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A joke decision, and one that asks for trouble the next time a T45 or 23 nips to the SCS. Akin to RAF doing away with Meteor. Madness. Duty of care to sailors out of the window, putting sailors at risk by their incompetence


I could not agree with you more.
£14B on ‘foreign aid’
£2B (the tip of the iceberg!) wasted by the NHS on “unnecessary X-rays, drugs and treatments.”
OBR forecasts borrowing will be £183B
But we can’t find £250M for our Sailors to protect our shores with anything more than a 4.5′ gun…
Integration of NSM only took 18 months for the LCS. The others offered are stand alone too so put it in the contract that integration takes no more than 2 years or fines.
If there is a shooting match (I pray there is not!), what exactly would be the plan because I can’t see one. We’re just gambling that it won’t happen or someone else can do the shooting for us.


I’m sorry but the 2 billion on xrays and drugs wasted is in my ( expert and highly educated ) view a little miss leading, it’s very easy to review care after the fact or put In Artificial treatment protocols and then say clinicians are over using clinical tests, but I will tell you what reducing those diagnostics does, it leads to miss diagnosis and long term harm, which in the end costs far more.


It was a very small example take. From a BBC article.
Shall we talk instead about £70k salaries for ‘diversity champions’ in a service supposedly chock full of diversity? Shall we talk about useless procurement services where one trust pays £750 and the neighbour pays £2,500 for the exact same laptop? Shall we talk about generic v name brand drugs?
Think you miss-diagnosed the actual point I was making; the politicians never seek to trim any fat elsewhere. Bad optics you see. Are you a GP per chance?


Whoa! Several points here. I don’t think you can accuse politicians (really the Treasury) of not seeking to trim fat from ‘elsewhere’. I think the Treasury applies considerable pressure on all department; to the point of being excessive. For example some reports suggest that 10-20% of people in care homes could be sent home if the social services could fund daily home care visits.
Secondly a lot of tests are used to rule out serious illness as well as catch it. Prudence is not free.
Thirdly I do believe that the health service would work better for patients and result in less stress for staff ( including GPs) if it was organised more like some of the systems on the continent; but that’s a whole new discussion for somewhere other than a RN discussion forum.


The NHS has had 3 cuts in its budget in the last 40 years. Each were less that 0.5%.
In that same time, it’s gone from around 4.5% to about 7.5% of GDP (excluding the extra for Covid).
I am 100% behind universal healthcare & for it to be well funded.
I also am not so naïve to believe that there is no waste in the system. The NHS itself has a “10-point plan” to rid itself of Billions per year in inefficiencies. You don’t often hear of fundamental capabilities – like a warship being able to fight other warships! – being cut by the NHS to save £250M though do you?
The £2B I was originally quoting is not my opinion, it was a summary of findings from The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.


Stu, I don’t doubt the veracity of the source. Some perspective: the UK spends about £200b a year on health. This is a lot less than say France or Germany. Its about 17% less than the EU average. HMG were spending £1m per day on Deloitte track and trace ‘consultants’ – cronyism. The Academy waste number is about 1% of the NHS budget. India is reported as having bought 10 air launched Harpoon Block II for $92m. Our P-8s are wired for Harpoon. Air launched AShM are more effective, faster and safer to deploy. The calculation has to be that our intelligence and forward base infrastructure is good enough and that if refuelling is available from US tankers ( which the P-8s need I think) that a T31 patrol frigate in harms way could be given AShM air cover pretty much anywhere on the globe within hours. So if we plan ahead we need only pay for missiles if we need to use such a facility.


As of 2018 the UK spent 10% of GDP on Heath & the EU average was 9.9%. On a per person basis the EU average was €2,982 & in the UK was €3,646.
Some perspective – £250M for ISSGW is only 0.63% of the MoD budget. 0.026% of our total revenue.
We only have 7 P-8’s.
We would be wholly reliant on the US lending us a tanker.
I admire your faith in the ability to plan. Something I do not share.
If P-8’s can already hunt subs and are so good at killing ships, why have a surface fleet at all? We just need to plan ahead.

William Pellas

Well ya know, you could always embrace capitalism and free enterprise and let free market competition produce efficiencies and cost savings that would eliminate government slush fund cronyism and similar waste. Shocking though that thought may be, it was an Englishman who first described it in detail. You know, Adam Smith?

Stedfast VI

er Adam Smith was Scots, so 1 fact wrong to start

William Pellas

Okay, fine. He was from the British Isles.


nurse actual, as for procurement, like anything costs depend on many things and no trusts ever use exactly the same laptops, they will have different user licences and be purchased in different batches at different times. You can talk all you want about generic vs band drugs, but the NHS is pretty much the best organisation in the world for controlling drug costs, but we still live in a world wide market in which some drugs are harder to purchase at different times and drug companies will always try and get the highest value.

I assure you the NHS is constantly trimming fat and trying to do more with less, a lot of inefficiency is actually related to low investment over very many years ( the less you invest in adulthood social care or public health the great your costs will be in you primary and secondary care medical services).


Not really the forum for this but I’ve insulted the Sacred Cow that is the NHS so here we are:
In response to your first paragraph; why then does the NHS itself identify procurement as a problem? Why does the NHS identify “Get best value out of medicines” as a problem (both what is bought and how it is prescribed)?

I’ve worked alongside public sector procurement for over a decade & I know the OJEU rules, I know the Public Contract Regs. And I know there are inefficiencies and waste. So does the NHS. Yet here we are with you trying to argue semantics over “exact” laptop… Once more, the NHS recognise this as a problem.

I can appreciate the NHS have plans and are trying to trim the fat. I appreciate we don’t hear much about their savings as it doesn’t make for drama in the newspaper headlines, but (as I mention above) how often do you hear of the NHS ceasing fundamental capabilities like a warship being able to fight other warships?  

I’m all for the NHS. The NHS was just one example of a Government Budget that could be spent in a wiser way.
I’m for Foreign Aid – but we can spend it wiser.
I’m for a decent military budget – but we can spend it wiser (see Ajax).
What I am not for is cutting a capability to “save” £250M and crossing our fingers we don’t need to shoot anyone in the next 10 years. That seems unwise. You mentioned yourself that a lack of investment has knock on effects…


It’s a gamble. No doubt there will be a risk assessment. Radakin is on record as saying it is a decision to be taken in conjunction with international partners. Are there better ways to spend £250m? Absolutely. Fit Harpoon Block II to the RAFs P-8s. Cheaper and more effective.


I admire your faith in Politicians, Civil Servants and the FSL and their ‘risk assessment’. It is a faith I do not share. I’ve done and seen enough “risk assessments” to know they can be tweaked to give you the answer you want to hear.
I mention this above but it bears repeating:
We only have 7 P-8’s.
We would be wholly reliant on the US lending us a tanker.
If P-8’s can already hunt subs and are so good at killing ships and be anywhere we need them, why have a surface fleet at all?
If P-8’s are the panacea, why waste the cash developing FCASW to be launched from a ship at all?


Well, it looks as though we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Have a good evening.


Fair enough. Thanks for the debate. Hope I wasn’t too abrasive.
Hope you have a good evening too.

Captain P Wash


Julian Edmonds

£2/£14B is loose change.
Boris spaffed a billion a day for a year on taking away the freedom that all this is supposed to be there to defend.


Couldn’t agree more. But I stirred the hornets nest insulting the sacred NHS. You think I want to get into an argument about the tyranny that so many sheeple are welcoming?
On a side note; They’re planning to use “Carbon” and “Climate Change” to terrorise us next.
But this is not the forum.


The RN is basically saying they don’t intend to fight a sea war at anytime over the next decade. Any ship sinking to be done will be the sole responsibility of astute and the frigates are for hunting subs and patrol duties to catch pirates and drug traffickers.

Last edited 2 years ago by BB85

I think the fallback would be to get some AGM-84Ds from US stocks and put them on our P-8s, which are wired to take them. Given our network of overseas bases we could strike most oceans. I think we might need to borrow a US tanker to refuel the P-8 though.


