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Trevor Morgan

Nothing can be made future proof.
Mass attack by AI drones would be a nightmare.
I agree with damage control training. It was effective for me. I still remember my damage control station and locations of valves, hatches and doors, etc from 55 years ago. Goodness that was well drummed into my dull skull.
Clearly, the quality of the crew is a factor that the designers of a vessel can facilitate but not ensure.
A reassuring article.

Jerry Hill

What a good article – well done.

Will Fletcher

On another note. I saw a picture yesterday of HMS Diamond escort a Russian warship. When I looked closely it appeared that she had a Harpoon launcher fitted between the bridge and the vertical launch SAM housing. Can somebody confirm


Without looking its likely. T45 is now fitted for Harpoon, they got the old systems from the Batch 3 T22s


Four of the six T45’s are fitted with Harpoons.
Good article, by the way.

Mark Kelly

Great the specs on what should be Classified.


Should have stuck with an upgraded Invincible design, and not these two monstrous beasts that we really can’t afford ! We are no longer a super power nation, simple as that , another balls up by new labour !


An upgraded CVS would’ve been redundant before it left the drawing board. The Invincibles were designed as ASW command cruisers in a big Cold War fleet of ASW frigates. Then the Harrier came along and gave them a passable (for the 80s) light air defence and strike capability. Decades later, they were cramped, overcrowded, and carrying 12 to 18 small, obsolete fighters, plus helicopters. They (and your “upgraded Invincible” concept) suffered from the same problem that WWII-era carriers like HMS Victorious and Hermes faced: they were too small to operate meaningful numbers of modern aircraft, or to even fit or launch them in their hangars or decks. You can upgrade lots of things on a ship, but the physical dimensions of its hull are a bit much.

Your logic is incredibly flawed, as the current reduction in our fleet means we are BETTER with fewer, bigger carriers. We, realistically, do not have the escorts, submarines, aircraft, or manpower to operate more than a single carrier group at a time. So what benefit would we get from having 3 or 4 smaller carriers when we couldn’t support more than one at a time? We’re much better off with a single fleet carrier carrying a larger air wing and with a solid escort than several smaller carriers with limited escort.

I’m not going to go into detail on the other advantages of replacing 3 small carriers with 2 fleet carriers, but I will list some of them; 1 QEC can hold the equivalent of all 3 Invincibles’ air wings and can launch and recover aircraft much faster; their sheer size makes them far more resistant to damage, as well as futureproofing them and making them potent status symbols; at a time when the US is wavering over its support of NATO and Russia is increasingly belligerent, major defence projects like the QEC demonstrate resolve on the part of the Britain and Europe as a whole. All of these advantages are based purely on size, and not to do with modern design improvements. For more detail on why bigger carriers are better, both this site and UKDJ have articles on the subject.

We haven’t been a superpower since the Suez Crisis, but that doesn’t mean the UK is suddenly a non-entity. We have strong ties and influence with a huge number of countries across the globe, and the RN is still ranked as one of only 3 true blue-water navies.

Lastly: I lean towards the Conservatives in most cases, and I generally think modern Labour is idiotic and damaging to this country, but the CVF programme and the penalties if the Tories has tried to cancel them was one of the greatest achievements in my eyes. They guaranteed not only the carriers, but also that the RN and MoD would then have a strong argument for sustaining the fleet and aircraft numbers.


sure we can afford them, our tory gov has just committed to a £100bn train, if you can spend £100bn on a train then you can afford two proper carriers to defend your nation and support your troops overseas, thing is for all labours faults remove their capital defence spending and we have nothing, time and time again the tories shout about how they love the armed forces, time and time again they spend the money elsewhere.


New Labour balls up when they started project the two cost 4billion after Cameron’s cost saving its 3-4 each and we are also paying more per F35 aircraft to go on them.
Thanks to Mr Cameron hundreds of years of armed forces recruiting in House was privatised which has resulted in a staff shortage
In fact fanks to him there’s a shortage of ships, trained pilots, planes, tanks and soldiers.
While everyone had to economise he quadrupled his pay.


Why? Because they’re cheaper to build?
Initially, yes, but they’re really bad VALUE, and long term will cost you more.
If I sold you a car for £5,000 but it only lasted 1 year, would that be a better or worse investment than a £10,000 car that lasted you 5 years?

There is a shipbuilding addage that goes something like “steel is cheap, and air (the volume inside the ship) is free”. To make a ship bigger doesn’t actually cost much more, but in return you get much more capacity for aircraft & aircraft handlihg, more stores and space to add more systems in the future.

The Invincibles were only 16,000 tonne ships, but the admiralty still paid about £1.2 billion in today’s money for her back in 1982, though once you factor in spares and everything it’s over £2 billion. If you were to enlarge them to take the F-35, you’d AT LEAST be looking at 20-22,000, and that’s with an air wing of about 12. So what with modern equipment just costing more, we’d be looking at £2.5 billion each.
Seeing as both the Type 45 and Type 26 ships are about 8,000 tonnes and £1 billion each, I think that’s a fair estimate, especially considering it’s a carrier.
Compare that to the QE-class which have a FAR larger air wing and capacity to generate sorties and greater upgrade potential, come in at 65,000 tonnes and cost £3.8 billion each.

