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Supportive Bloke

A very good balanced article.

Maybe borrow a phrase from Boris’ role model “Action This Day”?

I am disappointed that we have not started to get some announcements about green lighting projects that are ready to go and where budget certainly is nailed down.

The flip side of the remarkable Ukrainian success story is that it may take pressure off defence investment as politicians, wrongly, say we had it covered.

Time to wake up and smell the coffee and contain China otherwise this will repeat in 10 years time.

Deep32

Makes for some pretty depressing reading really. There don’t appear to be to many ‘quick wins’ for us, as always the issues revolve around the lack of timely investment.
You would hope that the coffee is v strong, and someone gets to grips with the issues sometime sooner rather then later!
As you allude. we need to put some money where our mouth is and start rebuilding capabilities at a faster rate, or we will always be on the back foot.

Raab

Deep32 ….
Seriously fella!!
 we are not at war with Russia!!!
I imagine that Putin has sent his messages loud and clear, and by the look of things, he’s got what he wanted or at least the majority of what he wanted. This was only ever a squabble albeit between the big players and not a prelude to WW3 as some would 

Geoff

Raab, step away from your Sinclair ZX, it’s embarrasing……..

Deep32

Despite what’s going on in Ukraine, we still need to improve our capabilities, you can disagree all you like, it’s your perogative, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aim higher!

Mark S

Seriously fella!
We are not at war with Germany!!
I imagine Hitler has sent his message loud and clear and by the look of things, he’s got what he wanted or at least the majority of what he wanted. This was only a squabble albeit between the big players and not a prelude to WW2 as some would

Signed,
Your friend the interweb 1938.

Raab

Did not you tell that to Deep32? was his quote originally!
When a 9K720 Iskander is up his back side then he can start digging for shelter.

Deep32

Your spelling is getting much better, keep it up, your teacher will be pleased!However you must work on your sentence structure.

Tim Hirst

Ukraine is not doing badly, but there not in any way winning. Unless Russia gives up, in less than 2 months absolute tops Ukraine has “gone” and the messy gorilla war stage will have started.

Supportive Bloke

In 100 days, at present rates, Vlad The Mad will run out of working tanks.

The Russian attrition rate is horrendous.

Humpty Dumpty

Gorilla war? Like Planet of the Apes?

Sunmack

F35’s with SPEAR 3 will still have to enter into the engagement envelope of most area defence SAM systems. It seems to me to be a completely pointless missile; too short ranged to provide stand-off capability and too large to be a cheap fire and forget system.

Yesterday’s announcement that SPEAR 3 will create 600 jobs is the real reason for it. We’d be far better integrating an existing stand-off, heavyweight ASM and land attack missile onto the F35 but the priority for our defence budget is job creation .

Martlett is even more useless; an anti-swarm missile which isn’t fire and forget so the launching platform can only engage with them one at a time.

Sea Venom looks fit for purpose but Martlett and SPEAR 3 look like a billion quid for pretty poor capability.

Last edited 2 months ago by Sunmack
Tim Hirst

That’s a big ask.
BJ’s plan to get anything out of the Brexit calamity is to push very hard to maximise HMG’s spend in the U.K. I can’t see that plan being abandoned any time soon. To much of his re-election hope is based on spending money in the U.K. to keep the “red wall” on side.
Defending the realm will always come second to defending BJ.

Sunmack

I think you’re right though I think the point applies to politician’s of all colours.

Sjb1968

Whilst I dislike BJ I don’t see a link between BREXIT and MOD procurement policy, which is a decades old problem.
The MOD has wasted Billions because of incompetence and short sightedness pure and simple. Nimrod, Harriers, Type 26, Type 45, FRES, The carriers, and numerous other projects have either been, reduced in number increasing individual unit costs, delayed, poorly specified, suffered changing requirements, cancelled or removed from service prematurely.
The downside if any of producing something in the U.K. is dwarfed by the waste that is MOD or is it HM Treasury procurement.

zavve

If I remember correctly Spear-3 has a range >100km. While most SAMs have a longer theoretical range than 100km most can not detect an F-35 at 100km.

Supportive Bloke

Fair pint

donald_of_tokyo

Agreed

Rudeboy

It’s not SPEAR 3…
It’s just Spear….SPEAR 3 is the MoD programme name..

MBDA Spear range is over 120nm…so over 220km range…

If Spear-EW goes ahead its range will be in the 350nm class (the warhead space can be taken up with fuel).

zavve

“It’s not SPEAR 3…” Wow you must be fun at parties. We all know what I was talking about.

DaveyB

But, is the engagement window the same for the F35, as it is for the Typhoon for example? If you said that the Sa-11 Buk has a maximum effective engagement range of 145km. At what distance can its tracking radar see a 1m3 object compared to one that is 0.00001m3 the size? As this is roughly the difference in radar cross section between a Typhoon and a F35. I would suggest that the F35 can fly well within the Buk’s engagement window before it is seen!

I could do a rough calculation if you like, to show you how close in theory a F35 can get, before it is seen?

Rudeboy

Spear has a range over 220km…not 120km…

Humpty Dumpty

The F-35’s RCS depends on the angle it’s detected from. According to a report written for the Australian government, the F-35 is mainly stealthy from the front with its RCS being 10 times higher or more from other angles.

But isn’t it all moot anyway? Considering the west’s unwillingness to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine will F-35s EVER attack Russian or Chinese ships or SAM systems on their own soil? And if the answer’s no (which I think it is) then what’s the point of the F-35?

Last edited 2 months ago by Humpty Dumpty
Tomartyr

How are we defining ‘engagement envelope’? Maximum range or No-Escape Zone?

Jim

I think the “real” reason is we needed a small, stand-off missile for the F-35B (the B in particular because the internal bays are slightly smaller than on the A and C variants), and nobody else is really making something comparable.

The GBU-53/B is probably the closest and that’s a glide weapon & entirely dependent on being released from an aircraft flying high and fast for adequate range, which is a limitation that exposes the launching aircraft.

MBDA seems to be a bit cagy about the range of the Sea Venom (I think it’s safe to say it’s significantly more than the 20km(+) they’ve said. Even so, it’s likely much shorter range than the SPEAR 3 while being too big to fit 8 inside the F-35B.

The only real downside to the SPEAR 3 seems to be the slightly small warhead. But the Sea Venom’s warhead isn’t much larger (roughly 1/4 that of the Naval Strike Missile, itself a small anti-ship missile) and isn’t going to be sinking any major surface combatants. But either of them could do mission critical damage that would force a destroyer to retire back to port, depending on where the missile hits a ship (eg hitting the main radar would force any ship to withdraw).

