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Ian

Where to turn – all the politicians are stuck in entrenched positions which only new leadership will change. Given Corbyn isn’t in power I hope May & Hammond go and someone with some vision and a plan shows up…

Grubbie

It’s obviously the carriers. If the royal navy isn’t big enough to support them (and it isn’t) they are pointless and useless. My, how our enemies must be laughing.

Silent Majority

Did you read the article? It is Trident, not the carriers. Never before has renewal of the nuclear deterrent fallen on the core defence budget. Also, note that the majority of procurement costs are for the army, which is now rounding on the Navy despite historically many of the Navy’s woes being due to the diversion of funds to………………wait for it………..the army, for Iraq and Afghanistan. It would appear that the RM, as a consequence of these conflicts now identify more with the land forces than the Navy of which they are part.
On another note, all this potential waste, risk, destruction and public national humiliation, when the RN is short of only £300 – 500m per annum, when HMG spends almost £770,000 million per year (£770b). This is a political problem not a financial one. There was no problem finding £5b extra for NI after the election, for example.
The cuts will not result in savings, but ever more massive costs downstream. This is the main reason defence is in a degenerative cycle, and we do not get value for money. We are locked in an ignore it – panic – regenerate it – ware it out – and cut it – cycle, that is far more expensive than just putting in supplementary funds every time we bang our heads on the ceiling. Denial of requirements is the most expensive way possible to run any organisation because things will always blow up in its face.
I very much hope all this is a political strategy to create a furore to demonstrate the lunacy of these ‘options’ and that as a result they will not be taken up. Although, I see reference to the notion that that is how the RN lost the diesel sub force. I for one hope that things change for the better and that defence, and those who serve within it, are taken seriously, and some enduring stability results.

4thwatch

I am hugely glad the so called Conservative party is feeling the pain. I applaud the constituencies that turfed out Conservative MP’s who have Military bases in their boundaries. The Conservatives need a sharp short shock for taking Defence and especially The Navy for granted. Every other special case seems to be catered for but the Forces.
How many votes are there Really in Foreign Aid?? And by what right does this get an assured % of The National Budget ahead of the fudged figure of 2% for Defence.
Nobody should blame anyone but the politicians of all parties for the mess we are in, but particularly the Conservatives because they are now in power.

Darren Riche-Webber

This Country deserves a solid 3%.

Edward Andrews

The fact is that the UK has to decide where it is in the world. At the minute there are piecemeal cuts in the defence budget which are actually dangerous. An example was the ending of Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft, after all their existence is pretty well essential for the safe operations of the SSBN fleet.
One could argue that without the MRAs HMG was signalling that they were not taking the SSBN fleet seriously.
There are so many arguments for not renewing Trident, that they quite overshadow the very dubious excuses for spending a great deal of money on this arm of the forces when there could be a much more obvious practical use for assets which could be obtained with the same expenditure. we see it with N Korea they think that the possession of nuclear weapons would make them safer. The rest of the World knows that is a fallacy, but the UK continues with the same old lie.
In the same way, the Aircraft Carriers suggest that the UK is envisaging an international role which the rest of the Forces are not in a position to support. The fact that there will almost be a reverse lend lease as we provide the Aircraft Carriers to be used by the US Marine Corps would be funny, if it was not so serious.
Thus it is that if the stories are true, the UK is telling the world that it is no longer to be taken seriously as a naval power. In the context of Brexit where there are going to be all this trade with countries outside Europe, is this not a rather short-sighted policy.

J Carlin

Personally I think the Army, Navy and RAF should be wrapped up as separate entities. There should be one defence force, as they have in Canada for example. Their needs to be a cull of the top brass of all three services. I believe we have one tank for every two generals in the army. After cuts, no doubt, there will probably be 1:3.
Obviously the situation suits the politicians who can play one service off against another. Furthermore the MOD needs to be decimated. My understanding is that 17,000 civil servants are due the chop, but only 1 in a 100 has gone. Departmental heads need to left in no doubt as to the consequences if this programme is not complete by Christmas.

David Flandry

Canada undid their one-force policy. There is now a RCAF, RCN, and Canadian Army.

Keith Sware

John Black, President of The Royal College of Surgeons, said: “It seems ridiculous that at a time of economic crisis, with wide-ranging cuts to services across the board, we are seeing astronomical sums of money being thrown at locum doctors in order to prop up services that are only falling apart because of an ill-conceived European law.
Of the 164 trusts, 118 responded to the request
Trusts that were unable to provide a complete or accurate set of data for all three years in a particular category were eliminated from that category before any data analysis took place.
https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/publications/docs/locum-doctor-costs-in-nhs-trusts-in-england
https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/media/medianews/nhs-locum-doctor-spend-spirals-as-eu-regulations-bite
Is there anyone left who wants to reverse the trend in the decimation of the Royal navy that has continued year on year since the Falklands war? http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2016/11/andrew-wood-we-cant-keep-running-down-the-navy-by-stealth-and-pretending-that-nothing-has-changed.html
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/202588

Paul

Did you read the national ship building strategy? Just look at the delays in bringing new ships into service. Every year cost money not just in prolonged development work. But in life extention programmes for ships still in service. That, SDSR 2010 and the move of other things into the defence budget that were not there previously are the reasons, not the carriers.

David Graham

The problem has nothing to do with the carriers, whose acquisition dates back to SDR98. The increase in costs, for example, were all purely political, carried out by delays sanctioned by both new labour and the coalition governments.
CASD now being part of the Defence [hence RN] budget is one of the core reasons for the shortfall, coupled with decades of poor procurement procedures, and allowing a situation to develop where there is, effectively, only one supplier. One glaring example of this is over-priced OPVs built to satisfy the TOBA agreement between government and BAES.

Keith Sware

I think BAE is part of the cost problem, but so are the MPs who like to order investigations into CATOBAR when HMS Queen Elizabeth is almost in the water. Instead of ending up with this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_aircraft_carrier_PA2 we somehow lost most of the defensive capability for a capital ship with 1600+ souls on-board.