But we also have to consider running costs, and because you’d need 3 small carriers to match the capacity of each QE class, and each of those needs to do basically everything the large carrier needs to. So actually the crew requirement doesn’t increase much for a larger ship, in fact it’s basically the same between invincible and QE. So across all ships you need 3x the crew, 3x the engines/2x the fuel, 3x the maintainance, 3x the protection etc. which all costs more than the bit of extra steel you would have used to build the bigger ship.


If i read the article correctly, it was designed to survive and then cost cuts removed most of it, kinda scary and short sighted. You would think that by now the MOD would have realised that cutting corners in the background to have what looks like a great capability, is not sensible. The examples of this are endless from corner cutting with falkland era radars and their ground tracking capability to body armor numbers in iraq/afgan.


I wouldn’t blame the MOD, more than likely the Treasury is at fault.


Ex sailor government should sped our foreign aid on our hospital .ex military personnel who are homeless and more defence and Not Give billions to get out of the EU another screw up by another government of the 70s


In 1982 Chatham ,Pompey and Guzz Dockyard s did what thay were built for and that was deployed the Fleet for war what happened next was bad new s Close Chatham ,Let contractors run Pompey and Guzz ,so now bodge it and scarlet run both places .No pride in them places anymore as that are not HM Dockyard Portsmouth or HM Dockyard Plymouth


And that also sold out Rosyth


The primary cuts in that regard seem to be the hard defences, like the Aster missiles and armoured belt, neither of which is critical as the escorts can provide both the missile and if need be the physical shield. The critical thing that has been retained is the ability to survive and mitigate any damaging hit


Well and 10% reduction in the displacement, 10% in the size of air wing, but for that, a whole 27% in the sortie rate.
All to in theory cut just 6.6% of the cost (before the costs increase anyway, negating most of those savings).

Rau Andrew

If not enough then deck canons would be helpful


To bless the incoming?

Bobs Baradur

32lb Carronades would be useful against small/swarm boat attacks.


And the swarm of AI drones that are keeping Trevor awake at night.


Load grape!!!1

Iqbal Ahmed

Maybe if we asked nicely Al Qaeda and the Russians wouldn’t press their attacks on the many vulnerable parts of our carriers?

The only thing worse than not having a military capability is to have a half assed one because you can’t properly afford it.

That’s how sailors get killed.

David Stephen

Please explain how Al Qaeda can possibly threaten the carrier.


Ask the crew of the ‘Cole’. Bet they thought they were safe…


Are you crazy?Brain storming on behalf of terrorists on a public website.They actually do need our help, as they are not that bright.


Thanks Again – really enjoy these articles. No where else has them like this so congrats.

The only way a carrier is likely to be sunk is by a nuclear torpedo – there’s a video of a Russian test in 1955 on YT.

Much more likely is battle damage that takes her out of the fight. Despite having the best AAW & ASW escorts in the world, what is likely to harm is mass attack by missile or torpedo which limited escorts can’t defend against.

That’s why I remain deeply bothered by her lack of missile defence to provide last gasp protection if a stray gets through, extra depth to missile stocks and anti-torpedo torpedoes (ATT), especially to reduce chance of a wake honing torpedo hit to the rudder.

QEs are alone in the world having no missile self defence and US is fitting all its carriers with ATT for the latter. They might even stop a nuclear torpedo if far enough away.


Well said Ian, my thought too. Too much reliance on soft defence is poor defence. They are big ships which is an insurance for staying afloat. However AI missiles present quite another scale of threat. They especially need ATT not just point defence missiles of which they have none. Foolish in the circumstances of being called to confront a first class adversary.

David Stephen

What’s the point of a last ditch PDMS on CVF? If the incoming ASM gets past the Type 45s Aster and the Type 23/26s CAAM then it will be far too close for another interception. By the time you know if you need to launch the window to do so is closed. If an inbound missile beats Aster and CAAM you need CIWS and or decoys/countermeasures not more CAAM, which has a minimum engagement range.


Not sure an AI incoming will be fooled by countermeasures, it will go for the jugular.
There are situations I can imagine when the carriers will be unescorted or the escorts will be overwhelmed. Spithead, Suez canal, etc.
There have been multiple times in WW2 when this happened and carriers engaged with their own armaments. You are making excuses for pennypinching.
Why is RAF defending Falklands with CAAMs? Is the HUBRIS system always going to be our last ditch defence? CAAMs or HUBRIS: I know which I’d rather have.

Nick Good

The 65,000 tonne Queen Elizabeth class carriers are glorified, excessively expensive littoral assault ships, they are NOT proper blue water fleet carriers. The Queen Elizabeth carrier’s capability is more akin to that of the 8 US Wasp class 40,000 tonne amphibious landing ships that also operate the vertical take off F35B in support of the US Marine Corps.

