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Peter Ash

Sorry but the RN at present hasnt gor a a Fleet at all. It has a flottila. woorying about weapons fit is imprtant but more important is recognising that the present goverenment has committed to reduce the RN to nothing more than a contribution to an EU defence force. Evene with tow new 65000 ton Carriers (if they ever get operational with aircraft) it will need massive support from EU countries or Nato to operate them .We habve lost an independant Raoyal Navy. Now we are just a contribution. ,

Waylander

Well, if the RN is a flotilla, what does that make the Marine Nationale?
eg
Carrier strike:
FS Charles de Gaulle (one ageing platform, plagued with problems, that is available half the time,
has to be refueled every seven years, is in capable of simultaneous launch and recovery, has a ridiculously low sortie rate (11.25 per day during Libyan op), and does not make anywhere near the
level of contribution you would expect from a CATOBAR carrier (hence why the RAF has conducted
more airstrikes against ISIL, even though the French have the massive advantage of both carrier strike and land based aircraft. The French have also abandoned plans to build a second carrier, and will just keep CdG in service as long as they can).
Major Surface Combatants:
3 FREMM ASW
2 Horizon AAAW (compared to the RN’s 6 Type 45s)
2 old Cassards AAW
5 George Leygues ASW
5 La Fayette light frigates (that cannot protect themselves in a high threat environment)
SSNs:
6 Rubis-class SSNs (that are not even in the same league as the Trafalgars, never mind the
Astutes, and even the Barraudas will be smaller and only have half the weapons stowage capacity
of an Astute.
Amphibs:
3 Mistral-class LHDs, only two of which can be deployed simultaneously, as per the French defence white paper, and the Mistrals have a very limited sealift capacity, so for a long duration operation that would be 500 troops aboard each ship. The RN’s Amphibious Task Group consisting of 1 LPH, 2 LPDs, 3 LSD, and 4 Point-class RoRos, has a much greater sealift and force projection capability.
Replenishment:
The MN operates just 3 light oilers, each of 17,000 tonnes, by contrast the Royal Fleet Auxiliary alone
provides about 40 percent of Europe’s entire replenishment capability eg
2 x Wave-class fast fleet tankers
2 x Rover-class small fleet tankers
1 chartered tanker (Mearsk Rapier)
1 x Fort Victoria multipurpose replenishment
2 x Fort Rosalie-class solid stores
In build:
4 x Tide-class tankers (to replace the two small Rovers and the decommissioned Orange leaf.
Planned:
3 x Fleet Soild Support ships (that will replace Fort Vic, Fort Austin and Fort Rosalie, the FSS ships will be 40,000 t + and should have some amphibious capability.
The Fleet Air Arm also operates more capable helos eg Merlin Mk2, Wildcat and Merlin HC3/4.

Peter Ash

Spell check Completed. Spelling errors were not found.

ian potter

i agree with you peter..
We haven’t got a fleet anymore it is a flotilla..
This government under dodgy dave has ruined our navy and the armed forces in general..as did the previous governments,…but they keep committing our boys to fight on foreign soil…why the hell don’t they get real….
Its about bloody time they started equipping our services to be able to defend our home land and our interests abroad .
Our man power is ridiculously low,..our navy is shadow of its former self.and our airforce if that’s what you can call it ,is trying to police the Baltics as well as defending our home land and all with just 90 fighter jets …come on dodgy dave bloody wake you idiot,!!!

Simon

At 8,000 tons, its unbelievable we just bung on 48 missiles on our main air defence ships (T45)-to protect our carriers. We designed and invested in an awesome radar (Samson), and team it up with half of what they should have. Why the hell are MoD designers so short-sighted? The Russian “Project 22350” frigates have 32 missiles, (+16 land attack missiles) are almost half the weight/displacement, and they plan to build “8-15” vessels! So fielding 2 of those against a T45, and we would need to start panicking..
Don’t get me started on the cavitating torpedo issue, where the Russians could potentially own a 300 mph torpedo, when the best speed the RN can get to is 1/10th of that..(slower than the frigate its chasing?!)

