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Business as usual for the QE, I still cant believe that she will only have 3 Phalanx Block 1b and a few 30mm. With a shrinking Surface fleet I would have thought the RN would go a bit more Admiral Kusnetsov with her by giving her capable SAMs and maybe a 57mm Bofors or 76mm Strales so that even alone she could defend herself (Hypothetically as she is supposed to have escorts 24/7 unless penny pinchers have their way with her) Phalanx is becoming more obsolete due to the M61s range issues and faster Anti Shipping missiles. I hope she gets more defences and soon.


I agree with Sam, whatever applied 10 years ago with SSM doesn’t apply now. Not only are these SSM’s smarter and faster but there are many more with new delivery vehicles emerging. We really must add the best defences we can. Keeping our fingers crossed just wont wash. Thanks


Even in a worst case scenario, the carriers aren’t going anywhere operationally without at least a light escort. Having your carrier capable of independent operation simply reduces its effectiveness as an aviation platform, and in a time of incredibly tight budgets a heavy self-defence armament is a luxury, not a necessity. In any case, given the location of the QEC defensive mounts, deck penetrating systems like bigger gun-based CIWS aren’t an option unless you want to put it on the flight deck and carve the loading system space out of the hangar.

I do agree though, Phalanx is getting long in the tooth, but a solution is already under development: Dragonfire. Lasers are the future of CIWS, and the MoD has already invested in facilities and prototypes. Give it a decade, the Phalanx will probably be being phased out or at least supplemented. The only other alternative would be a SeaRAM mount, which is a very attractive option for its use of the existing Phalanx mount.


76mm Strales has a non deck penetrating option, it limits the available ammunition but is easy to install (Plus the type 31 looks like it might be using it) The problem is that there ar far too few escorts for 2 carriers and even then the Type 45s are target practice for Subs. The problem is if the Navy starts loosing ships in combat, the Carriers would end up defenceless. Phalanx will move on to the army in its C-RAM form (Which will last a long time tbh)


The likelihood of both carriers being operational simultaneously, and thus requiring separate escorts, is fairly low.

I agree the size of the escort fleet is an issue (the QECs were conceived at a time when 12 T45s and 19 T26s were planned, and it shows). However, spending money upgunning the carriers is still wasteful when it’s better to invest in maximising assets: more Lightnings, Poseidons, T31s, etc. These reduce the pressure on our first rate escorts and make the point of carrier armament inconsequential. Sticking that 76mm gun on a separate hull and placing it (and it’s other defences) in-between the carrier and any threats is far more efficient than putting the gun on the carrier.


I question the argument that its wasteful to put point defence on the carriers. Point defence because that’s what we are talking.
The first Classic attack of note on a carrier was Fleigercorps X’s attack on HMS Illustrious in the Mediterranean in 1941. Very similar in many ways to the sort of max effort attack one might expect on a QNLZ class. Here there was a triple layer aircraft and gun defence; fortunately aided by Radar which was in its infancy. Every line of defence was overwhelmed and failed and Illustrious just managed, due to its Armoured Deck, to survive. Here then it was the fourth layer that saved the ship, together with a brave, disciplined and skillful Fire Fighting Team and Crew. The thing to note is that the ship was virtually on her own and the focus of the attack without much escort support. Her fighter escort was caught on the hop despite it best efforts. Probably the last line of defence her own 4.5’s” and pom-poms kept morale going and did frighten off and downed some of the attackers. Illustrious was shooting the guns throughout the action and operating aircraft until that was ended by bomb damage. Is what I am saying is that in an all out attack the centre of the attack gets the best shot at the attacker as the escorts are spread out around the periphery and something on the target itself has to hold.
Invincible at the Falklands was only saved by the decoy Atlantic Conveyor. There was no effective point defence aboard her and the escorts failed. A very close thing.


I say wasteful in the context of the MoDs very limited finances. In a better funded world, yes, upgunning the carriers would be an obvious investment. In the world we live in though, the RN gets more mileage out of putting that money into the escort fleet.

You bring up good examples, but the carrier DOES have point defence. We all like to moan about Phalanx’s relative lack of range and stopping power, but it has obviously proven up to task during trials with multiple allies, which I’d count as effective. As I said previously as well, it’s replacement/supplement, Dragonfire, is under development and should be operational sometime during the mid 2020s. Better to wait for that than buy a new but inferior system now

Patrick Murray

4th watch and Callum… Hooray for you both. !! WHY is it that we can be justifiably concerned and love and care for the use in time of conflict of our carriers. I am still amazed that some one in a desk bound ministry of non comprehension has not scuppered the whole idea, and given funding to new unnecessary uniforms so that We look like…. Yanks, maybe….
Yours truly an old timer of type 12,,14,, Tribals and Leanders with Eagle, Ark, and Hermes… Three cheers.


Not strictly true. The Super Entendards each fired an Exocet at the largest radar return their radar detected when they did a pop up manoeuvre. This was the Hermes, they were directly abeam of her when they fired. The aircraft’s radar was detected by the task force and as the Exocets popped over the horizon and went active they were also detected. The Hermes was trailing the Invincible and Atlantic Conveyor was trailing her. The Hermes being in the centre was the target that both Exocets targeted. A number of warships fired off chaff, which bloomed to hide the ships. The Exocets then targeted the chaff but flew through it and unfortunately towards the Atlantic Conveyor. She did not have any defensive countermeasures and was hit by both missiles.

From the diary of HMS Brilliant: “The Captain put the ship into defence watches at 7.30 but I stayed in the Ops Room and we had an EW detection of Etendard radar at about 7.40 then shortly after this an unknown contact to the NW. We then saw them – contacts double (obviously missile release) as the missiles started in. The system immediately acquired them and the T.V. monitors showed them heading some 5 miles NW of us toward the Atlantic Conveyor. The missiles were so close together they were both on the same T.V. monitor. They were v. low and v. fast. We saw them hit the middle of the “Conveyor” and the explosion seemed to go through her and out the other side. Our weapon systems locked onto both the missiles and tracked them all the way in but they were unable to engage them because they were out of range.”

If the Seawolf fitted to Brilliant was the later VL launch version, the two Exocets would have been just within range, just a thought!


Thanks, very interesting and detailed.


I fear that the lack of armament will bite the RN in the ass. How wasteful is it to allow over 1000 sailors to possibly go into combat with nothing but peashooters. The Type 45 is underarmed in the Missile department with only 48 VLS and despite the great Radar and Missile Quality can be overwhelmed by mass attacks as it will run out of missiles especially if the enemy are firing cheap outdated missiles to waste the Aster 15s and Aster 30s. I guess 1000 sailors being lost is cheaper than trying to protect them 🙁


Losing 1000 sailors is small fry compared to cost of losing a war that was worth risking a carrier to fight.This is why it’s not worth having and the only useful action it might see will be small internationally supported operations like the intervention in Sierra Leone that a small helicopter would have been more suitable for.
Handling and maintaining this huge ship is an embarrassment and is likely to be difficult in a war situation.


Mass attacks can only be conducted by military opponents such as China and Russia. The UK would not be alone in either case therefore the Type 45 armament would be sufficient. However, I do agree that there is a re-arming issue for the 45’s once they have fired all their missiles.

Captain Nemo

I think SeaRAM would be a perfect fit, we already operate Phalanx so have a working knowledge and support infrastructure in place, it’s autonomous of ships systems and would keep fighting irrespective of damage to same, it has an infrared seeker which adds to the missile mix, it can attack air and surface targets and it can be reloaded at sea.
Adoption of SeaRAM for the carriers could have knock on effects for the wider fleet though which I think puts it way out in front, any ship that can carry a Phalanx can carry a SeaRAM, so any RFA tanker with a pair of Phalanx could swap one out for a SeaRAM, ditto support ships, troop ships and Ships Taken Up From Trade such as Atlantic Conveyor.
So, I personally would be happy to see it ahead of CAMM on the carriers as its adoption would have a greater overall impact.


Agreed Nemo…minimum upgun should be to Sea-Ram but a recommended upgun would be to have 12+ CAMM VLS (A 57mm bofors or 76mm Strales too would be icing on the cake) The Gerald Ford class has 3 Phalanx AND 3 Sea-RAM ? At this point glueing a Sea Dart Launcher system on would be an improvement lol


Yeah if the USN believe in point defence on their carriers, when they have more air defence ships than us, each fitted with double the number of SAMs than our T45s, it’s hard to believe that there’s no need for it.
Obviously it’s a budgetary trade-off, but in my mind this is why more must be done to pressure the Govt. to meet the 2% commitment and stop cooking the books.


It would be great to see


It would be great to see some pictures of the two sister ships together!


Japanese F35A has gone down in the Pacific!!!