There are two reasons I make this claim, each of which has highly consequential effects.

Firstly, the Queen Elizabeth class carrier is conventionally powered. This in turn has 2 highly detrimental effects:

1) Range – It will need refueling every week or two. This limits its range over the virtually limitless range of nuclear powered carriers and presents a huge built in fetter to operational planning.

2) Force Protection overhead – Additionally the tankers needed to refuel the Queen Elizabeth class carrier creates an intrinsic massive force protection overhead, because tankers are themselves vulnerable and need protection – this in a much depleted Royal Navy with just 19 ships.

Secondly the QE class carrier has no cats and traps, that is it has no catapult system, a design decision bizarrely take early on. The absurd consequence is that we have an aircraft carrier coming into service that literally cannot operate naval carrier aircraft, you couldn’t make it up! For example the QE class cannot operate the US F/A18 Super Hornet, the F35C naval variant of the new Lightning or host French naval Aircraft such as the Dassault Rafale. The Royal Navy ‘fleet’ carrier will not only not be able keep up with US or French nuclear fleet carriers it will not be able to inter to inter operate with them. This is mental.

The Queen Elizabeth class carier is limited to operating the overly complicated range and payload limited F35B VTOL/VSTOL variant of the new Lightning, with its extra maintenance overhead due to the vertical take off system. Again the QE class carrier cannot and will never be able to inter operate with the French Charles de Gaulle class nuclear carrier or the 10 US nuclear Nimitz and Ford class fleet carriers.

Additionally, because the carrier needs to carry copious quantities of marine fuel to propel itself, space is limited for the storage of Jet fuel, limiting capability further, exasperating the reliance on separate tankers for jet fuel supply and intrinsically burdening this class of carrier with the yet more fleet protection overhead.

British military hubris….Again!


Well you sound like an armchair admiral and warship designer ,who knows better than the admiralty


Actually the admiralty wanted cats and traps and the f18 the raf wanted f35a and the treasury said share f35b to save money and result of the this decision is a bill of £15 billion for the largest and most exspensive helicopter carriers ever built.
The decision to build these ships was political and in doing so Lord suck ass West betrayed the Royal Navy as he knew the escort fleet would be cut to fund them.
Gordon Brown and Geoff Hoon have wasted £15 billion on 2 white elephants in the QEC and F35B program.
And now comes news that the MoD are actively looking to order only 38 F35B and order the other 100 as F35A to save money.
This will mean that will be only 15 F35B available to the RAF and RN at any one time due to training and maintainance.

What a complete joke.

stephen rose

Yeah, he’s definitely an idiot and knows nothing about the subject, just thinks that nuclear power is everything and doesn’t understand why QE class are conventional. Not to mention the fact that half the world won’t let a nuclear powered ship into their territorial waters


Oh Dear Nick.

Where to begin…

Do you think nuclear carriers don’t need fuel on extended ops? Of course they do, they need aviation fuel, and supplies. All CSG have RAS ships in them.

The UK will have its own operating model with the F-35Bs which is different to all 4th Gen fighters you mention. I am very comfortable with UK GSG strike doctrine.

Indeed UK is ahead of, not behind the curve & the only interoperability to be concerned about is that US F-35s will be seamlessly interoperable with QEs.

Suggest you have a lie down with some Chamomile Tea and calm yourself


Or Vodie and coke.

stephen rose

Well said!


And the planes are more expensive to buy and loose and cant carry a large payload i presume .thats this countrys govenments to a point


The UK’s F-35 s can carry 15,000 lbs payload. In other words, ample.


In a normal take off it can carry 15000 lbs in stvol mode it falls to 3000lb and the range drops to 500 miles.


I’ve posted this elsewhere, but it probably bears repeating..

The point around being able to operate less types of planes holds less and less water by the day.

Right now there are a grand total of 4 types of aircraft in production that use CATOBAR systems. They are:

Rafale (France)

F-18E/F/G (US)

F-35C (US)

E-2D (US)

And, errrr…..thats it. The only other possible aircraft is the unmanned MQ-25 which is on the drawing board, and will be procured in limited numbers from 2025 onwards. Nothing else is on the horizon.

Of the remaining already operational CATOBAR aircraft the EA-6B and F-18 A/B/C/D have been retired from shipborne operations, the S-3 is long gone and the C-2 Greyhound is being replaced by the CMV-22 Osprey in the Carrier Onboard Delivery role. Which will of course be able to operate from a STOVL carrier.

3 of the above 4 aircraft in production (the Rafale, F-18E/F and F-35C) do roughly the same job (fighter bomber). F-35B is clearly superior to Rafale and F-18E/F. It’s also the same as the F-35C with only a marginal reduction in range. In fact the UK’s F-35B will be a better fighter than either of those 3 due to its LO characteristics and Meteor and Asraam missiles (F-35C’s Amraam and AIM-9X aren’t in the same league).