It’s probably a better option anyway. Getting a surface ship close enough to launch an ASM is risky enough and they would expect it to he coming. Air launched is the best way to go.

Last edited 2 years ago by BB85

And they’re right. Surface ships haven’t fought surface ships since WW2. What can a ship based SSM do in practice? You’re limited by the range of the radar.

James Fennell

The right decision, £250 million for five sets of yesterday’s technology with only 3 GP Type 23s anyway – short-ranged, slow weapons with limited land attack capability. However this must lead to Mk 41 VLS on Type 31/32 to compensate. Even if FCASW is not availalbe, The Mk 41s wil ensure that we could beg, steal or borrow a weapon under a UOR if needed in a hurry before FCASW arrives..

Last edited 2 years ago by James Fennell
Tim Hirst

Not much of a hurry. Unless you spend quite a lot of money integrating the particular weapon with the ships systems you end up with something that fits but can’t be fired. That integration is not a quick job.

Bloke down the pub

The long term solution being to make all new weapons plug and play, though what additional vulnerabilities that would expose I could only guess.


Sorry. I’m not too sure why our servicemen should be expected to go up against an “inferior” opponent who is armed with modern weapons. In 1982 we lost too many ship to missiles because it was us with inferior weapons. And as for UORs, well if politicians feel that is the way to go the mind boggles.


Yes. One of the constant threads running through Falklands War sources is how good some of the Argentine equipment was compared to ours.

Supportive Bloke

The real issue was more that RN had chucked all is effective eggs into the missile basket.

RN was very, very close to the paradigm with Sea Wolf to having the right system. But Wolf was in its infancy and only T22 has the pulse Doppler radar to make full use of it.

Argentina has the land based AA guns that were effective in a land based role. In the reverse role they would have e been useless. I’ve been over why numerous times.

Had we had proper mono pulse land based AA guns bomb ally would not have been what it was.

With respect to the dumb bomb attacks. I don’t think Argentina had anything better than UK. It was rudimentary stuff. However, the close in defences on most RN platforms we’re so useless that WWII tactics were possible.


 I’ve been over why numerous times.

And you are wrong. By your ballpark WW2 era AA could not work. Or a 76 Oto in a Saar Israeli FPB could not down a Stix missile in 2nd Latakia.


The Type 22 Frigates were not alone with Seawolf…HMS Andromeda Leander Batch 3 had full Seawolf syswith Type 967/968 Radars and spent most of her time guarding the 2 Carriers Hermes and Invincible. Argentina had Roland 1 SAMs which shot down a Harrier and 2 bombs that were intended to destroy the SAM itself…after that the Task Force went round the SAM to prevent further losses. Tigercat Missiles (Land based Seacat) were also used by the Argentines. They did have AA guns but yeah…not the most effective. Royal Navy point defences were tragic in 1982, the Italian Navy at that time had 40mm Twin Compact and Fast Forty Bofors in their DARDO CIWS which would have far more effective, they also had 76mm Oto Compacts with PFHE which against Jets would have been deadly (Could kill large fat missiles like Styx but probably not Exocet at that time…later Oto Super Rapid 76mm was designed to deal with that kind of sea skimming threat)

Going full missiles….that seems like what the RN is doing today. Only with the Type 31 Frigate being the exception as is it more balanced with 3 Guns that are Dual Purpose and anti-missile capable plus missiles, Type 45 is all Missiles plus 2x Phalanx and 2x 30mm Bushmasters and an Antique 4.5inch, Type 26 is practically the same but with a 5 inch. All SAMs the Navy use are Radar Guided too…Only Phalanx and the main gun has alternate sensors (E/O and FLIR) –


The Argentinians were using on the whole, very similar equipment to the UK in the Falklands (because we sold it to them). They had Sea Dart equipped Type 42s, as did we. They had Exocet, so did we. They had dumb bombs, as did we.
The difference was they got to fight (mostly) from prepared positions on solid land, having recalled their navy after their cruiser was sunk… And it’s very difficult to sink an island compared to a ship.
They could also practice attacking the Type 42 AAW destroyers and developing tactics to exploit their weaknesses, and had longer to specifically prepare to fight the RN.

It would be an interesting wargaming exercise (perhaps for the current RN) that if we were to see that going back to 1982, how would the landings have gone had they used somewhere other than San Carlo water… As the geographical restrictions were beyond what the systems of the time could handle.

But that was all at the hands of Argentinian aircraft, not ships. The British ships carried ASM but never used them, because the RN’s primary anti-shipping weapon, since the last of the conventional carriers & their Buccaneers was retired, has been the nuclear attack submarine.


Radar Guided Antiship missiles really struggle to handle littoral waters with high land such as the Falklands as it screws the Radar tracking over (It still does as Pulse doppler radars for missiles would be very very high cost) plus it requires course deviations around objects that can give its position away. That is why the US went with Naval Strike missile on the LCS program because it was Thermal Image guided. My thoughts are what if the General Belgrano was entrenched within the Falkland Islands in the littorals there?…its way to shallow for submarines, Tigershark and Mark 8 torpedo’s were not capable of littoral operations and with the Air defences like Roland protecting the ship from shore Air Attack would be very costly….the RN would need to attack via gunnery. Against an old WW2 Cruiser with 15 x 6 inch guns and a decent armour belt the RN would have to Bring the 2 Tiger Class Cruisers and HMS Belfast despite her age to dig her out. Since Roland shot down Freefall bombs even a Vulcan wouldn’t be a sure way to kill her


That Belgrano problem is interesting. Has much improved? The F35’s would still only have iron bombs, albeit laser guided to destroy Belgrano if she was moored in some inshore lair.
I remember at the time saying in certain circumstances; HMS Belfast was the most powerful ship in the fleet in 1982!
The RN gas had 4 decades to sort itself out to the surface littoral threat and it still hasn’t achieved it, and it wont get any help from the RAF either! Where was HMS Vanguard when you wanted her? Landfill? Shipborne MRLS would be one (my) answer which everyone ignores.


Only one RN destroyer and one container ship were sunk by Exocet.

All others naval ships sunk were by dumb bombs.
Which show the incompetency level of RN at time. Worse AA than in WW2.

And the media covered it.


Because the Argentinian air force wasn’t incompetent… They literally had British ships to train against and used things like terrain to their great advantage. The British Harrier force used dumb bombs and also conducted many successful attacks against heavily defended land targets.

All this actually shows that fast jets of the time, flying terrain masking attack routes, covered by decoy aircraft and ship-based radar jamming was a very effective tactic vs ship’s radar & systems of the time, at close range, in confined waters.

WW2 AAA would have performed overall even worse, and we would have lost many more ships (probably including carriers) had that been all we had available. WW2 AAA, while visually impressive and reasonably effective for the time (at least while the ships were at sea and steaming at speed), it still required A LOT of guns, and that was only against slow-moving piston/prop aircraft. Against the jets of the ’70s & ASMs they would have been next to useless.


It won’t lead to Mk41 on T31/32. It’s naïve to think otherwise.
Even if an UOR is issued, 18-24 months to field.
If something kicks off where we need to issued an UOR, chances are, it’ll be over before they even pick which missile to buy.
A promise to buy something unspecified in some time unspecified that’s capable of something unspecified is hardly a deterrent. If anything, it just encourages people to act now before we have anything to shoot at them.
desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum. 


The right decision, £250 million for five sets of yesterday’s technology with only 3 GP Type 23s anyway

Right decision for a Navy that do not have any weapon to sink enemy ships except with torpedoes from SSN’s ?


A shocking decision that makes the RN a laughing stock. A porcupine surface fleet, that’s been stripped of a core capability for nearly a decade. And he’s the next CDS. Without it the RN could be sunk by a capable maritime peer by teatime


Wrong decision 250 million, probably more on more than 5 sets of the latest technology eg LRASM. The real problem here is if we go with say a combination of LRASM primarily for ASM and Tomahawk block V for land attack and ASM capability, the fear is we won’t go with FCASW which may never actually produce a finished missile…… its this kind of stupidity that actually encourages China to go ahead and invade Taiwan, after all, the only real naval opponent will be the US, count the UK out. CSG21 was a complete waste of time, our carriers have such a very ,very limited strike capability they won’t be participating in any kind of conflict anytime soon.

