NATO Exercise Cold Response 2022 (CR22), the largest cold-weather exercise in Norway since the 1980s began this week. In this photo and video essay, we look at the naval aspects, the strategic context and Royal Navy participation.
Pressure on the Northern Flank
Cold Response is a long-planned bi-annual set piece that is intended to demonstrate how NATO forces would reinforce its Northern Flank in the event of a Russian attack on Norway. The exercise which runs until 1st April includes land, sea and air forces and around 35,000 personnel from 28 nations. The ability to operate effectively in the challenging conditions of the Arctic is a perishable skill set that demands regular rehearsal.
This area is of critical strategic importance, control of Norway helps limit Russian naval access to the North Atlantic and the North Sea as well as deny them a base for attacking the UK and northern Europe. The invasion of Ukraine has dramatically stiffened NATO resolve and unity in a matter of weeks and CR22 demonstrates that NATO has the willingness and ability to defend Norway while simultaneously enhancing its presence in mainland Europe and the Mediterranean. NATO is a defensive alliance and in an effort to provide clarity and reassurance, Russia was invited to send observers to Norway for the exercise as they have in previous years but they declined to attend CR22.Barents-Sea-Map
Given the terrible situation in Ukraine, there are those that question why NATO is running this exercise so far from the scene of the conflict. Despite the ill-considered pleas for a no-fly zone or military action in Ukraine from the something must be done brigade, NATO has sensibly avoided a direct shooting war with Russia. This could quickly spiral into a vast conflict with the very real possibility of a catastrophic nuclear exchange.
NATO is also not in a position to intervene significantly with naval forces in the Black Sea. As it is permitted to do in time of war under the rules of the 1936 Montreux Convention, Turkey has closed the Dardanelles to all warships (except those already registered as based in the Black Sea). Another major focus of NATO’s naval effort is in the eastern Mediterranean where there are considerable Russian naval assets, based in Tartus, Syria. The USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group was to have joined CR22 but remains in the Med where its aircraft could potentially strike Black Sea targets. HMS Diamond has taken over from HMS Trent and joined Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) in the Med, part of the alliance’s ongoing action to monitor and deter Russian activity in the Levant.
Command ship, not strike carrier
HMS Prince of Wales is not embarking F-35 jets for the exercise and will be used as an ASW helicopter carrier and command platform. With USS Truman, deployed elsewhere, despite the number of ‘flat tops’ present, there is no organic fixed-wing capability available for the exercise. There will be some, partially justifiable negative comment about “aircraft carriers with no aircraft” but this must be seen in context. There was never any plan to embark jets for the exercise. The UK is in the slightly odd position of having both its carriers operational but the slow delivery of F-35s and pilot training means carrier strike is only at Initial Operating Capability (IOC). In future, it will be more normal to have 1 carrier operational with 12 Jets routinely available and 24 for emergencies.
In an early example of the potential difficulties of sharing an inadequate number of F-35s between land-based and carrier-based operations, 617 Squadron managed to deploy two F-35s to Estonia as a small effort to bolster the defences of the Baltic States. It might have been possible to deploy a few jets with PWLS but only at the expense of unavailability for higher priority operations in the near future. This unsatisfactory situation is the product of years of cuts and delays and a ‘forever peacetime’ mentality that always assumed conflict would be years away.
The Lightning Force is simply too small right now as it is still building up its strength with just 18 jets shared between 617 (operational) and 207 (training) squadrons. These aircraft have to be withdrawn for maintenance periods and pilots need to be trained. (The second frontline squadron, 809 NAS is due to be stood up in 2023). HMS Queen Elizabeth is the high readiness strike carrier, currently loading further munitions and conducting a short training period around the UK. Deploying her with jets embarked is of greater importance than PWLS having a few available for an exercise.
On 11th March, before heading to Norway, HMS Prince of Wales met up with USS Mount Whitney and her escort USS The Sullivans. The ships conducted an air defence exercise in the North Sea with 4 F-35s from RAF Marham against 8 Typhoon and Hawk aggressor aircraft. No aircraft landed on the ship but the simulated air battle was managed by fighter controllers on the carrier.
Led by ??HMS Prince of Wales, some of the naval units assigned to CR22 assembled for a PHOTEX on 14 March. The amphibious Task Force: ??ITS Garibaldi, ??FS Dixmude, ??HNLMS Rotterdam, ??HMS Albion. SNMG1 Task group: ??HNLMS Van Amstel, ??HDMS Peter Willemoes, ??FGS Berlin, ??FGS Erfert, ??HNLMS De Zeven Provincien and ??FS Languedoc. Also accompanied by the mine warfare ships of SNMCMG1, ??HMS Northumberland, ??HMS Defender and ??USS Roosevelt.
HMS Northumberland had already been on Towed Array Patrol Ship (TAPS) deployment in the region before joining CR22. HMS Richmond was originally earmarked to participate has instead been deployed to the Baltic Sea, as part of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).