There is also the EA-18G. But if that capability is required it has been mooted that the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) carried by the EA-18G could be carried by F-35. In reality the capability isn’t as necessary when all of your aircraft are LO, rather than a mixed group that the USN will operate (not that LO aircraft couldn’t do with some jamming support, they just don’t need it as much).

So essentially, what it comes down to is the E-2D Hawkeye.

E-2D’s cost around $250m each. The UK would need at least 12 to equip both carriers, do training, maintenance and have an attrition replacement. Thats $3bn right there. With shorebased support, training packages, spares, maintenance contract its more like $5bn. And thats before we get to the increased manning and lifetime costs.

To run a CATOBAR based CVF you’d need at least 3 (probably 4) sets of EMALS and arrestor gear. 1 for each carrier, 1 for a shorebased training facility and 1 spare. Thats at least $2-3bn outlay. Those systems will also need lots more people to run then and maintain them. That would double the cost over the lifetime at a minimum to at least $4bn.

The question then is if you think getting E-2D is worth at least $10bn….and thats more than both carriers cost….together.

Personally in an age where persistent UAV support is almost here (think lots of Airbus/QinetiQ Zephyrs overhead at $4m a pop) I think it would be an enormous waste, particularly when Crowsnest will deliver a decent capability for far less.

STOVL carriers also have much safer, faster launch cycles than STOBAR. They can also conduct air ops in worse weather conditions. The disadvantages have mostly gone now, weapon bring back will be fine with the F-35B and SRVL, at least comparable with any CATOBAR fighter. The range issue is a lot closer than most people think as CATOBAR aircraft use far more fuel on launch and recovery, and have to retain a larger reserve for Bolter situations. In practically all situations the real range of an F-35C will be the same as a F-35B.


Nice post, obviously you would need to net out the cost of crows nest , but your point is well made. I would be interested in seeing more information to support your comments regarding F-35 B vs C operation range as well as availability of armament. It is my understanding that the B has a physically smaller weapons bay…how much of a shortcoming, if any, is that? And not just from a LO perspective….Weapons carried on the wings…. (assuming we ever buy LRASM, etc)?
Not sure I would count on non organic UAV support, way to reminicent of the AEW over TF argument of the 70’s. I wonder how a AEW variant of the V-22 would work out vs Crowsnest…hopefully leveraged off a USMC initiative. Again, good post! I am (was?) of the QE CATOBAR persuasion, but its hard to argue against the financial realities of going STOVL…


Oh dear, what a total embarrassment of a post, both contradictory and wrong. I cannot be bothered to pick up your vast errors, as more subject matter experienced folk have, but I do need to say you really do need to read up on both doctrine and capabilities, and using the French carrier “non existent battle group” as an example is rather embarrassing. While I think the French are doing outstanding work with their current commitments to fighting global loonies, their carrier is old, worn out, with a very low sortie rate, and no ships of the RFA class available to support her for extended periods. Oh and as for not being able to keep up with the US and French carriers, why would we? its not a race and by your logic the US and French escorts would also not be able to keep up, as they are also NOT nuclear powered. Oh dear, I could go on, but its best to leave it to the subject matter experts, and that my friends isn’t you.

David Graham

Spot on reply from someone who actually knows about big deck carriers. 4 cats: why? Fine if you have a 100,000 tonne CVN, but unnecessary in the smaller QE class. As the current [and planned] un-manned aircraft are circa the size of a Buccaneer, they cannot be launched and recovered without cats and traps. There many other issues which, despite land based and simulator trials in the US, are yet to be proven, and will not become clarified until flying trials are completed later this year and early in 2019.


Looking at dimensions. The 2002 Alpha compared to Delta are very similar in length (PP and waterline difference is negligible (Beedall)) and the number of decks is the same, 10 as Alpha, the carrier hull depth from what I can see is the same or more than US carriers. When I spoke to some BAE people or whoever they were at the last Portsmouth Navy days I went too in the late 2000s (Timothy Spall was there doing his all at sea series) at a big stand on the area of the old shipyard if I remember, I said about the clever way the ship’s dimensions were hidden and I was then politely ignored and told to move on. There have been some porkies over the weight or displacement too. I could not fit 65,000 tons into that dimension unless this ship had a very low block coefficient which is so counter to this ship’s design. There is, of course, the possibility of the mid-life or just before mid-life hull extension if sponsons is not a problem. The re-design was an expensive investigation into seeing if smaller was cheaper, it obviously was not, so back to big (all they had to do was read a book by D.K. Brown). The armour was lost along with a few other things. The whole saga was a lesson in how people who are not part of the design and build can cost more money and make UK shipbuilding look more expensive. The bow is clearly cut short, whether to aid take off or what, but it is interesting to see the models that show the full bow tapered and the round down for conventional landing would make the ship longer. Around the Alpha design for this configuration. The ski jump for Alpha extends the bow too, unlike delta where it stops and there is no overhang. Off topic but just looking at this from a different point. I don’t think Alpha and Delta were that different.


Sometimes you have to under estimate to get the Treasury to agree to spend the money.

