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4th watch

There are a lot of people supporting the great achievements, getting the carriers ready and able for full operational deployment. Brilliant work by all concerned.


Do we not have enough to man 617 squadron with just RAF personnel? They only have 8 pilots Total in 617 squadron and how many jets just 8?. What’s the deal? It will be getting a larger squadron Surely??

And it’s come so quick this build up and finally a deployed battle group in 10 month…Well done RN RAF.

i hate the drab light grey colour our carriers are and merlin helicopters are! It’s not even a nice grey. A slightly darker grey would look far better and won’t show up all the marks ect so badly. Surely the days are gone when you painted ships to camouflage them, with modern radars The colour surely can’t hide them that much can it?? And our typhoons look Crap In the same crap colour, I think the f35b colour would be much better for our typhoons, they would look so much better. Oh and an f35 in the typhoons light grey colour would also look great!! Hmm…. And imagine a black carrier I know that’s crazy but how cool would it be. I’d settle for a slightly darker grey though. Oh crap I said black carrier I’m racist and going to jail for unintentionaly suggesting black facing our carriers!!

Last edited 4 years ago by Cam

Between the world wars, Royal Navy ships were painted dark gray in the Home Fleet, light gray in the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas, and white in the Indian Ocean and western Pacific.
I think the reduced visual contrast long after radar came along was for the eyes looking from a submarine periscope. Maybe the infra red aspect is still considered for a lighter grey ?
The colour scheme called ‘Nelson Chequer’ was used by the sail RN with bands of black and yellow with black gunportscomment image


I never thought about Looking through a periscope, cheers


They’ve actually repainted HMS Victory with the colour scheme they believe was closer to the one she had at Trafalgar.


617 Sqn will have double if not triple the number of pilots to aircraft in the UK. When deployed Operationally they will usually have double the strength in pilot numbers. This is so the off-shift pilots get down time, but means the aircraft’s mission generation is doubled (depending on serviceability).


That’s great to hear.


You still have to account for the human eye.

I like black hulls, white upper works, and buff uptakes. 🙂
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Yeah, looks great ?


Have you ever seen some of the images people have made of the Type 45 in those colours? Looks really good.


No but I shall go to look for them. Thank you. 🙂


I can’t find it!


They’d sure get some attention visiting allies if they where painted like that.

Meirion X

Would not a ‘cold sea blue’ be better?


Back then naval warfare was all about ‘line of battle’ as it was in the time of sale etc. and being able to see your ships was still seen as important.

Submarines have painted blue. This is HMS Torbay………

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This is a military platform, please leave skin colour out of this.


I wasn’t being serious Rob.


Are you sure about the “400% increase” in aircraft for Autumn GroupEx air wing? Given this exercise had 4 F35 and 3 Merlin, total 7 aircraft, that means 35 aircraft next time? It seems like a big step up in numbers.


Sounds about right tbh. The USMC are likely bringing a squadron of 12 plus helicopters, call it maybe 16 aircraft. The other 19 UK aircraft will presumably be the 8 Lightnings (maybe more if we receive the next delivery in time) and flights of Merlin, Wildcat, and potentially RAF and Army types.


I’d suggest that it’ll be 4x the 7 cabs this time round (ie 28 or so). 8 Brit F35, 8 USMC F35, 6-8 Merlin and a handful of Wildcat and/or the odd Chinook.

The limiter will be Merlin serviceability, which is still shocking.


Not so long ago the baseline operating air-group was suggested to be 14 Merlins (9 ASW and 5 AEW) alongside 24 F35 (including 12 American at first). Could never see how they were going to deploy almost 50% of the entire HM2 fleet on anything like a regular basis!


The initial operational cruise next year is supposed to be 12 x British F35s and 12 x USMC, plus UK helos and USMC Ospreys.


I suspect they just mean 4 times the F-35B’s i.e. 16 of them.


I understood that 617 were embarking with all their aircraft for this exercise with a load of helicopters to get the flight deck crew used to dealing with large numbers of aircraft? Just 4 x F35s? Is the RAF taking the Mickley? Plus just 3 helos? How can they say the crew is up to speed and fully operational?? Simply put, they aren’t…..


Then straight in at the deep end with 30+ aircraft on ship!

Gavin Gordon

I want to see Crowsnest Merlin at IOC on QE for the 05/21 deployment i.e. ahead of the currently quoted 09/21. Considering the Searchwater/Cerberus genesis of this radar capability, it is astounding that it has fallen so far behind schedule. Anyone, MOD or politician, could have been forgiven for assuming selection of this tried and tested route would not prove that problematic. Thales, it would appear, needs to double down on achieving the above Spring date to atone for the delays experienced.


Please share with us what your in depth analysis has determined to be the key factors in the delay.

Gavin Gordon

It’s an updated system, Ron, and many military commentators considered it low risk, which is hardly surprising. So no in depth analysis on my part. However, if you have any knowledge that can contribute further enlightenment, that will be very gratefully received. I don’t at all mind being proved wrong.
Kind Regards

Glass Half Full

Just my speculation Gavin, but I suspect what Ron is getting at is that we don’t actually know what performance characteristics were contracted for and promised for Crowsnest. Many (most?) commenters seem to assume that its simply taking the old system and plonking it into a Merlin, it was never just that as a previous STRN article outlined and as a £269m contract suggests.

There are performance/capability improvements from the updated Searchwater radar and Cerberus Mission System, and failing to achieve these has led to delays or at least contributed to them. Did Thales over-promise and underestimate challenges, perhaps, but the delayed flight tests seem to confirm this as a cause.

Then there is the operation of the updated Searchwater 2000 in close location to the existing search and detection radar on the Merlin’s belly, that may be expected to operate at the same time and which may also be complicating things if so.

Gavin Gordon

OK, Glass, balanced reply: I certainly wasn’t aware of your last point over possible radar conflict, though one may assume the contractors would have had an inkling, earlyish. Initial estimates for operation are always likely to be optimistic and ‘accepted’, but now further extending a project founded upon known basics to later 2021, at this stage, is wholly unacceptable to my mind.
Obviously the operational requirement, which had no doubt taken reasonable account of any equipment slippage, was for Spring next year. A deployment that could well prove more than a flag cruise; and in fact anticipate some facedown from parties less than pleased at the arrival of a UK CSG in waters they regard as their own – erroneously.
I’d still expect an embarrased Thales to want a presence of Crowsnest aboard next Summer, considering it’s intrinsic value to the carrier (notwithstanding any capacity of F35 on that front), even if IOC is achieved en route.

Simon m

My understanding was the crowsnest could be operated by the mk4 as well mk2? Also considering the capability of the radar surely search water can be turned off?
So i’m unsure why radar conflict should delay at least an interim capability until they worked out a way of operating both together?

The issue is all down to cost cutting again and decisions made on a shoestring budget. We allegedly have Merlin’s in storage? If this is the case mission equipment should have been transferred to them from the sea kings (if they were truly knackered) & a slow incremental upgrade could have been carried out. Another option could have been leasing a different air frame.

There seems to be too much acceptance of gaping capabilities. Just because we didn’t have carriers doesn’t mean ships don’t need AEW. In fact by the sounds of it when airborne the capability of f35 will be able to give a stopgap measure. If they can keep caps going 24hrs whilst in high threat areas, although it will be an expensive way to generate this limited interim capability! But demonstrates carriers can cope better than say an ARG. To me the RN should have argued to integrate with Albion class or an RFA or possibly T45.

Add to this the capability the system would have added to ground troops and littorals it really should not have been gapped, especially as i cant imagine it was in the grand scheme of things that expensive?

We should have done this even if this meant the sea kings soldiering on, there must be a huge amount of spares etc. From the other retired units?

Also how bad can the new radar currently be? OK it may not meet the performance criteria, but I remember tornado F2s being fitted with the blue circle cement radar initially! So could we not push Thales to deliver something that works to some degree, make them lease a AW101 at their cost in order to continue testing? Surely something is better than nothing? These military suppliers are making huge profits yet we never seem to take them to task.

Last edited 4 years ago by Simon m

You are wrong, Crowsnest requires Merlin HM2. Didn’t bother reading past that.

Meirion X

You will need 3 F-35Bs in the air at same time pointing away from each at 120 degrees angle to give you a 360 degree situation awareness of the airspace.


Whilst it was true that Crowsnest would be a play and play system. It still needs the hardpoint mount to fit the arm to. The Mk4s, in theory could also be modified with the hardpoint.

From what little information is available. The problem does not lie in interference from the Mk2’s Blue Kestrel radar, but in software integration with the Cerberus system. Anyway, you wouldn’t be operating the Blue kestrel when transmitting with the Searchwater.


Usually bad form to arrive at a conclusion without any fact based evidence but whatever.


Would love to see a full load rather than all the explanations as to why She is so empty.


Be patient. Baby steps.


Ha, Baby Steps you say. So, These Ships were first proposed some 20 years ago and we might just see 24 F35’s lining up on deck in 2028 or there about’s. That’s nearly 30 years of taking Baby Steps. And a whole decade and more, of no capability whatsoever too. So glad we haven’t had any more Wars this last few years.


No wars? Where the eff have you been?


It was Sarcasm.


Admiralty Crabfat as I recall