Standing NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) is under the command of the Estonian Navy led by ENS Sakala (Ex- HMS Inverness) and is joining the exercise. Other mine warfare vessels allocated to the group are: ??HMS Grimsby, ??LVNS Virsaitis, ??BNS Lobelia, ??FGS Bad Bevensen, ??HNLMS Schiedam, ??HNoMS Magnus Lagaboete, ??HNoMS Olav Tryggvason, ??HDMS Vaedderen and ??HNoMS Hinnoey.
HMS Albion sailed from Devonport on 22nd Feb and with RFA Mounts Bay arrived in Norway in advance of CR22. The ships have been delivering equipment and working with the Royal Marines that arrived for Cold Weather training in January.
Three Merlins Mk 4s and Wildcats (3 x AH1 and 1 x HMA2) deployed to Norway in mid-February. The Merlins flew from Yeovilton to Bardufoss over 5 days using civilian and military airfields for rest and refuelling while the Wildcats were stripped down and delivered by RAF C-17s.
We need more than one Air base in Scotland! RAF Kinloss should be reopened and have something based there. Instead of stripping the wildcats down to transport by C17 why couldn’t the wildcats be put on HMS Albion for short period?
Or HMS PoW or the tanker or……
But it could be part of the exercise planning to keep the deployments skills alive using the C17?
Almost any of the ships would be a better host to the Wildcats than Albion. Keeping helicopters on an open deck for a couple of months in the artic winter is not the best of ideas.
It is very odd that we have ships with hangars on them and they didn’t go with or on them.
It also verges on the bizzare how so many surface assets don’t have full aviation facilities. OK that was down to the 2 x Ocean -> 1 x Ocean -> No Ocean. So I’m guessing the assumption was that the birds would live on one of the Oceans?
Can the Tide tankers only hold one chopper? To the Forts 3.
Yes, I think that is right.
Bonkers reduction in covered space for maintenance etc.
As others have pointed out helos on deck in cold sea spray is not a good look.
Yeah I thought the RN RFA were getting bigger ships but less… shame the Tides can’t hold at least two..
Didn’t realise it would be a couple months.
“An exercise briefing held in the hangar of HMS Prince of Wales with the area of operations mapped out on the deck as a visual aid”
I love the use of the interlocking rubber mats – sometimes improvisation has a quality all of its own!
“There never was a plan to embark jets for the exercise” Who thought that one up? Which jets, oh you mean the ones that have been delayed in the USA and we do not have the trained pilots to fly them anyway! If POW is up there as an anti submarine carrier then surely she should be buzzing with helicopters! This exercise fell apart the moment the Ukraine conflict started and the Americans decided they had a better use for their aircraft carrier than protecting a ramshackle bunch of amphibious warships carrying a couple of thousand marines to defend the Northern Flank of NATO. Somebody had better get very real and very quickly about the UK s aircraft carriers.
Yes they do (need to get serious). Order 48 F35B more next week or we will continue to be a back of the class joke. That way the RN can have 2 squadrons assigned to the carriers. We definitely need to spend 3% minimum on defence. Present arrangements just wont do.
Before anything gets ordered HMG needs to decide if it is or isn’t going to significantly increase the U.K. defence budget. Currently there is no sign of the U.K. joining Germany in a big budget increase. In fact the treasury are still looking to all departments for savings to fund tax cuts in the run up to the next election.
the current delivery lead time for F35s is 3 years from order (actual build time per airframe 18 months)
That’s why its so important to make timely defence decisions. If China goes for Taiwan as is likely, depending on the Ukraine war, will we be left impotent and floundering?
More Wedgetail AEWs as 3 ordered wont do. 6-7 would be better.
Replace Enfields last death rattle with under license uk built HK416 rifles. The SA80 magazines made by HK should fit its mag well nicely.
Cancel vomit inducing Ajax IFV and just buy 800 CV90 variants from Sweden.
Get Meteor Air to Air integrated all front line raf/navy air defense aircraft.
Think they should order 24 Turkish drones 12 for each carrier so the carrier’s always have a airwing, I believe they can land and take off the lpd.
Presumably Anadolu, the LHD/LHA/LPD that was originally built for the F-35 until Turkey was thrown out of the programme for pissing off Trump. It’s expected to function as a drone carrier instead. As far as I know the current plans include hosting the TB3s (not developed yet) and a winch and pully “catapult” on the ship (not installed yet). So this plan might be a little premature for UK carriers. I’d expect the TB3s to be flying before we get Vixen though.
Now I’m curious as to how much energy a winch and pully system can add to a drone take-off, as it could be electrically driven, reasonably reliable, very cheap to install, and it wouldn’t get in the way of F-35s if installed on the UK carriers. It also makes me wonder about other dirt simple solutions, such as conveyor belts.
