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David MacDonald

Thank you. I feel a wee bit happier since reading this.



Thomas Barratt

Motion Passed

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

How empty the ‘roof real estate’ of the current T23 is…
comment image?auto=compress%2Cformat&ixlib=php-3.3.1&s=0c28510f86830e39f1e8fdb7080b9d18

dick van dyke

OK X, you got me on that one……What is “Roof Real Estate” ? I’m happy to be enlightened.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Well look at the picture of the T23 in the article and look at the picture I posted.

dick van dyke

Well OK mate….. I’m looking, thanks for the abrupt reply …..I was merely asking for information but once again, you choose to be a tad Obnoxious. I’ll not make the same mistake again.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Sorry. That was not my intention.

dick van dyke

Fair play, I probably took it the wrong way, sorry here too.


tad Obnoxious??? what is that in old English money, please?


Type 910 tracker


What is that for?


Sea Wolf. Not up to date, but calling Monmouth current is also a tad dodgy. Might that be an equally obsolete Type 911 in Zoo Keeper’s picture?


Type 911 is dual frequency (X-Band and K-Band) differential tracking radar designed specifically to match the engagement envelope of the Seawolf missile. The Type 911 spots targets at low elevations, such as sea-skimming missiles, and in cluttered environments.
The X-Band tracking antenna is a Cassegrain reflector with monopulse feed. The reflector is fed by a wide angle four-horn monopulse cluster. This part of the radar is derived from the ST800 radar family.
The K-band part is derived from the landbased Blindfire tracking radar. Both antennas use a magnetron transmitter with a coherent-on-receive, digital FFT signal processor.

Last edited 6 months ago by Harken

What was once is now. Hence the minimal ‘roof real estate’


Who died and made you king ?
It comes from a previous Navy Lookout story on the changes from seawolf to sea ceptor . The before and after pictures together prove the point for other readers


I think he is referencing the image of F235 above, with what looks like a CIWS fore and aft on the roof tops. Go check current T23 images and you will see these are not included. These are no longer a fit on T23 but there is images of the now lost Monmouth with some type of roof top CIWS / gun as shown by the whale island person, its obvious these frigates are under armed as most of out RN ships are with exception being the T45? I am no naval expert rather a deep reader of many things navy. So others with RN experience may / should now better. I note that there have been no images of any Tides with their CIWS fix for many months now. Others will say they only have the CIWS fix when operating in certain waters, I think thats no longer the case and the CIWS in Tides is gone. Replaced by something like a 2 x 30 mm at the back of the ship on a new gun placement structure above the hanger. As the potential conflict environment increases I am concerned about our ships and crew.

dick van dyke

Thanks mate, It’s so much nicer to read a friendly answer…… I did take a look, after his? reply and i can now see some differences…… Cheers for posting mate.


He is knowledgable, but very rude, but he posted a semi sorry about that message, so might be getting nicer.


For their Era I wouldn’t regard the T23 as underarmed, first RN ship with VLS, mount 32 Sea ceptors today.
They never had any form of CIWS onboard, at a guess those are guidance radars for the Missiles or Gun, they’ve been removed now as the Artisan Radar can do Guidance and Tracking I believe.


Thanks, yes I understand there was never any CIWS on the T23. There were some Goal Keepers on some ships, a Dutch system? Long gone.


Yes we used to have those, but decided to focus on Phalanx. Off the top of my head 1 or 2 of the Invincible class had them as well as the Albions.

Chris Townsend

HMS Cornwall a type 22 batch 3 frigate also had Goalkeeper. The tracking radars aren’t needed anymore as the ships have Sea Sceptor, a far more potent weapon than even Sea Wolf.


speaking of Sea ceptor; I still wonder why none can’t be added to the QE class during their refit; every other nation seems to have a point defence missile with their carrier; even with the capable AA escorts they possess, 3 Phalanx is still lacking and the 30mm cannons not fitted either.


Missiles launching leaves debris which isn’t good for flight deck operations. You’d also have to close the airspace around the carrier for every missile launch.


French CDG, plus US carriers have ESSM


What I said still stands. The RN has more experience than both of those Navy’s. In a war, the airspace around the carriers would have to be closed and the flight deck swept for debris after every missile launch. In wartime, especially during what is probably a concerted attack on the CSG, there is no time for that. A missile from an escort would be launched instead.


Invincibles had missiles too and Hermes and other types before that
Whats this experience you talk of where the RN hasnt used missiles on a carrier

Supportive Bloke

Missiles were removed from Invincibles due to FOD issues that were actually experienced.

Try talking to anyone who was ever on board after a Sea Dart was launched – big mess = big clear up!

Phalanx CIWS makes sense maybe including 40mm CIWS.


And you dont have to clear the airspace around the carrier when firing the CIWS ?
Sea Dart was a mis match for a carrier as its an area defence missile, and the Falklands showed that Sea Wolf would have been a better choice

Rob N

It is just another excuse for penny pinching. You could add missiles to the carrier if you wanted but they want to save money. You could place launchers angled out over the water, or put the missiles in boxes with doors like ASTER. The French and US use such systems.


When is that ever useful?
It’s all well and good launching a missile every few years for some photo ops, it’s completely useless in a real life scenario.

In a situation where a carrier is under attack it would be a concerted attack, not just a lone aircraft or missile. Therefore there might be damaged F35s needing to land, or F35s needing to refuel and rearm, or more F35s on the flight deck that need to take off, or some Merlins and Wildcats.

The French Navy will never, ever launch a missile from CdG in wartime because the Aster VLS are right next to the catapults, and where aircraft are parked.

The US also won’t as their box launched missiles are by the cats, traps and parked aircraft.

Even if you ignore the major issue of FOD, you have other issues.
Space is one. The two sponsons below the flight deck at the stern of Gerald R Ford take up 1/4 of the width at the stern each. Fine for cats and traps, the RN clearly prefer a wider flight deck for landing STOVL. The Ford could also fit 3 more aircraft parked without the missiles, fine for a much larger carrier, maybe not fine for QEC.

Another issue is reloading alongside. We don’t have the facilities to load the carriers beyond loading through the hangar. Somehow those missiles would have to find the launcher on a sponson below the flight deck. Probably near impossible now the carriers are built to fix that.

The last issue I can think of is smoke trail and flight operations. Flight operations around the carrier would have to be paused when a missile is launched, and the flight deck near the launcher would have to be cleared of aircraft.


The RN has been in situations where Carriers could have launched missiles. Nobody else has.

It’d most likely be impossible to fit missiles to the carriers, and it wouldn’t make sense anyway.

Supportive Bloke

Absolutely correct.

Those steerable trackers would have zero function so have been removed.

If we were Russians we would keep the trackers for decoration and maybe out some tinsel on them…..?

dick van dyke

Goal keepers seem to ring a bell


Hi yes the batch 3 T22 had goalkeeper a 30mm CIWS.

Last edited 6 months ago by Jonathan
Supportive Bloke

Goal Keeper was a big system used on Invincibles and other big platforms.

RN have over 40 Phalanx in the common stockpiles.

Rob N

The Type 22 batch 3 had a Goalkeeper CIWS with 2×6 cell Sea Wolf Launchers. SeaCeptor has 2x domes on the superstructure roof for uplinking target data to missiles in flight. The CAMMs missile has its own radar and guidance to get to the target but the uplink gives target updates.