Nigel Collins

Tomahawk block V might well be the better choice for both land and sea. The extended range would be better given the light armament we seem to have onboard our ships at present?

I seen articles which suggest out to 1,500 miles.

WASHINGTON — Raytheon plans to deliver next week the first of the U.S. Navy’s new Block V Tomahawk, an upgraded version of the service’s venerable land-attack missile that will ultimately include the ability to target ships at sea at extended ranges.

The new Block V, when fully realized in its Block Va and Block Vb varieties, will be expected to hit surface ships at Tomahawk ranges — in excess of 1,000 miles — with the integration of a new seeker. It also will integrate a new warhead with a broader range of capabilities, including greater penetrating power.

An old idea, but a very good deterrent without putting RN ships in harm’s way on day one of any future conflict.

If you think about the cost of deploying a carrier strike group for extended periods half way around the globe and the time it takes to get there….

If the US, UK, Australia and a few other countries in the region of the South Pacific funded this project it might just be a useful and relatively cheap solution? Air to Air refuelling is also possible.

The Boeing 747 AAC version would also come into play thanks to drones not available at the time?


Actually Australia has announced it will acquire Block V Tomahawk, to put on its Hobart class destroyers. This will add to its arsenal of LRASM launched from F18’s. Makes you wonder what the RN is thinking.

Nigel Collins

“Makes you wonder what the RN is thinking.”

It certainly does RobB


Saved a lot of money in next few years by cancelling the Barracuda class, but its pushed out further. But still leaves money allocated but not spent available now

Allan Desmond

spot on..

William Pellas

James, fancy running into you over here.

It seems to me that there is another way forward, which would be for the RN to just purchase the latest upgraded versions of Harpoon, the Block II-Plus and Block II-Plus ER, off the shelf from the US. It isn’t as sexy or as long ranged as the hoped for hypersonic weapons, but: Harpoon carries a sizable warhead, it can be deployed and fired from a dizzying array of platforms, and it’s cheap. Slow and sneaky doesn’t get the attention of fast and dazzling, but that’s the point: sea skimming missiles like Harpoon are still not easy to spot and to destroy, and there’s also the option of a swarm attack with larger numbers of them—provided the RN would buy enough of them in the first place.

Last I read, the USN was going ahead with the development of a substantially upgraded variant of Harpoon (UGM-84) and was going to mount it in the Virginia class nuclear attack submarines. Is there any reason why the same weapon couldn’t be used aboard the Astute class? Earlier versions of Harpoon went to sea on the Los Angeles boats but were withdrawn from service years ago.

There’s also the Harpoon SLAM-ER (Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response) which has a range of more than 170 miles and an 800 pound warhead. It costs as little as $500k per unit.

Western militaries in general have a fetish for expensive technology that lines the pockets of the Lockheed Martins and BAEs of the world. History has shown over and over that simple, reliable, and cheap is often a better approach to warfighting.

AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER – Wikipedia

Harpoon (missile) – Wikipedia

USS Olympia Launches a UGM-84 Harpoon Missile – YouTube

They’re Back: US Subs To Carry Harpoon Ship-Killer Missiles – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense – Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Last edited 2 years ago by William Pellas

It would seem logical to at least purchase the upgraded Harpoon for the time being, rather than go back to the days of Nelson and make do with a gun. In the 21st century thats ludicrous

Last edited 2 years ago by Jack65
William Pellas

Right. Better something that, if it hits, can help you, rather than nothing. If the RN wants to push its chips to the center of the table and try to develop a true game changer, ie, a ship launched hypersonic missile, fine. But in the meantime, slow and sneaky is not necessarily obsolete (it could become its own sort-of asymmetric weapon), and as I said, Harpoon is proven, it’s versatile, and it’s crazy cheap compared with most other guided missiles. Plus you’ve got several substantially upgraded variants just now hitting the market. What’s not to like, especially for the price?

Last edited 2 years ago by William Pellas

Good appraisal of the decision. Radakin told the committee T31 will be fitted FBNW Mk41. The interim AShM idea was actually indecision. It sent the message that the RN had no faith in FCAS. This decision sends the message that if its on time and good enough and is Mk41 compatible we will take it. Now everyone knows where they stand.


This was a possibility floated 2 months back by Navy Lookout

The semi-obsolete Harpoon Block 1C (GWS 60) anti-ship missile that still nominally equips the Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers has survived several attempts to take it out of service. Its current official OSD is now 2023 which should dovetail with I-SSGW arrival. However, the RN recently invited Babcock to submit a tender to continue supporting the system until 31 March 2024 with 3 additional one-year options, potentially sustaining it until 2027.  

I fail to see how even buying some later but compatible Harpoons will cost £250 mill.
A useful batch of Block 2+ ( which could even be upcycled existing stocks) could be costing in the region of £25-30 mill plus a support contract of under £5 mill per year.

Last edited 2 years ago by Duker
William Pellas

This ^^^^. Bingo. Spot on.

James Fennell

TBH I think that Radekin’s strategy is to make sure Type 31 becomes a credible frigate. To do that he wants to make getting Mk 41 and FCASW his main effort. If I-SSGW is around on Type 23 then the Treasury will say cross deck it to Type 31. Same if they put in a bank of 48 Sea Ceptor – as they will use up the space where the Mk 41 slots go. I suspect there is a strategy here to make sure Type 31 gets its VLS one way or another. Iver Huitfield has 32 Mk 41 and 24 Mk 56 slots.

Once the cells are fitted a whole range of munitions become possible – and can even be bought as UORs if we need them in a hurry. Everything from Tomahawk Block V, LRASM, NSM, FCASW, Harpoon II can fit in Mk 41 VLS, not to mention quad packed Spear 3, CAMM-ER or Sea Ceptor.

I would like to see Merlin and P8 get something, and F-35 something that can go into the weapons bay (hanging a missile on F-35 is not sensible as it looses its key A2AD advantage – stealth), however the F-35 sensor suite can be brilliantly used to target FCASW, Tomahawk Block V or another long range anti-shipping weapon. Whatever Vixen becomes can carry a weapon that will sink a ship too, as part of a F-35 / Loyal Wingman team – even Paveway IV will do that.

Last edited 2 years ago by James Fennell

Or it could just be a promise of ‘jam tomorrow’ to cover the fact that T31 gets nothing?

Would the budget for canceling ISSGW cover Mk 41 for T31? If it does then it would make sense. Not impossible, considering that much of the design & integration work (Huitfeldt, Tacticos) must already be done.

James Fennell

USN pays about £5 million for each Mk 41 module (8 cells) including installation – about £3 million for the hardware alone. So assuming all five Type 31 get 24 cells each, then going by USN prices the cost would be about £15 million per ship, or £75 million in total. Given the extra costs that RN would no doubt have to pay, could probably fit the ships for £100 million.

Last edited 2 years ago by James Fennell

So essentially easily doable then for the £250m budget of ISSGW? In that case I think it makes sense. The principal benefit of MK41 being the much wider choice of options that opens, including possible access to the stockpiles of allies in extremis.


So why not fit type 45’s with Mk 41 as was planned?

Mike Saul

Waitrose jam tomorrow strategy, to be honest I’d rather have some Tesco value jam today.

Captain P Wash

Waitrose Jam is the same as Tesco’s Jam it’s just perceived to be better hence the extra cost !


I don’t know, Waitrose do some lovely jam and preserves.

Supportive Bloke

I used to think that. I’d shop there out of snob value: because I could afford to.

Then I bought some from Lidl.

I hate to say it but much better.

And I’m saving a ton of money.