Remember the invincible class through deck cruisers where never designed to carry the sea Harrier when the plans where shown to the Treasury.
But somehow on completion had facilities to carry the sea Harrier .




Self deception.All big ships have always been vulnerable to any damage to the rudder and propellers, nothing has changed there.A large explosion underneath and her back is broken.Highly automated handling systems with lots of rails and lifts, how is that going to perform after a good rattling?
The world has changed, international communications have made it much easier to track down a ship.” Asymmetric”attacks (what anyone would do in the position of your opponent) are also much easier.During the Falklands campaign the Argentineans seriously considered an attack on HMS Hermes while she was in Gibraltar. Given a bit more warning by their own government this would have been an excellent plan.
Worst of all is the lack of any redundancy,you would be lucky to have even one carrier and all of the nessicary support ships ready in a crisis, if you lose any escorts its game over.An aircraft carrier is extremely complex, its all very well keeping it afloat, but it has to be able to launch aircraft in order to defend itself.


The problem with the QEC program was the decision to go for the F35B and share the assets with the RAF.
Ever since its birth the RAF has followed a policy of stripping the navy of the fleet air arm.
They did it in the inter war years resulting in the navy having good carriers but out of date aircraft.
They did it again when they moved Australia 500 miles east so the government axed the replacements for the Ark Royal and Eagle .
And when New Labour made the decision to merge the Harrier fleet the RAF wasted little time in scrapping the Sea Harrier and constantly obscrusted the navy in the use of RAF harriers.
And the Air Commodore is on record saying that the RAF has no requirements for the F35B and it would be in the MOD favour to order no more than 38 and switch to the F35A saving £5 billion .
Plus the RN has only 21 certified fast jet pilots meaning they are dependent on the RAF to fly the F35B which given the RAF record with sharing the Harrier fleet means the navy is over the barrel and ready to be rogered by the RAF .
I am in favour of the RN having the QEC but Lord West ass kissing to the Blair government and his complete sell out to Hoon and Gordon Brown allowed these 2 white elephants to destroy the navy.


The RAF it seems are likely always to want a monopoly of airpower. For an outward looking nation on the fringe of Europe whether this is the correct strategic decision is moot.
Looking at the history of the RAF you see that they pretty much ignored Maritime Air even when they had total control from 1st April 1918 to May 1939. In fact very little use was made of it in the late WW1 period and through the interwar time. That has always puzzled me as it could usefully have been used as an offshore peacekeeping measure and an implied threat during the Abyssinian crisis and the Spanish civil war. BTW more attention was paid to dropping mustard gas on Iraq and Afghanistan; but we’ll leave that to one side.
One really has to ask what form Air Power takes for a nation like UK with worldwide interests; be they possessions of key interest like the choke point blockers or friendly nations we may like to support or shipping or the North Atlantic or anti terror strikes.
Personally I would like to see legislation where a balance is kept between defence of the homeland and an ability to project some useful and benevolent power off shore.

Clive Wakefield

Excellent points.


There are two likely existential threats. First is a ballistic hit and second a torpedo hit.
The first would be dealt with by the TG escorts and for the second it would rely on the escort SSN. On balance I think the torpedo hit is the one to concentrate on first because it is possible in a fairly low level war or surprise attack from an unsophisticated opponent. Therefore Anti Torpedo Torpedoes are pretty well a must.


When are they painting the after island crab-fat blue?

David Stephen

Wow, there really is a lot of ill informed pissing and moaning going on here. I honestly wonder if Andy, Grubbie and Iqbal are the same person or if they just take turns with the one brain cell.


One last time. What the f*** are you going to use this half arsed boondoggle for?Deterrence, power projection,etc, these things depend on not being taken out of action and being able to inflict serious pain in a timely manner.


Crowsnest undoubtedly offers extremely good value for money compared to Hawkeye +CATOBAR,but that’s not the point. Is it enough?


Ouick Google search,Kevlar not actually that expensive,about £40000 per tonne.
Obviously there are a lot of processing and installation costs,but I think that you can safely say that the taxpayer is being had.


My apologies for making valid observations which upset your rose tinted view of the state of the navy.
It is a fact that the cats and traps option was the preferred choice of the navy.
It is a fact that Lord West agreed to a reduction in surface units to pay for the carriers .
It is a fact that the F35B was forced on the navy and Air force by the treasury as a cost saving venture and the RAF only agreed if it had preference on operational control of the force meaning the navy has to beg for planes just like the Harrier fiasco.
It is a fact that these 2 decisions have gutted the Royal Navy surface fleet leaving the whole carrier project as a white elephant as to form a battle group the entire royal navy would be needed leaving us to being unable to fulfil our standing commitments.
And finally I am in favour of the navy having carriers but real carriers not these white elephants and not at the cost of the surface fleet.
The navy and the Air force have been screwed by treasury short sightedness and political games.