The trackers, fore and aft on legacy T23 where Type 911or T911 (SWMLU) and were used to guide VL Sea Wolf missiles onto their targets using command line of sight guidance. In short you could shoot 2 missiles per tracker with each tracker dealing with one target. VL SW was very good with a range far greater than that of the old Sea Wolf fitted to T22 frigates and some Leanders. It was command line of sight though so not autonomous but hugely accurate.

The dome fore and aft now fitted to T23 is the sea ceptor data link aerial. The trackers are no longer required and have been removed and there is a subsequent saving in topweight (7 tonnes per tracker and its below decks equipment) and a reduction in the need for chilled water services. The aft accom on a T23 is now rather pleasant without the extra chilled water load needed for sea wolf trackers

You track the target with the main surveillance radar (artisan) on the main mast and the data is passed to Sea Ceptor equipment cabinets that are about the size of a domestic fridge. It basically does 3 D trig calculations and calculates future intercept points in space and allows you to launch a missile at a future intercept point. The radar tracks the missile and target and sends updates to the missile via the data link. When the missile gets to within a specific range from the target it goes active and homes in using its own active radar. Ceptor can put up multiple missiles at multiple targets over 360 degs and various ranges and altitudes all at the same time. It can also do surface engagements (M3 100kg missile with a small warhead yes…but do the kinetic energy calculation!) The system can also take tracking data from other sensor sources to carry out engagements. Being cold launched it also has a very short min engagement range comparable with a gun based CIWS system.

Its a massive upgrade in capability for the RN


Hi James, there was never any CIWS fitted to the T23.

Asker of questions

It is only because the main radars you see on the roof of the bridge and the roof of the hangar were used for sea wolf. Sea Cepter just uses Artisan and a dater link which ch is camouflaged against the grey sea.

dick van dyke

Great Essay and always nice to see a new topic being posted on your excellent site. On the Cyprus thing, Flightradar has been a another great source of info too, showing some rather random Typhoon and Voyager flights to various locations in southern Turkey, plus certain other Intel flights to the east/south east. Cyprus is such a great UK Asset ( obviously not the entire Island, but just the handy bit)


The Typhoons will be on Op Shader and aren’t flying to Southern Turkey, rather over it.

dick van dyke

Thanks I tracked them up the coast and overland in Turkey to Sazgin which is an airport.

David Barry

If they landed, that could have been an exercise where pilots gain experience in landing at other airports in case of a future emergency.

dick van dyke

True enough.


The aircraft switch off their AIS in Southern Turkey before they cross the border into Syria.


With the ever-increasing threats from anti-ship missiles and drone boats, and building on the lessons of the Ukraine War, I would like to see more RN/RFA vessels routinely fitted with 30mm autocannon to provide protection at greater ranges than is provided by CIWS.

The UK should also seek to beef up our harbour defences.


Yes Indeed, including our carriers. There are very limited harbour defences, and even less on out half dozen critical RAF bases, and nothing on the infrastructure facilities such as radar etc. There are a few Giraffe systems but I don’t know if they are placed anywhere. This is a critical risk and exposure to our defences.


It will be very interesting to see when directed energy systems like (or derived from) Dragonfire will find their way to the ships.

Rob N

Yes they would rather keep the kit in the shed as that way it saves money as they do nit need to crew them. Hence no Phalanx on auxiliaries. The carriers were designed to mount 4 Phalanx but we saved money and only fitted 3. We also did not fit the 4x 30mm mounts. So we do what we do best and under arm our ships with the minimum. Then loose ships. For example the RN knew the Type 42 had problems with low level targets . The US developed Phalanx in the 60s as a CIWS . We could have fitted Phalanx to the T42 before the Falklands but we saved money and lost 2 destroyers ….

Yes money saving is so cost effective!


I understood that at least 3 RN vessels would be fitted with NSM by the end of 2023, do we know which vessels are next in line after Somerset?

dick van dyke

Ask again after the Election mate…….That’s the best answer I can give really.


The election that’s going to be in 2024? I would not expect Labour to cancel the NSM contract since much of the money should have already been spent when Labour published its SDSR. You don’t need to answer his question with nonsense if you do not know the answer to it.


Are any British aircraft operating off PWLS now? Or only American aircraft?

Mark P

Not that I’m aware of but the UK is still lacking two F35’s from this years delivery schedule from lot 14 ZM168 & ZM169. Maybe POW will bring them back with her when she returns?


Only aircraft with special instrumentation for performance testing at sea are/were currently operating off PW. These are US aircraft which are part of the joint test unit at Pax River. This deployment of PW is purely for testing F35’s and various types of drones.
Sometime next year PW takes over as the U.K. high readiness carrier. My guess is that as she works up to that roll we will see more U.K. F35’s operating with the ship. In 2025 PW is planned to make a long deployment to the Indo-Pacific with around 25 U.K. F35’s.

dick van dyke

All very interesting. I’d be interested in seeing a mix of US and UK F35’s at full potential numbers being tested ie, 25 UK and 15 US, surely that could be easily assembled and it would be a proper test of the designed capability ?


Depends on both what HMG want to accomplish on this deployment and USMC programs. This sort of high profile deployment is more of a political than a military statement.

dick van dyke

But surely it would be a valuable exorcise for all involved ?


Probably. But what other exercises are planned and which would be more valuable to the USMC?
Plus it may be that the current HMG plans to use it the trip to push its “Global Britain” line both to nations in the area and its voters at home. They might see that as easier to do with an all British airwing


So would I. 24 UK + 12 USMC running the same surge tests as Nimitz ’97, with appropriate changes for STOVL. It would give a rough idea of what the QE class could do as a strike carrier relative to the Nimitz, which did 771 strike sorties in 4 days.

We’ll have to wait though. Probably for at least a couple of years after CSG 25 as that type of thing takes a lot of training and build up. You can’t do it with the minimum flight crew levels we currently possess, and it wasn’t until a few weeks before CSG 21 that they discovered they didn’t have sufficient engineers to conduct flight line ops and aircraft rectification at the same time! 617 Sqn effectively had 14 personnel to each jet while the Marines had 25 per jet. For surges you need to significantly overprovide so people aren’t exhausted.


That would be great to see how the carriers would cope with a full compliment of 36 F35’s but Iike you say, doubtful if we could muster enough engineers. Still I wouldn’t be surprised to see 12 jets from 617 and maybe 8 from 809? It might depend on how quickly the TR3 soft ware issue get sorted out? It would be great to see some from USMC but nice if the UK could show we’re almost there to go it alone.


There was one Mk2 Merlin mentioned (source Navy Lookout). I read elsewhere PWLS was carrying Merlins plural, but I think that source was less reliable. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was a UK drone or two, but I can’t think of any specifically.


2 Merlins and a Wildcat

Rct pongo

As a vet from 75 to 84 I can’t to this day wonder why we dismantled sub warfare, scraped our threw deck carriers and our anti sub frigates beggers belief and as for the land forces our government needs a good kick in the arse by the regimental Sargent major Si vis pacem, para bellum

Last edited 6 months ago by Rct pongo

Defence budget as % of GDP has been 50% cut since Thatcher and her acolytes Pym and Nott got into power and continued by all other governments
Tax cuts were more important to getting re elected


There is this view amongst the elite that defence isn’t a vote winner. I suspect the politicians are as wrong about that as they are most things. British people are proud of their forces, wish to see them well equipped and soldiers, sailors and airmen well looked after.

It’s hard thinking which politician was the worst for current defence: Blair who reduced spending (despite doubling the size of the state) whilst simultaneously committing us to two long wars, or Cameron with that godawful SDR2010.

Idiots the lot of them.