Lidl do some good food, but I shop at Waitrose for ethical reasons, no share holders and the workforce own the business, also their meat is a higher welfare standard and they pay their suppliers better.

Mike Jones

I buy French jam… ?

Captain P Wash

French Jam is now made with Sour Grapes…… just sayin.

William Pellas

Ha!!! 😀


And rotten apples.

Supportive Bloke

Coms are certainly via the sour grape vine.


So, if I have understood things correctly, unless our warships are able to get their one helicopter into the air, they are for the most part incapable of sinking other surface warships.

Harry Nelson

No, they could hit it lots of times with the MCG!! 😉


None of our helicopters can sink a ship. One of a huge catalogue of mistakes was never ever procuring a large AShM for Merlin.


Konsberg now have the NSM-H, their Penguin replacement. If that was integrated & procured, any ship capable of operating Merlin can have a heavy AShM. If a Seasprite can operate a Penguin, surely Wildcat could possibly do so as well. While I would prefer a ship based alternative, it would allow these missiles to be disconnected from the ship. They could be operated from anything capable of carrying a helicopter.

Meirion x

Some of our warships do have the Harpoon ASM. It could be updated with a new electronics package in the interim.

Trevor G

Correct.There is also a wider issue with the RN, which is how you expect to win a war if you are only equipped with defensive weapons?

James Fennell

The Navy has sunk quite a few hostile ships since 1945, none of them with a suface to surface Anti Ship Missile, in fact none have even been fired in anger, despite taking lots of Exocet to the South Atlantic and Harpoon to the Gulf. What has sunk ships has been carrier air strikes, submarines and helicopters operating from surface ships. Globally they have only been effectively used for suprise attacks by FACs – the Egyptians in 1967 and the Indians in 1973 both attacked warships in harbour or coastal waters and sunk a few small vessels. Air launched AshMs have had more success, Exocet in the Falklands and against the USS Stark, and Sea Skua in the Falklands and the Gulf. In 1988 the USN hit the Iranian frigate Sahad with three Hapoons and failed to sink it.

Tactically getting a surface ship into range to fire one of the current generation of missiles is challenging. While it might have 185km range on paper, it needs targeting data to find a target over the radar horizon – and that requires drones, aircraft or helicopters to find and fix the target. Warships perambulate around the ocean at a sedate 30mph, so once you get too close you are going to be in the enemy missile target for a long time – conversely an aircraft or helicopter can shoot and scoot. Modern air defences are also good at finding and defeating incoming missiles and their targeting aircraft.

Realistically, sailling a group of surface combatants into the missile zone would be reckless without carrier or land based air support, in which case carrier strike and land based aircraft are going to be a better option for sinking ships. On the other hand submarines can and should get close enough to sink major combatants. Very long range hypersonics offer the option to sink your enemy in port, before they can respond, or far from their missile zone (especially if you can defeat their targeting – i.e ISTAR – platforms), and also carry out land attack missions.

Submarine launched anti–ship missiles have a problem too – they give away your position – which is the last thing you need after you have put a missile into their flagship. A torpedo is a better options unless, again. you have very long range missiles and access to targeting information from other platforms.

So my view is relatively short ranged surface to surface missiles are great for the likes of Israel or Sweden, off FACs and corvettes in enclosed littoral waters, and perhaps for us in the Gulf or Black sea for self defence, but a much better way to deliver them for a blue water navy is from a helicopter, drone or aircraft which can do its own targeting / or team with drones, and hide after firing.. So by all means fit Merlin with NSM or Sea Venom, and give F-35 a capability, but perhaps we should wait for FC/ASM for something really tactically useful off surface ships.

Last edited 2 years ago by James Fennell

Surface to surface missiles have been used in action by other navies. See Operation Praying Mantis, the largest surface warship engagement since WW2 where US and Iranian warships traded SSM’s in action


Praying Mantis wasn’t all that glorious a triumph for SSGWs really. The Harpoon the Iranians tried to shoot didn’t guide. The one that was fired at Joshan in return was beaten to the punch by a volley of Standard SAMs.

The one that was targeted on an ‘Iranian Alvand’ nearly started WW3 when the Alvand turned out to be a Sov destroyer steaming in for tourist snaps. Lucky that shot got aborted last minute when someone finally got a positive ID!.

Legacy SSGW is more trouble than its worth.


I didn’t say Harpoons. I said surface to surface missiles which includes Standard as it has an anti-ship capability which the RN’s Aster doesn’t

Meirion x

Harpoon is a surface to surface missile. I think you mean SM-2 has a lightweight SSM capability like CAMM has too.

Last edited 2 years ago by Meirion x
Scott Hudson III

Dude, Harpoon is an anti ship missile that can be launched from air, surface, sub-surface and land, got it?


Iran hit at least 6 merchant ships with the old version Sea Killer beam riding anti ship missile. One of the first operational anti ship missiles.

Israelis also had success with their Gabriel missiles in their naval battles.

James Fennell

Yes I referred to that screw up in 1988 – missiles flew, nothing sunk, nearly started WW3 – also a littoral action.

Barry Larking

A very measured and welcome assessment. By the end of World War Two it was obvious the future of escort ships was in anti-air and submarine roles, the latter augmented by helicopters. I think the First Sea Lord has come to his or the M.o.D.’s senses. Paying through the nose for a capability that would rarely if ever be needed is not sensible, but it would be in line with established practice.


Then what is the point of Trident and Polaris submarines that never fired a missile either?
The first aim of any weapons is deterrent.
A naval ships without weapons is just a scarecrow in the garden.

Last edited 2 years ago by Boris

Not to mention that even back in the Falklands war, the distance between British and Argentinian taskforces greatly exceeded the range of ship-based AShM from each other. While far from exact, using a 200nmi exclusion zone as a reference, they appear to have been about 500km apart.
And that any long-range hypersonic missile is going to be closer to the size of a ballistic missile than any current NATO cruise missile. Possibly too big for any of the current surface ships to be fitted with.
AShM capability for the F-35B will be very useful (but still regretting the internal weapons constraints on the B model though).


Standard government….pressure the 1SL to bend with the’ Jam tomorrow ‘ mantra and hope no one dies because of this decision

One day I’ll find the civil servant responsible and insert a pineapple in them

John Hartley



Unless you can sink ships of the enemy there is no point in leaving the wall.

We are heading to war. And the RN’s contribution will be a better than average (now ageing) radar and a floating airfield for the USMC. Sadly though those can be still sunk and sailors will die.


Last edited 2 years ago by X

Totally agree. May aswell just tie our ships up and save money on everything……


Agree too.
If they really want to save money, may as well sell the whole fleet and send a sternly worded email when the shooting starts.
I say “when” as it’s inevitable that at some point, with someone, there will be shooting again…

James Fennell

You can’t sink a major surface combatant with NSM. Its derived from Penguin and has a teeny weeny warhead. Designed for use in littoral environmnents against FACs etc. Basically a long-ranged Penguin, akin to Sea Skua or Sea Venom in hitting power.

Scott Hudson III

Hey dude, the teeny weeny NSM warhead alone is actually 125kg minimum which is more than the whole Sea Skua/Venom in weight.
While the warheards of Sea Skua/Venom is no more than 30kg, now do you called that mico or nano warheard? Spear3 warheard is even smaller, 6-10kg, is that a pico ? that is more capable to sink ships?

For your info., US Navy new Constellation class 7000ton frigate will have 16 NSM besides VL cells and these frigates are not to be confused as LCS

For every NSM you need at least 4 Sea Vernom or 12 Spear3 as equivalent, so how many would get through and reach target? No missiles are 100% perfect.
So how many missile you can carry on a helicopter and how many helicopter you can carry on your frigates?

Last edited 2 years ago by Scott Hudson III
Nigel Collins

Forward planning at its best and if we get dragged in?

WASHINGTON ― A former Australian prime minister said Friday he thinks China could “soon” invade Taiwan or otherwise escalate the situation and that the West should now be planning its military and economic response.

“I think we need to be prepared to think the unthinkable,” former Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a Wilson Center event here.