The Ginge

The reality is that we are not spending the 2% minimum on defence. Included within that 2% are a myriad of other costs that traditionally never were part of the UK calculation of the 2% Defence spending. So as explained in the article the Nuclear deterrent which effectively has put the cost of building 4 Aircraft Carriers in to the budget. Other items are MI5/6 Budgets for anti-Terror work, Pensions, certain facility costs, service support etc which were all funded from outside of the core Defence Budget.
The reality is that if you look at reputable sources (Defence Select Committee Work, FOI Requests, RUS etc) the actual like for like comparison is that the UK now spends about 1.4 to 1.6% on defence. IE about the level of Germany. However, Germany does not have a requirement to have an expeditionary capability, does not have to have ships available for HADR in the Caribbean, does not have dependencies dotted all around the Globe, has no intention of having a kick the door down capability, a large Capital Ship Navy (Without UK or French Logistic Help the German Navy is a Frigate/Light Destroy Brown Water Navy).
I have no problem with the electorate deciding we wish to withdraw from world affairs, but we must cut are ambitions to our abilities, with the proposed cuts I would suggest that Resignation of Great Britain from the Permanent Membership of the Security Council is a first since we cannot influence Geo Political events, thus we have no right to comment or vote on them.
If Politicians give a clear indication of what they want to be able to do on the World Stage for which the MOD and the Navy need to present a forecasted bill to the politician to pay. If the politicians demand the Armed Forces to do something that is reckless and endangers unnecessarily members of the armed forces then it is incumbent on in this case the 1st Sea Lord and his Deputies to resign on principle. It is the same as Senior Civil Servants threatening to resign unless they have a direct order to proceed with a course of action they view as unlawful, putting personal responsibility on the Minister concerned.
The problem is that people such as Lord West who are now bleating are the people who created this mess. They designed the Aircraft Carrier Deal in such a way that no Government could scrap it (as happened with the A01 Project in the 1960’s) on the basis that the politicians would have to then cough up and equip the Navy with the minimum number of Ships to fulfil its missions. What they did not figure out was Ministers would be stupid enough to then make the Navy Use Strike Aircraft Carriers to act as LHA’s/LPD’s and sail a £3bn Ship plus another £3bn of Escorts within 10 miles of an enemy coast bristling with Cheap Effective Anti-Ship Missiles.
Further nobody has thought of the wider implications of this, especially those in the Army. For example, if I was Norway or Sweden I would be looking at Britain’s Commitment under Nato to provide defence for Natos Northern Flank that the Royal marines and these Ships provide it. The Command roles within Nato’s structure that go with providing the majority of European Amphibious Capabilities. I should France or Italy now cede any control of Nato Amphibious operations to the Royal Navy when we have no Command and Control or Amphibious capability. The same applies in the Eastern Mediterranean and I can see both Italy/Cyprus/Malta/Greece all asking question about Britain’s commitment to Nato Defence.
Ultimately it those Chickens coming home to roost that now means the Navy is going to be savaged. It is a disgrace and it’s about time the Heads of the Navy/Army/Airforce publicly came out and said we will do as commanded but these actions mean we can no longer do X, Y or Z and lay it clearly to the public so that politicians cannot get away with the outright lies they are peddling. No um and aring we cannot do this, this or that, including without the RM or these ships any form of Falklands Operation such as in 1982. Put it on the line and man up instead of taking easy money and your Lordships actually protect your Sailors, Airman and Soldiers for once instead of using them as sacrificial lambs and hope you get a UOR when needed to save your embarrassment.

Keith Sware

Totally agree with every one of those comments, I look at the Hobart class destroyers, that are technically better than type 45s or type 26s or type 31e for all the rolls that they can fulfil. They also got designed and built pretty fast; perhaps their advantage was they did not get handicapped by several hundred MPs and civil servants slowing the program down with budget / design changes and a lack of engineering talent. Or was it BAE running rings around those civil servants? https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/the-type-26-frigate/type-26-global-combat-ship-gcs-capabilities/#tab-789986147