David Stephen

If Lord West and the RN wanted cats n traps like you say, then they where wrong as well. Unless you are going to pull billions of pounds and thousands of personnel out of thin air. We can’t even crew the 19 escorts we have. If the treasury forced the F35B on both services to save money, good that was the right decision. To go cats n traps would entail vast increases in costs and manpower as described above by Rudeboy. It would still be a split buy as the RN would need the C and the RAF the A variant. It would be much harder to keep aircrew trained and certified for carrier ops. The manpower issue is not a RN problem alone, if you gave the RAF 100 extra Typhoon tomorrow they couldn’t stand up beyond 9 frontline Squadrons due to shortages of both pilots and maintenance crew. STOVL and the current plans for F35B mean that for an acceptable cost will have 4 frontline F35B Squadrons (2 FAA & 2 RAF) plus the OCU so in extremis can deploy 60 5th generation fighters with the Task Force, which will fill both carriers (remember they carry helicopters). One carrier will be at short notice or deployed in the strike configuration with the second at longer notice (not in extended readiness) configured in the assault role. This argument about escort numbers being cut to fund CVF confuses me. Why do need all these escorts if you have no capital ships (carriers & amphibs) to escort. If you don’t have carriers you can’t do amphibious ops so why have LPDs or LSDs? If you don’t have a Task Force to protect why do you need AAW escorts designed to protect a Task Force? If all you are doing is escorting merchant ships or hunting subs then you are just another frigate navy incapable of power projection. Six Type 45 and 8 Type 26 is enough (barley) to ensure a credible escort for the carriers during a conflict. In the unlikely event that we had to act alone in a Falklands Type scenario we would be able to deploy with some notice 2 carriers with 48-60 F35B and 30-40 helicopters, at least one LPD and one LSD, supported by a 3-4 RFAs all escorted by 2-3 destroyers and 3-4 Frigates. No other navy outside the US can match that. Far from being white elephants the carriers ensure the future of the RN and will help return the service to the forefront of UK defence strategy.


Thanks for saying something positive about the QE Class. It can’t all be negative.

Rob C

David, Thanks for writing what I’ve been thinking. My only additional concern is that a nation of 70 million takes a lot of feeding. The amount of trade through Felistowe, Southampton, Liverpool etc is enormous. So, we can project power but we can’t protect the merchant navy. Twice in the 20th century the UK was almost starved to the point of surrender by SSKs. We need a new, cheap ASW frigate to defend the supply lines much like the Leanders in the 1960s. This would complement the offensive power-projection capability that you describe.


You miss the point completely.
Cats and traps vastly increase the QEC flexibility and would not require a increase in manpower.
And you are saying we spent £6 billion building the world’s most exspensive helicopter carriers which at times will carry 12 F35B and occasionaly 38 F35B but will never have enough to arm both carriers nor sufficient manpower .
Why do we need more escorts , that is a stupid question we are a island nation 95% of everything we consumes comes by sea we need more than 19 escorts just to fulfil our standing commitments and if you think we will get 8 type 26 just remember the type 45 programme was meant to deliver 12 and we ended up with 6.
The RFA was meant to get 12 new replenishment vessels it is getting 7 .
Lord West is on record as saying that in not going for cats and traps the RN lost flexibility and the capability to operate with the USN carrier groups, and to fund and man the carriers with lead to a reduction in the surface fleet leaving the navy below critical mass.But he felt it was important for image to back the political decision and sacrifice the surface fleet.
Every navy planner can testify how hard it was to get the RAF to release harriers to fly from the invincible class and at times they had to get a minister involved plus RAF personnel dislike serving afloat as one RAF pilot said if I wanted to be a sailor I would have joined the navy.
Plus the head of the RAF is on record as saying that F35B is not what the RAF requires and maintainance intensive and lacks the capability of the F35A , The auditor general for the USMC said the f35b was unfit for operational service and should not be accepted and that was in 2017 .

And your last comment about fielding a carrier battle group with the number of ships you suggest will never happen.
Not enough manpower , escorts or RFA vessels .

Totally in favour of the QEC program but not if it means the navy and the RAF and army have to cut the bread and butter of there forces to pay for it.
And by the way the last defence review actually proposed scrapping the whole QEC program as it was not value for money but the penalty clauses made it to exspensive and no one wanted to buy the PoW as it was not flexible enough .
I guarantee that no more than the present 38 F35B will be ordered because of there costs and the treasury will switch to the F35A meaning the QEC program will be the white elephant that many senior naval commanders said it would be.

Lord West was a political ass kissing betrayer of the armed forces who was more interested in his political status than in fighting for the armed forces he represented his political brown nosing will have long term damage to all 3 services.


Simple answer to these problems. Increase defense funding to 3% of GDP.

David Stephen

It’s not 1942 and we are not facing a horde of enemy subs anytime soon. Who outside China or Russia can muster 6 SSKs? How many of our standing tasks actually require a destroyer or frigate? You acknowledge the manpower crisis and state that we can’t crew even what ships we have but in the same breath ask for more escorts. How exactly have we lost the ability to operate with the USN? When was the last time we or anybody else cross decked aircraft for anything other than a photo op? Since you seem to know so much about the F35B then you should be aware that the USMC will have a fair few of them which can operate from our decks if required. Numbers don’t appear to be your strong point but once again we will have 2 FAA and 2 RAF squadrons of F35B as well as the OCU, that is 60 aircraft which could all be deployed in a conflict. As to not enough ships to deploy the task force I mentioned, again numbers are a problem for you but mustering 1 out of 2 LPDs and 1 out of 3 LSDs along with 1 from 3 FSS and 2-3 from 6 tankers with 2-3 destroyers from 6 and 3-4 frigates from 8 is perfectly possible or are you going to fall back on your rule of 3? By that rationale we have 6 Type 45s should only ever be able to deploy 2 yet somehow we have in the past had 4 at sea at the same time. We also deployed all 3 CVS simultaneously at times, explain that? As for F35B numbers well if you guarantee it then it must be true. You state that the treasury forced the B on the RN and RAF but then that the treasury will switch to the A for the RAF? your all over the place here mate. Name the many senior naval commanders who said the carriers where white elephants.


Go and read Hansard it is there in black and white .
You have no concept of manning and numbers.
We have only commited to buy 38 F35B at £138 million per plane .
Go read the report for the US Senate on the operational status of the USMC F35B it clearly states the F35B fails to meet operational requirements of the USMC and it was published in Sept 2017 , I mean seriously the F35B is a dog ,and the Israeli are not to impressed with the F35A after it was detected and illuminated by a Syrian S200 air defence system , the whole F35 program is a dog and kept going because no political party has the balls to cancel it.

I am not all over the place I want a properly funded army,navy and airforce which would require political will to increase defence spending to 3.5% of GDP and remove the costs that Osbourne shoved into the defence budget.

If the first sea Lord West is on record saying that the QEC program was more about image rather than what the navy required and to afford it the navy had to fall below critical mass and loose manpower then you know you have been sold a pup.

And why has no other major navy not gone down the RN route? Because they all know it is not cost effective and lacks flexibility.

And as for 4 of the type 45 being at sea , big deal both amphibious ships where laid up , 5 type 23 where in port , another 3 where in refit and training so your pathetic view that there is no manpower crisis is shown to be as flakey as your understanding of logistics.

Let’s be brutal there are no votes in defence so let’s stop pretending to be a world power and just spend what we have wisely.
Or if we don’t, let just scrap the MOD transfer the funding to the NHS and go back to having a coastal defence force and hide under American protection just the rest of Europe.

For the sake of image £15 billion of taxpayers money has been wasted and over the next ten years the armed forces will pay a high price for Lord West image and Geoff Hoon and Gordon Brown’s political games.
And as for Osbourne cuts they have destroyed the armed forces to pay for the boondoggle of QEC and F35 program.

David Stephen

I will engage with you no further as you are not even reading what I post never mind respond to it directly. The fact that you have completely misrepresented my view about the manpower situation says everything. I have only mentioned manpower in relation to you wanting more escorts. If you actually read the post there is clear acknowledgment of the situation as I point out that in the current climate more escorts we can’t crew is a bad idea. You are the one wanting more ships. I am happy with the two “white elephants” we are getting. As for the second half of your post, who are you talking to and what is the conversation about?
While we are here, you are again all over the place. You have been telling me the B variant was forced on the RN and the RAF need the A, then you start on the A version all the while I really have not mentioned the aircrafts capabilities as I was talking about the carriers and numbers of aircraft carried. You then go from attacking my understanding of logistics which is in itself ironic to say the least. To what can only be described as the ramblings of a madman.


You are a pratt


You was wrong about the f35b numbers it seems as 48 ordered


Ok,so the Argentineans decide to have another go.I don’t think that they will go along with your idea of giving notice.There is no chance whatsoever of your fleet being ready to go.With the rule of three, its quite possible that we won’t be able to get 1 carrier off.There wouldn’t be the manpower or kit for 2.We lost 7 ships last time including 4 escorts.If we use your numbers that leaves us with 1 not very well armed frigate. There will never be enough F35bs to equip 2 carriers with their designed complement of 48-60.This carrier battle group can’t do power projection because it’s not credible and most of our potential enemies will fancy their chances of giving us a good thrashing.


Forgot to mention the escorts required to protect the fleet train.


You are wasting your time Grubbie , it seems everyone has tunnel vision concerning the QEC program and don’t see the bigger picture .
All they see is a big ship with fast planes and think it makes it a force multiplier.
Where as in reality it is a noose around the RN throat and will slowly cause the death of the RN.
We can’t put 38 planes on the QE for another 5 years , we don’t have a fleet train or escorts to support a carrier battle group in a genuine hostile environment.
The USN standing order of battle for a carrier group is 1 carrier , 2 cruisers , 3 destroyers, 4 frigates , 1 ssn, 1 oiler , 1 store ship very different to the peacetime make up.
We could not field a valid battle group .