China has a lot of problems too. A war could be advantageous to them. The window to do something over Taiwan is closing. It could get messy.


It could indeed! Its certainly not something the UK is in a position to become involved with. We don’t understand what forward planning means, hence we find ourselves in the ridiculous position we are currently in……


Our limit out there is defence of Australia and New Zealand.


And Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei. Thailand is important too. Plus India could be counted on as an ally in that area.

Nigel Collins

It could get very messy indeed X.

My thinking is that the threat of nuclear-tipped hypersonic weapons and in numbers will deter the west from intervening in war with Taiwan?

“China is expanding its nuclear weapon capabilities much faster than US officials had predicted a year ago, the US Department of Defense (DoD) said in its 2021 report on military and security developments involving the East Asian country.”


Nuclear weapons in general have zero effect. Any nation that uses them today will not exist tomorrow. The nuclear deterrent exists solely to remind others to not go down that path. No one wins a nuclear war. The big players know this. It’s the “Kim’s” of the world I worry about.


The problem for the PLAN is getting across that 100 miles or so of sea. And they don’t have enough resources to counter the US. The Chinese can’t achieve area superiority, the US are already capable of area denial. And the US are going hell for leather to plug the gaps. It’s a race.

If the USAF can deliver JDAM onto a moving target then the Chinese are scuppered.

Our problem is that Democrats may seek a war as a diversion.


Democrats seek war.. you Trump type views based on nothing.

Nigel Collins

We might just have the answer up our sleeve so to speak!

A very interesting read indeed.


It’s still too fluffy for me.


yes. Some worrying about no hardware under construction but its the software and sensors thats hardest, most error prone and needs development the start first.
The downside is that the software to design the software and the software to design -build-maintain the hardware gets to become a quicksand


True, war is often a way used by countries to get out of economic collapse.


Is it feasible / worthwhile to buy a handful of Harpoon Block IIs ? How much of a shoe in are they? Would it be cheaper than £250m?


I think there are so many requirements that are not being met, there is just no money for a replacement SSM. It is clearly way down the priority list.

You look at a “frigate” like Type 31 coming down the pipe and it apparently has: no surface-to-surface missiles, an inadequate SAM capability (likely 12 cells) and no anti-submarine sensors at all. Then you look at F-35 procurement numbers and the cuts that have occurred there; then there is the de facto elimination of the manned mine warfare capability; then there is the likely elimination of your LPDs; then there is the elimination of Argus; etc. etc. … there is simply no money for something like an SSM replacement. Truly alarming in the face of potential adversaries who are not going to give you a break when the time comes.


Type 31 also do not appear to have radar directors for its guns. Only EO.

Simon m

Not 100% on that as far as I could see the latest hensoldt Sharpeye mk11 radars are being fitted fore and aft they have the ability to stop & stare to perform support for the guns other graphics have stated SWAP radars for gun support so I guess it’s a wait & see


No. These are not being fitted and no one has suggested radar control for the guns. AlexS is correct.


The NS100 can do fire control. But you will still get that blind spot which may be problematic, especially with hypersonics. Still it’s early days & options may change.


I don’t see how an NS100 which is E/F band can have same precision as a dedicated X/K band director.


besides the NS100 is rotating so not continuously tracking the enemy missile and own rounds effect.

James Fennell

It has software to do that.

James Fennell

NS100 has an X-band Scout Mk 3 high res surface fire control radar integrated into the package.

Last edited 2 years ago by James Fennell

That appears to be an anti ship radar with some capability against slow moving UAV and heli .Not anti missile one.

James Fennell

Not needed nowadays – used to need separate sensors and directors for each weapon, but software does the business and sends data to weapons from multimode radars. EO/IR sensors are useful within visual range for smaller guns, but again having two is to provide 360 degree coverage, they are not linked to specific weapons.

William Pellas

Way cheaper, Paul. Please see my reply to James Fennell upthread.


Hi William. Thx for the pointer. Compatible also with P-8. Seems a no brainer to me.
Less than a new ‘National Flagship’. Can Harpoon II carry G and Ts?

William Pellas

Paul, hello. I must confess I don’t know what you mean by the shorthand “G and Ts”? Can you elaborate? Thanks!

Otherwise, yes. The main selling points for Harpoon are 1) it is proven, 2) it is cheap, both to purchase and to maintain, and, not least, 3) it can be fired from, well, darned near anything you have on hand. That includes P-8s, helicopters, Eurofighter Typhoons (that’s without double checking, but surely it wouldn’t take much modification to do so), land-based plain old truck launchers, and pretty much any RN surface ship. Yes, anti-missile systems and technology have advanced, but so has Harpoon. And for as cheap as they are, why not just buy a large number of them so you threaten your enemy with a swarm attack if nothing else? Etc and so forth.

Last edited 2 years ago by William Pellas
shark bait

Gin Tonic

William Pellas

Oh, right, yes. The true necessities!

John S C Lewis

So our surface ships will have no anti-ship weapon for the foreseeable future (if at all), and our carrier aircraft won’t even have a light anti-ship weapon for at least another 6 years. This means that the only viable way the RN has of sinking opposing ships is with SSNs and their torpedos. And look how few SSNs we have. Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, when the decision had been taken to scrap our carriers, the government of the day did at least move quickly to provide surface ships with Exocet in an attempt to plug the lack of anti-surface capability once the carriers had gone.

Captain P Wash

The MOD Crystal Ball strikes again. We don’t need them unless we do need them. Who knows what the future holds ?

Andrew Wilde

Apart from a handful of submarines there is not one ship in the Royal Navy that could get out there and compete successfully against a similar warship from a foreign navy. We possess an under- armed, under-powered, under-strength, under-funded, disgracefully led shadow of its former self. No lessons have been learned, either from history or the more recent past, the most important one being “do unto others as they would do to you but do it first” It is almost a joke to read “Adding medical facilities to one or more of the Fleet Solid Supply ships is likely to be a long term solution” as though a fleet of these ships is going to sail up the Channel anytime in the next four or five years. At the moment politicians stink for a lot of reasons but what they have allowed to happen to the ship-building programme is unforgivable. Admirals just stink.


And submarines are of use in only certain circumstances.


I wonder what Nelson would have thought on discovering that the latest delivery of ships of the line were equipped for but not with thirty two pounders, so that though they had an impressive row of gun ports, there was only fresh air behind them. Doubtless he would have been entirely reassured by being informed that the cannon themselves would be delivered sometime over the next ten years or so…………

Captain P Wash

He’d have turned a Blind Eye !


He would have though they were armless.


“Happy to gap the capability, if it is not gold-plated.” Again ruining the RN’s fame of being practical, prepared to be at war.

By the way, if 1SL wants to go for hyper-sonic something, I think it actually gives good rationale to buy I-SSGW. Why? Simply because, hyper-sonic missile will be deadly expensive. Very easy to imagine. Speed needs cost. Its physics world, not politics.

Good to see T26 or even T31 (if added with Mk.41 VLS) carrying 8 or so very expensive hyper-sonic ASM in mid-2030s. But, there is no surprise even if the 8 missiles be more expensive than 32 or even 64 of I-SSGW missiles. So, any such hi-end missile must be coupled with low-end missiles.

Eight hyper-sonic ASM will be able to sink 8 enemy brand-new destroyers. Good. But, it can also sink only 8 enemy old-and-cheap frigates/corvettes. If there are 9th corvette there, RN loses the fight.

So, there is a clear need for I-SSGW, I think. Saving the £250M for I-SSGW will (I guess) pay for only a dozen of hyper-sonic missiles.

Using £250M for I-SSGW will save a lot of money in future. It will ALSO narrow the gap. I see zero chance a hyper-sonic FC-ASW fielded by 2030. Even in 2035, there shall be some defects and only a few escorts will be carrying it. I-SSGW, even if fielded only in 2027, will dramatically narrow the gap. Big meaning. It will also put pressure to MBDA to hurry and make it cheap (if not, I-SSGW number will increase).