Fedaykin

Oh no not still banging on about putting ships like Ocean in reserve, it is unworkable…just going to repost my comment on the other article poo pooing it:
The reason for the lethargy about reserve fleets is it is neither practical or cost effective in the modern day especially with current defence budgets and personnel retention! It is basically unworkable when you put a moments thought to the idea!
Before I talk about the RAF lets pick up the issue of a reserve fleet, people get very misty eyed about the idea and constantly talk about reservists manning them as if it is minor issue. Sorry that just isn’t the case, I am considering asking this site if I could write an article just to nip some of these ideas in the bud!
Two core points that must be considered:
1) It is not the 1930’s any more! There is a vast amount of difference between a vessel operated in the first half of the twentieth century and now!
2) There is a vast difference between a Matelot of the 1930’s and his modern day counterpart!
Go back to the WW2 era when large numbers of mothballed vessels were being brought back into service and it was a realistic enterprise. Systems wise there was not that much difference between one vessel to the next, certainly not enough of a difference that the Matelot of the day couldn’t turn their hand to it quickly.
A modern Warship is an entirely different beast! it is packed full of systems that are platform unique and require specialised maintenance. As the vessel gets older the cost of keeping the vessel up to date increases, as systems become obsolete they need replacing or upgrading again at cost. Service contracts have to be extended. If the gap between reactivation is too long then the vessel will simply not be able to operate and talk with in a data sense with other platforms, it might not even be able to fight if the weapons it uses have been retired from the fleet! (Canister Sea Wolf for example)
The mythical pool of reservists who can just take the vessel out again is also a nonsense when you put hard consideration to it. To operate and maintain the vessel they need currency training that is platform specific, you will never find enough reservists to undergo that kind of platform specific training. Also to carry on the training then the shore-side training establishments have to be maintained at cost and robbing budget from other platforms and programs. That was the major reason why T22 Batch three was got rid of so quickly and not retained. The MOD was not going to maintain platform specific training and update a type that was no-longer in service.
From a pure storage sense ships are in the worse environment sitting in salt water and exposed to salt air with complex electronics that don’t like that environment to boot. Ideally you would lift the ship out of the water but that isn’t practical in reality. So further contracts have to be signed and further money spent maintaining the vessels in mothballs treating the hulls, ship upper structures and ensuring electronics are sealed away properly…whilst every day the vessel becomes more obsolete and expensive to reactivate.
Now people will often chime “What about the US Reserve fleet!”, now that is an interesting point but most people don’t understand why it existed post WW2.
The US was terrified of WW3 and with their deep pockets were prepared to keep a large number of hulls mothballed. Reactivation was a costly affair and it should be noted that the US has of recent years seen sense and massively cut their reserve fleet numbers for all the reasons I mention above.
Now yes there has been talk in recent weeks about reactivating a dozen or so Perry Class but there is a solid reason for that and a set of circumstances that make it a practical concept:
1) They were only recently deactivated so are still fairly able to operate with the rest of the fleet
2) The reason a dozen or so are kept in mothballs is the US was planning to sell or gift them to foreign navies which means…
3) The USN was still maintaining shore-side training and support contracts going which means…
4) With the Trump drive to increase fleet numbers reactivating them is not an entirely unreasonable proposition
But even then the USN is not keen on the idea and will probably fight to avoid it!
So lets talk about the RAF and their mothballed jets…
People who point this out usually don’t understand how the RAF operates their current fleet of fast jets!
The RAF is only storing types that are currently in service, if the type goes out of service it is sold on or scrapped. For the RAF they have to maintain availability to squadrons whilst ensuring the type is serviced and meets its Out of Service Date (OSD) whilst keeping within its fatigue life with an attrition reserve because unfortunately jets do crash!
To that end when the RAF buys a combat jet they buy three times the amount they need for squadron service. One third is with the squadrons, one third is in maintenance and the remaining balance is held in climate controlled hangers to act as an attrition reserve and to balance the airframe life through to OSD. The pattern is an aircraft goes from a squadron to deep maintenance, it is replaced with one of the aircraft that is in storage. When an aircraft finishes deep maintenance it goes into storage.
This way the RAF avoids Christmas treeing airframes for spares, maintains squadron availability and balances the aircraft fatigue life through to OSD. That is how it works ideally albeit it has not always worked out that way.
Mothballed fleets operated by plucky reservists might sound like a great idea but it is costly and pretty much unworkable in the modern day!

NavyLookout

Well aware of differences between 1930s ships and present day thanks and don’t advocate a large reserve fleet. HMS Albion, Dauntless and Lancaster have all recently been successfully kept in reserve / low readiness whatever you may call it, for sometime as an example. The way aircraft are managed by the RAF has limited relevance as ships and aircraft have a few differences you many have noticed.

Fedaykin

Albion has been rotated with her sister ship Bulwark (at great cost) so an active class
Dauntless is a Type 45 a type that will remain in the active fleet for many years
Lancaster is a Type 23 a type that will remain in the active fleet for many years
All three vessels have an active support and training chain in place and in the case of the latter two if rumours are true about amphibious assault capability will still do for many years to come.
So not a fair comparison in all three cases to what you are proposing which is to retain vessels in a mothballed state that are no longer in the active fleet as a class. Ocean is unique, worn out and will be costly to store. Read what I have said and think about it, for a vessel to be mothballed requires training and support to be retained. As the vessel gets older it becomes almost impossible to reactivate it and get it to work with the rest of the fleet without great expenditure.
Let it go…trying to keep vessels like Ocean are not the battles that are worth it

Geoffrey Hicking

Spot on! Bit rot and data corruption mean that computer systems probably need to be completely replaced every 15 years at the very least.
P.s.: I apologise for being such a patronising unpleasant little toad to you previously. I hope to contribute something useful in future.

ian potter

This government need to rethink their policies on defence and overseas aid…whilst its all well and good helping people abroad who are in dire need for our aid ,so it should be said of our armed forces..who are also in dire need.Years and years of cutbacks,under funded defence resources,at times idiotic measures taken at recent defence reviews have destroyed our armed forces as a force to be reckoned with.
Mr Fallon keeps churning out his speal about the defence budjet increasing year on year and the equipment fund of ^178 billion over ten years…what a load of bollocks…
Do the politicians think the public never mind the MOD are so bloody stupid…
Its time to take care od our military and fund it properly.
Cut the overseas aid budjet in half and give the Defence budget half NOW..not over ten bloody years …we could all be dead by then..
What the point in having 2 beautiful ,huge carriers to fly kytes off??
Get some bloody planes bought urgently,..get the t26 built sooner rather than later and more of them..
Increase the royal marines ,never mind cutting them ..
I sometimes wonder what the heel these politicians have got in their heads..
The world is a very dangerous place now and if we go global britian ,we are going to need our forces to protect our interests..
So please you idiots in Whitehall bloody wake up before its too late.!!!!!!!

Keith Sware

If HMS Ocean gets called on to go to the Caribbean, as did recently happen, the funds for that should come out of the overseas aid budget. In this way, the defence forces (equipment fatigue, stores, spares, …) do not suffer when they are called on to perform duties incompatible with defence training or war fighting.

Remo

You can kiss goodbye to Albion, Bulwark, and Ocean. The Royal Navy will probably turn the 2 new carriers into a version of the USS America LHA-6 class. They will be both carriers when needed or amphibious assault ships when needed (in LHA mode, with only helicopter insertion for both troops and limited equipment).
The UK will simply not be able to mount anything bigger than a small special forces mission, but certainly nothing on the scale of the Falkland Islands war. Those days are gone forever.
And the Royal Navy’s defense will probably be that the carriers would be a much bigger asset to NATO than amphibious warfare ships. When it comes to NATO amphibious missions, the UK will simply hand over the responsibilities to the US Navy. And the UK, which is literally drowning in red ink to support its many social-welfare programs, will be happy to hand over its amphibious warfare responsibilities to the US Navy. After all, who really needs a major amphibious warfare capability in this high-tech age, right? That is, of course, until there is another Falkland Islands type war. Then the UK will just be out of luck.
But don’t worry. I’m sure that if you put Albion, Bulwark, and Ocean on the market, there will be plenty of willing buyers out there. Who knows, maybe even Russia will buy them!

