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OOA

Truly impressive.

SilentMajority

Yes a superb achievment. Well done and thanks to everyone involved.

Both in the outcomes of peace and counterbalance to Soviet domination of Europe, but also in terms of technological, logistical and human talent, skill and determination to deploy, man, and sustain such a massively complex enterprise for five decades.

Simply amazing.

Iqbal Ahmed

OOA a truely impressive feat would have been to have put all the industrial resources, manpower and intellectual capacity going into the deterrent in ensuring that like Germany, we too had a world class industrial export tradition. Sadly our industries were allowed to be run down and sold at bargain basement prices to foreign companies.

Throughout this conversation, we have to remember that at no time during or after the Cold War have our home islands been under any threat of invasion.

Rick

Iqbal socialism, the scourge of the west, is why our industries have been “run down”.

maurice10

A horrible concept but sadly more relevant now than at any time since the Cold War. Until sub missiles are no longer viable delivery system, we must pursue the current policy and not allow it to become a political football, as witnessed in recent years.

P.A.Mellor

After serving on a hunter killer patrols we seam to be the forgotten service

SilentMajority

An unfortunate combination of necessary OpSec for the silent service, combined with a frustrating inability of the MoD to communicate the many successes of HM forces.

A sorry state of affairs, and rest assured the MSM will be clueless (about this and all else), but, many of the public know HM submarines are the very tip of the spear, and operate round the clock, close to our opponents, often in very dangerous circumstances, regardless of wartime or peacetime – and we are very grateful indeed they do so.

Kevin Hastie

A necessary evil. Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Merlot

A great summary, all of which I’m in agreement with.
Perhaps though, it is a little unfair to call the European Unions function in helping preserve a semblance of European harmony “laughable”.
World wars have invariably commenced with spats between small nation states, and if nothing else, the EU has to date, tended to discourage such conflict.

Callum

What conflict has the EU discouraged that NATO hadn’t already? Membership of a common military alliance has done more to prevent conflict than the EU.

A relevant example: Spanish claims on Gibraltar. The chances of military action are minute, due to both nations being NATO members and ostensibly allies, however the EU is still allowing the Spanish to keep committing territorial violations with no respect to the principles of democracy that the union was supposedly founded on. Its hard to claim the EU stops conflict when it has failed to resolve long standing issues between members.

Merlot

I don’t disagree with what you say Callum with regards NATO, however i believe that the free movement of trade and people that has taken place between European nations since WW2 has in its way helped reduce the chances of conflict, so should not be called laughable.

SilentMajority

I think it is a moot point as the EU is extending it’s grip ever more over member states, and if this continues, it will be responsible for conflict within Europe, when all peacful means of resolution have been denied.

Continental European empires, of which this is merely the latest, tend not to end well.

David

NATO was originally a well meaning organisation created at a time when the Soviet Union existed and Joseph Stalin was in power. It lost relevance when the cold war ended and should have been dissolved. Everything that NATO has been involved in since then has been a complete disaster for the people of Europe – bombing of Belgrade probably was the biggest factor that shifted Russia away from a highly pro-western position and was a stupid thing to do. Similarly NATO can hardly complain about Crimea separating from Ukraine when they forcibly intervened to separate Kosovo from Serbia. Military interventions in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq have all been huge failures.

NATO today is an organisation designed to promote American arms sales to Europe – hence the desire to expand east. It does nothing to promote peace and it should be dissolved or the UK should withdraw. This is something that Jeremy Corbyn has rightly suggested,

Callum

Fair point. If I remember correctly, after the fall of Napoleon there wasn’t a great deal of conflict in continental Europe for the next century (not including the Crimean war), with the Industrial Revolution and international trade blossoming.

To an extent, the EU has done the same thing. With its focus on internal trade and a shared currency, and the ensuing codependence it’s created, war between EU members would be absolutely devastating to all parties.

Perhaps calling it laughable is a bit much, but I’d still go as far as saying that even without the EU, there wouldn’t have been major war in Europe.