Anonymous

Hi Simon et al,
Cavitating torpedoes are not the super weapon you would initially think.
Apart from being the probable cause of the Kursk sinking, the tactical problems using the weapon are extremely detrimental to the submarine firing them.
1. They make a lot of noise (extreme), so immediately give your submarines position away. As every worthwhile warship has an embarked ASW helicopter the submarine would be abruptly prosecuted.
2. The current versions of cavitating weapons are not wire guided, nor do they have the ability to use an active/passive sonar (due to the cavitation effect). This ensures that as soon as a vessel hears such a weapon starting up, tactically changing direction, or even stopping and reversing, will throw off the track the weapon is following.
3. The noise of the weapon also ensures it can easily be tracked to help determine where it is aiming for. Even though sonar is notoriously not very granular in its definition, a rocket underwater is still a rocket (v. loud), and quite a good track to follow.
Tactically a cavitation torpedo can be used as cover for firing other torpedo’s, but the submarine would still be detected.
The best use of current cavitating torpedoes (unguided) is in self defense when detected at short range by another warship (or with a very lucky shot, another submarine (v. lucky shot)).
I am not looking forward to guided cavitating weapons…

Simon

By the way, the anti-ship missile equipping Russian Kirov-class ships called the 3M22 Zircon is capable of traveling at Mach 5 (hypersonic speed) out to “at least 250 miles”. Due to come into service in 2020-when our carriers start using F35’s operationally.
Compare Zircon to RN Harpoon: 0.8 Mach, and 80 miles..?
*Correction; The comparable RN torpedo we field can do 90 mph i believe.

Tim Collins

The size of the RN is a concern that has being addressed over and over again – I am not sure indulging in (often inaccurate) whinging under every article on the RN is constructive or relevant?
With Russian hardware I think a degree of skepticism is needed when looking at building plans and claims of wonder weapons – this is after all a Navy with major problems keeping its fleet sea worthy.
That said we do now seem to face a world where AShM technology is outpacing the defensive systems that would be used against them…until the next big leap in defensive systems is made (EM railguns…or lasers?).

Anonymouse

Your interpretation of the RNs ECM ability is woefully incorrect. The RN does not have any ECM capability at all.

David Stephen

Calm down lads. The Royal Navy is far from a flotilla, in fact it is the 2nd best in the world. It will soon consist of 2 aircraft carriers, 2 LPDs, 3 LSDs, 6 large fast tankers, 4 logistics ships, 6 AAW destroyers, 8 ASW frigates, add to this whatever form the light frigate takes and our MCM assetts and it is quite clear we are doing ok. We always need more ships but until we can crew them why bother building them. The RN has the ability to conduct expeditionary warfare at a level few others can. Also we are getting a good number of F35B, added to almost 60 helicopters and 7 (8 if we get lucky) SSNs. Bear in mind that many of the platforms CVF, Type 45/26, Astute are amongst the best in class anywhere. On the threat from new weapons, I will worry when they get deployed, at the moment they are paper weapons only. Few enemies would be able to launch a cordinated attack with dozens of ASCMs or multiple submarines. The fleet is not intended to wage war with Russia and China at the same time and will be perfectly adequate for the opposition it faces. Remember the fleet will have a layered defence of F35B flying cap with Crowsnest AEW, Sea Viper/Sampson, Artisan/CAAM, CIWS, decoys, sonar 2050/2087. Look what we where able to do in 1982 with crap ships and then realize the glass is half full.

AR

BUY BACK A COUPLE OF HARRIERS UPGRADE THEM AND PUT ONE ON BULWARK AND ALBION

AR

and a gun at the pointy end a vls system, asroc and they’ll be more than the floating taxi’s that they are now

AR

i was there in 82 and if we had to field a task force now, the gosport ferry would have to go with them!