Don

It’s reported that the UK Foreign Aid budget Spent £5 million on the Indian version of the spice girls. Yet defence is being asked to stomach further cuts from an already decimated budget.
The UK has too get serious about its defence responsibilities and invest more.
Years of under funding have lead to the present situation.
There is cash , other departments budgets are ballooning.
When the S*** hits the fan what would you prefer –
1.The Royal Marines deploying from their amphibious ships covered by F35s from a well escorted Carrier.
Or
2. A CD of the Indian spice girls.

Geoffrey Hicking

Serious Question: Given that the army and RAF would get an equal share of the Aid Budget, do you see the RN’s share making much of a difference?

Chris Jones

Would they get the same share though? The RN do the bulk of humanitarian work, followed by the RAF. I’m sure the Army does humanitarian work but I can’t think of any recent examples. I’m sure the more enlightened here will be able to assist.

Ian Willis

You’re not getting any more money for your toys. So stop the unseemly gnashing of teeth.
My god, you people really take the cake!
We have problems funding the NHS, care for the elderly and paying off the 2 trillion in debt and you lot want amphibious capability on top of Trident, Attack Submarines and Carriers?
Where exactly are we going to do an amphibious landing? Not against a Russia or China. And against a Sierra Leone or Kosovo the Americans will go in with only token support from us. We can use rubber dinghies off rented freighters. And if we reduce this amphibious capability, we can cut Marines as well. Win win.

Paul

I see internet trolls make it to this site.

Sjb1968

Ian your comments are part factual but also totally ignorant. These amphibious ships and marines you seem quite happy to loose are currently supporting your fellow U.K. Citizens after a natural disaster or have you been asleep or don’t you care. I would also hazard a guess that for most who read these posts the only time in their lifetime that Britains national interest was directly effected the only solution was to deploy amphibious ships and marines. All wars since 1982 have been wars of choice and have not seen a total commitment of UK military resources in a comparable scale. Savings may be required but this is the last place too look. By the way trident renewal is the real problem along with politicians and civil servants fiddling the figures to present a 2 per cent defence budget in name only.

David Stephen

Where you just at the beach? Cause it sounds like you have sand in your privates. The amphibious fleet enables independance of action for the UK. We cant rely on the US for everything. Anything else you want to cut? What about our tanks? We cant beat the Russian army with 200 tanks so why have them? Your lack of understanding regarding this stuff is clear from the tone of your post, try engaging your brain before opening your mouth and spare the rest of us your ridiculous whinning.

David Flandry

Well, just cut the entire armed forces and let others take care of you!. It seems the IK public is only concerned about the welfare benefits, the telly, and “free” health care.

Stephen

We can afford to give £billions away to foreign countries every year though (foreign aid), right?

Keith Sware

Staff shortage in NHS or INCOMPETANCE and POOR PLANNING More GPs quit to cash in as locums: NHS ‘revolving door’ lets them earn £1,800 a day
NHS hospital paid the record sum of almost £11,000 for one locum doctor to cover a bank holiday weekend
average doctor’s contract such a sum would equate to a salary of more than £830,000 a year.
NHS paying locum doctors £1,760 a day to cover chronic staff shortages
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3285538/More-GPs-quit-cash-locums.html
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11806235/NHS-locum-doctor-paid-11000-to-work-a-weekend.html
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/03/nhs-doctors-staff-shortages-hospital
don’t know what to do about this, yes but the MPs do know what to do; they have been doing it for decades.
Remember the NHS slogan – every pound spent on the NHS saves a life
Solution – throw another bucket load of money at the NHS problem, hope for the best (until next year) and stand on the podium and bask in the glory of press adulation (for one more year)
The labour part set the president, the trend, the new normal until it became publically dangerous to ask the question – where is all the 8bn extra money going, that the tax payer just gave you
In the first six months of 2015, NHS care providers spent £1.8bn on contract and agency staff – almost double what was set aside in the budget.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) suggests there are between 100 and 200 healthcare agencies operating in the UK, and puts the number of locum staff into their thousands. MANY HOLD DOWN FULL-TIME NHS JOBS AS WELL AS DOING AGENCY WORK.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/11/are-locum-doctors-and-nurses-really-bankrupting-the-nhs
Planned spending for the Department of Health in England is approximately £124.7 billion in 2017/18. This includes £335 million of additional funding announced in the 2017 Autumn Budget.
https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/nhs-in-a-nutshell/nhs-budget
And all this happened at the same time as the pound lost a third of its value due to Brexit
Solution: rob the defence budget to pay for NHS INCOMPETANCE and POOR PLANNING
Putins wars – saving life
===
” Bosnia (1992 – 2007)
” 2004 unrest in Kosovo,
” 2004 Georgia, Adjara crisis
” 2006 Georgia, Kodori crisis
” 2007-present Civil war in Ingushetia – Chechnya
” 2008 unrest in Kosovo
” 2008 Russia-Georgia war
” 2009-present Insurgency in the North Caucasus
” 2011-2013 North Kosovo crisis
” Syria (2012)
” 2013-present Euromaidan and pro-Russian conflict in Ukraine
” 2014 Crimean crisis
” 2014-present War in Donbass
http://petitionmap.unboxedconsulting.com/?petition=202588
https://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-listing.asp
Is there anyone left who wants to reverse the trend in the decimation of the Royal navy that has continued year on year since the Falklands war? http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2016/11/andrew-wood-we-cant-keep-running-down-the-navy-by-stealth-and-pretending-that-nothing-has-changed.html
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/202588

Bonzo

Thank you for an objective and well written assessment.