The Thatcher/Nott cuts are what a lot of people think got us in to the Falklands War. Defence cuts to fund a mixture of tax cuts and social programs have been popular for more than 40 years.


Well they certainly didn’t help. If Galtieri had held off for ~6-months we’d have sold off all our aircraft carriers…I believe Invincible was on its way to Australia as part of a sell off which the UK government had to politely ask the Aussies to reverse.


Not sure how selling off Invincible equates to selling off all our aircraft carriers.
The bigger issue would’ve been Hermes decommissioning as she was a lot larger than any of the Invincible’s.


Hermes was an interim ship till all 3 Invincibles were complete. So that would have gone too
Dont you remember Hermes being sold to India ?

Last edited 6 months ago by Duker

I don’t have to spell it out for you do I?
Argentina invading the islands after Hermes decommissioning would have been a big issue as she was much larger than the Invincible’s, carrying double the Harriers than Invincible.


The Tories had half the aircraft carriers marked for sale. The capacity wasnt an issue it was the selloff s.e.l.l.o.f.f


Invincible was planned to be sold off. 1/3 of the planned carrier force not half.
As soon as Hermes decommissioned the Navy lost capacity. Invincible deployed to the Falklands with 12 SH, Hermes with 26 Harriers.
Edit: The Invincibles also really struggled with sortie generation.

Last edited 6 months ago by Louis
Andrew Deacon

Wiki says 8 Sea Harriers and 12 Sea Kings for Invincible with Hermes having 12 Sea Harriers and 18 Sea Kings, which is also my recollection.


That’s what the carriers set sail with. Both were reinforced by 809s Sea Harriers with 4 to each carrier. 1 Squadron also deployed on Hermes with 10 Harriers, with 8 of Hermes Sea Kings moving across to other ships.


Feck all to do with tax cuts.

Everything to do with paying for the ever-increasing cost and healthcare of an expanding and ageing population.

Taxation at its highest level since the war, government expenditure at its highest level ever (~£1Tn pa) of which healthcare, social care, edumacation and pensions comprise something like 60% on their own.

Ever-ageing population plus ever-more complex and expensive treatments = unconstrained demand. Also known as living beyond our means…..

Last edited 6 months ago by N-a-B

It was a general comparison that tax cuts are election winners. From that the government spending has to be tailored to the revenue, and the shears go on defence especially ever since ‘city boys’ in government found a department budget they could trim with abandon
of course NHS was 6% of GDP when Defence was 4.5% in around 1980
Now NHS is 11% and Defence is 2.3%.
For the RN the spending on Dreadnoughts dominates all else as this is its peak period with a long tail once they are in service. Average spending on the strategic deterrent over 30 years doesnt allow for the expensive hump years. The worry is the next SSN class will come along to quickly in development costs as Australia is pencilled in for 5.


“City boys”? Are you some sort of pretend socialist?


Nott Younger and currently Shapps Theres a type that rise through the financial system but are past their use by date by mid-late 30s- as its an up or out culture- and think that politics is the chance to ‘show their talents’.


You do realise that Nott was a lawyer, not a financier? Both he and Younger were (briefly) soldiers and Younger worked for his family’s brewing firm.


CASD comes out of the general MoD budget not the RN’s.


Great article thanks.

Following from points in the discussion, what would it take to place Harbour defences? What would be the threat? Any enemy grey asset is going to be monitored well before turning into a threat sea lane, more chance of an enemy comandeering a private leisure craft and driving it into the side of a docked ship or carrier. Although saying that, taking out Fort Victoria and several Tides would cripple us hugely. As a child it always amazed me that our airfields and strike command bases didn’t have air defence batteries as standard.


If we put the nuclear deterrent and terrorism matters aside for one moment, the MOD clearly either disregards the existence of any air or maritime threat to the UK mainland, or at best considers it has higher priority areas to spend money on. This despite the fact that in this Russo-Ukraine war era anyone keeping abreast of the defence scene can see that most other European nations are now investing considerable sums in urgently improving their air defence capabilities – even little Switzerland is ordering the US Patriot system for heaven’s sake!

Some will no doubt argue that we are right about this level of apparent neglect and everyone else is wrong – MOD officialdom seldom lacks defenders in forums such as this one.

Nevertheless the truth is that RN is so reduced now we’d struggle to muster much more than a single frigate (or OPV) in home waters, and while very welcome it is difficult to see how one dedicated vessel could meaningfully protect our vital undersea infrastructure. Furthermore, any Russian cruise missile aimed at the UK would – it seems to me – very likely find its target as the few land based CAAM batteries the Royal Artillery field are mostly deployed abroad – these systems are in any case only a relatively short range defence asset at best. Yes our Type 45 destroyers are a more sophisticated air defence platform, but they are years away from offering a true ABM capability and I note that half of these destroyers are currently out of service while operational ships are deployed at sea – one as distant as the Caribbean while war rages on NATO’s eastern flank.

So I say we need to start taking our ‘homeland’ defence seriously again – or be prepared to pay the price one day.

Last edited 6 months ago by Moonstone

Yes I agree, thanks for your well thought out reply. It does seem in event of war, our 6 destroyers are it in regards to national air defence. Can see why the US buys so many Arleigh Burkes. Talking of the US, do they take base or even homeland security seriously? I’m not aware that their naval bases would be any more protected than ours?
For the UK to spend billions on either military infrastructure protection or even national Air defence beyond Typhoons, we would likely need to be on a war footing – by which time we would spend the money, but the equipment wouldn’t be delivered until well after any threat had died down.
Like all government departments, defence need a decade of boost just to catch up. 4% GDP until the end of the decade might do it, admittedly personnel, infrastructure, upkeep would bring its own problems.
We won’t be ready for a middle East escalation for about a decade, or Taiwan, or Russia. Have we both reached and aiming for a position where acting alone is beyond reach, and we can only truly put our two carrier strike groups to see with escorts made up by 50% NATO allies ships, and half of the air complement of other nations planes. On that last point I’m guessing it’s only US F35bs. In spite of them being across the NATO agenda, no pilots could land on our carriers without lengthy qualification periods.


Further on that note of UK air defence. With block 3 anti ballistic missiles, how many Type 45s would be required to provide a credible air defence screen over Britain?
I accept were likely looking at Type 83 now, but what would we need to order? 12? 18 to allow for deployment and down time? I’m guessing in an ideal world, were Type 45s armed accordingly, we would need one up north based out of Rosyth and one on the south coast, potentially London way? And these on patrol constantly?


It seems to me that basing national air defence assets aboard warships is a rather problematic policy – as we see warships require frequent maintaince, are expensive to both crew and procure and can even be lost in action. Despite all that the Japanese are pursuing this policy with a new class of large destroyer Intended to offer their home islands a effective Aegis based ABM shield – this after their populace rejected a cheaper ‘Aegis Ashore’ option.

An land mobile variant of the RN’s Sea Viper system – SAMP/T – is of course already developed and in service with a number of nations. It may well be that a UK SAMP/T variant might offer a relatively affordable and straightforward solution for the UK. However, there a number of very capable US and Israeli ABM systems potentially available and careful evaluation would obviously be required as to which would be optimal for our needs and budget. Not that I expect much to happen here anytime soon.

As for the question of the US protecting their bases from missile attack – I suggest you research the latest developments surrounding the air defence of Guam and you will soon see that this is EXACTLY what they are now doing.


Thanks, interesting points.
I guess the in-between options would be a containerised defence that could be mounted onto ships as needed, but based on land when not.