Last edited 2 years ago by donald_of_tokyo
Glass Half Full

You’re assuming a rather expensive hypersonic missile at 12 for £250M? One option might be SM-6 Block 1B, which seems likely to a 1,000 mile hypersonic class weapon. It will be expensive but very unlikely to be £20M+ per.


SM-6 vs Hyper-sonic ASM

  • Speed: Mach 3.5 vs Mach 7+ ; which means you need 4 times kinetic energy
  • warhead : 64 kg vs 200+ kg (e.g. Harpoon); 3 time heavier. Its land-attack missile, even 200 kg is smallish.
  • guidance : AAR vs AAE+imaging ; you need to identify HVU from cheap oilers under intensive soft-kill condition
  • Airframe: re-use of SM-2 vs brand new design, which fits in both Mk.41 and Sylver
  • Number to be built : 1800+ for AAW in USN vs how many?
  • Unit cost: $4.2M for USN mass production vs what?

Assuming brand-new Hyper-sonic ASM designed in 2020s becoming 6-7 times more expensive than SM6 is, for me, not exaggeration. At least, 4 times, easily.

Glass Half Full

I specified the Block 1B variant, which its been suggested, will apparently use the rocket motor from the SM-3. That seems a logical approach to controlling costs for both missiles. Other points regarding potential changes to warhead, guidance etc. also discussed in following article.

The US Army is also apparently interested in/planning to use Block1B, unchanged from whatever the USN does.

Time will tell what results from this and how much the Block 1B, if that remains its designation, will look like today’s SM-6. But your cost estimates are significantly larger than those for SM-3, which seems unlikely, not to mention the issue of affordability even for the US.


Thanks, so you are proposing SM-6 B1B, not FC/ASW for the anti-ship missile. Understandable.

If such a small warhead is OK for land-attack use (I guess not much)
if RN is adopting SM-6 B1B, not FC/ASW,

it could be of £6-10M a pop, I guess. If so, £250M will give RN 25-42 missiles.

But this also means,

  • very limited land-attack capability, good for precision, but not as a StromShadow/Tomahawk replacements
  • throwing away the FC/ASW program

Currently, FC/ASW cannot take any of the “re-use of technology” approach applied to SM-6.

If RN is opting for SM-6 as a full-level next generation anti-ship missile, it will be one option. Actually, it will be ready by 2028, when the first T26 commissions (and, as a side-effect, “T26 paired with T45” will have some very-long-range-AAW and basic-BMD capability?)

Guess, Tomahawk-replacement as long-range subsonic cruise missile (= StormShadow replacement) and SM-6 B1B as hyper-sonic anti-ship and precision land-attack (as well as AWACS sniper role) (= Harpoon replacement) adopted to RN, it can be affordable. US Army did go with Tomahawk and SM6, looks like?

But, anyway BOTH will be still very expensive.

No reason it will be cheaper than any candidate for I-SSGW. And, RN wants to “step aside” the cheap I-SSGW to wait for expensive StormShadow and Harpoon replacements? Deploying BOTH will make much more sense.

NOT ALL enemy is high-end.

Another candidate will be buying dozens of Tomahawk blkV NOW, so that T26 has “something” to carry by 2027-28, and she can commission with land-attack missile installed (although cheap and simple). This will save time for developing FC/ASW as a StromShadow replacement?

But, if so, I think I-SSGW like NSM will work, because it can be carried not only on Mk.41 VLS, but also on ALL RN escorts.

Last edited 2 years ago by donald_of_tokyo
Glass Half Full

I suspect SM-6, Tomahawk and perhaps even NSM are the RN’s backup plan if delays or problems develop with FC/ASW. SM-6 in its current version may be an option anyway to complement Aster 30 for AAW alone in a CSG, when fired from a T26 until T83 comes along.

I would prefer to see the FC/ASW program be a success that delivers options for submarine, surface and air launched weapons for the RN and RAF, perhaps even with options for the BA. Not least because Europe has delivered some very innovative advanced missiles, versus lack of same from the US, and that is important to avoid stagnation in technology/capability.

FC/ASW has already been shown as two options, a supersonic and subsonic solution. Now 1SL is talking about a hypersonic solution. France almost certainly wants to sell an ASM solution to all its Exocet customers and that probably can’t be hypersonic and perhaps not even supersonic. But there seems little value in creating something at this stage that simply competes with NSM/JSM. That’s the needle that needs to be threaded by FC/ASW IMO. A Storm Shadow sized warhead,or something approaching that size, would do that, at least for the subsonic variant.

I agree that a low end, low cost solution also has merit but we also have to factor in the additional integration, qualification, training and operating costs for every additional weapon we introduce. These costs may offset the benefit of lower missile costs if we only have a relatively small inventory, which seems likely given the high end escorts would be likely to arm with high end missiles.

It may make financial and tactical sense to just equip every platform with one or two variants of high end missiles for land attack and anti-ship roles, particularly with the FFBNW Mk41 option on T31. Then use Sea Ceptor, Sea Venom and perhaps surface launched Spear for the low end. Especially as we don’t have to sink ships, we only have to mission kill with enough damage to sensors and superstructure that they no longer play a part in a conflict unless we are in a protracted war.


Makes no sense. It only takes funding, and very little integration to purchase and fit the Harpoon Block II or the NSM to RN warships. The risk is too great to ignore. Unless your helicopter has missiles with good stand-off capability or you’re prepared to use your anti-aircraft missiles as a rudimentary anti-ship weapon, you’re offensive capacity is extremely limited.

Last edited 2 years ago by DaSaint

Our helicopters don’t have a ‘mission kill’ missile. Martlet is even small than Sea Skua.


And Martlet is not fire and forget so is of limited practical use

Last edited 2 years ago by Sunmack

Venom is a “mission kill” over the horizon missile that is fired from RN Wildcat helicopters.


Go away Ron. A 30kg war head fired from a slow moving aircraft at 15nm isn’t mission kill. The other day you were telling me I was risking helicopters firing heavy anti-ship missiles at 100nm using cuing. Make you mind up Captain Numpty.


Unless the Venom can target specific parts of the ship the mission kill is luck,

A missile like Spike NLOS with 30km range can target a radar antenna, the bridge, the CIC etc.


Like bringing a knife to a gun fight, if and only if f you can bring your knife close enough!


As you say RN bringing guns to a standoff heavyweight missile fight. Hopeless!

Yang Jun-Fei

what heavyweight anitiship missiles?

Last edited 2 years ago by Yang Jun-Fei


Yang Jun-Fei

PLA Navy use YJ-12, YJ-18 and YJ-91

Last edited 2 years ago by Yang Jun-Fei


Yang Jun-Fei

YJ-12 400km range March 2.5 speed

Last edited 2 years ago by Yang Jun-Fei
William Pellas

Do you have any open source documentation I can read regarding the specs and performance of the YJ-12? Also, how reliable is the information in public sources concerning its development and characteristics?

On a related not, there is a very heavy SSM battery in the photo you shared. Is that a PLAN destroyer?

Yang Jun-Fei

YJ-12 fire

William Pellas

That is a mean-looking missile for sure, but: how large is the warhead, how extensively has it been tested, how robust is it in terms of ECM and ECCM, etc. I am wondering, also, whether it was developed completely in China or if I am seeing some Russian influence.

Yang Jun-Fei

YJ-18 540km range Mach 3 speed

Last edited 2 years ago by Yang Jun-Fei

Rule Two of Navy Lookout: Opfor never fires back.


1: Overall, I think SeaVenom is a good missile in its guidance. see

1-1: I understand SeaVenom can aim at gun, CIC, or any other specific location on the target ship.

1-2: Sea Venom has 2-way datalink, so, man-in-the-loop hit-point selection can be even done. If not, it can do it by itself.

1-3; Using these options, SeaVenom are stated to have precision land-attack capability, as well.