David Stephen

The USN currently does not operate any frigates so stop lying. The OHPs are all gone and the LCS is not a frigate. Each carrier group contains 1 Ticonderoga not 2, which is why the USN plans to only have 11 in service while it upgrade the other 11 to extend the service life of the class. So really what you mean is usually the US carriers deploy with a cruiser and 3-4 Burkes as escort with 2-3 support ships and an SSN, not that much more than CVF sailing with 2-3 escorts and 1-2 support ships and an SSN.


You can’t read can you David ?

I said battle group as to peacetime operations .
In war the USN configures its task forces differently.

You are the reason why our armed forces are in the mess they are .
You just see numbers and forget about maintenance, training, standing commitments and manpower.

You and Lord West would get on well you just like pictures.

David Stephen

It feels that way whenever you post. Point still stands. Please explain to me how and why I specifically am the reason for whatever problems you describe. I forget about none of the things you mention. And yes I do like picture, especially of your mum.


You are pathetic David , you really should stop sleeping with your Grandma

David Stephen

They have to but an air force and navy first so I think we would have plenty of warning. Your rule of 3 is a myth. We deployed both our carriers in the first Falklands war, do you think we had another 4 tucked away in Portsmouth? Sinking 2 Type 45s and 2 Type 36s is very different to sinking 2 Type 42s and 2 tin cans. Our forces are far better equipped for the task than in 1982. The carriers are not designed for 48-60 aircraft. 36 F35B and 4-6 Merlin AEW will fill the carrier in the Strike role. the 2nd carrier can then comfortably operate 12-24 F35B with plenty of room for 12 HC4 and 6 AH64. So a 2 carrier task force with 48-60 fighters, 20-30 helicopters TLAM armed frigates and SSNs and 3-4k RM can’t do power projection? 1 carrier with 24 fighters and a dozen helicopters can do power projection. You should contact the governments of Australia, South Korea, Spain and Italy and let them know they are all wasting money on their respective carrier or amphibious programmes. as unless they all build 3 carriers they will never be able to sail 1. The only thing lacking credibility here is your rather uninformed opinion.


Just read the latest DOTE report for the US Senate on the F35B .
Makes grim reading , the tires only last 10 take off and landing not the required 20 .
The airframe should last 8000 flying hours , only last 4000 flying hours .
But most importantly the plane maintenance only works with work arounds to the on-board computer which are not sustainable in a combat environment.
The gun pod straffs to the right and renders the plane unstealthy.
And finally the plane struggles to achieve 50% operational status compared to 85% to the F18 and on surge tests fell to 18% .

Talk about buying a turkey.

David Stephen

I am hoping you know more about turkeys than you do about the navy but even so I don’t want you buying my dinner.


I would not pour water on you even if you where on fire David .
I detest vain glorious pricks like you.

David Stephen

Would you pee on me?


Go and ask your Grandma, she was good at turning tricks

David Stephen

Again your reading skills let you down. How would my grandmother know if you would choose to pee on me? She may indeed have been good at turning tricks but she was not a mind reader.


Interesting that QinetiQ have got their name all over this article. As I recall from my time in the Survivability Design Team most of their contribution was running models through their Survive software. Most of the survivability work in the early days was run by BMT.

Rob C

Any idea when the Phalanx will be fitted?


I do agree with the consensus that it would be too expensive to convert QE class to cats & traps.
As a STOVL carrier, QE class would have potential to be like a ‘blue water fleet carrier’
if equipped with a proper STOVL ‘air defence/intercepter aircraft that might be a advanced Sea Harrier or a P1154 type of Harrier refined and modernized. Also QE class need to be equipped with V22 having Crows-nest fitted.
V22’s could be used as tankers to refuel other aircraft.
The F-35b will have as it’s role of deep strike and ECW.

Most of the technology to equipped a new type of Sea Harrier has been developed for the Typhoon aircraft.

I look forward also to other common sense approachs to the QE class carrier debate.


Unfortunately the boat has sailed for making a sea going version of the Typhoon.
BAE did do a mock up of STOVL Typhoon but none of the partner nations where interested.
The navy would like 12 V22 but there is no money .
The USMC are trying to develop a refuelling version of the V22 but are having problems with the weight and bladders .
And crows-nest in a V22 would be ideal if the money can be found.

The V22 is one noisy plane you can hear them miles away , but they are impressive to watch landing .


I also wondered if the F-35b could carry heavier loads if rockets are attched to it’s side of fuselage, to boast thrust at take-off and jettisoned once in the air? If so, it would enable F-35b to deploy Storm Shadow missile from QE class carrier.


Rocket assisted take off sounds fun .
There is a clip on YouTube of the IAAF using it on a Phantom very smokey.

Would probably fall foul of today’s Health and Safety laws .

Tim Cook

In my modest view the QEC need 2 things going forward. First, not necessarily by importance, is V-22 Osprey even if purely to fulfill the airborne tanking role second is a long range UAV strike air wing capability. Fortunately the 2nd is in development & the 1st could be added later.


Let me know when she loses a rudder. That’ll be a spectacle !

William Baynes

Thanks for giving away what could be top secret! Show them the underbelly! Way to go! Tell the world!


Why Westeen gang are crazy for W M D?