The UK is a signatory of the European Sky Shield Initiative, which is a layered GBAD system in the making. It intends to utilise 3 missile types for the defence of Europe, namely;
IRIS-T SBM for med range.
Patriot for long range.
Arrow 3 – ICBM interception.

Not sure how serious we are about it or what we will provide/buy, perhaps it will be radar or such like. Might not be to much of a stretch to purchase some missiles either – Arrow 3?


UK has also joined a joint programme with Poland to develop a longer ranged version of CAMM, the deceptively titled CAMM-Medium Range, which in joint Polish MBDA graphics is shown double packed in a Mk41 cell: so the family of Sea Ceptor / Sky Sabre will be:
CAMM – 25km range – quad packable in mk41
CAMM-ER 45km range – quad packable in mk41
CAMM-MR 100km range – double pack in mk41

Polish will be equipping their variant of Babcock Arrowhead 140 aka T31- so if ours do get a midships 32 cell MK41, as has been previously mooted, that’s a theoretical max of 128 CAMM-ER if you want AD only load out.

Meanwhile BAe has been showing the RAN a version thier T26 variant, the Hunter class, with the multi-purpose bay removed and a 64 cell midships MK41 added instead – total load out of 96 MK41 cells – trying to compete with Chinese DDG’s


I wonder if we go ahead with missile procurement for ESSi, that we might swop out the first two for CAMM ER/MR and keep the Arrow3 offering as the ICBM missile?
Would like to think we would go with a mix of CAMM for both T31/26. Would be a good flexible mix.


PLA Navy type 55

11,000 ton
112 GJB 5860-2006 VLS cells
1 × 130 mm H/PJ-38 gun
1 × 30 mm H/PJ-11 CIWS
1 × 24-cell HQ-10 surface-to-air missile launcher
2 × sets of 324mm torpedo tubes

Planned 16
Active 8

U.S. expects the Type 055 to fulfill a similar role as the USN’s Ticonderoga-class cruiser

Last edited 6 months ago by Harkens

Aster Block 2 BMD are quoted as being able to defend again 3,000km balistic missiles, but that doesn’t mean they have any kind of operational range. It would max out at maybe 200km but not to intercept balistic missiles 200km to the side. A finger in the air guess is you’d want to park a ship every 150km, so it would take a lot more ships than we have. All the T45s wouldn’t even cover the East Coast. You’d be better off with SM-3s.

There are even longer range land-based options under development, such as the Israeli Arrow 3 that could probably cover the whole of the UK with a couple of batteries including overlap. Obviously at ruinous cost per missile.


If we are struggling with these options, I can only imagine the headaches senior CDS have with ministers and purse holders.

Toby Jones

ABM missiles only need to be bought once, remember, they (for obvious reasons) don’t get used except against ballistic missiles, an occasion where the outrageous cost of a missile is nothing against what would be lost


Any Russian cruise missile aimed at the U.K. would only stand a chance if fired from bombers or ships in the Atlantic; ie to our west or north. Anything else would first have to overfly at least one NATO country and survive its air-defences before it entered U.K. air-space.
How to defend U.K. air-space is a different question. Sky Sabre could be used for certain high-value targets, but it would be impossible to acquire and man enough of these to defend every population centre.
Longer range air-defence batteries therefore seem the better option, but as seen in Ukraine, these then become high-value targets in their own right. In which case, using Type 45 as a mobile area air-defence platform to defend the mainland might be the best option.

As for undersea infrastructure the RN is investing in new vessels for protecting these, such as RFA Proteus and RFA Stirling Castle (with up to 3 more planned). Attacks on undersea infrastructure aren’t going to be made by a surface vessel, and any hostile frigate stands little chance of entering or lasting long in the North Sea which is a ‘NATO pond’.

Offshore installations are at risk, principally oil/gas platforms from air-attack. Given their number, Type 45s providing wide area air-defence would be the better option rather than frigates with Sea Ceptor.

Given the spacing between wind-turbines, each would require separate targeting to be destroyed. As we currently have around 2,700 in operation (and increasing) that’s a lot of cruise missiles/ guided bombs to expend.

That half the Type 45s are unavailable is extremely unfortunate, but it’s either upgrade them over a short a time frame as possible (ie what’s seems to have been chosen), or to upgrade them one at a time over a longer time-frame. It would be interesting knowing the MoDs rationale there.
Either way, it’s an exceptional one-off occurrence to rectify the original intercooler flaw.


Many good points raised.
I think taking out energy infrastructure is a good point. The UK without power would be crippled in days, on its knees in a couple of weeks and riot based in a month. Taking out power conductors to a windfarm array would be more likely than a one by one approach, but i feel nuclear reactors and gas pipelines would be higher up the target chain.
Again we return to destroyers though, as both air defence assets that can protect itself, are mobile, can be deployed as well as defend home soil – but yes more numbers needed.

Supportive Bloke

We are contusion making the same mistake in the discussion here.

This isn’t the ‘80s where the radar platform had to be part of the control platform and the launch platform.

These days the radar and sensors can be anywhere networked to a command and control which is networked to launch systems.

So the idea you defend the mainland with loads of Sky Sabre ++ units isn’t for real.

Much more likely you use the existing radar heads for track data and that command and control is racked onto that.

Data is then fed to remote launchers setups that may be totally unmanned cold launched containerised systems at air bases etc.


Isn’t the ideal here that ships move and are independent, whereas radars systems are static and potentially targets themselves? So it would make sense to tie in sky sabre to the ships, at least as a back up.


“Any Russian cruise missile aimed at the U.K. would only stand a chance if fired from bombers or ships in the Atlantic; ie to our west or north. Anything else would first have to overfly at least one NATO country and survive its air-defences before it entered U.K. air-space.”

So a cruise missile is fired from Kaliningrad at say Hull or Manchester. The missile flies over the Baltic, north of Poland. It passes over some smaller Danish islands, crosses the Jutland penninsula maybe half way between Flensburg and Schleswig, then on to the North Sea and the UK. Who are we relying on to stop it?

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)


Worth noting that all across Ukraine since Feb 2022 that the Russians have been targeting many major substations (but not power stations) with their numerous cruise missiles. They know these are the weakest link in any national electricity grid

Therefore many Ukrainian civilians died last winter of severe cold: power cuts actually killed more than were directly killed by the Russian’s bombs and missiles. Also, directly related, the number if house fires dramatically increased: because people tried to burn wood indoors simply to keep warm. Those house fires killed many more

I personally reckon that that there would be severe disruption to whole of the UK within just a few days of any major power outages. No power: so no cooking, no heating, no phones, no food supplies getting into the shops and no ability to pay for anything (as all card machines would all be down)

I have previously posted this one on NL a few months back. However here it is again. This 30 minute programme was first broadcast on BBC1 nearly two decades ago

When the Lights Go Out”,a%20massive%20countrywide%20power%20cut.

regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer


That was a great series, and enjoyed rewatching that episode.

dick van dyke

Hang on…. I know this one, is it the French Border Force ?


I didn’t say we were relying on anyone to stop it, such misrepresentation is clearly disingenuous and undermines your credibility.

I was simply stating the geographical facts. You can’t waltz your warplanes or cruise missiles through someone else’s airspace the same way you can’t do it with tanks through their territory.

Anything fired from Kaliningrad is going to immediately be of interest to Poland, Sweden and Lithuania. If it keeps in international airspace they might not take action, but they will track it and alert other NATO members to be ready for it.