(I also really want to crack a “torque is cheap” pun, but I’m not sure the facts would back that up.)
TB3 is basically a TB2 with folding wings so should be available soon. Their Kizilelma drone looks interesting though. Cheap enough, fast enough, good enough payload and endurance, and can operate from ski-jumps. I suspect that we will end up paying a fortune to build something that is not much better but takes years to bring into service. Qinetic have recently been given a contract for the Vampire project but I haven’t found out yet what we’ll be getting for it.
UKDJ just did an article on the Vampire contract. It’s as previously announced. 6 drones, one launcher, one base station, maintenance and training. Not sure if that includes a big net to fish it out of the water.
Now I’m curious as to how much energy a winch and pully system can add to a drone take-off, as it could be electrically driven, reasonably reliable, very cheap to install, and it wouldn’t get in the way of F-35s if installed on the UK carriers.
I did work this out last year on the threads concerning AAR drones. If you look back I did all the power numbers in kW. One of the questions was “did QEC have enough power to do this” the answer was that the amount of power to do this was trivial compared to the installed power plant on QEC.
Based on a TeslaX Plaid which is of known weight an acceleration. You could use that sort of tech to launch fast jets. The problem is the forces on the cables are massive. This is why EMAL and before it steam pistons were used. Cables have been tried again and again.
So a different solution is to sit the drone on flat dolly, power by say 4 x sets of Telsa motors and battery packs that accelerates fast down the flight deck, with the drone latched down, the drone unlatches from the dolly once it has attained take off velocity + X margin.
The drone then take off and the dolly then puts on full regeneration braking which will recover about 50% of the energy used.
You can also do a version with the dolly having as ski jump on the front but this requires more motive power as there is considerable air resistance to overcome from the front of the ski jump when it goes over 30km/h. The idea there is that the dolly accelerates up to speed, releases the drone and the the dolly decelerate hard and uses the momentum transferred to the drone to effect the ski ramp launch.
I didn’t do the sums for the latter option.
“It also makes me wonder about other dirt simple solutions, such as conveyor belts.”
This won’t work as the belts won’t withstand the tension.
A pity. I remember you mentioning Telsa motors from that thread and that was one of the things I was pondering, something like 50 Tesla motors driving a loop system. (1 tesla = 2 tons 0-60 in <3 secs, so 25 tons needs about 50 motors to get 0-120 knots in 3.5 secs.) It’s a shame that wouldn’t work. I’m not sure where you get only 4 motor sets from.
I also don’t see how you expect regenerative breaking to restore much unless the dolly weighs nearly as much as the drone, which wouldn’t be efficient.
The reason I think the Turks can get away with the cable is because unlike the MoD spec, they just want to launch TB3s, each of which weighs less than one Telsa. When I did calculations for Mosquito, it didn’t need a catapult at all to fly from QE (if it’s ramp strengthened and they remembered to put some wings on). 3.5 tons MTOW with a power to weight ratio of about 1.25. STOBAR should be fine.
For MoD requirements of 25 tons (a refueller, perhaps), the big issue is power storage. I remember you did a cycle of something like 5 minutes because I had done a similar calculation for a F-35C cycling at 30 seconds not long before, and thought at the time your cycle was way long. That’s probably why your power use was low.
The simple solution omits storage entirely and pulls all the power directly from the ships integrated power system. 25,000 kg accelerated to 60 m/s requires 16 MW over 3.5 secs assuming 80% efficiency, excluding air resistance. That’s not entirely impossible for QE, but if you say there’s considerable air resistance, it’ll really need the energy storage and release; complexity and price go sky high. I don’t think Tesla car batteries would be up to it.
Very interesting response.
I think you are assuming that say the AAR drone will have to be accelerated to a fighter jet takeoff velocity? Surely it won’t: it will have a much lower take off velocity? It can have bigger wing area as it doesn’t have to go supersonic?
I should have said motor sets – that is 12 motors – Tesla use 3 motors on the high performance cars. Even there I appear to have switched between motors and motor sets half way through my back of a fag packet calcs. Thanks for spotting that BTW.
The Tesla battery sets clearly can power the motor sets to that level of performance.
“1 tesla = 2 tons 0-60 in <3 secs, so 25 tons needs about 50 motors to get 0-120 knots in 3.5 secs”
I don’t think this is quite right, in the current model state, as it underestimates the real weight of a Tesla and how fast it actually accelerates – I own one.
1 tesla = 2.5 tons 0-60 in 2 secs, so 25 tons needs about 10 motors sets to get 0-120 knots in 4 sec
Or have I missed something?
The regenerative braking energy recovery is down to the weight of the batteries on the dolly.
BTW the acceleration drops off quite a lot one you get beyond 60mph IRL (0-30 is special). But I don’t know how fast you really need to go with wind over bow for a large drone. I suspect we are going far too fast and the real answer would be 90 knots deck speed with 30 knots wind over deck?
Potentially you can couple a number of the concentric Tesla motors up on a single shaft so it is probably less messy than it sounds.
“ remember you did a cycle of something like 5 minutes because I had done a similar calculation for a F-35C cycling at 30 seconds not long before, and thought at the time your cycle was way long. That’s probably why your power use was low.”
5 mins would be faster than the recycle time on a US Nimitz catapult? The puck has to be returned to restart the launch cycle.
Anyway that was my scrap heap challenge solution!
It would be tremendous fun to make one and try it on dry land on an old runway!!
For proof of concept you could simply tow a trailer, with a Tesla, along a long straight bit of tarmac with the scale dummy drone high mounted and measure the forces. Mine accelerates quite impressively even with a 2,000kg JCB mini digger on the back.
I was wondering about taking the batteries off your dolly and how power transfer could occur. As it wouldn’t be load bearing, a power cable could be used. Surely easier than regenerative braking, unless that kind of thing is off the shelf these days.
The charged batteries can power the motors; I was thinking about recharge time and degredation over cycles. However,I hadn’t considered that if you use a full set of batteries at the same proportortions as the car, they can hold enough energy for many accelerations. Perhaps it would be okay, and you could recharge over an entire launch recovery cycle.
Regarding number of motor sets, energy goes with v^2, so you need to multiply by 4 to double the final speed. Also 4 seconds would be too long. Even 3.3 secs is 100 metres to that speed. If the track was much longer, it would start to interfere with operations amidships.
But yes, you might be right about the top speed necessary. I have no idea what the MoD wants to accelerate that’s 25 tons (MQ-25 clone perhaps), or whether the catapult would use the ramp, so I assumed something like a typical jet take off speed to be conservative. Possibly too conservative. If it’s a reasonable jet aimed at the ramp, you’d only need to get up to about half speed and let the ramp effects do their work. A turboprop can’t take much advantage of a ramp, but might be built for a lower take off speed off the flat, etc. A drone could be anything. A final speed of 90 knots or 45m/s would be more manageable
The same thing is true about the cycle time. You can afford to take it slow for AEW&C or a tanker, but loyal wingman would need a much faster cycle. There again the wingman can afford to be much lighter, etc etc. There’s just not enough information to go on. Nimitz can afford a slower cycle having 4 cats. But even there, EMALS was touted as advantageous as it increased cycle time over steam.
To be honest, the whole choreography of catapult launches amazes me and converting the QE class to hybrid operations would have me bricking it. I think I’d have bought into a tiltrotor solution for this decade and left catapults to a small drone carrier/LPH until the technology matured.
Your scrapheap challenge sounds like a proper job. Now where could we get hold of some TB3s? (I have this cousin in Istanbul….)
You are, of course, right that power / acceleration is non linear.
For light surveillance drones I can see cable launch being a thing.
The thing is probably to reduce the weight and decrease the take off speed until a solution can be made to work.
I agree quad copters have quick fix merit!
Sorry should have said “ You are, of course, right that power / acceleration is non linear for a REAL system” as opposed to an ideal system in a vacuum.
You’d have been right either way. The kinetic energy of a moving system is ½mv². So going from zero to double the final velocity means transferring quadrupal the energy. Power is just the rate of energy transferred. If it’s transferred over the same duration, power needs to be quadrupal too. Even in a vacuum.
Yes andalou, tb2/tb3 drones but also kizilelma combat drone which is about to be produced it’s a VTOL jet Mach 0.6 1500kg payload op ceiling 35k feet already better than vampire specs that have been awarded. Why not start with off the shelf stuff and work out what we actually need or don’t need without spending millions on a sub standard bit of kit.
I may be wrong but I thought it was heavily rumored if not confirmed that 809 NAS will now stand up in 2025 due to delays in the F35 delivery schedule?
It’s pretty concerning that under current planning assumptions we won’t be seeing any additional jets beyond the initial 48 until the end of the decade, leaving regular deployments of just 12!
I’m genuinely curious as to what the minimum number of jets is to be a threat to lessor militaries. 3? 6?
Not much looking at the mess in Ukraine and what would tip the balance.
But to have two in the air at any one time you probably need to have about 18-24 deployed.
Given maintenance time etc.
That assumes pilot fatigue isn’t a thing and the deployment was with more pilots than airframes.
Doesnt work like that -‘2 in the air’ its just wasting engine and pilot hours
The US navy runs in cycles where the planes launch mostly in a group and return in a group after say 60 min or so ( could be longer depending on training exercise, ie some are strike training some are the CAP etc.
I was assuming we would be maintaining CAP at high intensity points in the operation?
I agree it is maintenance and fatigue heavy.
We are still waiting for the design to be matured. Functions still to be completed, deficiencies to be rectified and weapons integrated. UK is being smart in not ordering too many at their current incomplete state and have to upgrade them again later possibly with a performance hit from doing so. The US is facing similar problem, was going to order 94 in 2023 but theyve reduced that to 61 and said they will retire their early production run examples currently used for flight training in the mid 2020’s.
Perhaps, but given the MoD’s lousy record on procurement there’s every chance the jets end up never being delivered if their delayed long enough. We’ve seen this far too often – were supposed to get 12 T45s, then 8, now just the 6. Originally supposed to have ~150 F-35s, but now struggling even to reach a third of that. Our surface ships have no anti-ship missile capability because FCASW will be delivered sometime in the next decade, possibly. Basically all budgeting at MoD appears to be a case of delaying paying up as much as possible so that it’s someone else’s problem at a later date.
And buying stuff later on just makes it more expensive in real terms anyway as inflation/pandemics/trade difficulties etc all eat into your original budget.
The article author is right when he states:
To be fair to Wallace, he has stated that he has a funding line to procure more F35s beyond our original 48, so I think we will get some more. Wouldn’t like to say how many though.
He is probably waiting to see when Blk 4 actually comes along and what the increased costs of these aircraft will be, as well as upgrade costs for the older airframes I would imagine. That will IAL determine how many more airframes we purchase.
My thoughts on it anyway.
Although there is supposed to be money in the budget for F-35 tranche 2, I can’t find any mention of money for tranche 1 upgrades.
I believe he did say some time ago that he would wait and see as to costs, with some perhaps not getting the upgrades (thus perhaps just used for flight trg), if they were deemed too expensive. Not sure what pot any upgrade money is coming from?
Training for “the next war” when the current one is quite hot enough, yet to not provoke a war with us we watch as a country we promissed to protect gets bombed to hell. Yes it will provoke, yes it will be a risky move, yes it’s the right thing to do. Do we stand and watch Finland fall, what about someone else? At what point does a country getting flattened become wrong?
Getting more F35s won’t be easy, they only have a couple more guys building them than the four chaps working on our type 26. Ten years to build a Frigate indeed!
This constant distant view thing annoys me. We’re here, we’ve arrived and we’re not ready. We just have to deal with it.
I watched Zelensky and could feel his frustration at the feeble response of the West to Putin. It was interesting to compare yesterday’s message to USA congress with the one to H of C.
The quote I’m sure and the one he wanted to give yesterday was Roosevelt’s famous quote, ‘ You have nothing to fear but Fear itself’.
Feeble in terms of kinetics.
Energetic in terms of EW.
Energetic in terms of arms supply.
UK nor Nato never promised to protect Ukraine . Never.
Thatcher and co did assure Russia not to move nato east. US research based on documents and background material from diplomatic personnel who were at those summits shows this
‘Declassified documents show security assurances against NATO expansion to Soviet leaders from Baker, Bush, Genscher, Kohl, Gates, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Hurd, Major, and Woerner’
Its a moot point now as it turned out differently and its not worth grinding gears over any more than Ukraines assurances
I beg to differ old boy, The Ukraine gave up its Nuclear weapons under an agreement with the UK, USA and Russia then later France and China who all stated that they would come to the aid of the Ukraine if it was attacked. Just a few years latter one of the countries which gave its word to help the Ukraine then annexed part of its coast line in the shape of the Crimea while we all looked on then 8 years latter it has launched a full blown invasion again while we all look on.
The countries that have joined Nato since the collapse of the WP have done so out of there own choice as they know what Russia is like and have lived under the Russia’s jack boot.
In a lot of ways what is happening in the Ukraine is a direct result in our inability to confront Mr Putin from day one as we have been too fixated with the easy rout out of the situation IE turn a blind eye, the only language Mr Putin understands and respects is strength, The UK as well as most of our Nato brothers have never been so week that is why Putin has rolled the dice now. I just hope that the Ukraine can hold out until Putin either comes to his senses or the people around him do and take him out.
The wording doesnt say ‘come to aid’ The agreement with UK, USA, Russia to ‘not use force against the territorial integrity of Ukraine etc’
Clearly Russia broke that in in 2014 and now.
The only action promised is to ‘seek Security Council assistance’ when Ukraine is ‘victim of aggression where nuclear weapons are used or threatened’
No agreement to ‘come to aid ‘ in the normal military sense .China and France wasnt included at all.
Its all in the actual text of Treaties , not commentaries
As I said circumstances have changed for Nato expansion( which wasnt formally limited anyway) and Ukraine got no military assistance if attacked like now.
Well they are being threatened now!!
Conventional invasion doesnt count under the ‘memorandum’, although the US and UK have gone to Security Council
Well you have either swallowed Mr Putin’s BS hook line and sinker or you are batting for the opposition, I suspect a bit of both, Hay what old chap!!
The ‘memorandum’ wording is public information my friend and I linked so you inform yourself Or did you hear different on twitter ?