Andy

Yes the EU covered itself in glory in the former Yugoslavia and NATO did such a glorious job as well not!
We need to learn to be a bit more muscular in how we use our military like Russia.
Instead we try to impose the rules of civilian life on military personnel.
War is about destroying the enemies will to fight , bombing from 35,000 feet just serves as a recruiting tool for your enemies.
You need boots on the ground a strong navy to transport and blockade and a airforce to support.

don

Ok! You first mate. Over the top, eh wot?

Rick

Trident is an excellent insurance policy for the UK.

Meirion X

This Dreadnought program is an example of the MoD’s extravagant plan of wanting a Platinum standard for a Nuclear Deterrent. I am all in favour of a sensible alternative deterrent for Britain!
I very much think the Dreadnought program will be the main source of drain of the Royal Navy’s budget, over the next crucial decade for RN fleet procurement. Priced at around £9 billion per submarine, it is of poor value of money for CASD, and needs to be cancelled. The UK does not need the range of Trident D5 missile. A medium range missile or cruise missile should fit in a ‘stretched Astute class’ submarine will be sufficient to cover the range of the North east Atlantic to Eurasia.
Because Britain’s most serious adversity at present in the northern hemisphere is Russia.
Only the USA needs Trident D5 for the range of the transit of the vast Pacific ocean as well as all of the North Atlantic.
Because USA’s has two serious adversity’s at present, which is China as well as Russia.
So why not develop the Astute class for CASD with 6 new build ‘stretched Astute’s, including use for SSGN, with a added missile compartment equipped with a new missile. Cost should be around £2 billion per sub.
All of the money saved should be reinvested in Britain ‘s defences, especially on a more capable mid range fleet escorts and BMD for UK base’s.
I look forward to more sensible Ideas of a Nuclear Deterrent.

Rick

Increase the defense budget to 3% of GDP and that will take care of the problems you are citing.

SilentMajority

Unfortunately, by the time all those modifications had been completed to Astute, then we may as well have just stuck with Dreadnought, which is well past the point of no return by now anyway.

I do however, wish as you do that the conventional deterrant – i.e basically the rest of HM Forces, which offers fabulous utility, was similarly funded, and that we did not have the burden of Trident.

Unfortunately Trident is needed, and it has to be done properly. If the budget was moved out of the MoD, so that the treasury were responsible for covering the peaks and troughs in the budget, that so damages defence, things would be a lot better. They could also change the stupid rules on in year expenditure.

Of course if some of the almost £800 billion of government expenditure was targeted at defence, these problems would go away anyway.

Another point is the deterent itself is reliant upon protection from the rest of the military, and those capabilities, such as MPA, are only recently begining to be restored.

Sarah LL

The time scale of all these things pale into insignificance when the development of underwater drones, capable of tracing the submarines as they manoeuvre to their deep sea position, come into use quite soon. But the most important time scale will be the time when the climate changes have not been tackled adequately so that the earth develops a position from which it is irretrievable. Just about 12 years says David Attenborough.

David

Notwithstanding the fact that these type of weapons are designed to kill huge numbers of innocent civilians and that if the UK ever used them, it would likely assure the UK’s own destruction, the Navy cannot afford a system as gold plated and expensive as this any longer.

The carriers and F35 have already crippled most other capabilities of the Navy. Trident replacement would largely destroy what limited capabilities are left based on the huge cost.

If you want nuclear weapons, only viable option might be to transfer them to the RAF via bombs. Supposedly everyone says the F35 is so capable and is “stealth”. Sure they are capable of dropping nuclear bombs at a fraction of the cost.

Andy

The cost of replacing the vanguard class should have come out of the treasury special fund like it use to ,but the Boy George stuffed it into the defence budget along with the costs of running MI5,MI6,GCHQ and pension costs to give the illusion we are meeting the NATO target of 2% of GDP on defence.
In reality we spend 1.4% less than France and slightly more than Germany.
The problem is there are no votes in defence.

Callum

Clearly you lack any understanding of the concept of nuclear deterrence and what is “viable”.