George

‘It will soon consist of 2 aircraft carriers’.. and what will the RN do with those? fly kites off the stern?

Simon

Hi David; The current T45’s and T23’s=19 boats, reflecting the ‘backbone’ of the RN. In the mid 80’s-after the Falklands war, it was nearly double this number. We need to DRASTICALLY enhance these numbers of boats. Why? Primarily to counter a VERY aggressive Russian R & D process going on in it’s navy. We can’t do it alone, for sure. But we DO need to take the growing threat realistically. Another reason is to protect our carriers. Otherwise they will be the first to be knocked out.
In terms of the our Astute class SSN’s, they have some serious issues surrounding underwater speed. I wouldn’t call them best in class I am afraid. The MoD didn’t want to invest money in a more updated version of PWR used in the old Vanguard class boats. There you go, cost-cutting costing performance. However, the updated Thales Sonar 2076 IS best-of-breed, and this offers some re-assurance.
Its my belief that the RN needs some smaller subs to replace ‘some’ of our old Diesel-electrics that were never replaced. These can be built to be quieter than SSN’s. They can also be used to act as mother ships for future UUV’s-which is where the future lies. See Israel’s German-made ‘Dolphin 2’ subs, using Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) tech.
We have placed good emphasis on reducing manpower numbers on our modern boats. I have heard rumours that the T31 will have as few as 50 personnel on board! A T23 has 185. Reading some of the labour-saving techniques on board the QE2 carrier is impressive. This should save money in short/medium/long terms. Lets invest in modernising the RN, get its stretched manpower onto newer ships, needing less personnel, get more meaningful towards UUV’s, especially to protect our shores (e.g: Loch Long/Firth of Clyde).
We, just like the Russians in the 90’s, have neglected the RN-led by incompetent politicians. Since the 90’s, we have not made a big enough attempt (carriers and MPA purchase aside) to catch up again. We have still got a lot of work to do. The recent lower Russian revenues from its oil/gas will turn tail at some point. Indeed, the oil price has already risen by 96% from its recent low 3 months ago. This time next year, the Russians could well be spending more money…

navylookout

As David Stephen says, there is much about the RN that we can be very positive about. But certainly agree that we need to spend more on weapon R&D. The Astute’s propulsion issues have been resolved according to the NAO and the can reach their “design speed” (classified, but guess around 30kn). Also agree SSKs would be very desirable but sadly pie in sky wishful thinking in the current defence planning climate

Simon

Hi Tim:
“claims of wonder weapons – this is after all a Navy with major problems keeping its fleet sea worthy.”
The Russian cavitating torpedo is no ‘claim’. Its newer version of the Shkval is IN SERVICE and it’s Maximum speed: 200 knots (370 km/h; 230 mph) “OR GREATER”.The Russian navy has no problem at all keeping its fleet sea worthy. There has been damage, in some instances irretrievable, incurred from the 90’s when many vessels were left to rust or were not maintained properly. But Putin has ensured that over the last 15 years, a vast amount of resources has been focused on its navy in modernising it and enhancing its ships’ OFFENSIVE capabilities.

Simon

Interestingly, its been suggested it was the Shkval torpedo that was involved in the Kursk incident in 2000

navylookout

There is limited info in the public domain but the Shkval has been in service with the Russian navy for some time. However although amazingly fast it, cannot make turns so is like early WWII torpedoes it has to be fired down the line of sight which does create tactical limitations. It is also exceptionally noisy and would deafen sonars of sub and target and provide some warning to deploy decoys. There are claims the US has a ‘black’ project to develop a much more sophisticated and steerable cavitating torpedo.

Simon

NL; Interesting what you say regarding the Shkval. Its a hurdle to steer something that is surrounded by an envelope of air. The russians are seriously pumping out their subs now, so ASW is going to require big investment by NATO..

David Stephen

Simon is right that only 14 proper escorts is not enough. if we get 5 or more (8 would be great) light frigates that can work as proper escorts in wartime then that would go a long way to solving the problem. As far as I can see to be a useful escort an add to the overall picture the light frigate would need to be capable of offering protection from air and underwater attack to say an RFA unit or the ability to conduct an independent ASW patrol as well as offer NGFS. The ship then needs a 5 inch gun (commonality) for NGFS, 24 Sea Ceptor and an Artisan 3D radar for AAW, sonar 2050 an 8 cell MK41 vls (tactical length for ASROC) and 1/2 Wildcat to cover the ASW. This would be a minimum set of requirements and even in a 4000t hull with diesel only propulsion might be beyond the budget. The only stuff you have really saved from Type 26 is the sonar 2087 the mission bay and a few vls, might not be enough and any frigate with a lesser equipment fit simply is not useful in a fight. Might be better off having 1/2 more fully equipped Type 26s and keep pumping out new Rivers (modified) with a Wildcat hanger and a 57mm gun and space to deploy the off board MCM kit. A couple of SSKs would be great but I it may be easier to slip in an eighth Astute unless we bought foreign. I think SSNs suit us a bit better due to the expeditionary nature of our set up, SSNs are better to reach out and touch the opposition but any additional boats no matter what type would help with availability.

Anonymous

The writing was on the wall in 1945 with Nazi(German) stand off glider bombs and acoustic torps and other hi tech wonder weapons. Lucky for us it ended that year.
A naval war which is what we are talking about would likely rapidly become tactical nuclear unless it is limited to a proxy war. USA vs North Korea or Iran, say. Or UK vs Argentina or some other excitable power. Putin has threatened Denmark with such!

Simon

Investment is key, but is very expensive, clearly. Firstly the politicians need to accept a bigger funding level, 2% does not cut it. Its never been this low-and times have never been so threatening and uncertain imo. The”Cold War” had the benefit of stability and mutual understanding. Now, especially since Putins expansion in to Ukraine, the future is very much darker.
Given their continual focus on subs, we MUST have EVERY escort armed with ASW capabilities. The ‘General Purpose’ frigates are BS. It would be foolhardy to order such a ship on a mission when they cannot detect such growing threats. The only alternative would then be to use them as escorts for the escorts! I think it was probably wise (give them the benefit of the doubt) to plan to build a smaller frigate than the T26. Especially given manpower issues. But I sincerely hope they listen to lobbying from the senior service about ASW defence-and not just relying on the wildcat to tick the box.
The other key investment I would like to see the MOD get more serious about is the Rail Gun, and I hope that these frigates are encompassing future fit-flexibility to add these in years to come (and ensuring these ships have sufficient/spare/surplus power for their utilisation just as the Zumwalt class US destroyers have). BAE has the best/most viable solution, and its the US that are at advanced stages of implementing/trialling them. But I guess there is advantage to be had from a foreign nation developing the technology for us to benefit from? Maybe there is some quid-pro going on, i am not sure.
We need more naval senior positions within the MOD, and more ex navy as politicians. That would help in the longer term. I have served myself-but thats not the reason for discussing this, I worry about the next generation/my kids. This country faces a basically military-run enemy (Even in 1990 Russia was led by the KGB). Our leaders are not like maggi Thatcher any more (Like or loath her). And grim as it may sound, I am convinced its a matter of time before Russia retakes the whole of Ukraine and the Baltic states-in either order. The sooner NATO (or more to the point, Europe) starts to take the situation seriously, the more of a chance of stability we will have.

Simon

..Further, just to add, we can thank the tanking oil price that has put the brakes on Putin’s ambitions. But Russia’s revenue stream is increasing again, and as a consequence, we can expect more unwelcome news from Ukraine as the months go by. inextricably linked.

AR

the two per cent came as a result of the end of the cold war the russians couldn’t match the spending power of the west. since then with the russian fleet in decline and disarray, NATO has been lulled into a false sense of security and reduced production across the board to tighten budgets hence powers like the R.N. have seen forces dwindle a repeat or requirement to send a task force now, could not be done without assistance from the U.S or other nato nations the onus is on countries like the u.k. to’get smart’ in peace, prepare for war.

Ivan Zelenka

Two US Navy vessels have odd configurations: the Freedom LCS vessels and the Zumwalt DD’s
As the configurations of a warship abides by the form follows function process there has to be a reason.
The oddity on the LCS vessels is the set of panels over the bridge. At a distance they appear to be phased array systems, but up close they are not.
The whole Zumwalt DD shape implies it is a mobile PAVE/PAWS radar, but as the land version are used for ballistic missile (etc.) tracking it points towards the vessel been tasked with A2/AD defense (i.e. DF-21D “carrier-tasked” missile).
Having such a radar is only half the job, as the incoming ballistic missile (BM) would most likely (Chinese/Russian) have numerous decoys the radar would most likely function in the X band to see through such decoys. As the X band radar is high definition, it would point to the massive bridge structure holding an advanced weapon to counter the BM. the shape and height of the bridge structure suggests the US Navy has a rail gun, maybe orientated upwards. This would beat a SM-6 in a BM intercept, and ensure a miss could be followed up by another shot.
If this is the case, well done the US Navy for forward thinking in dealing with the A2/AD threat. Place one of these DD’s in a carrier attack group to deal with the BM threat.
Hopefully the next version of rail gun is smaller and can be used to deal with incoming hypersonic AS missiles.
(Lasers are way off with delivering the power they need to do enough damage in a given time – and not be effected by simple countermeasures (spinning the missile, mirror coating, firing a scattering cloud beforehand etc.)
Any thought’s on this?

UKExpat

True the US Navy has both an AGS gun and a rail gun for the remaining Zumwalts. What may be a surprise is the fact that they are both designed and built by Bae Systems. Consequently I would have thought the RN can have them too if they want?

Ivan Zelenka

You are right UKExpat, BAE do make the 155mm AGS gun system current installed on the Zumwalts. The AGS could be placed on a RN vessel, but it’s relevance is questionable. The 155mm is basically a 6inch naval gun with a 150km (80+Nm) shell range (using assisted shells – i.e. base bled etc. Our DD-46’s could carry them, but have a different priority task of air defense – you would want to keep the air taskforce group (CVs and DD’s etc.) as far from land as you can. The AGS is excellent for pin point fixed target strike, so the most relevant ship(s) to install them on would be the two Albion class assault ships.
As the assault ships job is to get close to land to disembark their marines, the precision strike offered by the AGS would enable forward scout units (SBS etc.) to call in accurate strikes – without the cost of potentially losing a F35 to a cheap manpad.
As for the Electromagnetic Rail Gun… that will definitely be the future, but at present they have a big problem with barrel life.
As you can imagine, firing a shell of any kind generates shockwaves and heat in the medium it travels through (air, water etc.).
At low Mach speeds a concern for designers is how to mitigate heat build up (think of the SR-71 and why they had to use titanium to build it due to the extreme heat – that’s one of the reasons it was designed to fly so high due to the benefits of thinner air).
Back in the barrel of the Rail Gun the heat generated during a single firing is extreme, meaning a lot of cooling equipment to reduce the negative effects on the barrel. A lot of cooling equipment means added weight, means bigger vessels. The heat also ensures the firing rate is reduced to reduce wear.
But the main issue is not just the heat caused by the velocity of the slug passing through the barrel. The issue is the shock waves caused by the speed of slug. As the slug reaches hypersonic velocities (Mach 5 and above) it will be literally smashing through the air. The faster you go the hard everything gets, as this is push out of the way, massive shockwaves are generated.
These shockwaves cause something similar to Spaulding inside the barrel, and even have been observed to cause a form of cavitation damage to the barrel.
All this seems to point towards major issues with Rail Guns, these appear to have been overcome.
A future Rail Gun as a CIWS would be very difficult to get an AS missile past.
Having one as a primary weapon would prove extreme damage in single salvo to an enemy target. It would also be immune to ECM.
All in all, Rail Guns are a weapon we will see more of in the next twenty years.

Ivan Zelenka

Typo, sorry I wrote DD-46 in my previous post… getting a bit ahead of myself.
By the look of the numbers trend… when we get to DD-46 we will probably get two partially armed vessels that have engines that don’t work well in hot climates (condensation – plonkers)and cost £6billion each
BAE, you and our inept governments (and lack of Public interest) are the reason the RN is in such a poor state.
Here’s to the Greedy, Inept and Uninterested…
Cheers you have done Russia’s job for them (and probably China’s too).
[And will be the first to complain when the Navy is trashed by whoever eventually picks on us].
Muppets!
RN – Never Surrender, Never Give Up!

Anonymous

All of the above is very interesting but I think an even bigger issue has come to light.
Why on earth is the RN planning to remove basic fitness from its leadership courses?
This is a lacklustre, iressponible and above all dangerous move if its brought in!
Manpower and its wellbeing is its biggest priority by far!
Disgraceful!

Gareth Whittaker

BUILD MORE SUBMARINES, IT SEEMS TO BE THE ONLY AREA WHERE WE ARE KEEPING UP.

Ged Brockie

Had to laugh when reading the blog link discribed here as “excitable “. Awe, are some nasty Russians thinking up cheap ways to sink all your floating toys. It’s a well measured piece which royal naval support ship problems aside, shows that the RN carriers are sitting ducks and a total waste of money. Cue numerous comments from armchair admirals and the brainwashed ex servicemen who want to deny the bleeding obvious.

Ryan

north korea CITY

Hugh Jarce

I’ve been thinking about the hypersonic missile threat for a while now and I’ve got some ideas. They may be nonsense, they may have potential, but I’d be interested to know what people think…
1) Sacrificial lambs
When it comes to sea-skimming missiles, if ships are going to be sacrificed it would make sense for them not to be carriers, destroyers or frigates, especially considering how few of them we have and considering how dependent the carriers are on the escort ships for defence. Therefore, how about using cheap ships to surround the carrier fleet that are there purely to absorb missile damage? These ships could mainly be empty with just engines and a skeleton crew, or even remotely controlled. Since they’d be light how about covering the hulls with explosive reactive armour (ERA) like tanks use? Would that work against hypersonic missiles? I don’t know, but I’d like to know if it’s worth looking into. And/or how about filling the ships with something that would prevent the missiles from going in one side and coming out the other side? What would achieve that? Could anything achieve that, since it’s not just the blast but the kinetic energy that needs to be dealt with. I’m thinking layers of Dorchester armour, concrete, sand, water and anything else that might slow down/destroy the missile.
2) Water cannons
Since ships are at sea and water is a plentiful resource, would water cannons be an option against hypersonic missiles? I mean the things travel so fast that if they hit a very high-pressure water cannon wouldn’t they just disintegrate?
3) Liquid gas weapons
When I was in school I vividly remember a physics class where our teacher put a squash ball into a jar of some liquid gas (nitrogen I think). The ball came out brittle and our teacher hit it with a hammer and it shattered. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Couldn’t liquid gas weapons be developed? If they hit a hypersonic missile, wouldn’t it just become brittle? Even if it hit its target wouldn’t it just harmlessly shatter?
4) Water bombs
I’m not really sure what to call this, but “water bombs” sounds OK. I’m thinking of placing numerous buoys around a carrier group. If an incoming missile is detected then it should explode at just the right time to produce a huge explosion that destroys the missile. Of course these buoys would need to be towed by the carrier group or be self-propelling so that they’re always near the group.