But ultimately it’s going to run into a dead end, where Danish, Swedish and German airspace’s meet. At this point it’s a threat to Malmo, Copenhagen and Hamburg – that’s just the largest cities in the vicinity. And even if it managed to travel exactly along a border line that simply means both nations will attempt to take it out, rather than one.
BTW your suggested route, is perfect for the Patriots of the Luftwaffe’s Surface-to-Air Missile Wing Schleswig-Holstein.

Denmark would be the weak link. Its
hurriedly acquiring SHORAD, a capability gap it had, by purchasing Rheinmetall’s Skyranger. Additionally it is signed up to NATO’s new Modular GBAD projects.

Not forgetting, of course, using aircraft to shoot down cruise missiles – as recently demonstrated by an Israeli F35. While Denmark’s fleet of F35’s is small, with the recent JDI to establish a ‘Nordic air force’ they’ll be able to call upon a much larger pool of warplanes.

Finally after all that… as the RAF would have been alerted via NATO of the launch from Kaliningrad as soon as it was detected, I would expect the cruise missile to be greeted over the North Sea by Typhoons armed with Meteors.

(The RN might also lend a hand too with an Aster 30, should it fly with 120km of a Type 45.)


Switzerland used to have the British Bloodhound air defense system and later a Rapier based system As they dont build their own no surprise they have gone for Patriot now


Very informative and well written – thanks. One can only hope that nothing comes out of left field, like the Chinese kicking anything off in that neck of the woods.


A mixed picture for me. There’s an impressive ratio of vessels active right now and the Royal Navy has always been good at working it’s fleet to a high tempo of operations.

But at the same time the stresses and strains of trying to find enough escorts to cover all deployments is pretty clear. SSN’s are sat alongside waiting for dry docks to commence refits. Tankers and Fort Vic are laid up for want of crews and the MCM / Survey fleets have gone off a cliff as we hurriedly dispose of perfectly effective vessels before deciding on their replacements.

So yes the RN is doing really well at working with what it’s got….but what it’s got leaves a bit to be desired.


Good news today about Plymouth dockyard.

Andrew Deacon

Or even Devonport Dockyard!


Actually it’s His Majesties Naval Base Devonport. Don’t you dare try to out pedant me !

Andrew Deacon

At least we agree on Devonport, though the boat trip is still Dockyard and Warships! You should have settled for HMNB though, as it’s His Majesty’s as there’s only one Majesty!

Bloke down the pub

HMS Prince of Wales also conducted transverse F35b landings, though not srvl, obvs.


Umm over 60 SRVL landings including at night.


And not a single British aircraft doing it…


Doesn’t matter, you clearly don’t know what “integrated” means in “Patuxent River F-35 Integrated Test Force (PAX ITF)”.


Yes. It includes Lockheed , BAE USN, USMC as well as RAF/RN people

Andrew Deacon

Still no long term plan for Caribbean hurricane support. RFA are virtually out of that now due to lack of ships so it’s become T45 HMS Dauntless. Next year? Possibility of T26, T31 and FSS in few years as part of their trials does at least provide something.

Last edited 6 months ago by Andrew Deacon
Andrew Deacon

I thought Cyprus had to approve combat missions from RAF Akrotiri.That was granted for Operation Shader but not others. Don’t know what their reaction would be towards current crisis?


The bases are British sovereign territory, no approval required

David Barry

Margaret Thatcher once said “It would have been nice to have been asked.” When America attacked Grenada.


Independent since 1974. Why would US need UK permission


Because it’s a commonwealth country and we are supposedly Americas closest ally. You also misunderstood the quote.


Asked , never! Tip off yes.

Commonwealth country means nothing in political terms- as it turned out, this wasnt the 1960s
but the US did bully the smallest Caribbean states to join the invasion- the usual ‘Are you with Us or are you against Us’


you mention the two American CSG’s but no mention of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit that has an LHA with embarked aircraft???


Not this one, apart from Ospreys or helicopters
26th MEU (SOC), Fleet Surgical Team 8, Tactical Air Control Squadron 21, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26, Assault Craft Unit 2, Assault Craft Unit 4, and Beach Master Unit 2. The 26th MEU (SOC), based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., includes Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 6th Marines; Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 (Reinforced) and Combat Logistics Battalion 22.

Richard Beedall

Great update and summary. I’m looking forward to the Mojave trials, looks like UAV’s/ UCAV’s is the real future of the QEC as realistically there will NEVER be enough UK F-35B’s to meet all the demands on the force, and Crowsnest has proven to be been a false economy that even worse diverts scarce Merlin 2 airframes from their primary role.


The F-35B is a very capable AEW platform due to it’s built in advanced systems. The era of a large plane with a large active radar beams telling the world that a carrier is nearby have gone.
Indeed the F35 that crashed during takeoff from QE immediately after leaving the Suez canal was set up to do AEW check of most of the eastern med- it says so in final report


I believe you are wrong ref the days of planes with radar being over have gone – certainly don’t believe the USN are of that opinion, or the French come to think of it!
Whilst F35’s might well have advanced systems, they haven’t the legs/endurance for this role without prodigious tanker support, whilst our numbers of aircraft effectively rule out using them as a dedicated AEW asset. Hence why we are looking at drones to replace Crows nest….


I believe Duker is correct. If the Mojave trial is successful it is a slam dunk that they will be used for overwatch and refuelling. They have longer endurance and longer range and are vastly cheaper to operate. That’s just gen 1, the next gen will be even farther ahead. The US and France will be stuck with legacy systems.


They are also smaller and can’t carry as much! Putting a useful radar on a Mojave that compares with what’s available on a plane? You are going to need 3-4 drones for the same coverage, all requiring a human in the loop, not sure what you are gaining, as someone back on the ship still has to interpret all the data that is being sent.


Had to go back and dig out the article, but the RN are looking at a large drone/rotary asset to put a radar on to replace Crows nest – Proteus. Will also supplement Merlin in the ASW role.
Yes we are looking at Mojave, but not for AEW/ASW roles, and probably not before early 30s either.


Fixed wing drones are also being looked at by the Navy for AEW in the future


Yes you probably have to deploy more drones to cover the same area as a dedicated AEW aircraft. But the advantages are:
• they can do other things not just AEW
• longer endurance means they can be kept on station longer, less time wasted flying out and back
• they don’t need cats and traps
• you’re not putting AEW specialists and aircrew in harms way, they’re back on the ship (or possibly even the U.K.)
• they’re still probably cheaper than a manned alternative


The Hawkeye can do more than AEW too. If we had gone down the cats/traps route on our carriers I dare say we would have purchased Hawkeye’s as well, it’s a really good asset and will still be far superior to anything on a drone or three!
People in the military expect to go into harms way at some point, it’s part of the job spec. Whilst they won’t be in the front line with drones, that info has to get back to wherever for analysis, so, you will need lots of bandwidth and sat connectivity for that. Always prone to disruption by the enemy.
Hawkeye is here to stay for a few years yet, and despite what some post remains the big dog in the AEW world.


The Hawkeye has been in production since 1960, the RN never felt the need to buy it during all the time it previously operated carriers. So I doubt the RN would have gone for this 1950’s designed aircraft; assuming we’d been able to get EMALS working, especially not at a cost of $1.38 billion for just 5 (the cost of the latest sale to Japan). In context, those 5 Hawkeyes will cost the same as 4 Type 31 frigates, or 43 Mojave drones!!

Yes it’s the nature of the military that people go into harms way. But thinking has progressed since the massed walking at machine guns of WW1, we only endanger our servicemen when necessary and minimise the risks necessary to complete the mission.