Sunmack

I’d far rather keep the two Waves in service. I’d make the cost and manpower savings needed by selling the 3 Batch 1 Rivers and bringing the Batch 2 Rivers (less the Falklands guardship) back to UK waters to replace them.

The B2 Rivers are achieving next to nothing militarily in the Far East. The Wave’s, with a hangared helicopter, are far more use for anti-piracy, search and rescue, maritime interdiction and humanitarian assistance beyond the dockside.

Tim Hirst

Not sure either the RFA or the RN want to start treading on each other’s tows. Waves are civilian ships in the service of the RN. Start adding RN crew and that changes.

Jess

I had a draft to RFANSU – RFA Naval Support Unit. Went on deployment with several RFA’s often taking Sea Kings, sometimes nothing at all – just in case! Never had a problem with the civvy crew as they did not with us.

4thwatch

I think something should be done to man them with a new RNVR. Why we don’t do more with naval reserves beats me.

Duker

Its RNR now and they are ‘branded’ with regular RN uniforms and since UK shipping or even trawlers are a fraction of the size they were 30 years back its mostly non sea going roles and force protection

4thwatch

I have an old launch which was requisitioned in WW2 and commissioned as HMS**** despite being only 37feet long. She is wood and her role was echo sounding boat River Clyde with the Clyde mines sweeping squadron. I’m pretty sure she was an early mine hunter, because the only other vessel named in that role blew up in Falmouth killing her crew from HMS Vernon. There must be a part to be played by such small yet suitable small craft, like RIBs, in and about our bases and sea ports, dangerous though it might be. I think we should start listing interested owners right now.

Tim Hirst

If extra money was available to the MoD in general. I would first spend it on things designed to improve retention. Experienced people are the key to any expansion. Secondly I would spend on increasing stocks of spare parts and ammunition, particularly the long lead time high tech systems. Thirdly I would look to what systems can practically be kept in survive longer than planned. This is the fastest way to upscale capability. Only after theses things are done would I go looking at shiny new things.

Sunmack

It’s a fair point as the people element is so often forgotten

Sean

Fourth should be uparming existing ships to maximise their lethality.

Steven Alfred Rake

The 30 odd years of gutting the armed forces is now coming home to roost,
A good artical I just hope the powers that be will take note and follow in Germanys foot steps. We can however start to look at off the shelf solutions to help out in the short term for SSM capability.
Another point that needs our attention is the abysmal speed at which we are building vessels after the 1st of class has been accepted into service it should only be 5 years per vessel not 10 years as is predicted at the moment.
The F35 situation is already bad but it could be relieved some what if the loyal wingman project was pushed forward so that with every F35 there is 2 or 3 Loyal wingmen assigned to each aircraft this would affectively double or triple the air assets on each carrier.
But all this takes money yes, so let us bring our Defence expenditure up to 3% GDP and on top of the have a “surge” in manpower and at the same time take a serious look at the inapt procurement procedure’s within the MoD as it is not just the RN that is suffering the RAF has been reduced to just 100 fount line aircraft down from 600 just a few years ago and need I say any thing about the state of the British Army

Humpty Dumpty

What’s the combat range of the Loyal Wingman?

Sunmack

As I posted on a previous article, much of the problem is with how we spend our money which is often on technically risky, low volume and hence high unit-cost job creation and BAe shareholder enrichment schemes.

MR4 is £4.75 billion in 2022 prices for zero planes. Add in £630m for the B2 Rivers, £1.75bn for the T31 OPV’s (they are not frigates) and £250m for a national ship.

That’s nigh on £7.5bn which would have allowed us to order 13 T26 and build them earlier and quicker, give the T45 a TBMD capability and tube launched SSM’s, put stand-off heavyweight ASM’s and land attack missiles on the F35 and ordered 5 new Merlin’s for the additional T26.

Geoff

Well I guess you might have a point in time but Time might just have your argument negated….. the MR4 thing would have enabled another 80 or so Dreadnoughts back in the day……

Finlay Macdonell

Another excellent article. While yes, as explored in previous articles the RN is at a low point in terms of real combat capability compared to years past, over the next 5-7 years things are looking up, especially in terms of the Type 26, 31 and 32 frigates and equipment available to arm the CSG. Really hope this recent crisis pushes the upgrade of future power to come sooner, in particular adding Mk41 VLS onto the Type 45.

DaveyB

If Mk41 is finally fitted to the T45, what would be installed? If we could get our hands on the SM6 this would fill a massive gap in capability over Aster. It would need a shed load of integration trials. But it would give the UK a better anti-ballistic missile capability. Then when the SM6 gets the larger booster, defence against hypersonic glide vehicles as well.

zavve

Type 26 needs a medium-range SAM. It is beyond me why you would choose to have such a short-range defence of a billion-pound vessel. Could Mk.41 fit Aster 30 and use a mix of ASROC and Aster?

Nick

Type 26 radar system isnt capable of guiding Aster missiles…

zavve

Could Samson be fitted to Type 26? Obviously, it would be fitted lower than Type 45 but it would still be a big upgrade. How many Mk.41 could fit in Type 26? The Australians and Canadians have 32 but I still think that’s a little light. 48 Mk.41 would be a perfect number in my opinion and then they could load 32 Aster 30 and 16 ASROCK. Tomahawks can be loaded when required. Will the RN still use Aster after Type 45, or will they move to the SM-2 Blk IIIC and SM-6 instead?

Rudeboy

CAMM-ER exists…80km+ range…
That will do just fine for T26.

D J

According to MBDA, it’s 45+km, which puts it in ESSM class (50+km).

zavve

Can the mushrooms cells even fit CAMM-ER? Also, they will not do “just fine” as the RN currently has 0 CAMM-ER missiles.

Humpty Dumpty

What’s the point of new ships when most (all?) of our Type 45s aren’t operational?

And even if they were, they have no anti-ballistic missile capability, they have subsonic unstealthy Harpoons that lack range and are easy to shoot down, they have no land-attack capability, no anti-sub missiles, no depth charges and no anti-torpedo torpedoes. What’s the point of them? And these are supposedly “world-class” ships.

The Type 31s will only be good enough to escort commercial vessels in the Persian Gulf and I have no idea what the role of the Type 32s even is. Neither vessel will be very survivable.

And with subs getting quieter all the time will Type 26s even be able to detect them?

I think surface ships are pretty much pointless when it comes to Russia or China. Are we going to sink their ships, destroy their subs or attack targets on their soil? I highly doubt it since we don’t even want to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine for fear of starting WWIII.

Jed

There is a weapon system, in production, that would fill at least some of the Mk41 cells and offer 3 distinct capabilities: Standard SM6:

  • Long range air defence – longer ranged than Aster 30 and can be cued to target over the horizon from firing ship by an F35
  • Short range ballistic missile defence – Not a direct replacement for buying Aster 30 Block 1 NT for T45, but an adjunct capability
  • Supersonic, if not hypersonic (?) anti-ship missile – tested and being fielded by USN in this role.

Available now, in production, heavily tested by USN, but UK would obviously have to pay for integration with command systems etc.

Meanwhile, we have not even given the intention to purchase a Vertical Launch ASW weapon for the T26, which is our premier ASW capability?

Sunmack

It can also be used against surface warships.
Unfortunately we won’t buy it because it doesn’t create jobs in the UK. For politicians, the primary purpose of the defence budget is job creation not defence needs

Michael Cover

Another great article. However, the MoD needs to become much smarter in the way that it procures kit. One key to open this door would be to bring standing and independent boards of three professionals into projects of, say, over £100 million to start with. The marginal cost would be small and the time and money savings considerable. Dispute/ conflict avoidance/ collaboration facilitation boards are widely used by eg the World Bank on most major projects. This requires more lateral thinking on the part of the defence procurement organisation, the MoD and, above all, the customers, the Armed Forces themselves, which should no longer put up with these suboptimal processes. As for the Treasury, with better procurement, they might have the confidence to give greater latitude to the MoD. These Boards were apparently considered on one of the major afv projects but this came to nothing, which is a great shame.

Deep32

The RN gave up with rocket launched ASW weapons when it retired the Ikara Leander’s. The ASW strike role (if you will) went to helicopter delivered weapons (now only torpedoes). The current incumbent to fill this role is the Merlin (Wildcat can carry them but has no ASW suite). Arguably we don’t really have nowhere near enough of them- unfortunately.

John Hartley

& a helicopter cannot be in the air 24/7

Deep32

Yes, there is that too. The navy still don’t seem that concerned though.
I believe the plan is to use one of the oft talked about drones to support the Merlin’s in the future. That should add some persistence when it’s airborne and the help has to refuel or whatever.

Rudeboy

The only VL launched ASW weapon around are ASROC derivatives (or improved Korean and Japanese versions).

Truth be told VL-ASROC isn’t much cop…it’s range is short and the torpedo its integrated with isn’t the best either…

There is a better alternative however…and its really straightforward. Buy the canister launched MBDA MILAS. It has over double the range of ASROC, doesn’t need Mk.41 VLS, puts money into MBDA…and they would happily integrate Stingray Mod 1 into it for us..a better torpedo and one that we already have a large stockpile of…

Humpty Dumpty

I looked up MILAS, range of 35km vs 22km for VL-ASROC. In this day and age anti-sub missiles need a range of 100+ km when there are torpedoes that outrange both systems.

Jack65

It will take years to build new ships, but the build process could be sped up, very capable anti-ship missiles are available to buy off the shelf right now. In addition the F35B delivery rate could also be sped up. There are things we can do to make a huge difference right now, after all, which Russian ship is going to be bothered by a Type 23 with just a 4.5 inch gun, when he knows he heavily outguns it in every which way? Plus of course, there is little to fear from our carriers if we can’t put a decent sized, well armed airgroup on it??

Sean

Fortunately we can put a decent sized, well armed air group on our carriers.

As for the T23, well we wouldn’t send one to go bother a Russian ship. We’d send an Astute.

RobB

Fortunately we can put a decent sized, well armed air group on our carriers.”

Did you even read the article?

°Until the F-35B can carry SPEAR-3, UK carrier strike is somewhat blunted and dependent on dropping laser-guided bombs, typically requiring aircraft to get within lethal range of surface-to-air missile systems.°

RMJ

..and the Russian warship is going to know an Astutes there – how? It’s of negligible deterrence value until the shooting war has started.
Each RN vessel needs a hygiene capability for ASW/ ASuW and AAW – otherwise it is weak link. We have so few surface vessels not sure we can’t afford underarmed weak links.

Jack65

No, we can’t put a decent size strike group on just one of our carriers, and we use the Type 23s to keep an eye on Russian surface vessels , we only have a very small number of subs available at any one time.

4thwatch

We have reduced the type 23’s to virtual impotence and OPV status. Only 8 have a tail and 1 ASW helicopter the Merlin . I’m not impressed one little bit. The remainder 6 really are ageing OPV’s.

zavve

There are 30 ASW Merlins in service so I don’t quite understand what you mean. The GP T23 are still good GP frigates and they are better than the T31 which they are being replaced by.

John Hartley

We are not over stocked on Astutes.

Humpty Dumpty

Of course we wouldn’t send a T23 up against a Russian ship, but without an anti-ship missile that outranges all Russian anti-ship missiles it would be trivially easy for a Russian ship to take out T23s. And T45s too for that matter.

Until the F-35s get SPEAR 3 they’ll have no stand-off anti-ship capability. And we don’t have that many F-35s anyway. About 20 odd and not all can be deployed at once.

Humpty Dumpty

Exactly.

As for anti-ship missiles, there’s NSM, LRASM, Tomahawk Block Va (1,600km) and the Japanese Type 17 (based on the Type 12), which once it’s been upgraded to a range of 1,500km as planned would be my first choice, because it’s stealthy and manoeuvrable and far outranges LRASM. That said, ideally ships would have both short-range and long-range anti-ship missiles. Why are we faffing around with FC/ASW when these missiles already exist and could be fitted to our existing ships? It makes no sense at all.

Also the Astutes could do with an anti-ship missile.

Last edited 2 months ago by Humpty Dumpty
Phillip Johnson

…………………routine deployments of up to! 12 (F-35) jets. RN Carriers with inadequate air groups has amost reached the level of ‘tradition’.
Even if the buy reaches 60 you have to start making deductions. A number of the aircraft are from early batches and somewhere around 3 aircraft are orange wired trials aircraft.
An order for an additional 12 will, allowing for attrition (1 already), do littlemore than keep the usable force around the 40’s. It is a reasonable conclusion that the RN has spent a lot of money on vessels they cannot afford to use.

Ian

Phillip….here’s an idea…. I’ll put on a tin hat….. sell Hms P.O.W’s use the money to buy F35B’s to fill the flight deck of HMS Q.E….. scrap the future RAF 6 gen aircraft….. we will spend billions on it and order 5 then cut to 3..
Buy off the shelf proven equipment Poseidon. Apache. Wedgetail. Antiship missiles. Land attack missiles. IFV & MBT
Ian

Ian

And Blackhawk

Duker

Smaller than Merlin and larger than Wildcat.

Blackhawk isnt as advanced as the AW competition….which is why the USAF bought the AW-139 not the Blackhawk

zavve

That would destroy the UK weapons industry. They should not scrap 6th gen but try to develop it faster and sell it for export. Selling one carrier would result in there often being no carrier available for deployment. They should up the F-35 order to 70 airframes and in the future upgrade QEC class to CATOBAR for Sea Tempest.

Duker

Spending more on the carriers hull and equipment is money down the drain. Just the emals and arrester gear alone as a FMS purchase for 2 carriers is close to $2.5 bill.
better to spend on the planes on the flight deck and weapons for the escort ships. Tempest is best as its RAF or for other AFs role only
UK hasnt built a carrier jet since the RN wisely decided on the Phantom in the mid 60s

Humpty Dumpty

UP the order to 70 airframes? The original plan was to buy 138 F-35Bs and even that wasn’t enough.

Humpty Dumpty

Even if we sold the PoW to fund more F-35s, LM can’t build them fast enough. And who would want to buy the PoW anyway?

I agree Tempest is pretty pointless and I too can’t see us buying many of them. Instead I’d rather upgrade the Typhoons and buy Gripen Es. I’d also convert the Tranche 1 Typhoons into dedicated EW aircraft. Failing that, buy Growlers with the NGJ and/or Compass Call based on the Gulfstream G550 when they’re available.

We also need loads of SAM systems to protect air bases and other important locations. The current war in Ukraine has shown how important such systems are. As well as SHORAD systems and C-RAM systems.

It would make sense to buy LRASMs for our Poseidons to provide anti-ship and ground-attack capability.

Not sure I see the point of Apaches and MBTs, too easy to shoot down with MANPADS and take out with various types of anti-tank missile.

AEW&C aircraft make sense, but I’d prefer the GlobalEye over the Wedgetail.

The ideal IFV imo would have Brimstones, Starstreaks, the CT40 cannon and multispectral camouflage. As well as another variant with a laser to shoot down drones, especially swarms of them. If these vehicles were accompanied by the Rheinmetall Skyranger vehicle for SHORAD/C-RAM then you’d have a pretty damn survivable system with good offensive capability.

Loads of cheap attritable Bayraktar TB2 and Akıncı drones would make sense too imo. AIUI the Valkyrie drone will be able to be launched from a carrier using a simple wheeled catapult.

Last edited 2 months ago by Humpty Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty

Do you know which of our F-35Bs come from which blocks/lots? I’ve been trying to find out for ages.

Humpty Dumpty

Concerning your last point, I think a lot of the smallish air forces that have bought the F-35A are going to have the same problem – they won’t be able to afford to fly them. Or at least not much. This will also mean that pilots don’t get enough hours flying them to become good pilots.

Jon

There is £46.7bn extra in this year’s equipment plan over last year’s. The MoD’s capacity to waste the money given to it without generating positive outcomes beggars belief. I actually understand the Treasury’s position, may the Lord forgive such blasphemy. Would I really give more money to people whose judgement appears so poor? (Actually the answer is yes, in a hot second, because there’s no alternative.)

Pouring tens of billions into high cost, low effect projects appears to be an MoD speciality, only bettered by their ability to waste money through delay and obfuscation. There’s money in the budget that needs to be spent now and money that can wait. I don’t trust the MoD’s ability to tell one from the other. There must be smart people in the MoD somewhere, even if that’s just an accident. Do civil service processes wipe out the effects of critical thinking so none remain visible to an outside observer?

The deterrent right now is the military we can use right now. Improving that needs to be the focus. Every capability gap and holiday taken reduces that one true measure. Will our capability on day X+1 always be better than our capability on day X? Will we fight better, and will we deter better?

Laser weapons next decade (which we should have been able to employ this decade); 6th generation fighters, when we haven’t got enough 4th and 5th generation fighters; Future soldier, Future navy, Future marines, while cutting present army, present navy, present marines. We need both a present and a future.

Arguably the smartest thing the navy did over the last year was to change the out of service dates for the Type 23s, extending three and bringing two to an early close. This minimised a capability gap and cost us virtually nothing. More of this kind of thinking please.

We can’t keep sacrificing today for a future we are incapable of delivering. For the next few years tomorrow needs to mean tomorrow. If today is Tuesday, we should ask ourselves, how can we make the military better on Wednesday, and not just ten years from now. There needs to be a better balance.

Send this travesty of a plan back with instructions to think again. If again is the right word.

Steven Alfred Rake

You are right on so many levels but I believe that soon we will get the Defence budget up to 3 % GDP but before we start jumping for joy and sending good money after bad we need to rectify the problems with the procurement we seem to have let slip in this country, we need to get the MoD out of the equation when ordering new kit and allow the individual service order there own AFV’s/Ships and aircraft cutting out all of the MoD middle management who do nothing but delay a project and in a lot of cases insist on a product which is no were near what is required.

David Steeper

I seriously doubt the disaster zone that is Army procurement would be solved by increasing the Armies involvement. The upgrades or lack of with Challenger, Warrior and AS90 were Army decisions. I’m not even going to utter the name of the biggest disaster of them all.

Humpty Dumpty

Totally agree. We have money, but spend it on all the wrong things.

Bob

Starting to feel very much like the 1930’s all over again.

Geoff

Any point Typing/writing on this site anymore ? So many post’s are being deleted from so many Posters.

Bob

Really?

I have not had one deleted, must be a good boy 🤣

Dave Wolfy

Arguably is correct, the Berlin Airlift directly affected NATO countries.

In The Bin

The Berlin airlift was from June 24th 1948 and ended May 12th 1949, Nato started April 4th 1949.

doom&gloom

it would seem that for the last 30 years the Uk government has had a type of Washington naval treaty mindset,
Some one in the foreign office has said no likely hood of a major war in the next 10 years and repeated that mantra every year. the treasury see this and have the excuse to cut the defence budget,

John Hartley

There are so many holes…..
The UK lacks a high end SAM. We need to protect London & Faslane from Russian tactical ballistic missiles.
F-35B needs a heavy stand off weapon & drop tanks.
RN ships need serious up gunning.
Stop dragging out T26 & T31. Talk to industry to see if we can speed up a bit.
All 12 tubes on future Dreadnought class, need to be fully loaded.
RAF P-8 need LRASM. At least one sqn of RAF Typhoon need Marte ER as it is ready integrated on Qatar Typhoon.
T26 & T31 need on board torpedo tubes.

zavve

There are many things that are higher priorities than Marte-ER on Typhoon. In my opinion, the biggest priority right now should be to speed up Type 26 (Maybe shared between Babcock and BAE?). Then F-35B integration with Meteor and Spear-3 and up the order to at least 80 aircraft. The Type 2050 sonar from the T23 frigates should go to T31 to make them at least somewhat useful for ASW

Jon

Speeding up Type 26 would be my number one choice too, and there’s no need to share it with Babcock. I’m sure BAES would love to be offered the money to speed production. Babcock have enough on their plate delivering their first ever warship.

zavve

Speeding up Type 26 is the priority. But I can’t understand why they are still using the “mushroom” launcher. It seems to waste so much space and it looks like the forward 24 VLS farm almost takes up as much space as the Mk.41 VLS. Even fitting 4 3-Cell EXLS would be a much better choice because it would enable CAMM-ER to give Type-26 a medium-range SAM.

X

Marte should have been integrated into the Merlin system from day one. The Italian Merlin has it………

Down the years I have found myself wondering about a heavy AShM for Typhoon. And then meandering on to wonder about twin seaters with conformal tanks.

Humpty Dumpty

Marte-ER on Merlins would give them meaningful anti-ship capability. However the JSM isn’t much heavier and is much longer ranged. Could Merlins carry the JSM?

Humpty Dumpty

Totally agree about SAM systems. SHORAD and C-RAM systems too. The present war in Ukraine has shown how vital such systems are for self-defence against aircraft, missiles, bombs, rockets, artillery shells and mortars.

I’d also like to see us invest huge sums into R&D to render nuclear ICBMs totally ineffective, e.g. powerful chemical and electric lasers on airships operating in the stratosphere where AIUI there’s little moisture or wind so the lasers would work optimally. Also, since nuclear ICBMs use celestial navigation I wonder if multiple satellites could direct laser dazzlers at the missiles to deny them this means of navigation?

LRASM on Poseidons is a no-brainer to give us anti-ship and land-attack capability we currently lack. The Astutes need anti-ship missiles too and all ships need anti-torpedo torpedoes.

The Typhoon should be getting the JSM at some point. Don’t know when though.

Grant

The government has £400Bn to spend ‘protecting’ us from a virus where the survival rate was 99.9%, or a $100bn on a railway line but cannot afford to discharge its single most important job: defending our country? Start by sending the firing half idiots at DE&S and send the other half to the Ukraine

MikeD

Well said

Duker

What twisted logic.
UK death toll from Covid – still increasing by 650 per week- has been 160,000 in last 2 years.
Or if you look at ‘excess deaths’ if you want to dispute those who die from covid , those over and above a normal period its 185,000 deaths.

Grant

I don’t dispute the pandemic, I question our very expensive response to it. The point was more that the government seem to have a never ending pot of money for everything from pandemics, thru bank bailouts through to white elephant infrastructure projects. The only thing they seem incapable of finding money for is the defence of our country: its number 1 job,

Moonstone

I’m thinking that one way to send a unambiguous message to the Kremlin is for all NATO states to match Germany’s recent committment to immediately increase defence spending. It also seems reasonable to conclude that many of these bedeviling ‘intregation issues’ we face might be addressed with some additional money and the application of a appropriate sense of urgency from our defence establishment. Leaving those points aside however it does alas seem that in the short term there is little more we can practically do to boost our long neglected defences. This of course is both a damning condemnation of our political class and the electorate that enpower them.

What additional money can do right now in the here and present is to rapidly procure all the ‘off the shelf’ weaponry the hard pressed Ukrainian defence forces can effectively employ. I say this is both morally justified in these appalling circumstances and highly cost effective from a defence point of view. The renewed Cold War we are now most certainly engaged in will not be a place for the screamish – every Ruble spent, every Russian armoured vehicle, helicopter and fast jet destroyed in the Ukraine immediately reduces the threat we face in a manner longer term defence policy won’t achieve for half a decade or more.

NATO and the wider free world must make sure the price Russia pays for its aggressive foreign policy a high one indeed.

Duker

I can bet you deustchmarks ? to doughnuts the German ‘committment’- notice the spin phrasing- wont be anything like the extra money being talked about.

Robert

Germany is only talking about increasing defence spending from about 1.3% to 2% of GDP. Following the German example would mean the UK and other countries cutting defence spending.

Duker

They made a ‘commitment’ for an increase a few years ago too. never happened either .
They said they would order both Typhoon and F-18 types to replace the last of Tornados in special roles.
Never happened and that was very recent.

donald_of_tokyo

Do not accept “capability gap”, because anytime a war can come.

I think current situation clarifies this fact.

Of course, (for example) £200M which can be spent on I-SSGW program might be in-efficient at the final moment. Keeping the old two Fort-class active might be in-efficient at the final moment. Keeping Sentry AWACS might …. No land attack missile on F35B until 2028…. (many continues). *1

But, this all is only IF NO WAR HAPPENS IN THE TIME PERIOD.

Anyone saying OK for gaping is so clever that he/she can exactly predict the future. Of course, they MUST have predicted the Russian invasion (of course, they failed).

thus,

Do not accept “capability gap”, because anytime a war can come. In place, accept the overall inefficiency.

Military is as such. How can you gap your driving insurance? You say, “no problem, I will not be involved in traffic incident until next year, so that I can save this money for now”? No never.

*1: by the way, having only 18 escorts now is not as important as those I listed up there. This is simply because, RN still has 18 escorts (not a capability gap = zero escort), and anyway RN’s manpower is the main driver of number of active escorts, not the hull number.

Last edited 2 months ago by donald_of_tokyo
4thwatch

Some years ago I wrote that I am surprised that those responsible for our defence can get a good nights sleep in case the balloon goes up and we are found wanting. Certainly at sea we have many things we need right now and we don’t have. Its the general public and more especially their parliamentarians who are to blame. Ukraine should be a wake up call for the next big one, because its coming and we have been warned.

Duncan Davidson

I read today that the Australian F35s have so many maintenance & other problems they can’t fly enough hours to keep their pilots current!

Humpty Dumpty

Well with over 800 unresolved problems that’s totally to be expected. The F-35 should have been cancelled years ago.

David MacDonald

In the light of waning enthusiasm for the F35, it now seems that, in in the longer term, we will require a Sea Tempest (or Sea Fury?).

In fact, since the RAF has only 5 operational squadrons of Typhoons (plus a flight of 4 in the Falklands), the Tempest programme should be accelerated which would have the advantage of bringing it into line with the equivalent Japanese programme for its replacement fast jet.

D J

A more realistic option would probably be Sea Gripen. It would mean adding traps, but it’s small enough to make a reasonable STOBAR fighter. A STOVL fighter is difficult & best done as a specific design, otherwise you end up with the F35 problem.

zavve

Considering EMALS will probably get cheaper maybe they could fit cats and traps during the lifetime of the QEC class. A CATOBAR QEC could probably carry 2 E-2D, 24 F-35B and 24 Tempest if they really wanted to. Once EMALS and AAG are working and reliable on the CVN 78 class it should not be that expensive to install them on QEC.

Duker

Reliability was the EMALS major problem. No real reasons it will become cheaper, anyway installing both Emals AND the new arrestor gear into and existing QE class is where the costs really blow out.
The claims of 48 fighter load is also speculative as well as saying they would operate the STOVL F35B as well as the Tempest ( which wont have a naval version)

zavve

Reliability will get better as the USN perfects EMALS. Purchasing off the shelve US EMALS will be substantially cheaper than developing it in the UK. Of course, the refit would be very costly (£500m+) but it would offer more capability with E-2D and MQ-25.

Duker

Its not going to happen.
This is what ONE ship set of the launch and arresting systems costs – for a new ship the French might build. Doesnt include refit costs which would be eye watering for UK carriers as they found out when an expensive evaluation was done the built design didnt include any ability to swap in emals at a later date.

$1.32 bill
https://www.naval-technology.com/news/us-approves-emals-aag-sale/

The money has been spent on the ships , and future funding should be for the air wing to be sized for both carriers ( around 36 each) and their support ships

Last edited 2 months ago by Duker
Humpty Dumpty

The MQ-25 can’t carry a meaningful amount of fuel a meaningful distance. An MQ-25 can only refuel one F-35B. It’s not a viable solution in the western Pacific where DF missiles considerably outrage the F-35B even WITH MQ-25s.

Humpty Dumpty

The cats & traps the government was (still is?) considering to fit to the QE and PoW purely to launch drones would be powerful enough to launch and recover Rafale Ms.

Jon

We don’t need more stuff in a fantasy future. If we want more planes now, we need to buy Typhoons or F-35 now.

zavve

Buying Typhoons now would be a big waste. They are probably close to the JSF in cost and worse in capability. Of the 138 originally promised F-35Bs I would be surprised if even 70 get delivered.

Jon

Typhoons cost even more to purchase up front, but they are cheaper in operational and through-life costs. There’s also a higher proportion of work done in Britain, reducing the purchase price by more tax money returned.

Then that’s basically it. Typhoons won’t need alterations to infrastructure, or expensive upgrades at Lockheed Martin’s timetable to carry Meteor and Spear, or more waiting as the sofware delivery dates for Block 4 slip again. There won’t be a wait for conformal or drop tanks, or worry about changes made to engine specifications/costs because it’s good for America and the heck with what’s good for us.

New Typhoons would be able to fire the weapons we have straight away, and would form a lower-risk purchase. I’m not saying there isn’t also logic behind ordering more F-35s instead, but ordering 24 Typhoons immediately (about £3.4bn) to partially replace the 48 Tranche 1’s that are going out of service wouldn’t be a mistake, given how few planes we have overall. £3.5bn is the amount cut from RAF procurement in the equipment plan, and there are worse ways to spend it than Typhoons.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jon
zavve

Tax money returned does not lead to a bigger RN/RAF budget so that does not really matter for the MoD. Although the Typhoon is a great aircraft it does not offer the abilities of 5th gen. The MoD needs to prioritise getting at least 70 F-35B to make sure that the carriers can be fully loaded.

Humpty Dumpty

5th gen, please.

The F-35 has over 800 unresolved problems, including cyber vulnerabilities.
It’s mainly stealthy from the front, from other angles its RCS is 10 times higher or more.
It’s expensive to fly.
It’s time-consuming to maintain.
It’s complicated and slow to upgrade.
It can’t carry LRASM, JASSM or JASSM-ER internally.
It can’t supercruise.
It’s slower than the Typhoon.
It has a much lower service ceiling than the Typhoon.
It can’t carry as much ordnance unless it forgoes stealth.
It won’t get Meteor until Block 4.
It won’t get SPEAR 3 until Block 4.
It doesn’t have BriteCloud.
It doesn’t carry IRIS-T.
It can’t carry AIM-9X internally because unlike the F-22 it doesn’t have lateral weapons bays.
The gun doesn’t shoot straight on the F-35A and do UK F-35Bs even have the gun pod?

The F-35 isn’t a very good aircraft.
BVR AIM-120 can be thwarted just by using evasive manoeuvres.
WVR the F-35 would be toast.

Last edited 2 months ago by Humpty Dumpty
Grant

The Typhoon is a far better Air to air platform than the F35, we could certainly use a few more straight away. Additional F35s are needed too. I can see why LM are dragging their feet with integration of weapons: we were supposed to be 138… now were going to have 60 max….

There is far too much fantasy land stuff with equipping the carriers with EMALs and all these powerpoint presentation aircraft like Sea vixen and tempest. We need kit now, not in 2040 and our choices are F35 or Typhoon.

Armchair Admiral

I certainly agree with that. A modest purchase of 24 Typhoon t4 to replace the T1s would be a start. It may not be as stealthy, but it’s a top notch air superiority fighter and if you have air superiority you can do other stuff with, er, other stuff.
For those saying Spear3 is unwanted, I would look at the columns of Russians vehicles which could be devastated by a swarm of Spear3. Loads can be carried by one aircraft, unlike a heavyweight missile. A point was made on another post that a strike of a dozen Spear3 would cost the same as one large anti ship missile, and if everyone is to be believed, one missile has a good chance of being shot down, but 12?
T31 as far as I have read is being built as fast as possible, or at least, not like the T26 which is virtually deliberately being slowed down by tortuous accounting. Also on the T31 subject, it is being built using a no-tamper contract. Fitting additional weapons to it in build will be the thin end of the wedge and lead to delays. Space is plentiful for adding additional stuff after acceptance.
T26 could have Camm-er fitted for longer range Sam engagement.
Despite that most here (including me) are ok with the B2 OPVs, in the light of the shinnanegans unfolding before us, a modest increase in lethality, as suggested by 1SL would seem to be appropriate, perhaps a 57mm Bofors and a pair of 30mm cannon with martlet ability?
We have some good stuff available. Buy it now.
AA

Jon

I agree with what you are saying about the T31 and T26. We could certainly make better use of CAMM variants. However, I’m not sure it’s worth upgrading the Rivers right now.

I certainly wouldn’t add a new main gun type that would need integration with the BAES CMS and a new ammunition supply chain. On the whole, I think it’s best the Rivers be allowed to do their thing uninterrupted for the next 5 years, until the T31s come on stream. Adding martlets to Trent’s 30mm, and a couple of Schiebel S-100s to Medway is as far as I would go before then.

Let’s have some ships at maximum availability, even if they are just OPVs.

4thwatch

The cheapest and best option might be to lengthen the F35 3 feet so it can carry more weapons and fuel and enlarge the wing area. The F35B-2C might be a winner. More powerful engine is coming.

Duker

And thats happened in a strike fighter when ?
Bombers and Hercules C-130 maybe but far too complex in a complex plane.
Its current capability is what its is. The remotest possibility is a F35A with a F-35C bigger span wing, which gives more range from a longer span alone. However heavier weights cause wave drag to increase so it need more fuel as well. The F35C has bigger flaps and horizontal tail area for the carrier landing phase that isnt needed for the A + model. In theory its not a big change but may very well be expensive in the way any change to the F35 is.

Dobranksy

The problem with buying more F-35s now is two fold: first, the queue for F-35s is long and filled with a lot of nations, so there is no guarantee we’d get them in a meaningful time.

The second problem is laid out in the article: the integration of systems and weapons is taking a lot longer than expected. Multiple systems (METEOR, SPEAR, etc.) are delayed and keep getting pushed back.

This isn’t just a UK issue – both the USAF and USN are already looking at getting around a lot of these issues by focusing on next generation aircraft (and possibly already flying prototypes), despite the F-35 still not yet having Block IV capabilities.

Dobranksy

Article states “F-35 can already carry up to 6 very effective AIM-120 AMRAAM” which is incorrect – the F-35 can currently only carry 4 AIM-120 internally. No provisions for external carriage can be found anywhere outside of Lockheed Martin publicity slides.

In addition, the continuing delays for integration of weapons for the F-35 (Meteor, SPEAR, etc.) seem to never end. Every year goes by, and it gets pushed back another year. The fact that the F-35 can only currently drop Paveway IV and JDAMs – requiring it to fly really close to threats that may be able to respond at those ranges – really echoes recent comments about the necessity to have some lethality in our equipment.

Robert S

Everything is always Decades away though, apart from the now.

John

Seems to me that they are still trying to run defence on a shoestring. They may have gotten away with that in the happy days of post 1991 but the situation has changed since then significantly. Defence of the realm is a first priority of any British government and they are currently failing. Screw politician’s pet projects and give who needs it the funding to do the job that needs done.

Jon

We didn’t really talk about the breakdown of the plan in terms of money and what can we read into the absolute amounts and the change in the amounts since last year’s plan.

I think, even though it might change post-Ukraine, it’s worthwhile looking at the high level ten year split. My gut feeling is that the DE&S — the 21,000 people who procure and support equipment — have a civil service “steady as she goes” mindset, and what they thought is what they will continue to think, come hell, war or high water. It certainly seems new money goes to mitigate past mistakes and not on new thinking.

Of the £46.7bn extra money available in this year’s plan, £27.8 bn is going into procurement and £18.9 bn into support. Numbers below are ten year procurement spend in £bn, with the change since last year in brackets.

The top areas are broken down into:
Air Command: 11.6 (-3.5)
Army Command: 28.7 (9.8)
Defence Nuclear: 31.3 (5.3)
Navy Command: 15 (2.9)
Strategic Command: 10.4 (4.8)
Strategic Programmes: 17.2 (8.5)

Total ten year procurement: 114.2 (27.8)

On the face of it the big winner is Army Command with nearly £10 bn extra allocated to purchases, but most of this is uncommitted and a significant chunk is digging procurement out of the hole they dug themselves on Ajax, Boxer/Warrior and Challenger. The big loser is the RAF with a £3.5bn cut. (Lightning tranche 2 is separate so it’s not that). Strategic Programmes includes Tempest, which I think will soak up a lot of the increase there.

For most of us the interesting lines are Defence Nuclear and Navy Command, which broadly equate to the subs/CDAS and the surface fleet.

While Defence Nuclear Organisation (DNO) figure also covers attack submarine procurement, as far as I can tell the extra money is going on the CDAS, in particular nuclear warhead upgrades. No extra Astutes then, and SSN(R) spend will be mostly next decade.

Navy Command seems to be “broken down” into one line, Ships, and there’s a difference in the figures between the breakdown and the Navy Command figures above. Ships have £9.6 bn, a £300m cut.

I’d like to think that some of the £5.4 bn non-ship money going to Navy Command would be spent on drones, modules and PODs, but from the blurb it’s most likely to be in the Stingray torpedo replacement and marine helicopters, with an upgrade and sustainment programme keeping Merlins flying between 2030 and 2040. Even accounting for the future lightweight torpedo, that seems like a heck of a lot of money to be mostly helicopter Lifex. I’d guess much of it will go on Crowsnest and the Crowsnest replacement. I can’t find mention of LANCA in strategic projects, so some money might be going into Vixen and other drones. If equipment for marines is mentioned in the plan, I can’t find it. I’d have thought any cats and traps would go firmly in the ships line.

The ships line itself is worrying. This is the money spent on the surface fleet and it’s broadly the same as last year’s plan, with a smallish cut of £300m. 2020/21 had a £900m spend and 30/31 will have a £600m spend, so the other nine years are given the same amount in total.

It would have been nice if surface ships had seen a few quid of the extra £27.8 bn going into procurement, but that’s not what’s in the plan. All the glowing verbiage about a growing navy etc, is just that, verbiage. The throttling of spend on ships continues. We need to consider the annual breakdown of procurement spend, 21/22 to 30/31.

1.0, 1.0, 1.2, 1.2, 1.1, 1.0, 0.9, 0.8, 0.7, 0.6 (ten year annual spend in £bn)

0.8, 0.8, 0.8, 0.6, 0.5, 0.3, 0.1, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0 (committed ten year spend)

0.2, 0.2, 0.4, 0.5, 0.7, 0.7, 0.8, 0.8, 0.7, 0.6 (uncommitted ten year spend)

Almost all committed money should be in the Type 31 and the first batch of the Type 26. Any Type 23 Lifex or Type 45 PIP shouldn’t still be showing much. There’s a drop off in the committed figures after 23/24 which probably indicates a strong front loading on stage payments for the two frigate lines.

What’s concerning is the implication of the uncommitted spend for Type 32 and the second batch of Type 26. If we assume that Rosyth will get Type 32, it’ll follow on directly from Type 31 and it’ll cost as least as much, we’d be looking at about £300m of the uncommitted spend from about 25/26 forward to be spent there. That leaves a maximum profile of £400 or £500m a year for spend on the Type 26 batch 2. There’s also £1.6 bn to be spent on the FSSS programme from next year, which sucks up all the immediate uncommitted spend anyway. Given that we’ve seen there’s front loading, these numbers require another slow-build of the Type 26, and even then it’s hard to see how they’ll make ends meet.

The tail-off towards the end is also disappointing, as it would kill any National Shipbuilding drumbeat. Money for Type 83 should already be showing at the end of the decade if it’s to replace the Type 45 in 2035 to 2038 (current OOS dates). With these numbers that’s not going to happen. I haven’t even mentioned MRSS, MROSS, P2000-replacements, National Flagship, cats and traps, Mk41s, anti-surface missiles, etc etc.

For all the talk of the Future Navy, there simply isn’t enough money in the budget to deliver on the promises.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jon
Jon

So what happens when your plan doesn’t have the money to cover what you say you want to buy? The NAO report tells us £7bn is expected to be found through efficiency savings (ROFLMAO) in equipment, and that “Navy and Air Commands need to identify many more savings than the other TLBs [top level budgets].”

So you know you can’t afford it and claim the difference will be found through efficiency savings.

“Navy Command and Air Command have made much more optimistic assumptions about their ability to reduce costs than the other Top Level Budgets – particularly in the first four years of the Equipment Plan”.

Of course the unaffordability is in the first four years because nobody believes anything beyond the next integrated review anyway. The way they’ll handle this when it all goes wrong is delay, pushing the spend into future years, which increases overall costs.

Another paragraph bears thinking about

“TLBs assume that in future years some equipment will not be introduced as quickly as planned. The TLBs then reduce their spending forecasts accordingly, with the adjustments known as ‘realism’…. Navy Command used a more robust methodology, which led to a significant increase in ‘realism’ assumed.”

Perhaps because it knows its efficiency savings are nonsense, Navy Command doesn’t believe its equipment will be ordered on time or delivered on time, so it won’t have to pay for it on time. Except if stuff turns up late the following year, won’t you have to pay for it then? And won’t you be paying this year for the stuff that’s late from last year? What you gain on the swings you lose more of on the roundabouts, because delays add cost.

Of course if the amount of realism increases, you are shovelling more down the line than is coming at you from the past. If only you can shovel enough of it far enough away, nobody will notice until it’s too late and you’re drawing your pension, or a job with your mates in BAES, or the next integrated review comes along. Surely some future government will fill in the black hole you create.

A heck of a way to run a navy.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jon
Nat

A very well informed detailed piece, but I can’t help thinking that the detail mentioned in this article is only the tip of the iceberg which has been publicly disclosed. The full extent of the problems are much deeper routed and make for a much more dire analysis. I feel that the current problems extend into and including; a loss of coherent defence industrial base, which lacks technical skills and manpower; the political in fighting within the MOD between all three military branches and the Treasury as well as the persistent inflation of costs for ongoing through life support and development of defence programmes due to the ever present military industrial complex. This list of problems is by no means exclusive and there will be more!
 
However, the most depressing truth must be, how devoid of reality the politicians seem to be, when it comes to making national and international based defence policy and then providing the actual funding, that is required to allow our Military to meet and guaranty the defence of UK without being compromised. I just hope, but can’t guaranty that the current dire situation unfolding in Ukraine over the past week or so, will be a real and hard wake up call to all of our politicians to start taking defence seriously and not just keep using it as means of political posturing, both nationally and internationally!

Jon

Could Wave Rider be taken out of military service, dedicated to disaster relief and hospital use, and run from the Foreign Aid budget?

fearlesstunafish

one would hope the fact the world seems to be going to shit geopolitically might mean we pulled our thumb out of our arse and sort this crap out…. hell….even germany has changed their defese status to 2% gdp and 100billion in meantime…..60-70 years of communism couldn’t accomplish that! in that regard putin massively miscalculated hes basically made nato relevant again and brought europe together……

Duker

The bad news is that this new situation kills off the UK State MY project, unless theres a ‘barely used one’ coming up cheap?

Humpty Dumpty

The article says: “The F-35 can already carry up to 6 very effective AIM-120 AMRAAM”.

1) I thought this capability provided by Sidekick would only be provided in Block 4? Which is several years off.
2) I thought the F-35B couldn’t use Sidekick?

For now why don’t we just buy LRASMs and fit them to our Poseidons? This would give us anti-ship and land-attack capability that we currently lack and would be far faster than fitting anti-ship/land-attack missiles to any of our current or future ships.

Also the Astutes could do with anti-ship missiles.

Last edited 2 months ago by Humpty Dumpty
4thwatch

I completely agree with the points you raise.

Humpty Dumpty

Longer term we should look at using airships for anti-ship and land-attack missions imo. They’d have endurance measured in days or weeks, possibly even months. They could land and take off from pretty much anywhere, including water if amphibious variants were built. That would make them very hard to take out on the ground/on water compared to aircraft that require a runway to operate and so they’d be inherently much more survivable. Covering them in multispectral camouflage would make them even harder to detect when not airborne.

Airships could also be used for long-endurance AEW, ISTAR, to provide an alternative to GPS and to provide comms if satellites get taken out and for ASW. And unlike ASW frigates they wouldn’t be vulnerable to anti-ship missiles, torpedoes or mines.

If these airships carried missiles that could be fired from beyond the range of ship-based and land-based SAMs and if these missiles outranged carrier-based and land-based fighters then they’d be immune to attack.

In addition to fitting Astutes with anti-ship missiles, I’d also fit IDAS missiles (when they come into service) to shoot down ASW helicopters and Torbuster to take out torpedoes. IDAS will also have short-range anti-ship and land-attack capability (approx 40km, Mach 3). UUVs could also be fitted with IDAS. We could then build nuclear-powered underwater “UUV transporters” (to coin a phrase) to get them to wherever they’re needed. These would also act as motherships to recharge/refuel the UUVs and to rearm them.

One other potential use for airships would be air defence. If airships were fitted with powerful chemical lasers and they operated in the stratosphere where AIUI there’s little moisture or wind so that the lasers would work optimally then they could presumably shoot down ballistic missiles and manoeuvrable hypersonic missiles. Potentially nuclear ICBMs as well. Such airships would be ideal to protect the UK from long-range missiles whether fired from land, aircraft, ships or subs.

As electric lasers become more powerful, they could possibly be powered by Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). I’ve read some SMRs are small enough to fit inside a shipping container. I’ve also read that large cargo airships can carry as much as 60 tonnes.

Last edited 2 months ago by Humpty Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty

We need loads of SAM systems of varying types and ranges to protect these shores from long-range missiles, whether launched from subs, aircraft, ships or land. In fact the whole of Europe could do with an IADS with multiple layers of defence.

Last edited 2 months ago by Humpty Dumpty