2: Warhead comparison,

  • TLAM 450 kg, StormShadow 450 kg
  • Harpoon SSM 221 kg, Exocet 165 kg, Penguin 120kg
  • SM-6 64 kg
  • Sea Skua 30 kg, Sea Venom 30 kg
  • SPEAR3 6-10 kg

I understand Penguin can sink escort. Not sure about SM-6 (it does not have imaging guidance and not good at mission kill. Larger kinetic energy may sink the enemy? Not sure).

I think Sea Venom is looking at mission kill. SPEAR3 is also aiming at mission kill, I guess?

3: Range. Its range is vaguely stated as “over 20km class”. And I think this is the problem.

But, with relatively small investment, it can be increased dramatically, I guess (by using a small jet like SPEAR3). Sea Skua was 165 kg, while Sea Venom is still 110 kg. There are 35kg weight margins to improve its range, if needed.

So, if I-SSGW is to be canceled, can UK develop a long-range SeaVenom-ER by 2027? If so, it will make a good combi with said “hyer-sonic anti-ship missile”. A well guidanced, 30 kg warhead missile with, say 100 km range. Carried 4 each on a Wildcat, and hopefully 8 each on a Merlin, will make it a “so-so” ASM capability to be carried on all AAW, ASW and GP escorts?

Last edited 2 years ago by donald_of_tokyo

As I understand it Sea Venom range only needs to be about 20km or so that the attacking helo can pop up from below the target’s AAM horizon and then disappear below the horizon while continuing to guide the missile onto the target using image of the target transmitted back to the helo. The attack range is really provided by the helo which has a radius of action of well over 100 miles and whose sensors can detect a target at nearly double that distance without even emitting a radar signal. The thing we need to get our heads around is that Wildcat plus Sea Venom constitute a system for precision anti ship strike which significantly outranges pretty much all current AShM.

El Alamo

For peer to peer conflicts with layered air defense and AEW, you have no chance of getting within 20km firing range.
AEW will detect anything within 150km at least.


Right; so what 1SL is saying is that we are not going to engage in that level of conflict alone in the near future. Iran, S Korea, Argentina possibly yes; China no.

“I think the problem that we have is focused around Harpoon, which goes out of date in 2023. We are having a debate about whether we take the sticking-plaster approach of an interim surface-to-surface weapon, which might have what I would call a relatively modest range and might stretch to being land attack, or do we accept that we might have to have more of a gap and go for a more substantial offensive weapon. We do that in partnership with other nations.”

The last sentence is important.


Which makes perfect sense, since all potential peer opponents have a credible nuclear deterrent, so discussions about a hypothetical peer conflict – one that doesn’t somehow result in a nuclear escalation – are academic. Just look a Syria, NATO and Russia are supporting opposing factions but both sides take great care to avoid directly engaging the other. The RN is far better off to use their resources to buy kit that they might actually need to use.

I take ‘in partnership with other nations’ to mean USA or France. This signals to France we are fully committed to FC/ASW but only if the program produces something that works for the UK, as LRASM is always an option.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ben Robins

The first rule of defense is deterrent, with no weapons there is no credible deterrent.

Blackburn Buccaneer vs Soviet Union‘s Sverdlov-class cruiser 


Which peer warships have AEW?


If you have to ask, go and study at Royal Naval College first.
Try getting your head out of the sand sometimes.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ajax

Which country’s escorts carry that ??


Good comment, thumbs up


Venom can target specific parts of the ship. Which is why it’s capable of mission killing warships.


Appreciate these “we spend [x] on this, why can’t we spend [a] on [y]” are always a bit false.

However, isn’t the “HMS Johnson” trade yacht coming in at about £250m? This stop-gap utility would have been only that, but not having it inevitably risks things happening during the gap and (in my view) the trade yacht is a total waste of money and time.


That “national flag ship” is grossly irresponsible when one can’t even put a modest SSM capability on the major surface combatants and when Type 31 has no sonar. Completely outrageous.


Why is it false? The argument is always framed as there isn’t there money. And never that money is spent, wasted, elsewhere.


It’s not a given that the trade yacht will net-cost RN anything, it could even make a profit. The point was made in DSC that other departments and industry currently spend huge sums, on hosting overseas trade engagements. The inference being that RN can expect others to pay well for the use of “HMS Johnson”. Isn’t it better overall for the UK, that the RN gets this revenue, and other departments/industry get to host a unique experience, instead of just using a local venue?

Last edited 2 years ago by Ben Robins
John Hartley

I would rather have a British built, crewed, owned LNG bulk carrier, so we do not freeze to death in the Winter, rather than the trade yacht.

terry Williams

We are just pretending we have a capable Armed defence force including Navy, Army,Raf.

Anthony Merrill

I sometimes get the impression that naval vessels aren’t so much built as fighting vessels with lots of lethality and combat survivability as much as for diplomatic purposes. Specifically designed to look good for port visits, trade shows and cocktail parties or am I being cynical.


Mainly chasing drug runners and pirates.
The RN knows NATO can sink any Russian surface ship long before one of their ships will get near them. In a war in the Pacific we would be playing a supporting role hunting submarines around Singapore and Australia while the US, Korea and Japan go toe to toe in the South China sea.

Last edited 2 years ago by BB85

They’re first and foremost built to create and protect jobs


You are describing the Type 31.


Correct decision.

Only way this ever made sense was if the purchase went for LRASM and we carried that system through into Type26/Mk41 – FCASW says that wouldn’t happen though.

Interestingly the Aussies are prime movers on SL-LRASM and we now have our new AUKUS decoder rings. If the French prevaricate on FCASW, and we know there are already differences in opinion on that system along national lines, then all we need are ships with Mk41 and we have our common Anglosphere missile antiship/land-attack solution. The Aussies sorting out Type26 integration for us in to the bargain.

For anyone who’s saying we have lost our ability to sink enemy warships pipe down. GWS60 is marginal use in a littoral anyway and has been so for decades. Thats why the US stopped sticking it on their destroyers back in 2000!. Its a token capability that impresses amateurs and nothing more. The I-SSGW was a further leap in tokenism.

The curious wrinkle though was that the Saab RBS Gungnir system was ‘nod and winked’ as a favourite as repayment for Swedish participation in RAF Tempest. Wonder if that means Saab and Tempest are moving apart.


Pipe down? We lost credible AShM decades back. So you think we are only going to fight next to the shore? Really. USN moved all their above water AShM to their aviation wing. They didn’t dump it.

Amateurs? And then he is going on talk about Tempest like it is a real system.

Some here do like to hear the sound of their own voices.


Laughable. Who’s the blue water threat?. Of course the credible threat is littoral – it has been for three decades!. Thats why the important systems were Venom and Martlet.

Any bluewater threat, and you really need to stretch to come up with a credible one, is going to be a large player and in that conflict what are the Fleet subs doing that is more important. ASuW has always been a submarine job.

So yeah pipe down.

Tempest is a £250mn development project. I said no more about it than to wonder whether there was significance in the Saab contribution. A fair question given the earlier rumours.

You seem to know something about loving the sound of your own voice X.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jonesy

Fleet subs are only credible after the shooting’s started, the ROEs won’t allow first strike and by then it’s all over. Blue water threats: China/Russia for starters. As for littoral what’s going to protect the LRG the embarked troops from peer threats? Nothing! The Capability gap is a criminal gamble from those that gamble with other people’s lives.


Ah, that ever present threat rears it’s head, from those mythical peer opponents that are mysteriously suddenly unconstrained by MAD and a mutually dependent trading relationship with the West…

Last edited 2 years ago by Ben Robins

Blue water threat from Russia has been nothing for 30 years and is little changed now. China has managed to get a couple of small deployments of an escort or two around this side of the world. Blue water combat experience is nil. There has been no blue water threat up til now and little presently.

The threat is in littoral waters. Where Harpoon 1 is virtually useless. So useless in fact that the USN and us stripped it off the fleet subs at the rush and then the USN gave up sticking it on the destroyers.