We didn’t need to buy them in the late 60s as we already had a carrier based AEW aircraft – Gannet Mk 3. They served until the late 70’s when Ark Royal our last conventional carrier was de-commisioned. After that we introduced the Invincible class, so our AEW assets were Seakings.
Yes Hawkeye are expensive, but you pay for what you get, even the Fren h bought them and not a helo based version. So yes, if we had gone down the cats/traps route, we would have gone for Hawkeye imo.
Lots of things have moved on since we lived in caves, those that have served in the forces don’t generally worry about going into harms way, it’s an occupational hazard that’s accepted.


Only the French have bought Hawkeyes for carrier operations, nobody else, and they have only a single carrier. An aircraft costing almost as much as a frigate is not “expensive”, it’s “extortionate”.

Correct, we’ve already operated one carrier class, the Invincibles, with helicopter based AEW, now we’re doing the same with their replacements. But, to quote you, “lots of things have moved on”, which is why drones make ideal AEW assets. You can have far more of them airborne, at further distances from the fleet and its protection, for far longer periods, without having to worry about losing crew.

Thankfully, we dodged a bullet by not regressing back to cats and traps for the QE carriers, so it’s a moot debate about the Hawkeye.


MQ9B is also being looked at for carrier operations. MQ9 has already carried an AESA radar.


Simply no. As a theoretical exercise we will use a E7 Wedgetail with its Northrop Grumman MESA radar. This radar operates in the L-band (1 to2 GHz), hence why the radar is so big. It is an AESA radar with predominant side antenna arrays, but with smaller front and rear antenna arrays, giving it a 360 degrees field of view.

Northrop Grumman has published these figures: “With a maximum range of over 600km (look-up mode). When operating in look-down mode against a fighter sized target, the maximum range is more than 370km (air to air coverage). When operating against targets at sea, the maximum range for frigate size targets is more than 240km (air to surface coverage). MESA is capable of simultaneously tracking 180 targets and performing 24 intercepts.”

Bearing in mind that the Wedgetail will be flying at 40,000ft instead of the Sentry’s 35.000ft. These figures don’t seem to be all that good. But Northrop Grumman are being fairly conservative with their published information, as expected.

If we compare these figures to what is expected from a Mojave flying at 40,000ft with a radar pod fitted under the belly or wing. The drone will only be able to carry a small radar likely operating in the X-band (8 to 12 GHz). Plus due to the size constraints only one antenna array that is mechanically swept. Even if it’s an AESA radar its performance won’t even come close to the MESA’s. As you can divide the MESA’s performance figures by a 1/3 to get a rough idea of the Mojave’s radar performance. You could quote the performance figures of the excellent Leonardo Osprey 50. However, Leonardo do not quote what the object being detected is or which mode it has been detected by.

Basically a Wedgetail can project a 1200km diameter detection bubble around the aircraft. Whereas a Mojave, might be 400 to 500km on a good day. Therefore, you will require significantly more Mojaves to cover the same area as a single Wedgetail.

Another thing to bear in mind, is that an aircraft with decent electronic surveillance equipment; should be able to detect an AEW platform, at twice the distance the platform can detect the aircraft! Which means yes it might have detected the Wedgetail, but it will get detected itself trying to get into position to fire a long range missile. Whereas, the attacking aircraft can get a lot closer to a Mojave and with say a R-37 long range missile fire it off before being detected.

To achieve the maximum detection range you need to use low frequency radar, i.e. UHF, L or S band. As these can detect targets greater than 300km away. The longer the operating wavelength the further an object can be detected by the radar. However, this means for maximum efficiency you need to match the antenna length to the wavelength. Therefore the longer the operating wavelength the bigger the antenna. The bigger the antenna the bigger the aircraft that is required to carry it! As an example look at the size of aircraft used to carry the Saab Erieye. The E2C/D Hawkeye uses a UHF PESA or latterly AESA radars. But the antenna used is a compromise, as it should be similar in height to the width, to generate a narrow beam in azimuth and elevation. Which are why the MESA’s side arrays are large and rectangular, so it can generate a very narrow diameter beam.

I am not doubting that the Mojave will prove that it can be used from our carriers. I am however, doubting its usefulness as an AEW platform. It won’t be a significant step change in detection performance over Crowsnest. The Navy require something better!


No point comparing to E7 as that isn’t carrier capable.

Leonardo’s Seaspray 7500E V2 AESA radar can fit on MQ9A so presumably can also fit on larger MQ9B. The end goal is for MQ9B to be carrier capable as well.
I can’t find much about the radar but it’s 360 degrees and has a range of 600km.


Mate, even the F35’s APG-81 would struggle to detect objects 600km away. It also is one of the most powerful and advanced airborne X-band radars. SeaSpray by comparison isn’t in the same league. Leonardo quote Seaspray have a detection range of 320 nautical miles (≈ 600km). However, they do not state what the target is or the mode the radar was operating in.

Sadly it’s simple physics, that X-band radars cannot see as far as lower frequency radars when transmitting at the same power levels. Atmospheric attenuation at X-band frequencies need significantly more power to reach a similar range.

From the people I have talked to in the Coastguard, Seaspray is really good, in that it is very reliable, produces decent mapping imagery and can detect small dinghies fairly easily. Remains to be seen if Leonardo can turn it into an AEW radar?

If I remember correctly, the Seaspray 7500 AESA was chosen by Saab, as the radar for the Globaleye that is used for maritime surveillance. it is fitted underneath the Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft, in a radome that is used in combination with the Erieye radar for the UAE


Hawkeye is for an uncontested ocean area- basically looking for Soviet Backfires coming down from Greenland Iceland Gap or cruise missiles launched from submarines.
To protect a large and slow moving plane that has an enormous electronic footprint when operating in littoral area or closed seas like the Med you would have to keep it withing the carrier strike group screen of destroyers
F35B or C can be sent up as a dispersed pattern of 3 , has stealth and self protection and a lot faster , or could provide AEW on the way to a different mission

Multi role has been an important feature of all fast jets, the Typhoon is swing role which means both at same time rather than one or the other. They have always had some AEW , just the F35 takes it to the next level and the small size is a feature when you are just listening and can have multiple planes in the air.
All the more reason for the RN to routinely carry 20 plus F-35B for most deployments
The Crowsnest can be used for close by carrier AEW


None of this makes any sense. First off, the F35 can still be detected by low band radar. Second, the E-2D uses AESA radar just like the F35 (except more powerful), so it’s probability of detection from “radar beams” is the same. Third, the F35 can only scan 120 degrees (is it supposed to fly in circles, move, and fly in circles some more??), whereas the big round plate on top of the E-2D does a continuous 360 degree scan. Also, the loiter time is far less for the F35, and even less for the B variant. Last, I’m not sure what is proven by the fact that an F35 did AEW other than there weren’t any better options available because the UK lacks the ability to launch a more capable AEW platform off the AC.


Its not so much the radar its the ‘electronic’ warning where the F35 is miles ahead
This is one of the F35 real advantages over older fighters and yet most dont even seem to be aware, thinking its a stealth 4th gen type

Advanced avionics and sensors provide a real-time, 360º view of the battlespace, maximizing detection ranges and giving pilots evasion, engagement, countermeasure, and jamming options.’
A Hawkeye type is fine for open ocean non contested areas. Good luck with that in a littoral environment —


The f-35 is fine… If you don’t have an actual E 2d. And either one is light years ahead of the crow’s nest… Which the less said about it the better.