Jeff

Shades of 1981. Once again a conservative government is telling the Royal Navy to “get Nott…ed”

Ex-Service

20B is seriously not that much when one considers the overall government budget. The government should do their job and provide for the military to defend the realm, it is simple as that – this is a core responsibility of HM government. Voters should be holding their representatives to account, this would not have happened over a hundred years ago… (remember prior to WWI the public through the media made the government buy more battleships than they had in one particular year).
The fact remains government delays in cornerstone projects – CVF, T45, Astute amongst many others – is exactly why the cost keep going up – delays only provide short term budgetary relief with overall project costs increasing as a result.

Steve

The problem (well obviously not a problem, as we live in peace, but best word i could come up with) is that the main land Britain has not been under threat for 70 odd years and very few people are alive to remember the last time it happened.
As such the military of 2017 is being designed around ‘attack mode’ rather than ‘defensive’. The carriers are a perfect example of this, they don’t really help defend the country itself but they are great for sitting off a unstable country and dropping bombs from safety.
The ‘attach mode’ that we are realistically likely to face is coalition warfare, meaning we do not need to be able to do everything ourselves. We are also likely to face adversaries that can not assert themselves militarily and so fighting defensively. We have seen there is no political desire to commit ground forces to conflicts currently due to the mess of Iraq/Afgan and if history repeats itself, there won’t be any desire for a least another decades or two.
This all adds up to need to invest what budget we have in the air force for bombing missions (we want to be seen to be doing something but don’t want the risk).
We have seen in Iraq/Afgan that the land forces were badly equipped for the conflict and this impact is still current in the minds, which means the army is getting new /improved gear and i think we can all agree its needed.
On the Naval side, I suspect the thinking is that other nations have naval transport options, but these nations historically typically don’t want to risk ground forces and so the deal we are thinking along the route of is they can get our troops onto land and then we take it from there (with support from other nations, like the US or France).
Finally i suspect the navy is thinking of its PR (which is needed to limit further cuts), and thinking the albion / minehunters are only really useful for high end conflict, and not that useful in peace time, whilst the other vessels like the new light frigates can be in the news from time to time with drug busts/ anti-piracy missions etc.
The overall problem is the navy’s case for money is poor, simply because it hasn’t really been needed for decades, whilst the RAF/Army has been active almost constantly.

Steve

p.s. i am not saying this is the right decision, I just suspect this is the thinking.

sjb1968

Steve your last sentence is just blatantly untrue. The RAF has not shot down a single plane since 1945! The FAA has been involved in several real conflicts and not just bombing 3rd rate nations since ww2. FAA manned Harriers were deployed in Afghanistan until they were cut by the Conservatives. Commando Sea Kings were also in constant use.
The Army numbering in excess of 100,000 personnel relied upon a commando unit from only 7,000 Royal Marines virtually in every six month deployment to Afghanistan. British Special Forces also rely disproportionally given their limited numbers on recruiting from the RM.
Mine hunters have been deployed to the Gulf continuously for several decades to protect shipping. They are not glamourous but RN expertise in mine warfare is second to none and the US Navy trains regularly with our forward deployed ships in the Gulf.
The LPDs are superb command and control vessels that are also excellent for humanitarian missions. One of them was used in the Med in recent times and are essential to reinforce Nato’s northern flank to deter Russia.
The LPDs and RMs represent one of only four world class capabilities the UK possess. The others are SSN’s, mine warfare and our Special Forces. The nuclear deterrent will never be used, the Army and RAF have some excellent people and equipment but are too small to be effective on the world stage.
The thinking behind these cuts is purely financial backed up by the vested interests of the Army and RAF. The RMs and their shipping are expensive to train and maintain so they make an ideal target for a financial saving. The best do tend to cost more than the average.
Why not cut the RAF regiment. When was the last time an airfield was attacked in the UK?
With the new carriers the use of foreign airfields will not be a consideration.
Alternatively cut the Army and get rid of those units incapable of being deployed.
Whilst we probably both agree further cuts are insane if they are required and clear strategic thinking is applied the RN/RM should be protected as the represent our only opportunity to make our presence felt on the world stage.
Join the discussion

Steve

The harrier comment is fair, but realistically they could have been based on a fixed airfield and operated by the RAF, as the F35’s will be in part, and i suspect the argument could be made that we managed to continue land operations without them.
The counter mine operations in the middle east is a great argument, but realistically it doesn’t justify the volume of the vessels. The mine hunters would be essential should the main land ever get attacked again, but we currently lack a lot of essential gear such as wide area air defence to protect the air bases against missiles fired from subs (in the london olympics we pretty much had to position the entire anti-air assets of the army to protect one stadium).
I think cutting the navy is short sighted, but as the post further down comments, what realistic scenario would we ever need to use the amp assault assets in 2017 now that the empire is gone.
I suspect the war planners are looking at realistic wars that we could get involved in without the US involvement. If the US are there, then we are just there to justify their involvement, the US is more than capable of taking on any other country alone.

David Graham

You are talking nonsense. Harriers operating from land bases? During Corporate, only Hermes and Invincible could operate the aircraft, as the Falkland Islands were occupied by Argentine forces. Ascension Island is circa 4,000 miles from the Falklands, so how exactly were they going to get to a position to attack enemy aircraft from the Argentine mainland?
Having served during Corporate, I can assure you that without the Harriers, the land operation would have been that much harder, if not impossible, as they were the main defence of both the task force [the enablers which allowed the land operation to take place] and the prevention of attacks by the ARA on ground forces in the strength that would have occurred had we had no air cover.
I lived and worked in the Falklands from 1987-90, and the fact then, and now, is that whoever controls the airspace over the islands, controls sovereignty of the archipelago.

Ian Willis

I think we need to retaliate in some way to the Yanks slapping tariffs on Bombardier. That’s 4000 jobs at risk in Northern Ireland.
We should delay or buy fewer of the F-35 purchase. That way the Yanks will get the message we are not poodles.

David Stephen

Ever heard the expression “cutting of your nose to spite your own face”?

David Flandry

Sure , jobs are the real purpose of defense spending and an aerospace industry.

Stephen

It should have been a condition of the deal that we build our own F35s.