A nuclear deterrent needs to be a guaranteed thing, otherwise it’s not going to deter anything. Your potential attackers need to KNOW that they can’t knock out your deterrent and will die for trying (the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction). Currently, the most – and only – consistent and reliable deterrent is submarine based, as the locations of land sites and air bases are already known and this vulnerable.

You make the point that nuclear weapons would kill millions of civilians if used, and that they’d result in the destruction of the UK, yet you think the only viable deterrent option is one that is inherently offensive in nature. Ignoring the unsuitability of the F-35 for the role, air launched nuclear cruise missiles are easier to stop and require you to actually fly them towards the person you’re trying to deter, thus making YOU the aggressor. Land based systems would be infinitely more suitable as a second strike deterrent, and cheaper than SSBNs, but they’re also far more vulnerable to a sneak attack or sabotage.

SSBNs are the best option for deterrence bar none, and when they’re the ultimate guarantee of your country’s survival, you want them to be the most advanced platforms possible.

Andy

The sub based deterrent is the most effective method of deterrence.

Land based missiles are easy to monitor even the mobile Russian icbm are easily tracked ,hence the lack of a USA mobile land based icbm they concluded it was not a efficient deterrent.

David

I am not saying that gravity bombs are necessarily “better”, just that based on the current cost of the trident replacement programme, the UK cannot afford it. It is by far the most expensive of all options. Like most recent weapons programmes, it is likely to become a honey pot for BAE Systems and will inevitably lead to large cuts to other parts of the UK military over the next 10-20 years to cover the massive cost.

I actually think land based missiles mounted on trucks has a lot going for it as another alternative to gravity bombs, or a mixture of both could be used. Sure they are probably easier to detect on a one-for-one basis than a submarine, although they can be moved around/camouflaged so that satellites cannot always detect them. You could also spread the missiles between a larger number of trucks. There are downsides to having all of your missiles in a single deployed submarine. I am sure that other nations are able to monitor the location of the UK’s submarines from time to time.

Callum

The UK is still the world’s 5th largest economy, with more money than France or Russia, both of whom operate SSBNs, so claiming that we can’t afford to is a lie. While I agree it will likely lead to cuts or budget issues elsewhere, you can’t cut the bedrock of our security.

As I’ve already pointed out, both land based and air launched nuclear weapons are too vulnerable to act as a deterrent. There’s no “probably” about it, that’s why the V Bomber force was replaced by Polaris in the first place. Their use in bigger forces like the US and Russia is as OFFENSIVE weapons, the capability to launch a first strike.

It is theoretically possible that Russia has tracked Vanguard class submarines, but highly unlikely. For an example of how stealthy these platforms are, a British SSBN actually scraped a French SSBN while they were on patrol. There was some crossover in patrol routes that has now been rectified, but it goes to show just how stealthy these platforms actually are. Yes, there are downsides to having all of the missiles on a single boat: that was why the original plan was for 5, with 2 deployed, but costs got in the way. In any case, a single SSBN at sea is worth far more than the equivalent land based system, and it’s a hell of a lot more “viable” than gravity bombs dropped by a jump jet.

don

Oh, the UK can afford it *cough* tax the City *cough*

Meirion X

Alternatively, the UK could build 5/6 stretched Astute class subs with a vertical launch system, armed with a medium range missile(3000M).

Julian Edmonds

Land based missiles are a non starter. During the years that American controlled ground launched cruise missiles were deployed on UK soil, they failed to complete a single patrol without being tracked and followed by unarmed, untrained CND activists. It would only take a handful of properly tooled up Russian special forces to take them down in the field.

Andy

The F35B lacks the range and payload capabilities to be a nuclear bomber.

David

In theory you could probably put a small nuclear bomb in its tiny bomb bays, although you’re right. It is probably too dangerous for the plane to land with a nuclear bomb on board given the massive heat of the downward facing exhaust. It actually lacks the range and payload to be much of a conventional bomber as well.