Yes, it is ALL about the radar. That’s what allows you to search and track, and target. The “360 awareness” refers to forward and aft bands on the F35, which are passive sensors that will detect incoming Radar/EM signatures, very similar to the AN/ALQ-218 sensors used on the Growler. They don’t sense a signature and then just tell you where and what it is. It doesn’t work that way. If you want to locate, track, and potentially target something before it finds you, or its intended target in the case of a cruise missile (i.e. the early warning part of “AEW”), then you want a powerful radar, and preferably one that scans 360 at long range and can loiter a long time. That’s why the US Navy is planning on using them well into the 2040’s. They’re not stupid and completely unaware of what the F-35 is capable of.

Last edited 6 months ago by Sandman

When you have a 95,000 ton carrier theres lots more choices for extending the passive radar horizon

While they can reach out further than a fighter sized plane – in a contested environment you need your fighters to intercept- while the F35B can do both – a massive advantage
The Russians special missiles for naval or land awacs and there are long range missiles that can target anything that has a colossal electronic signature

Last edited 6 months ago by Duker

The French manage to have Hawkeyes on a 42,000 ton carrier, and still run 30 Rafales and other aircraft. It’s not a space issue at 65,000 tons, it’s the lack of ability to launch and recover the best current platform for the job. It’s that simple.

While the F-35 is incredibly capable and has amazing situational awareness it’s just not an AEW replacement, and the UK Navy knows it too, else it wouldn’t be spending all this money on another solution.

RE: Loiter time

Critics of the Air Force’s plan to retire the A-10 and replace it with the F-35 often claim that the Warthog can loiter over the target for 90 minutes, while the F-35A can only stay on station for 20 to 30 minutes. But Chari said in an uncontested environment, where tankers would be available, the F-35 can easily loiter above the battlefield for an hour and a half.

How many F-35B’s do you want to commit to continuous AEW capability in that contested environment? Are you going to put external tanks on it to increase loiter time (and lose stealth?). Do the pilots get to sleep at all? See the problem? It’s just silly really.

Last edited 6 months ago by Sandman

It was marginal carrier compatibility on CdG

3 only of the new E-2D model will cost $2 bill, maybe $3.5 bill for 5 for the RN ?
How many F-35Bs could you get for that?


How about this? 🙂


They don’t sense a signature and then just tell you where and what it is. It doesn’t work that way”

The AN/ASQ-239 provides F-35s with fully integrated offensive and defense EW capabilities, including long-range threat warning, self-protection, and targeting support. It provides 360-degree, full-spectrum situational awareness and rapid-response capabilities—allowing the F-35 to evade, engage, counter, and jam threats, and reach well-defended targets.

yes it does, thats the big advance, and it can then turn on its own radar to search the specific area and then pass it to the carrier all the while being able to engage the hostile if necessary. E-2 cant do all that can it.
Is it everything , No . But your claims are not back by the evidence


Yes and no. It’s not its own radar (if you mean the AN/ASQ 239 itself), instead it cues the AESA radar and says hey look that way because something is emitting. Perhaps saying it can’t “track” was the wrong wording. You’re right, it can keep track what is emitting. It cannot keep track of what isn’t emitting and the radar can still only see 120 deg.

Anyway, I’m not arguing the marketing material about what it can and can’t do anymore. the simple truth is its not an AEW replacement and was never meant to be. But sure, it can be if you don’t have better options I guess.

E-2 cant do all that can it.

Again, yes and no. But what a silly argument in any case. Every platform has it role. The F-35 isn’t the magic answer to everything.

But to address your assertion, here’s one way the US Navy employs the F-35C with the E-2D and others to bring a broad array of capabilities to the fight…

In a combat situation where the United States Navy would need to penetrate an anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) environment, a carrier air wing would launch all of its aircraft. The F-35C would use its stealth to fly deep into enemy airspace and use its sensors to gather intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data. The EA-18G Growler would use the Next Generation Jammer to provide stand-off jamming or at least degradation of early warning radars. When targets are detected by the F-35C, they would transmit weapons-quality track to the E-2D and pass that information on to Super Hornets or other F-35Cs. The F/A-18E/F fighters would penetrate as far as they could into heavily contested airspace, which is still further than an ordinary fourth-generation jet fighter, then launch stand-off weapons. The UCLASS would use aerial refueling capabilities to extend the range of the strike force and use its own ISR sensors.

NIFC-CA relies on the use of data-links to provide every aircraft and ship with a picture of the entire battlespace. Aircraft deploying weapons may not need to control missiles after releasing them, as an E-2D would guide them by a data-stream to the target. Other aircraft are also capable of guiding missiles from other aircraft to any target that is identified as long as they are in range; work on weapons that are more survivable and longer-ranged is underway to increase their effectiveness in the data-link-centric battle strategy. This can allow forward-deployed Super Hornets or Lightning IIs to receive data and launch weapons without needing to even have their own radars active. E-2Ds act as the central node of NIFC-CA to connect the strike group with the carrier, but every aircraft is connected to all others through their own links. Two Advanced Hawkeyes would move data using the tactical targeting network technology (TTNT) waveform to share vast amounts of data over long distances with very low latency. Other aircraft would be connected to the E-2D through Link 16 or concurrent multi-netting-4 (CMN-4), a variant of four Link 16 radio receivers “stacked up” on top of each other. Growlers would coordinate with each other using data-links to locate hostile radar emitters on land or on the ocean surface. Having several sensors widely dispersed also hardens the system to electronic warfare; all cannot be jammed, so the parts that are not can home in on the jamming energy and target it for destruction. The network is built with redundancy to make it difficult to jam over a broad geographic area. If an enemy tries to disrupt it by targeting space-based communications, a line-of-sight network can be created.

Last edited 6 months ago by Sandman

No one would ever claim its exactly equivalent to a E-2. Yet you keep saying things about the F-35 that area easily refuted
Perhaps thinking more about what AEW really means
Airborne Early Warning
Having the capability to do it passively when you are a stealth aircraft is a plus. Or you could do it like a local bad ass gangsta with the stereo blaring and having everyone looking in their direction.
Its not quite like that as the E-2 can also go quiet and rely on its passive sensors which probably have the same capability as the F35


Yes, “early warning”. Exactly what I’m trying to highlight. The ability to detect a potential threat as soon as possible so action can be taken. The AN/ASQ 239 is designed for electronic warfare (EW), not “EW” as in airborne early warning. They can be related, but they aren’t the same concept.

The AN/ASQ is designed to passively detect something that is emitting between particular band ranges of the EMF spectrum. It’s detection range is limited to how far that emitting signal can reach or be detected. If it’s large, low band, high range radar then it should be able to detect it at long range. If it’s small, higher band, and shorter range then the detection range is shorter. If it’s something not emitting then it’s not magically detecting it anyway.

A big-ass flying radar dish can provide 500+ km of continuous 360 degree active monitoring of physical objects moving around the assets your protecting (and can also guide missiles to that far off threat), regardless of if they are emitting or not.

So if the threat is a cruise missile coming toward a ship that uses pre-programmed waypoints to navigate until it’s close enough to go active with targeting do you want to know sooner or later? How about 4th gen attack aircraft far away at 90 degrees from your nose who are also using AESA, or just flying with their nose cold and silent to avoid detection…? Enemies get a vote on how they wage war and they’re not all stupid.

The priority for an early warning system is early warning, not stealth and passively hoping the threat is emitting and at a long enough range to warn the target in time. That’s was kind of the whole point all along.

Last edited 6 months ago by Sandman

Ignore… first response was awaiting approval

Last edited 6 months ago by Sandman

For a depiction of the F-35 avionics suite we’re referring to see the second graphic here:

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)


This debate about what might be the best radar capability necessary to detect incoming and hostile low-flying Russian cruise missiles approaching the UK has only focused on the traditional way of doing things: i.e. all of these posts are only thinking about using radars mounted either on naval ships and/or on military planes.