Fedaykin

Ask me ten years ago and would have been horrified by the idea of dropping Albion, Bulwark and the Bays. Now my view is increasingly similar to that of Humphrey at Thinpinstripeline.
https://thinpinstripedline.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/the-corps-huh-what-is-it-good-for.html
The Royal Marines have become disconnected from the Royal Navy as a whole, that needs to change and I feel there is no harm in looking at how they operate. The drive to fit flex decks that can handle pretty large assault boats on the Type 26 and Type 31 intrigue me. It is not unlike what the Danish have been doing recently (more on that in a moment) and looks towards a Royal Marines that is embedded within the fleet rather than separate from it and able to mount raiding parties to support UK actions globally. Funnily that would be a return to what the Royal Marines were all about prior to WW2. Opposed landings on beeches has been a relatively recent concept for the UK when you put your mind to it.
Albion, Bulwark and Ocean absorb a huge amount of resources due to their Command and Control facilities. We need to have a real honest debate about why we have all this shipping dedicated to Amphibious assault. Falklands comes up first, I was one of those people who would do that not long ago but lets get real we are not going to need to do a San Carlos style operation again as it currently stands the Argentine armed forces are a joke. The next thing that usually comes up is China and the South China sea, for me that is rather strange when you put your mind to it. When are we ever going to get involved with opposed landings against the Chinese? It is far more likely that our Frigates and Destroyers would be used to defend British commercial shipping in that scenario and even then I bet Foreign Office advice will be to any companies “KEEP WELL AWAY” if that kind of scenario creeps up. Then we get defending NATO’s East flank from Russia, OK well that was a thing and it is rather quaint but lets face it even with the Russians getting more frisky lately it is unlikely that we are going to send an assault ship loaded with Marine Commandos on “Operation certain death” to defend Norway. To be honest I am not entirely sure what they could do beyond what the the Norwegian armed forces could already do and I wonder if there are not better ways to support Norway. For example our recent agreement to pool ASW assets via the P-8a and support contracts for the F-35. Next we get aid operations like the recent Hurricane response, well that has certainly been a good use of amphibious assault assets but then again the most useful thing was the helicopters we deployed and vessels that could offload supplies. That begs a question “Do we need dedicated amphibious assault vessels to do that” which brings me back around to the Danish…Did anybody notice what they deployed via Portsmouth to support the Hurricane relief efforts? They should do because it is surprisingly similar to what has been talked about as the future RFA dry stores replacement.
The Danish deployed HNLMS Karel Doorman their new support ship, she is a very interesting vessel not as capable as a dedicated Assault vessel like Albion or Bulwark at Amphibious assault but capable of it. It is also a support and supply vessel that is capable of UNREP, the Danish regard it as a joint support vessel able to turn its hand to multiple tasks and it has modular facilities able to reconfigure into different roles from dry stores supply through to hospital or even prisoner transport. It also has command and control facilities to support assault operations. Partnered up with their Frigates/Destroyers that have modular flex decks and the Danish still have a toe in Amphibious assault but with a far more flexible set of vessels that are not tied up to one task. The Dutch Marines are embedded with their fleet able to support Danish in multiple tasks from anti piracy through to disaster relief with a reasonable ability to put some of them on a beech against a near peer rival.
Looking back at the UK there are some interesting ideas doing the rounds at the MOD about what to do with the replacement of the Fleet solid stores ships the Fort class. The idea appears to be to expand what the MARS replacement is about. Get something a bit more like the Danish have, a Dry stores ship that also has a reasonably large helicopter deck, a small well deck and some large vehicle decks to be operated by the RFA. These vessels will then allow the UK to keep a toe in Amphibious assault whilst being more useful on a day to day basis. They would also act as an Argus, Albion, Bulwark and Bay replacement with modular facilities. A vessel like that working with the QE class would be able to offer the same or even better support in a disaster scenario like the recent Hurricanes. Working with our new Type 26 and 31 it would get the Royal Marines back in the navy at sea mindset after all those years in the Sand Pit.
I know this means a drastic cut in hull numbers but we all know the truth, there just isn’t the money to go around. Rather than protecting sacred cows to keep a capability we are unlikely to fully use I would prefer keeping a more flexible capability which keeps our toe in the game.

sjb1968

A nice try Fedaykin and I understand the loss of Ocean but we have just spent millions to refit Albion. The Bays act as patrol vessels in the Caribbean and support vessel in the Gulf. They have also provided a convenient ferry service for young African men in the Med as part of an EU mission. What a great way to spend our money.
In truth the Bays are great ships, are cheap to run and in my opinion one of the best class of vessels the UK has built in decades. In fact they make it difficult to argue in some ways for more frigates as they can do many of the lesser roles much cheaper and in some ways better given their size and inherent flexibility.
So with Ocean gone we have one LPD laid up in reserve and you are suggesting we cannot afford to run the other? I beg to differ on that one and as any experienced military planner will tell you amphibious warfare is one of the most complex military manoeuvres that can be undertaken so keeping our “toe in” is a non starter.
Why not strip the Paras of their parachuting role? The last time it was used was crossing the Rhine in 1945. I personally would never do this.
or alternatively if London gets a boost from having foreigners watch cavalry let them pay for the Horses and silly uniforms out of their tourism budget. It is not a warfighting capability. Join the discussion

Steve R

I’ve often thought that the RM and Paras would make the ideal ‘joint force,’ seperate identities but training and operating together. For ‘parachute’ substitute ‘helicopter’ and there you have it. As for tourism it’s a fair point, but why stop there, why not include The Red Arrows for example?

Gerry

Actually it was 1956

David Stephen

What about the scenario you can’t predict? We didnt see the Falklands coming. What if we need to liberate Belize from a Guatamalen invasion or evacuate UK passport holders from somewhere in Africa or help stop some form of ethnic cleansing in a former or current Commonwealth nation or ally? Our amphibious capability is a real asset that few nations can match. We might never need it for a full assault but cant know that for sure. If we get rid of the LPDs it will be a slippery slope to loosing the Point class, the Bays and probably the RMs. I cant see how we save any money scrapping two perfectly good ships and then building replacments. If the C4 facilities are costly, then don’t use them unless its a full assault. Better to have the capability and not need it than need it and not have it. If it really comes to hard choices I would prefer to keep the amphibious ships and give up the Type 31s even if that means dropping some standing tasks. We are unlikley to use Trident but I wouldnt consider scrapping it.