Don’t do twitter old boy, the one thing I will say is that the wording of the memorandum is a bit vague but you are wrong on several levels.
France and China were signatories after the fact as they wanted to have advisors on the ground when the Nuclear devices were dismantled.
The Ukraine agreed to dismantle their “inherited” nuclear weapons on the understanding that the signatories would come to it’s aid if the Ukraine was threatened It eludes to being threatened with a Nuclear strike (which Putin has also done in the press) but as it is a bit vague then most people understand it to be threatened full stop.
What ever the Memorandum did or did not say we (In the West) have stood by too long that is why Putin has seen this as the West being weak and for people like your self to try and justify this by saying that “we do not need to help the Ukraine” is just playing into Putin’s hands.
“The ships conducted an air defence exercise in the North Sea with 4 F-35s from RAF Marham against 8 Typhoon and Hawk aggressor aircraft.”I wonder if those were the Hawk aircraft of 736 squadron that were retired without replacement today?
Its disgusting these cuts keep happening. That empty deck is an embarrassment but also shows why we should of replaced Ocean as we have a £3bn asset doing the job of a £200m asset.
Great point about Ocean.
The cynic in me says that an Ocean replacement would be viewed as another aircraft carrier, giving us three aircraft carriers, two expensive, one cheap. With the likelihood of the Ocean replacement being used a fair bit and adequate for these tasks…and war being so far away in 2030-2035…gosh..why not save money and get rid of one of the expensive ones. Need less F35 then, a good saving.
Several articles on the River b2 ships also voiced this fear. Put anything amounting to a decent weapon on them and they become by default “frigates” rather than OPV with an adequate defence.
Whether the current situation will alter that I don’t know, but politicians have a rapid turnover in office.
I would instead have a decent hangar capacity on any supply type ships. Being able to carry say 4 Merlin or whatever, even if they couldn’t operate 4 by themselves would be a great force multiplier?
Its hard not to agree with the logic around how the civil servants would view any addition flat tops (As troubling as it is).
We do need another platform capable of operating a decent number of helicopters with Argus going as well, because the carriers are too big, expensive and precious and they should be retained for their original purpose (and two kept so one is available). Even a couple of conversions a la Argus would be an improvement.
Of course you’d need extra Merlins. And I agree with everyone saying more F35Bs obviously; an extra order predicated on some speedier weapons integration…. (assuming there isn’t another reason behind the Spear 3 integration delays: can’t help but think they would sell very well once integrated because of the large number that can be fitted inside the weapon bays)
Sorry, being cynical again. Spear3 appears to be a really nice thing, and would for instance make short work of those long resupply columns, and from a distance. It has a Harpoon-like range, and cheap and small enough to fit in numbers on a warship .
But it’s British..yes..it should sell really well, in competition with American missiles on an American jet?
Exactly… probably why its taking so long to integrate…. such things shouldn’t be unsurmountable (profit-share!)
We don’t help ourselves though by buying hellfires for those apaches rather than integrating brimstones…
Some years back there was talk in USA circles about buying Brimstone because it was way better than hellfire or whatever. However when it got to the senate they blocked it. Obviously the delay in putting neither Brimstone or Spear onto the F35B is nationalism. Sorry to raise this issue but its the fact of life especially with the way things are going in the States. Its imperative Tempest succeeds and is the Best.
Why get rid of one? That seems daft when in a real shooting war ships get damaged or sunk.
If we had politicians who understood their responsibilities and we couldn’t all hide behind the USA we would be in a 100% better state.
Agreed! A High North CSG deployment would need F-35b’s to intercept Russian bombers armed with long-range cruise missiles at only even a 50% success rate, will do a lot ot damage, if cm’s reach our shores.
Great photos. Pleasure to look at.
Without decent ASuW and stand off offensive capability against a peer surface threat the RN would struggle to protect anything/ last till tea time. Waiting 5-10 years for a decent ASuW capability is sheer negligence. I wouldn’t fancy being a sailor, marine or ferried troop without that capability.
Lots of allies have current generation ASuW systems, so a fleet will be well protected. We could buy a current system but spending money on that reduces out ability to do other things more useful both now and in the future.
Can’t rely on others to provide capabilities. Enemy N2 will pick out fleet weaknesses. This basic capability should be top of the list. Akin to RAF ditching Meteor.
Well the RN had a good look and had the money to buy an interim system but came to the conclusion that it was poor VFM and the money could be spent to better effect elsewhere.
As to relying on others, that what NATO is all about.
Yes. before WW2 ( I know !) surface warfare capability was emphasised to the detriment of ASW. Even the armoured deck carrier designs had armour around the hangar sides to defeat cruiser gun fire. As if ?
The whole thing is negligent. I can’t understand how our politicians get away with it. The ones who have retired, I mean, like Cameron and Osborne.
“HMS Queen Elizabeth is the high readiness strike carrier, currently loading further munitions and conducting a short training period around the UK. Deploying her with jets embarked is of greater importance than PWLS having a few available for an exercise.”
It would be quite doable to deploy a handful of jets on PWLS for CR22 – especially as it is a well needed training opportunity for the pilots, and re-deploy them to QLZ if she needs to sail quickly.
What about the Ground Crew, Spares Package, Logistics, not to mention AAR to get them back down to a carrier that would inevitably be heading south? It would be nice but really not as easy as that.
I suspect it has been planned and gamed out so it can swing into action if needs be.
We do at least have the heavy airlift to move stuff and a Chinook to ferry the gear onboard.
A lot of plans will have had the dust blown off and been updated PDQ with this mess going on.
Thats how the Norway debacle played out in March 1940.
Warships were loaded with troops and supplies and unloaded before loaded again without the supplies as the objective changed and the whims of the politicians at Admiralty – mostly Churchill. In the end the RN did very well against the the KM
I struggle to find any modern instances of UK armed forces being weaker and less effective than currently (except it will be worse still over then nexy couple of years until the “promissed post 2024 defence spending increases materialise).
You are right, we have ships at sea with no offensive capability, aircraft carriers with no aircraft, an RAF reduces from 600 frontline aircraft to 100 and we have decimated our own army through inept leadership.
Putin only respects strength that is why he has rolled this dice now as we have never been so weak so for him it is now or never.
Hopefully the Ukraine will prevail and we in the West will have opened our collective eyes so that a 3% of GPD on defence will be passed into law as being the absolute minimum we should be spending on our defence, along with getting rid of the inept people who seem to be heading up our procurement process, so we can put ships to sea that can actual do what they are supposed to do like having Aircraft Carriers with Aircraft.
Passing spring limits like 3% of GDP into law is just stupid PR posing. Any government that has the votes to pass a budget has the votes to change the law.
It’s a fundamental premise of U.K. government that one administration can’t bind its successors.
They arent even spending 2% as a big chunk is in the form of ‘depreciation’ which the US doesnt include in its budget figures
It would be good to see the actual cash spending and the financial charges returned to Treasury shown to see the actual amount available for defence
You are right it dose not guaranty that the 3% will last beyond the next election but at least it is a step in the right direction and given the current will in the population to take Putin to task I believe it will be some time before the government looks to the defence budget to bail out the rest of the departments.
But the budget is only half the problem, the other half is inept leadership and political interference in the procurement of new equipment as I stated above we have hips at sea that have very little offensive capability and so thin on on the ground it is beyond a joke. We have an army that will struggle to keep one division in the feild for any length of time and the RAF with 100 serviceable fighters.
So I would suggest we need to find a way to “bind its successors” so that 3% in the absolute minimum but also we need to get rid of reams of inept middle management in the procurement departments of the MoD.
Seems that the new money is for Thaad the high altitude missile defence system ( maybe only ‘radar’) not more tanks for the army, fighters for the RAF or better weapons for the Navys ships.
A trophy project does better in political focus group PR
Yep that about right!!!
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense which used to be Theater High Altitude Area Defense………..
I wonder what odds the bookies are offering on 3% actually happening. One might anticipate a cost saving proposal involving the removal of the Cross of St George and the Union Flag from the White Ensign.
A carrier deployment without any fixed wing aircraft. Bloody marvelous. Maybe the fleet air museum at Yeovilton would loan their Fairey Swordfish and thier Marine Spitfire?
Maybe they could but we’d only find that they were now Fitted For But Not With the anti-ship torpedoes
Thats 12 years of Conservative government for you.
Well you are right that both parties can share the blame,
PS If it is true they charge depreciation as part of the budget, it is truly dishonest. I am sure they also charge maintenance and repairs, one or the other please, not both!!!
‘Defence Spending is presented as the sum of resource and capital expenditure, minus depreciation and impairments and fixed assets written on/off. ‘
The details show £9.5 bill for 20/21 yr is depreciation and impairments, fixed assets written on/off.
compared to personnel costs of £13.5 bill
the total defence expenditure under accrual accounting is £42.4 bill
I think that’s complete rubbish. Obsolescence and available funds are the determining factor not depreciation or any other hocus pocus. You read it here.
Well considering HMS POW was taking over from HMS Oceans Chopper Commando assault role then I’m fine with her only having choppers at times… Granted even in that role it would be very advantageous to have even half a dozen f35s.
All the ‘facilities’ specifically for housing an EMF, beyond the extra wide passageways **, were deleted. There will come a point where QE will go into refit and from then on we will have only one carrier in commission. I am not sure from where this idea that one will be fixed wing and one will be a LHA came. Do the F35b squadrons just sit ashore when PoW is the carrier in commission? No. So……….
The carriers should always be home to a flight of Junglies and a company of Marines.
** One of the reasons why the Invincibles never worked well in the LPH role because navigating yourself around a ship with a Bergen is a pain in the bum.
Unlike previous excellent photo essays, I can’t really enjoy this one. In fact I feel a sense of anger and shame that we have a ship like this equipped with little more than bravery and foul language to throw at the enemy. I note that Liz Truss more or less admits this in her Times interview of yesterday. I very much hope that we see a change of direction on defence spending in the March statement and I for one would be prepared to pay for it.
Agreed, it’s embarrassing. We’ve been letting things slip for too long and I fear one day we’re going to be caught with our pants down. Brown nosing Admirals who won’t rock the boat and various politicians of all hues will be pointing their fingers at each other.
The public could care a bit more as well, most of them don’t seem to understand the importance of our navy.
There needs to be a council of wise men running maritime defence. The politicians mostly haven’t a clue and the Navy are too interested in a knighthood or gong.
I’m encouraged by the fact that USMC are going to trial USS Tripoli as a full scale Lightning Carrier this year. There are those in the UK who want to be a US mini-me, and they might be more inclined to support progress on the QE class if the power of the F-35B is shown first in the US. Twenty F-35Bs and V-22 tankers is a great start.
Maybe it will revive the need for a VTOL AEW and we could work with them on the Crowsnest replacement.
We would have been better off with 3 Makin Island’s or America’s (with dock)………
Operating costs of US designs are prohibitive. QE class is great, but we should have also bought the two “Russian” Mistrals that went to Egypt. That would have given us the core flattops for strike and amphib. Now they want to convert a Bay for littoral strike, while two Waves lie unused and MRSS is at least a decade away.
For all the government’s mood music about the navy, any extra money is still going to the army, not the surface fleet. There’s no multi-domain thinking in procurement.
Mistral’s are miserable slow barges with nice wine cellars.
We could have a built a 40,000 tonne LHD design of our own. See Italian Trieste.
They could have a much better balanced and modest air group for our budget. (If we were to invest properly.) Say 12 x F35b, 8 x Junglies, 4/6 x Wildcats, 6 x ASW, and 6 x ASaC/AEW. Rotate a commando each commission. Big enough for 20 x F35b, 4/5 x ASaC/AEW, and 2/3 ASW.
But seeing how things are going now we probably won’t be able to afford anything and we probably need more ASW assets and QRA flights now. Expedition warfare is now dead we need to go on defensive footing.
Trieste is a beautiful ship and in a different league from Mistral, as it should be costing four times as much as to build and needing over 3 times the crew to operate. There’s much to be said for a couple of second-hand wine cellars.
I doubt you could build a 40K tonne LHD with space for 12 F-35B and 24 rotories. Or 20 F-35s and 6 rotories. To even approach that number the 45K tonne USS America had to sacrifice the well deck.
We are in accord about ASW. Even though the worst of the frigate dip has been avoided this decade, an ASW dip looms in the next. We’ll be dropping well below current capability, nevermind considering the increased need. Speeding up the T26 build should be a top priority, but it’s not enough.
The Wasp class LHD’s have that size of air group. We will have 3 air frames whereas the USN / USMC five ranging from small to very big.
With the Harriers, yes, once or twice, just to say they did, but not with the larger F-35Bs. The Wasp class doesn’t operate more than 10 F-35s and it more typically carries 6. Along with the 10 F-35s it can take maybe 10 rotaries (fewer if that includes tiltrotors). Sure, it’s possible to stuff the ships with more fixed wing for a single push, but maneouver would be impeded, and there’d be no space to maintain the aircraft, so the effective number of planes would rapidly drop. It also couldn’t carry the required stores.
It’s worth noting that when the Batan took the record 26 Harriers, it didn’t operate them for any length of time. The majority of the Harrier carrier’s subsequent strikes were done with a more manageable 7 planes, to give space for tempo operations.
Unlike the Wasp class, America & Tripoli might actually be able to operate 20 and the USMC have published plans to do that. (From memory that included one rotary as well.) Next month’s trials will tell us.
With the advent of loyal wingman and other drones, the total number of aircraft could easily rise to the sorts of numbers you are talking about on an LHD, but not yet.
Fitting CAAM is an easy thing on the carriers. It has a cold launch and doesnt make a mess of the flightdeck if fitted on the stern where they still haven’t fitted the 30mm gun. How much would this cost? Negligence not to do.
Putting 50cals instead of 30mm is a mistake! We need both, or even the 40mm with smart rounds should be put on and they could provide far more protection…
And CAAM could easily be fitted if we wanted to, and it’s not exactly a massive cost, the ships have the room and hardware for them anyways, hell even SEARAM would do!…It’s just tight ass penny pinching that’s destroying our once world beating navy…when was the last time we had a properly equipped navy??, I wasn’t even born when that was the case.. well before Falklands anyways!?