However, given the advances in other technologies – those which have been developed for a.n.other civilian use over the past thirty years – the question now has to be asked as to why is it necessary to tie up expensive (and very rare!) mobile Royal Navy and Royal Air Force assets for the essential radar coverage which is now necessary for the home defence of the UK?

I think this is a quite-obvious case for applying some quite-innovative thinking…

Modern tall offshore masts – which were originally first developed for use on offshore windfarms – can nowadays be up to several hundred feet high, many are typically 200m (i.e. as tall as a modern skyscraper is on land).

A single mast can be positioned far out to sea, even in very deep water. Each very tall and very-stable mast would make an ideal base for an offshore military radar station. (Note. This proposal only requires the mast and its foundations: no need to fit any blades)

Each tall mast could be fitted with both an air search radar and a sea search radar: lets say a Crownest on the very top and a Mr Kelvin Hughes slightly lower down. These masts could be completely uncrewed and continuously transmit the radar tracking data back to an existing RAF sector control centre.

The 360 degree radar coverage from a single tall mast positioned well offshore, so out in the middle of the North Sea, would be quite-exceptional. Obviously depending on the radar type fitted, the air-search coverage from a single mast could quite-easily be many tens of thousands of square miles of airspace.

Furthermore, because of the mast’s height and also the lack of nearby clutter, the radar would easily detect both very low flying aircraft and also cruise missiles, even those flying fast and right down at sea-skimming heights.

Thus this innovative approach could detect low-flying bandits hundred of miles further out from the UK coast than any existing radar station thereby dramatically increasing the probability of a effective shootdown.

Furthermore, the sea search radar could be looking out for suspicious ship movements occurring close to critical UK undersea infrastructure (especially naughty Russian ships who are accidentally-on-purpose not transmitting their AIS!). Thus a single mast could be monitoring the UK’s ever-more vital sea environment on a 365/24/7 basis.

This would become a UK Distant Early Warning line

To get comprehensive coverage of all of the most-threatened sections of the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone would only require very few tall masts being planted into the seabed. I reckon just seven or eight would do the trick nicely

Lets say that each tal mast is located 150 miles east of the UK East Coast. Thus a “line” – running from above Shetland in the far north, then down via Kindcardine (far off Peterhead), then continuing down via Dogger Bank and as far south as Hornsea – would completely cover almost all-feasible incoming threat directions.

Using existing already-in-service military radars and the quite-common existing commercial designs for the mast and its foundations would make the whole project relatively easy, very cheap and also quick to procure.

I reckon all of these tall offshore radar mast could all be build, equipped and made operational for a fraction of the capital cost of buying just one single new RN Type 45 ship or a new RAF Wedgetail.

The are also obvious operational advantages: continuous full-time round-the clock coverage; no crewing costs and very low maintenance / running cots

Therefore building just a few fixed and uncrewed offshore radar stations would free up many other NN and RAF assets for many other expeditionary taskings: either operating further out from the UK or operating overseas.

regards Peter the Irate Taxpayer


The MoD are trialling high altitude platform stations (HAPS) for both ISR and comms. I’ve also read HAPS to stand for high altitude psuedo satellites. The Seirra Nevada Corporation were testing a high altitude balloon as part of MoD’s Project Aether at 60,000 ft for at least 12 days and trials were successfully completed last year. AALTO’s Zephyr 8 fixed-wing “higher than air” aircraft will fly in 2024 to test similar, but the goal is reportedly to fly for a full month.

The programme will continue. I expect ground stations and aerial platforms are likely to be used in combination. Perhaps there will be radar masts in the mix too. Of course these just mount sensors. It doesn’t answer the question of what missiles or EW will be used as effectors, or who takes the decision to fire.

A Type 45 wraps the whole thing up in a neat bundle, which is why some people like the idea of using them. I’m okay with messy.


At first appearances an attractive cheap proposition – though I suspect maintenance in situ could be ‘interesting’.

Unfortunately the biggest problem with this is that these masts will become the priority target in any war. Pre-war covert operations with special forces to disable them would be likely, and the first waves of cruise-missiles and stealth aircraft would focus on any remaining.
Being “just a few, fixed” seals their fate. Half the problem in destroying the enemy is locating it, with these being fixed that part of the problem is already solved. Being so few in number, they wouldn’t all need to be taken out to provide an unsurveilled passage which the following waves of missiles/warplanes could exploit. To have redundancy you would need to have large numbers of fixed masts with overlapping coverage… or T45s and Wedgetails available to deploy to cover gaps.


Hi Mate, Are these masts 200m above mean sea level? If this is the case, then the radar horizon is around 60km away. Which isn’t all that great, especially if you want to detect cruise missiles.

Aircraft or Hybrid airships are still the answer.

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Davey B

Yes, I was intending the masts to be 200m above mean sea level.

Thus I had assumed that the effective radar horizon would be out at 50km, (i.e. so a bit less than your estimate). Effective coverage down at sea level from a search radar positioned on top of each mast would be a circular sea / airspace area of approx. 8,000 square kilometers

That range and coverage should be more than adequate to detect all types of low-flying cruise missiles and aircraft when any single mast is fitted with any existing type of UK military air search radar(s).

Obviously enemy objects are detectable much further out if the intruder is flying higher!

The overall requirement is to detect incoming missiles arriving from the most-obvious threat direction of Russia. Thus the UK’s most vulnerable section of airspace is, obviously, all the way up the East Coast.

I had assumed that:

  1. To give each mast and radar set completely unimpeded coverage (i.e. no clutter from land or obstructions such as inshore windfarms or offshore oil rigs) that each 200m tall mast would be located far out into the North Sea: let say ideally at approx. 200 km off our coastline.
  2. The two existing RAF radar stations at Saxa Vord (Shetlands) and Neatishead (Norfolk) would be the northern-most and southern-most points of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line.
  3. The total distance from top to bottom of this DEW line is only about 850km
  4. Then install a line of tall offshore masts running north-to south: between Norfolk and the Shetland Islands
  5. To ensure there are no gaps in the overall radar coverage at low level (i.e. as described above), there would need to be no more than 100km separation between each mast
  6. Therefore that would only require a total of 7 or 8 new offshore masts located out at sea to get 100% low level coverage of the UKs entire East Coast.
  7. However, ideally I would want to see the masts located out at sea only 85km apart (i.e. to minimize the amount of dead area); so maybe at most that might require only 1 or 2 more masts (certainly no more than ten in total)

Taking Sean’s points about vulnerability. No fixed installation is immune from enemy attack. However, and my next comment is “obviously” assuming that a full sensor set is fitted onto each mast – almost all types of possible attack’s should be detectable long before they can cause any serious damage. Also it is worth pointing out that it would take more than few hand-held explosives to disable one of these massive masts (That is more likely to take several tons of explosives: and that would requires a ship to deliver it)

Windfarm maintenance vessels routine transfer personal and small parts by “walk-to work” transfer vessel: so maintenance can be undertaken in all except the very-worst weather conditions.

Thus the total installation, operational and maintenance costs would be far far less than any alternative. That is simply because there are is only the mast, a few radars (as sensors) and the communications gear There is none of the regular crewing, fuel and propulsion systems etc that any warship or aircraft requires.

Whilst I would accept there would be some development issues and residual risks, overall this would represent a far cheaper solution than either using warships or aircraft (or developing a new type of airship)

regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer