possible, rather than just London’s financial services sector, and they have failed in that for the last 40-odd years. It is the peoples’ responsibility (native born or not) to seek gainful employment where it is available, rather than rely on the government to provide it, and frankly native Brits are worse at this than they should be.
That stuff that we agree about, the boosting of British industry, should have been done years ago. But either way, if done properly now, should provide plenty of jobs for Brits and immigrants (or future Brits, if you like) as well. And then, with healthy GDP, that 2% that defence gets works out to be a pretty tidy sum.

Will O

Joe, you fail to make any distinction between regular & irregular migration, & their economic effects are very different. Regular, managed migration is generally good for economies, irregular migration however is almost always detrimental economically.

Unfortunately, some of our politicians over the years (e.g. Blair) have similarly failed to draw that distintion too.

Joe16

Admittedly not explicitly, no. But neither did the original poster. The sway of his argument and the instances he cites against immigrants very much cover the two (none of our home grown terrorists were irregular immgrants, neither the rape gangs). Now I, for one, feel that anyone who commits crimes like that immediately lose their privilidges of residence and get returned to their country of origin. It’s a bit more complicated with terrorists, as setting them free so they can learn more and become a danger to British interests and others abroad is arguably not the best plan.
My arguments above are for regular migration, for clarity, and are certainly less valid for illegal immigrants. Having said that, illegal immigrants (including their children) by latest estimates by LSE make up about 1% of the total population of the UK. While that is still a nett drain on resources as they won’t be paying taxes yet still likely make some use of services, they will still be contributing to the general economy by working and buying things. All told, while something that should rightly be controlled and minimised, I don’t think they make a significant impact on the country’s GDP.

Andy

Actually the % of the UK population born abroad is 12% in 2019 .
In 2001 in was 9% .
What people do not realise is the UK has a history of immigration from the 8th century onwards from the Scandinavian, Norman’s, Fleming, Roma,huguenots ,indians ,Irish ,Africans,Germans ,Russian Jews and that is before WW1 .
After WW1 you had German Jews, Polish Jews, Hungarians, Chinese, Italians up to WW2.
After WW2 the uk allowed people from the commonwealth to settle here freely.
It changed when we joined the EU .

We are a richer country for all the people who have settled here .

Joe16

I fully agree, I think it is a good thing that we have immigration into the country.
The percentage figure I gave was for illegal immigrants only, sorry if I wasn’t clear about that. 12% international-born legal immigrants sounds about right.

Cam

But Stephen it is a shame that the authority’s failed Thousands of young Underage groomed girls all over the UK! Just Because the cops didn’t want to be see as racist, And it was majority asian men and majority Pakistani men that raped and used these young girls! It’s shocking, if anyone doesn’t believe me on how shocking this whole story is look it up…. it’s shameful…

And we still allow millions into the UK further degrading our lives! Putting our children and our own lives at risk!! We have Less doctors appointments dentist apontments, less local school places, less housing, less jobs, less opportunity’s, higher rent, higher waiting times for almost everything… More congested roads, trains, subway, these are just a few of the things we british have to deal with With mass immigration.

We should have balanced immigration so our country can Cope with it…. A city far larger than Liverpool is the size our population grows every single year.. And I have immigrant Friends and even they agree it’s too much for a small island nation.

The government only cares about the economy and more people means more money, but lots of the british population are starting to think who gives a shit about increasing our already huge top 6 on earth economy when our standard of living are getting far worse. We already have. A huge economy increasing our population By millions every 4 years is a huge mistake and we are all suffering in almost every Single AREA apart from cheap workers that undercut and are far cheaper than British tradesmen.. Mad then the cheap workers send the money out of the UK to their homes….

Paul.P

Like most countries we are to a large extent a prisoner of our geography and history. Empire was in a way the UK solution to the european wars of religion; economic growth became our religion. This requires excess population growth; net immigration ( although it is interesting that net immigration since the 1967 abortion act is roughly the same as the number of abortions, 200k per year).
This worked ok while Britain had a captive market for our exports and a Commonwealth to feed us with cheap food; sort of a city state model on a worldwide scale. The UK cannot feed itself, unlike France. But all good things come to an end. The commonwealth states became independent and wanted things you could fix without Whitworth spanners. Who wants a Morris Marina when you can buy. a VW Golf?
Trouble is we had an empire for so long the UK ( well actually the English) are a bit like the child in play group ‘ doesn’t play well with others’ so EU membership didn’t work for us. I must admit I was hoping if we stayed in the EU we could outsource the NHS and Education to the Germans – happy days. However it seems with Brexit we will be stuck with Group 4. Anyway, we are trying to resurrect a global model. The David Cameron plan was that China was going to be our ticket out of the EU. I’m not sure what Plan B is. Wind turbines, allotments, cycling and ‘hospitality’?
Look after the Royal Navy. Keep that healthy and you keep England healthy. And pray for your country.

Meirion X

Could not the former British colony of Brunei be used to resettle most Hong Kongers? Drain most of the people away from HK, and China will regret what they done.

Geo

I doubt the Sultan of Brunei will be thrilled with that plan.

Joe16

To be honest, I’m not sure the Hong Kongers would want to go. Brunei enforces Sharia law as an Islamic kingdom, whereas the vast majority of people from Hong Kong aren’t even Muslim, let alone Islamist (those who would actively want to live in a state governed by Islamic law).
I know it’s a bit of beggars not being choosers, but I’d frankly far rather take hard working professional Hong Kong “refugees” than I would from many other places if I had to choose.

Jonathan

Leonardo in Somerset, thank you very much. Dorset is a nice county but it’s Somerset that builds our nations rotors.

Joe16

I consider myself corrected, apologies

Branaboy

UK foreign aid budget is no where near 7% of GDP. It is 0.7% of which it is estimated less than 40% leaves UK shores. Most of it is used to pay for UK based goods and services so in actual fact it keeps UK citizens employed (most of whom are Caucasians) and UK companies in “clover”. It’s high time so called “Nationalists” on this great website stop spewing their political right wing misinformation . The UK is economically in trouble with the pandemic, and the oncoming economic recession. The UK has a great chance to steal a march on Europe, US and China if it would sit up and harness the advantages it has with the British Commonwealth of Nations which is predominately black and brown. A market in excess of 1.5 billion black and brown souls in Asia and Africa. It is time to embrace a multi-ethnic and cultural UK. The clock of time cannot be turned back. Immigration and immigrants is what is going to keep an aging UK vibrant with a young productive workforce. The services and sacrifices of immigrants in the NHS is currently on display for all of us to see.

Will O

Why do discussions on immigration so often descend into discussions of race? It’s very ugly & completely unnecessary.

Cam

Well the uk is mostly “Caucasian” so makes sense!!

Meirion X

The Aid budget is Nowhere near 7%!
It is only 0.7% of GDP!

TrevorH

Aid is 0.7%.

Gavin Gordon

Share your concerns over the ‘Cummings Defence Review’, but the Covid issue should not of itself impinge overtly. Unless we’re struck by another wave with an almost incomprehensible further lack of precautions (e.g. provisioning and commanding everyone to mask up), the economic knock should be relatively short term with regard to long lead military planning i.e. any 2% fall should remain an aberation.
The issue, as always, really depends on what statements we wish to make internationally and where we think our military can best support and promote these objectives. Not an easy call over the long term, of course. However, it wont be best served by thinking the latest internet warrior craze offers a cheap way forward. IT and Intel are essential ingredients to be fuly embraced, but wont replace hardware if push comes to shove.
Regards.

Will O

Talking of IT & Intel, so much fuss being made now about Huawei, but I rather wish the powers that be had been as concerned about China two years ago when they let this particular deal go through;

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/2173593/china-matches-nato-information-arms-race-deal-ferrari-war-room

4thwatch

The Belgians really are a load of trouble for such a small country. The Congo, WW1, and the EU HQ; now this.

Jonathan

It’s fair to say, covid is going to be hitting hard for at least this winter. Prepare for a bit of a mare to be honest. Remember that the first 4 months of this pandemic have only seen around 5-10 percent of the the uk population affected with covid 19.

Winter will be bad even without a second wave ( which will come) simply because the average person gets around 4 cold and flu like diseases every winter. Functionally that’s a household of 5 having to be isolated and tested somthing like 20 times over the winter period……When you add in the impact of the second wave ( modelling is saying around 150000 deaths) its inevitable that we will be doing little more than trying to limit the number of casualties, keep the lights on and and feed everyone this winter.

it’s not just our own nation remember our economy is linked globally and this virus is going to be wrapping its loving arms around the world for the next year, with millions of deaths.

Steven G

Fantastic info and thanks.

May 21 escorts identified and logical.

Autumn 20 escorts seems to imply ally ships.

We can’t deploy in May without a training exercise before using equivalent RN ships surely? Or is May deployment that training exercise ?

Ron5

Excellent article. Thanks.

Cam

The Royal Navy need more merlin mk2s! And I didn’t know we disbanded 849 squadron! Jesus we have far to few choppers and thats maybe why!! The RAF has lost all their Merlins and all the navy sea kings are also gone and not properly replaced Either! The Armys puma will be going in the near future along with the gazelle, I really hope we at-least get replacements for them! That’s over 50 with just those two airframes but in reality we need 100 more choppers Of various kinds to replace what was lost.

Last edited 1 year ago by Cam
Daveyb

Puma’s RAF mate. The RAF Merlin HC4s were given to the Navy and was supposed to replace the Sea King Commandos, though it wasn’t a one for one replacement.

Cam

Yeah pumas are RAF thanks for Pointing out my mistake m8. Yeah nothing is a one for one replacement these days sadly, Atleast we will have 50 new Apaches, I originaly thought they would cut the numbers again. Do you think we should build more Merlins Or Wildcats to replace the Pumas and gazelles or what options the most likely? Couldn’t we build a striped down wildcat with better troop carrying capacity and skis to replace gazelles.

DaveyB

The problem with Merlin, serviceability not withstanding, is its size. It nearly has the same footprint as a Chinook. Puma, although old and knackered can land inside walled compounds, which it was doing quite successfully in Iraq and now in Afghan after the engine upgrade. It cannot operate from a ship in anything less than a glass sea state, as it is very tall with narrow undercarriage, so will tip over in any kind of swell. Eurocopter, have with the Super Puma splayed out the rear legs of the undercarriage, but is still limited on sea conditions compared to the Merlin.

There are a few “off the shelf” replacements for Puma, with the Blackhawk being the obvious choice. The Blackhawk was part of a package deal the US Amy had offered us to replace Pumas, but we went with the Puma 2 upgrade instead. There is also NH90, which comes with a ramp and is also maritime qualified and Leonardo’s AW149 series. The AW149 would probably be the cheapest whilst NH90 the most expensive. The Blackhawk comes with years of experience and a massive support and logistics infrastructure, whilst the AW149 is only really getting started. NH90 has been sold to quite a few countries now, it has had its issues, but by and large is quite a good aircraft. In some respects, it could replace both Wildcat and Merlin in the anti-surface and ASW roles.

However, Puma has had its OSD extended again to 2025 and will probably go a bit further. Although this may clash with Merlin’s OSD of 2030. I think the RAF are waiting on the outcome of the US Army’s future long range assault aircraft (FLRAA) program. There have been no announcements or rumours of what aircraft is going to replace Puma. The only helicopter announcement is the purchase of the new buy Chinooks. These are being bought primarily for the SF community and will be used to replace some of the original Chinooks we bought in the early 80’s. The Puma’s role is too important not to replace, but is limited on where it can operate from, i.e. not from a ship. So its replacement must be capable of doing this. Also when transported by C17, you only need to take off the main rotor blades of and a couple of the tail rotor blades, so the aircraft when at its destination can be up and flying in less than two hours. Which may also need to be considered on its replacement. This is something the Blackhawk was also designed to do.

Of the two competitors on the FLRAA program, its difficult to judge which way the US Army will go. The USMC also want to replace their Huey fleet and I can see them going for the Valor, due to its greater range and speed, which will become very important if they need to clear atolls in the South China Sea. Bell have already shown a full scale mock-up of a marinized Valor, with a folding wing and rotors. Whilst the smaller landing footprint of the Defiant may suit the Army. The Defiant would definitely suit a gunship role compared to the Defiant, as it will be more agile when hedge hopping.

I think one of the top priorities for the FAA is to get the old Merlin HM1s out of mothballs, resurrecting them as dedicated Crowsnest equipped aircraft. This will be better for fleet management of the HM2s as there’s not enough of these for ASW as well as AEW.

The Gazelle is way past its best and obsolete for the observation and reconnaissance roles that today’s missions require, but its cheap to operate and simple to maintain. The choice for this could be the Wildcat, but that is horrendously expensive. So perhaps the training aircraft that we currently use, i.e. the Eurocopter H135s or the militarized EC635 version would be good for this role. The basic EC135 is just over $4 million US, whilst a Wildcat is upwards of $32 million US. Not sure if its cleared for operating off ships though, but as Japan is buying 15 of them for their Navy, you could assume they might be.

Ron5

“I think one of the top priorities for the FAA is to get the old Merlin HM1s out of mothballs”

Too late. They’re beyond recovery.

DaveyB

If they have been stripped to a bare shell, they aren’t beyond use. The picture below is supposed to be one of the HM1s in storage at Shawbury. It has clearly had the main components removed, including by the looks of it the Seaspray’s radar and fairing.
comment image

The HM1s are basically a blank canvas. If we decide to turn the eight HM1s into dedicated AEW aircraft, then they would be perfect. The aircraft will not require the ASW kit and it doesn’t really need the Seaspray, so some money can be saved there. They already have the folding tail, so it doesn’t need this modification, unlike when the RAF HC3/3As were converted to Commando HC4s. Then these would be cheaper to rebuild than buying new and doesn’t bite into the HM2 fleet.

Ron5

Go find pictures of all of them, then come back.

Paul

Here’s 3

Paul

Turning these into dedicated AEW platforms makes a great deal of sense, actively making use of existing assets. There would be a cost of course, but in this case the end would justify the means.

4thwatch

Well spotted. we have been told for ages they were beyond salvaging.
need to open the production line and send them through to warm it up.

Meirion X

It will still require quit a bit of funding to get these Merlin airframes functional again.
Shame to see them go to waste anyway!

4thwatch

Trouble is they are made in England. No votes in that.

Supportive Bloke

“I think one of the top priorities for the FAA is to get the old Merlin HM1s out of mothballs“

My understanding was that a lot of parts had been borrowed so all you really had was the shell and the rotors and other non HM2 compatible bits left.

Whilst I would agree that getting more HM2’s into service if at all possible is a great idea I’m not so sure that the HM1 is the optimal jumping off point?

I suppose it would be possible to remanufacture them but then you have all the bother of the HM1->HM2 mods and reassembling and testing.

Glass Half Full

I’d start with planning for AAC Wildcat AH.1 to be transferred to FAA and converted to HMA2. Much better use of Wildcat capabilities and partially addresses RN need for increased rotary capability. I’d plan for Merlin life extension to at least mid-2030’s; we might then be in position to have AEW and ASW from UAV from there on, with USMC spec FLRAA taking over from Merlin Mk4.

So that means determining replacements for AAC/RAF Gazelle, Wildcat, Puma.

  1. For utility use low cost EC135 or similar.
  2. For observation and reconnaissance use the result of the US FARA program for dedicated faster and/or low cost attack/reconnaissance platform.
  3. For medium lift use the result of the US FLRAA program for faster/greater range
DaveyB

What would the Army use as their battle taxi and for moving the Javelin teams about?

Glass Half Full

I probably should have expanded my comment a bit. By EC135 or similar I meant something around that size, basically H125M/H135M/H145M class of military, small footprint, light, utility helicopters. H125M maybe a bit limiting so H135M or H145M/UH-72 Lakota might provide most flexibility including medevac. Even with combat upgrades perhaps only a a third to a quarter the cost of a Wildcat, so an opportunity to increase numbers, providing gold plating is avoided.

DaveyB

The Lakota would is a good option for a utility helicopter. Especially if it was based on the improved H145 T2 with the fenestron and more powerful engines. It is still a third of the price of a Wildcat. The other option I’d consider is the AW109. Both of these have had a basic militarization over the civilian equivalent. This includes a military V/UHF radio, pintle hardpoints, self-sealing fuel tanks and an external hoist.

The Wildcat should not be considered a utility helicopter, as its main role for the Army is reconnaissance, with a battlefield taxi for Javelin teams its secondary role. We were also supposed to have bought 80 Wildcats with a unit price of $24.5M, instead the Government cut the requirement to 62, thus pushing up the price to $27M. Apparently the unit cost is $16M, it’s all the extras that push the price up, with the naval version costing the most and probably why it was never fitted with a Link-16 or dipping sonar that the Korean ones get.

To make any headway, it would be more financially sound if the Government kept faith with the original deal. Cutting the numbers pushes up the price, but also means there’s less to go round which means they get used more, thus incurring more maintenance and costs.

Glass Half Full

I could be wrong but I believe those 62 Wildcats cost £1.7 Billion so £27M per aircraft or probably closer to $40M at the time, not $27M. Which IMO means we need to maximise the value we can extract from them by using them in FAA service.

With the US FARA program potentially delivering a much more focused, higher performing and lower cost armed reconnaissance platform for AAC use, it would free up the AAC to operate the low cost utility platform. Horses for courses. As you say, the AW109M would be a good fit for utility, or maybe the AW169M as it was even supposed to be manufactured at Yeovil at one point. It seems we have to keep giving business to Yeovil and AW149 as a candidate for medium lift may be eclipsed by the FLRAA program, so light utility helicopters might be an option.

Duker

That total price includes development costs, production costs, simulators , entry into service costs and even overhaul for a decade or so -and capital charges for Treasury.
The Treasury sets the budget envelope for a new weapons system and the number bought in the end is ‘ make its financial numbers’

We have seen even when an off the shelf buy of foreign equipment like the US P-8 the actual contract cost per plane ( as revealed by published US government contracts) is a small fraction of the MoD spend for the ‘project’ divided by the numbers of planes.
So its pointless looking at say the US current year contract cost for a particular type as they do their accounting very differently ( and dont have accrual accounting or capital charges)

Duker

UH-72 Lakota isnt for combat use in US inventory, its a ‘rear areas’ and training use only.
It wouldnt make logistical sense/training pilots etc to buy another type for even rear areas and UK only use as the Wildcat airframe without the high end electronics would be just as suitable. The original high sticker price includes the development cost, which is done and not mostly needed here. Even low intensity conflicts/civil wars can be handled by such a type for UK forces who arent full combatants

Glass Half Full

The US may use the UH-62 that way but the Airbus HC145M platform is designed to tackle everything up to light attack, so no inherent reason this aircraft wouldn’t be suitable for UK utility use.

Ref training, the UK Military Flying Training System uses Airbus H135/145 so an H145M is likely to be the most straightforward of all aircraft for pilots to convert to.

I agree, a low cost Wildcat would be ideal in order to maintain a common aircraft but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of low base cost given the disappointing sales, which one might have expected to be far greater at this point after the earlier success of the Lynx. There’s a credibility issue IMO trying to bridge from the original $40M Wildcat cost albeit with all RDT&E etc per your other response to something under $10M for a simple utility aircraft. I acknowledge that trying to establish military equipment costs on an apples to apples basis is well nigh impossible though.

In any event I guess we’ll see when they replace Gazelle.

DaveyB

Pretty much a Lynx AH7/9 then?

Glass Half Full

Well Lynx AH.9A specifically but at that point it seems you’d be mostly Wildcat base spec.

4thwatch

Build more Wildcats and Merlins we need them and we need them now. Maybe then the other services can chip in with a decent order. You can never have enough airframes.

ATH

What would you cut to pay for it. The Government shows no sign of significantly increasing the defence budget. So if you want to add something you have to cut something to balance it out.

4thwatch

The development costs have been paid for. By simply starting production its a plus to the forces a plus to the economy which enables the Government to spend more anyway. Otherwise people are going to be standing around twiddling their thumbs.
Next before you know it the trained people will have retired or gone on to other less skilled work. Defence spending needs integrating into the big picture. Production lines need to be kept warm, skilled people employed.

Martin

This interoperability is impressive. Whilst many will pick fault with US involvement, I think that these deployments and joint working in complex environment is a massive plus. There are not many adversaries that have the ability to co-operate on such a basis. I image the US equipment stays on-board and becomes a seamless future feature.
Most future deployments will involve force protection given by NATO allies and the UK will build its F35B numbers in the next few years. Let’s hope the Navy can plug the gaps that we can see now in the shortest possible timeframe.

Paul

If the USMC is bring 10 x F35B to the September exercise, why only 6 on the operational deployment? Or have they been asked to reduce the number in order not to over embarrass the UK?

X

USMC squadrons are having the number of aircraft reduced from 16 to 10/11.

Meirion X

A reason for that is, the migration of USMC squadrons to the F-35B means maintenance is quicker on the aircraft and more airframes are available for combat quickly.
Compared to AV-8’s, more spare airframes were needed for a fully functional squadron.

Last edited 1 year ago by Meirion X
Duker

The USN is changing over both its F-18 and AV8B squadrons to the F35B, from each type in turn.
The Marine Corps is not prioritizing F-35B/C replacement of the F/A-18D (or F/A-18C) over the AV-8B. In accordance with the 2019 Marine Corps Aviation Plan, we are replacing both F/A-18 and AV-8B squadrons concurrently, alternating back and forth between platforms over the next decade until the last AV-8B squadron transitions in Fiscal Year (FY) 2027 and the last F/A-18 squadron transitions in FY 2030. “
Its really about reducing the overall numbers bought in line with their ‘plans’, so that all jet squadrons are getting smaller

Meirion X

It does Not look like a cut to me in overall USMC strike aircraft.
240 F-18 A-D, and 175 AV-8, are to be replaced by 353 F-35B and 70 F-35C.

Last edited 1 year ago by Meirion X
Joe16

What happened with 849 squadron?! That was a bit of a bolt out of the blue.

Cam

I was wondering the same thing! Cost cutting maybe?,or not enough merlin mk2s..

Joe16

Replace your “or” with “and”, will probably be the answer…

Last edited 1 year ago by Joe16
4thwatch

Being re-equipped with Swordfish SAR.

BigH1979

I am 100% a Carriers man but this is crazy. 14 jets and an uncertified AEW system?…. this is not a CSG, its a compromise! I suggest we don’t go anywhere near the SCS until we have some decent capability.

Nombre

Sadly, it looks like the latest plans suggest that the actual whereabouts of the deployment are up in the air too. So the SCS may be out entirely

ATH

Given things are running a bit late turning this first deployment into what is in effect a very major training exercise in the Med and Atlantic may not be a bad idea.

DaveyB

The problem is that the Government and Navy have for the last couple of years promoted the “World Cruise” of 2021 as part of major event. Therefore the cruise must go ahead, or its lose face politically and be ridiculed in the media.

The issue is not the carrier but its support elements. Only one solid support ship and Thales delaying the IOC for Crownest not withstanding. There should be one person controlling a team with oversight of the integration of the CSG and all its various components. It doesn’t seem to be this way at the moment with various teams working to different schedules.

borg

We have a few Nuke’s, if that’s any good.

Glass Half Full

No reason the CSG couldn’t pass through the SCS. Every allied naval ship other than a USN carrier sails in the SCS without organic AEW. This is true all the way up to the USS America amphibious assault ship, which while having been seen with 13 F35B, was recently sailing in the SCS with perhaps only five. The USN has no current commitment to organic AEW beyond carriers, although the USMC are reportedly seeking an organic solution.
https://news.usni.org/2020/04/20/uss-america-now-steaming-near-south-china-sea-standoff

MK57

Time to reintroduce flogging into the RN. Flog these two white elephant ships to USMC, if they will have them, save the UK defence budget billions.

Sunmack

Lets sell all of our other equipment to the Americans as well. Imagine how much that would save

4thwatch

I was thinking that one of the Albions could replace HMS Argus as training ship, if some of the top hamper was chopped and the flight deck extended.
The other could be used for spares or sold or swapped with the Australians so we could have our Bay Class back.
Or just supposing, the other could be converted into a hospital ship using the Aid Budget.
Think creative; why waste good assets. They cost good money and are built, one presumes, to warship standards.
Keep the carriers they are tremendous value for money.

borg

of all the above post’s, I’m with you. wish we had emoji’s on here not downvote sillyness. just saying.

Supportive Bloke

You mean like we did with carriers?

Get rid of a really useful capability and then expensively regenerate it under a decade later……

There is presumably a reason why other navies are launching vessels with similar functionality to the Albions……..?

These are seriously useful command and control platforms and from what I understand in pretty good material condition.

X

There is presumably a reason why other navies are launching vessels with similar functionality to the Albions……..?

Yes. It does strike me as odd that the Japanese, Australians, Italians, and others are all investing in ‘amphibosity’ (!) while our oh so clever MoD seems to want to dump the capability.

The USMC’s current travails aren’t an endorsement of getting rid of big amphibs etc. The USMC’s leadership has been very poor over recent years. F35b is hitting them hard. It is a good aircraft for us, but too much for their needs when set against a fleet of carriers back up by a large airforce based world wide plus other capabilities.

We need 3 large dock ships so we have one to accompany the ‘duty carrier’ around the world.

X

Another down vote without qualification…………

DaveyB

To my mind the Canberra style of LHD is a much more flexible design than the Albion LPD. Both ships have a well deck and the ability to operate two or more helicopters. Both also have impressive command and control facilities. The Canberra though, can carry a larger number of embarked troops and equipment.

However, the Albion can only operate two Chinooks at any one time and the landing and taking off has to be seriously coordinated due to the forward superstructure. But perhaps more importantly the Albion class do not have a hangar. The Canberra can be considered as a light aircraft carrier, which is how the Spanish use the Juan Carlos with their Harriers. Because of the “through deck” design of its flight deck, it can operate four Chinooks or six NH90s simultaneously. But because it has a proper hangar deck with lifts, more aircraft can be carried, where maintenance can also be conducted. The Canberra’s aft lift and hanger can accommodate a Chinook (minus the blades). The Canberra’s flight deck and ramp are compatible for F35B take-offs, but she doesn’t have the thermal protective coating that the UK, US and Italian carriers have.

I think a Canberra style LPD gives the RN significantly more options than the Albion class, especially if its embarked with Merlin HC4s, Chinook, Wildcat and Apache. By having this style of ship it would then free up a QE from the Commando role, so it can prioritize on its air dominance role.

In the recent Defence Committee questioning of the CODS, General Nick Carter. He stated there will still be a need for littoral manoeuvre. This was answering a question about the Royal Marines and the amphibious ships. Granted this can mean many things, especially as the RM are going over to a more commando rather than a LI role. But as he said there is still a need to get heavy equipment to places they are required.

X

We have 70,000 tons aircraft carriers. Why do you need more flight deck and hangar over ‘outsize’ cargo and landing craft?

Supportive Bloke

You should not have the carrier close to shore where a few manpads can be loosed off. That is the job for an Ocean/Albion/Bay type vessel.

That being said if it is part of a CSG the deep helo maintenance can be done on the carrier. So the close to shore vessel can be simpler.

And no I do NOT mean a Max Hastings lash up.

X

How far in would you allow them to go?

Isn’t the reason why marines use helicopters is to be well OTH?

DaveyB

There are a number of reasons why I believe, we would be better off with a LHD style of ship, rather than a LPD. For starters, if you ever did need to conduct a beach assault by landing craft or commando raids by helicopter. It would be far better to split the required operations. The QE class concentrates on air dominance, whilst the LPD concentrates on getting the troops to or from shore. It also stops having all you eggs in one basket, especially if the ships came under attack

The reasons for a LHD requirement is simplicity and concurrency in air operations. With the Albion type of LPD you have a large forward structure with a reasonably large flight deck located behind it, not forgetting the large well deck underneath. It is the flight deck which is the most pertinent point to consider in my argument.

As an example, let’s consider how a Chinook operates from these ships. We will be keeping Chinook until at least 2040 if not longer, so it will remain the main heavy lifter for quite some time. The Chinook approaches the Albion from the rear down the port side, then slews in over the spot before landing. It will try to face into the prevailing wind, but this is not always practical. If it’s taking on troops the rotors will keep spinning. If not it has to be lashed to the deck and the rotors blades tied down. If a second Chinook approaches aiming for the aft spot it’s not a problem, but if that spot is occupied and has to go directly behind the structure and in front of the other Chinook, you have a number of safety concerns.

One is the condition of the other Chinook that is parked. If the blades aren’t spinning and aren’t tied down the other Chinook will create blade sail as it passes by. The Chinook uses a fully articulated head. So it can twist the blades, have the blades lag and allows the blades to flap up and down. The Chinook generates some 70kts of downdraft perpendicular to the centre of the cab. These winds will cause the blades on any helicopter to move. On a Chinook it will cause the blade to flap up as far as it can go, with quite some force, this is called blade sail. This is enough to damage the rotor head and blades, in some cases writing them off. Operating from a ship seems to cause more blade sail incidents that operating from land.

There is the other concern, especially if the sea state is up and its blowing, with getting the Chinook over the spot and not drifting forwards towards the structure. This is what happened on Argus quite a few years ago, when a Chinook lost 3ft off its three forward blades, as it hit the forward structure.

One thing that has not been considered is maintenance. A Chinook requires a lot of scheduled maintenance. It is not designed for salt water operations, i.e. they have not been properly marinized unlike the Merlin with salt water resistant alloys and electrical fitting etc. This means that after a days tasking they will need cleaning to get all the salt off the aircraft. This would be a fresh water wash of the outside, but the insides are the tricky bit, requiring a lot of manual labour to keep the rot in check, using lots of WD40 types of sprays. Yes, you can do this with the aircraft on the flight deck. But having the ability to put it “downstairs” means it can be done more thoroughly and makes replacing faulty items so much easier.

This is why it is quite tricky, trying to not only land a Chinook on any ship, but also be embarked and operate from one for any length of time. The through deck design simply allows the aircraft to operate a lot safer from a ship and perhaps a little quicker, but having a Chinook capable hangar also makes a real difference, especially when it comes to maintenance.

Last edited 1 year ago by DaveyB
Supportive Bloke

I agree with you regarding the ability to fix things downstairs. Fixing things topside in a contested environment or high sea state – I will leave that to Max Hastings.

X

Thank you.

Paul.P

Yes, agree. Like the creative thinking. Why waste good money. Could the LPDs double up as solid support ships or be converted to ABM cruisers with another set of PAAMS or SM6?

Meirion X

Maybe we should Flog you to the US!
How much would that save!
Ask a silly question, you get a silly Answer!

Last edited 1 year ago by Meirion X
Duker

Yes. The only country that could afford to operated 2 CVA like this would be China who would take in a heartbeat.
Only issue , where to find ‘the useful idiots’ in the UK to agitate for Chinas interests and a sell off…

4thwatch

Most of the useful idiots are to be found in the MOD. Only in the UK could you write off good kit before its time.

Paul

The projection of Airpower is the key to all conflicts, and being to project it from a sovereign airfield at sea gives you the ultimate capability. The UK was right to invest in the carriers, but failure by politicians to address our military needs financially has resulted in this mess!!

Donaldson

Will the USMC be a regular on QEC over their 50 year life span or is it a short term thing until UK has enough F-35B to go at it alone?

X

They will be regularly deployed on RN carriers. There are reasons why the hangar roof is big enough for CV22. The RN carriers are deeply entwined into USN planning.

X

Another set of facts down voted. That’s why this site is so widely regarded……not.

Dern

I down voted you.
Becasue I know it annoys you.
and you bit, so predictable.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dern
RichardIC

How do you know this and can you provide some evidence?

X

How do you not know this?

Stray Vector

While not directly related to the theme of this article, here is an interesting podcast episode entitled “The Aircraft Carrier We Need”. It’s coming from a US perspective and has some interesting comments about the QE class.

Peter

It is so sad seeing what a pale imitation we are conjuring up. I would love to see the V22 on this ship – AEWAC, In air Refuel, and Onboard delivery can all be done better by the Osprey than any other platform in a VTOL/STOVL environment. Should have 36 F-35s on it. God damn the MoD and its cowardly under procurement of key strategic systems.

Duker

Apart from the range, its payload is very similar to the Merlin in a cargo role

ATH

God damn the MoD and its cowardly under procurement of key strategic systems.”

The MoD has no independent power to choose what high end systems to buy or not buy. At this level it’s a cabinet/PM decision.

Meirion X

The COD version of V22 is certainly dual use, a loadable fuel tank to be hooked up for use for air refueling.

Phillip Johnson

A report in this morning’s media suggested the Strike Group could consist of:
the carrier,
2 T45’s,
2 T23’s,
1 SSN,
and 2 unspecified support ships.
Further, the aim would be to maintain a presence in the East long term.
Just what portion of the RN would that tie up?

Meirion X

A forward deployed QE carrier would No be an all British affair! You would see a QE CBG with only 1 T45, 1 Hobart, 1 Atago(Japan), maybe 1 or 2 AB’s(US), also the ASW group with 1 T23, 1 Anzac, 1 Frigate(Japan), also likely 1 frigate of Singapore.

Last edited 1 year ago by Meirion X

[…] maintenance, and training. Still, this carrier strike group will include potent capabilities. It will embark with a six-jet squadron of U.S. Marine F-35B strike fighters (again reflecting the special […]

Skye

Nice to see one of our closest allies carriers back up and running again. Escorts though seem to be a problem. In a typical US Carrier group typically comprises one carrier, at least two frigates/destroyers, and two or more submarines. Still a problem for a worldwide Navy, but with over 60 destroyers and 40 submarines in service it isn’t as difficult as the Royal Navy.

The RN has just seven submarines, 13 frigates, and six destroyers. Going by the article above, two frigates, two destroyers, and one submarine (not counting the supply ships) are going to accompany the carrier, including several yet to be determined US and Dutch escorts. That’s nearly 20% of the whole navy. Even half of her aircraft is from the US Marine Corp. It seems the RN needs to rely on allies, mainly us for escorts.

Like to see the RN build more escorts, maybe more OPVs to take over some roles to free up the true escorts for aircraft carrier duty. If something like the Falklands War were to happen again with Britain alone, it might turn out differently. I’m no expert, but that’s my concern.

ANDREW JOHN WILDE

All that I can pray for in order to stop this embarrassing shambles of a World cruise next year to show everyone, and the Chinese in particular, just how badly equipped the Royal Navy really is, would be for RFA Fort Victoria’s propellers to fall off as she passes Plymouth breakwater.

[…] While the destination of the first operational deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth is not yet known, some detail about the composition of the CSG are already available, as reported by Save the Royal Navy: […]

[…] While the destination of the first operational deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth is not yet known, some detail about the composition of the CSG are already available, as reported by Save the Royal Navy: […]

andy reeves

carrier STRIKE group 24 f 35’s and a few tomahawks ‘lobbed from a submarine to be a strike group you need the tools to strike otherwise change its name most confrontations begin with a cruise missile barrage this group can’t do that.