Andy

The decision to go with the F35B was based on cost and not what was best for either the RN or RAF.
Lord West has admitted that the QE class should have been a cats and traps carriers and they actually have the space for the equipment.
But the decision has been made and now both the RAF and RN have to make it work with the F35B.
I do hope that the USMC perfect the V22 as a refuelling tanker as that would help with the F35B short range and the RN lack of capabilities in that area.
But the F35 is totally unsuitable to carry nuclear weapons in any variant.
The Dreadnought is the only viable option but it is totally over the top seeing as we only have 192 warheads enough to equip 13 missiles. Which is enough to equip just one dreadnought sub with 1 missile left over.
Lol politicians.

Meirion X

It is one of the main reasons that the
Netherlands and Italy are procuring the F-35A, is to deploy US owned tactical nuclear bombs stationed on their soil.
Manned presently, by those countries crews, with F-16’s.
The UK does Not have any tactical nuclear bombs any more, since 1998.

Andy

My understanding Meirion is the Dutch no longer wish to deploy the tactical nukes , I believe there are moves to remove the nukes kept on Dutch soil.

And Italy is actively rethinking its purchase of both the F35B and F35A due to budgetary pressures.

David

it is true that the size of the Dreadnought class is way over the top based on the number of missiles that the UK has. This is one of the biggest factors in the decline of the Royal Navy – building ships that are unnecessarily large and fitted with an excess of “nice to have” equipment that will see little use. A submarine half the size would more than likely suffice and free up limited resources for other purposes.

T Boat

50 years of packing fudge at four knots….

don

Where to sign up then?

Andy Tiller

The fact that the UK can build such amazing equipment shows what UK shipyards are capable of building. They should therefore be fully capable of building the R F A solid support ships and the Government should give the contract to U K shipyards. This will ensure that we retain capability to build warships in more than one or two yards. See

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/235377

Rick

Yes Britain is still capable of building fine ships.
The problem is, how long does it take and how much does it cost?

don

‘Nuclear weapons are horrific and their apparatus may appear sinister and expensive but their existence has arguably saved more lives than any other human endeavour.’

This. When ALL of society pays for a war in blood- not just the 18-year old males bayoneting each other in the mud, but the rich old men and bleating masses of ‘consumers’ who send them there- we do indeed seem to have fewer of the WWI/WWII – type dust ups.

So as long as war is not obsolete, nuclear weapons are essential to prevent an inevitable WWIII, as paradoxical as that sounds. JMHO…

Iqbal Ahmed

Our defence expenditure has to be linked to viable objectives. Both the levels of expenditure and objectives have to correspond to the threat faced by the country. Equally as important, is the loss of consensus and the fact the mental horizons of the average Briton has shrank away from foreign entanglements. I’m not sure that the deterrent meets these criteria any more (if it ever did).

Given Britain’s relative decline in standing in the world in terms of politics (potential withdrawal from the EU), economics (deindustrialisation and austerity) and military capacity (even Theresa May questions our status as a ‘Tier 1’ military power) and the economic rise of China, India and other countries in the Pacific Rim, I think that we need to formulate more modest objectives based on our <2% of GDP expenditure. We need to think more in terms of multilateralism and less in terms of unilateralism, of which the deterrent is a prime example, to solve geopolitical problems and protect our streets.

The practical threat faced by this country today on our streets is primarily from terrorism, foreign intelligence operations (Russians in Salisbury) and Chinese industrial espionage. The perpetrators of all three of these threats use social and professional media messaging to divide communities and to either deflect from or support their activities. The deterrent can't be used against any of these threats or to unite our peoples. For example, the French didn't retaliate with the Force de Frappe for the Bataclan massacre of 130 people in 2015 and the deployment of the deterrent in Scottish waters has only provided the SNP with another grievance.

Finally, the exorbitant cost of producing and maintaining these deterrent systems like submarines, missiles, warheads and pens will inevitably, as pointed out by others, hollow out the conventional parts of the military which we can use in a calibrated manner and for more and different geopolitical uses eg. bringing peace to Sierra Leone.

Mike

Can you comment on the impact of having no operational targets since the Major Yeltsin agreement in 1994 and referenced in all defence reviews since 1998. That suggests that at least some of the D has not been needed for the last 25 years. Has this had an impact on the crews? Will the re-targeting post Chillcot not be subject to a full legal challenge and Parliamentary approval? This could many many years away.