Steve

I haven’t seen any signs that Guatemala has any interest in taking Belize, whilst it was clear for a very long time that Argentina want the Falklands back and was pushing for it. We also have to accept that we went to war for the Falklands because there was rumors of massive oil reserves (which with hindsight don’t appear to exist in economical quantities) and so the cost of the war was in theory paid for. I think it would be a toss of a coin if we would attempt to retake any of the remaining protectorates, really depends on how close to an election it is and if there is anything else going on that the government wants to distract from.
Evacuating brits from a war zone does not need (yes they could make it easier, but i am talking need) assault ships, since the first thing the world always does in this situations is secure a safe exit point, at which point the Bays or even commercial ships would do the job. If we can not secure a safe exit point, the carriers combined with Chinooks would be a far safer solution.
The albions for sure provides an extra options should it be needed, but if the Navy has to cut something, they seem to be the least useful option.
Selling for peanuts however makes no sense, as it wouldn’t put a dent in the hole in the finances. It would make way more sense to put them both into extended readiness (mothballed) and/or use as docked training ships. Ok you could argue it would mean losing skills involved in operating them, which is fair but i would have thought a lot of those skills could be preserved through other assets / allied navies. I assume the argument is that once a ship is in extended readiness it costs a fortune to get it out again and that money is better spent else where in a war situation.

Steve

Let me be clear though, i think it is stupid to cut capability we already have, it is false economy at its worse.
The idea of the SDSR is to look at threats at are here and those that are emerging and to create a joint up strategy for dealing with them.
I fully understand decisions that go along the lines of as xyz asset goes out of service we will not replace it or the capability will be managed else where, but cutting something that we have spent millions getting back into service only a few years ago makes no sense militarily or financially.
Time for a more joint up strategy and less knee jerk cuts.

Michael

I much doubt that Aregentina will be looking at the Falklands with evil intent for the next millennia. The Argie economy is a basket case to the end that thier armed forces, especially thier Air Force and Navy, have practically ceases to exist as functional organizations.

Geoffrey Hicking

Interesting. If we had had a minimal amphibious capability when the carriers was drawn up, do you think there might have been a bit of money for a third carrier? Or would that have been impossible?

Remo

Why would the Royal Navy need to build more Bay class ships, or ships like HNLMS Karel Doorman, when it already has 2 LPDs? And since one of them is always in reserve and only one is in service, why not just give more assignments to the one LPD than buying other ships? Seems like the LPD can be as flexible as the Navy wants it to be, so why not modify what you already have and not have to wait more years to have different ships built? Plus it would always be cheaper to modify an existing ship rather than build a new one (or two new ones, for that matter). You already have the capability. Why squander it by building different ships?

DFW

I make no apologies for expressing an opinion on UK Defence related matters. The UK tried for many year to impose its thinking on Australia!The UK seems to have lost the art of strategic thinking including some the contributors.
The issue is addressed only in cuts. The resolution is to invert it in line with BREXIT which the UK will eternally regret. Given a Brexit and probably along the Boris Johnson thought bubble (foolish) then my comments below apply. The UK needs to define what it wishes to achieve then go about defining how it is to achieve it. Boris seems to think trade deals should be sought in Asia and elsewhere afar from UK shores. This should be enunciated in the UK foreign policy. Is it?
Defence is an extension of Foreign Policy.
Maritime Strategy is a key element of the implementation of Foreign Policy.
The UK in my view would need is saddled with its Foreign Policy decisions of 1964 of withdrawing East of Suez. Cost??? The policy makers must rue that decision when indeed UK , its Commonwealth and the USA could have implemented the best of the best free trade blocs. But no.
The UK claims that it is the centre of the world maritime industry by value most of it East of Suez. By its own admission it cannot safeguard its maritime industry interests.
In a maritime capability perspective only France can assist materially in doing so. The USA has no interest in supporting UK maritime business interests, yes in a strategic sense they would welcome a powerful British presence East of Suez. But does the UK have the resolve to do it.
Dare I say the commitment by Australia to increase its submarine fleet from 6 to 12 represents a recognition that we have to stop relying as heavily on the USA. But our decision to join the Coalition in Syria was taken within 24hours of being requested rather than the two to three years taken by UK. Moreover, our contribution to the Coalition is more than that of the UK in Airpower, equivalent in Surface ships and double the Land Force Component. Is the UK prepared to make that sort of contribution as decisively. I don’t think so with Jeremy Corbyn in the wings. (Point of detail; Oz Defence expenditure has been budgeted to top 30bn over the next 5 years at not less than 2% GDP).
“He who has not power must have intelligence” said Grand Admiral Gorskov CinC Soviet Navy circa 1975.
Britain has limited quantities of both and if Trident were not to be replaced even less. To leave the European Union would in my view exacerbate the glaring obvious. Only with the economic synergy of the EU can the inevitable void be filled left by the USA. A free trade agreement between Europe and USA without UK and a pending EU Australian Free Trade Agreement with Europe as well as the Trans Pacific partnership which does not include the UK (which it does not) where has the UK to go.
From 16 years International business experience in Asia, amongst other places, one has to be there. Fleeting visits such as the Prime Minister to Japan are concluded politely but ineffectively and embarrassingly so. One needs physical presence. without territory such as Hong Kong Singapore overt Maritime presence is basic, underpinned by covert submarine capability. There is a small matter which has been present but fudged around for 25 years called Korea, emerging China and India. All now very much in the UK’s post BREXIT area of interest.
Times have changed!
I am sure that is what you wanted to hear from an abrasive former Naval person from Australia!

Darren Riche-Webber

Being in this eu has caused much of this sh*t! That is why we are leaving. When eu cost us 60 billion direct, with up 10% of our GDP in cost indirectly and a trade deficit 0f between 70 to 90 billion a year, many figure we are not onto a good thing. Owzat!

Fedaykin

We get vastly more back from our membership of the Single market than we pay in for membership of the EU.
BREXIT will impoverish our nation even further!

Darren

If this happened, it would be a meltdown and disaster. Why is the frontline being looked at to be cut? Have we seen the bonfire of the quangos yet? If the same excuse is being used as crew for the carriers, does this not amount to around 3000 plus people now for crew alone, let alone aircrew? As an example, where have the crews gone from the three Invincibles, Tescos or cruise ships, and the aircrew, Heathrow? When you have MOD officials saying, the Navy got us into this mess, the Navy can get us out of it, is that the strategy now? It is pathetic stuff. The mess was cuase in large by a banking crisis, and those parasite asset stripping banks (RBS is one of them) being bailed out, and a huge depression following. Not the Navy or aircraft carriers which were planned way before all of this. Only MOD arsing about added to the problems. Value for the taxpayer, a ship coming out of service after a 90 million pounds mid-life refit? Yet they will say value for the taxpayer if the fix (because of EU rules in making us feel obliged in going to what looks like the cheapest bidder, which is not the the best bet in many cases) in building the Fleet Solid Support Ships gets given abroad, while ignoring the huge tax claw back and benefits building those ships here will bring. This is one daft Country.

4thwatch

The Chancellor, Hammond was Defence Sectretary during the coalition Government and made big play about reducing to zero the MOD Defence (Equipment) budget.
The Reward of this man’s mammoth failure was promotion to Chancellor of the Exchequer!
Now he wont make a modest ‘adjustment’ to increase the Defence Budget to cover his Gross Mistake.
Defence is too important to be left to illiterates such as this.

J Carlin

I thought that spread sheet Phil sorted this out when he was Defence Minister?

4thwatch

He said he had sorted the problem but it was an illusion. Illusions are what he obviously specialises in.

Darren Riche-Webber

Some speak about not needing the Albion and Bulwark, but drone warships. Drone warships of all sizes, with little ones carried in bigger ships, that could be drones or manned. Like the Albions?

mikew

The RN has 5950 officers I would have thought they could crew a lot of ships with officers only.

Aquanaut

mikew – What’s your point? The RAF has 24,000 other ranks. Think how many aircraft they could fly although none of them do.

Fedaykin

I have a sneaking suspicious that the Army AH1 Wildcat are for the chopping block, there are even those within the Army who don’t think they are particularly useful. They were in effect a make work exercise for whatever Westland are calling themselves now.
With the amount of equipment and body armour a modern soldier has to carry it is nearly useless as a battlefield utility helicopter. As for battlefield reconnaissance, a nice to have capability but the Apache can also do that. With the refurbishment of 24 Puma into the HC2 variant and the increase in the Chinook fleet size with fully updated and uprated variants the need for AH1 Wildcat with AAC is rather questionable.
It would be a new level of insanity to chop the RN Wildcat as they are a critical capability to keep the Frigate fleet effective. If as rumoured T26 and T31e are not getting Torpedo launchers dropping Wildcat would render them useless.

Cripes

The Army Wildcats are essential for battlefield recce and far better at it than the Apaches. It would be very foolish to send Apaches into a hot zone without adequate real-time recce, they wouldn’t last long.
The Wildcat is not a transport helicopter, it is a recce and light utility one, it was not procured to move troops around the battlefield, that is the job of the RAF’s much larger Chinooks and ancient Pumas. Might as well ask an OPV to do the job of a T26 frigate. it is there primarily for recce but has some useful light utility, such as inserting or extracting a section, casevac, FEBA command and control, command transport and so on. The Army has a desperately small number of helicopters now, we have gone from 60+ Gazelle down to 30 Wildcat and it is too thin to go round. The saving would not anyway pay for a couple of the new River OPVs, so hardly a valuable target to direct naval angst to.
The RN’s core problem is that warship costs have risen out of all recognition. The T23 cost £130m in 1989, its T26 successor will cost over £1bn, or 800% more! The RN now has 20 ships/submarines costing a billion or more each – 4 x Dreadnought SSBNs underway, 2 x QE carriers, 6 x T45 destroyers, 8 x T26 frigates. Unless there is new money in the budget, which of course there never is, this is simply unsustainable and we have reached crunch point.
The decision to switch the SSBNs into the defence budget – which I dimly remember happened in the 90s, not under Osbourne? – is the straw that is breaking the camel’s back. The greatest service Hammond could do to defence – and by golly he owes it one after his legacy – is to switch the SSBN build costs back into the Government’s contingency fund. It is not a military requirement to spend £6bn on SSBNs, it is a political choice. By all means take the manning and running costs out of the defence vote, but the forces in general and RN in particular cannot fund Trident/Dreadnought without doing serious damage to our remaining force capability.

David Flandry

Why does the UK government think foreign aid is so sacrosanct. You give aid to India and Pakistan, both with larger air forces than the UK, and about as many nuclear weapons. Japan, South Korea, and India have larger navies, armies, and air forces. Two billion out of foreign aid to defense would help a lot. Cameron and Osborne should have been keel-hauled.

David Flandry

May George Osborne be sufficiently cursed for his stupid and short-sighted decisions as de facto defense minister.

Lewis Davidson

Why get rid of HMS ALBION after spending over £80 million on a refit, it’s a joke throwing money away. Get a grip the uk.

Lewis Davidson

Also HMS PORTLAND
NO CREW
LAID UP IN DEVONPORT
What a joke
NO MONEY FOR A REFIT
CANT EVEN CREW THE SHIP
My GUESS
SCRAPPED IN TURKEY
A FEW MILLION POUND
THE RN IS A JOKE
THE RFA Have better deployments, more time off, much better pay. 4 months ON then 3 months OFF Fully PAID. Thats where the navy are going wrong .
MOST WOULD RATHER JOIN THE RAF or RFA.