Its not a practical weapon system for OTH engagement in RoE contentious waters. Doesn’t get fired. The US knew that back in 86 when Op Praying Mantis nearly saw a Harpoon fired at a Soviet Sovremenny they’d mis-ID’d as an Iranian FFL. Simple ARH weapons in tight waters are a liability.

We’ve kept them so far for the simple facts that we’ve got them anyway that they might have some value as ‘stoppers’ inside the radar horizon, when we have positive ID on target, and in the odd outlying case where a target is RoE cooperative and in uncluttered waters. Its not much of a capability and its been this way a long time. SSGW isnt the RNs principle way of sinking ships… never has been.

In the littoral the principle antiship system is going to be Sea Venom. Personally I’d like to see a lightweight box launcher that can rapid fit Sea Venom to anything with clear space on a weather deck. I said that before I-SSGW was conjured up though.


No blue water threads? So what is the point of having P8 Poseidon MPA?
Why US Navy is buying LRASM?

Ignorant to the point of idiotic, no need to have lock on front door, never been burgled before, prudence will tell you otherwise

Last edited 2 years ago by BoJo

So, trouble brews in Barents or Baltic or SCS and we send a t31/23/45 with a 4.5 gun. The Russians come armed with Kalibr and in SCS the PLAN come with rows of YJ-12s. What are our options, as it only needs 1 to get through the defences. Wake up! the adversaries have upped their game, whilst 1SL and other group thinkers like you haven’t kept up. Unless RN acquires a decent ASuW it should go nowhere near a war zone, which means Boris and Wallace stop acting hard as the entire RN wouldn’t last 3 hours against Russian or PLAN, with or without partners as they’re the weakest link!




You realize that was almost 40 years ago…. Just because the real Navy has not kept up with the times does not mean the capability is not there. And certainly the threat is done nothing but grown


You are as ignorant as you are arrogant.


Nope. I know what I’m talking about. You think that the USN removed Harpoon to replace it with air launched systems.

Lets leave it there shall we Mr Expert.


You don’t. I can tell by your language that you don’t. USN is still flying FA18 with Harpoon. All it’s above water anti-ship has been vested into the aviation. That’t the reason why the USN is panicking.
Go away and play Top Trumps.


F-18 is also flying JSOW which is their principle ASuW ordnance. Not AGM-84.

All its above water antiship is in aviation yet how many dets do they have with no aviation ships?. Is there a carrier tasked to the Med for example?. So gapped antiship in the Med thats just an oversight is it?.

No. Dont be an idiot. Harpoon was pulled from the subs and the destroyers because the threat changed from blue water to littorals. We pulled it off the boats for the same reason… realistic target set. Same reason they didnt pay to recert Sea Eagle… realistic target set.

You’re arguing for tokenism not real capability. Complete spotter.


Actually the harpoon is still the primary anti surface weapon in the USN arsenal and is still the only strictly ASuW that has been certified for the P-8. Funding was also approved a few years go for the Blk 2+ variant. The USN has invested in a number of newer anti ship missiles which will no doubt replace the harpoon but that are just being introduced into the fleet. The JSOW for most of it’s existence was only able to hit fixed targets and it was only until the C-1 variant which reached IOC in 2016 was it capable of hitting moving targets.

Nigel Collins

You might find this interesting Jonesy given the request for EMALS/CATOBAR within the next 3-5 years.

“According to the Request for Information, the Ministry of Defence have set out the following requirements.

“Potential arrestor solutions ideally should offer:
a. Max trap 47000lbs / 21318Kg
b. Min trap 11000lbs / 5000Kg
c. Energy damping method
d. Potential for energy reclamation
Potential catapult solutions ideally should offer:
a. Max launch weight 55000lbs / 24949Kg
b. Electrical power input required against launch cycle time.”
According to the Ministry of Defence, the intended outcomes of the Request for Information are as follows:
“a. Develop further MoD understanding of the different technologies and capabilities available in the market, both current and emerging.
b. Alignment of potential future MoD requirements with industry standards and processes for procurement of maritime un-crewed and autonomous capabilities; and,
c. Enable the Authority to develop a procurement strategy that will deliver best value for money for Defence.”
14th April 2021
“In this exclusive look behind the scenes of Britain’s new Future Combat Air System, Jon Lake gets under the skin of an aircraft due to enter service in just 14 years’ time, and yet its configuration is still undecided.

Tempest will be a ‘system of systems’ with a manned (or optionally manned) fighter aircraft at its heart – the final design, however, may differ substantially from the configuration featured in BAE Systems’ marketing effort

The Tempest name refers to a planned new fighter aircraft expected to sit at the heart of what will be a ‘system of systems’, consisting of crewed and uncrewed platforms, weapons, sensors and other force elements. That ‘system of systems’ is also called Tempest, and to add to the risk of confusion, the UK industry team working on this whole Future Combat Air System (FCAS) is known as Team Tempest.
The aerospace industry has long been somewhat platform-centric, based around the development and production of a particular aircraft type. In more recent times, those aircraft types have been ‘weapons systems’, and the sensors and fire control systems they carry have become progressively more important. Those systems are today at least as significant as the airframe and powerplant, but the aerospace industry has continued to focus on building individual platforms.
The product has always tended to be a standalone platform, albeit one equipped with important sensors, systems and weapons. By contrast, the new FCAS, rather than being a single standalone platform, will be a connected network of capabilities, hence a ‘system of systems’.
This new approach is required because air forces are facing a very complex and dangerous threat environment that is changing rapidly, and one that is proliferating around the world. Technology (and especially threat technology) is changing so rapidly that the framework of the new FCAS needs to be extremely adaptable, responsive and upgradable.
Leonardo’s director of major air programmes, Andrew Howard, told AIR International that “the future of air operations will not be about groups of individual aircraft flying individual missions in a warfighting posture. It will be about rapid and large-scale information exchange across a network of distributed capabilities, on an almost constant basis, within the air domain, and across all other domains, such as land, sea and space.
This ‘system of systems’ model underpins the Tempest concept and requires a completely new approach.”
Elements and categories

The core element is “likely to be a manned or optionally manned system but there will be a number of other systems or components that sit around it,” said Michael Christie, BAE Systems’ director of future combat air systems, and the company’s senior representative on Team Tempest. Christie defines these elements according to four broad categories. As well as the first, the core platform, there are what he calls adjuncts, a more generic term for the loyal wingman/remote carrier unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) that will also be developed.
 These could have a range of different capabilities, and could even fulfil different roles.
The third category refers to ‘effectors’, a term Team
Tempest prefers to ‘weapons’ because they may not deliver kinetic effects. The final category is command, control and communications.
A radical approach
The UK-led FCAS and the next-generation Tempest aircraft at its core are being developed in a radically new way, and this can make the programme difficult to understand and to follow. Judged by conventional metrics, the programme might appear to be lagging behind rival US and Franco-German-Spanish efforts to develop new-generation combat aircraft and combat air systems, for example, but to make that assumption would be a mistake.
Although Team Tempest is looking to produce a flexible, affordable combat aircraft that reaches the market in the 2030s, the team is in no rush to get an aircraft into the air or even to lock down the design.
Development of Tempest is proceeding apace, but there are few obvious milestones or markers of progress, since a key feature of the programme is that it is quite deliberately concentrating on developing and maturing the technologies and capabilities required. Platform development will be compressed and left until the last moment, thanks to extensive and indeed unparalleled use of model-based systems engineering and design.
Quite simply, this is because, as Andrew Kennedy, head of group strategy, BAE Systems Air, observed: “The sooner you lock down the design, the sooner it’s obsolete!”
Michael Christie acknowledged that this approach means that “some people are nervous – it feels like you’re not firming things up until later, and that’s partly true, but what you also get from it is much greater maturity, much greater understanding of the system and how it works, so that you don’t spend the period taking a requirement and translating it into a product, trying to work out what the requirement really means.”
Leonardo’s Andrew Howard gave more details: “Traditionally, the capabilities we could bring to the battlespace were restricted at an early stage by the decisions made in designing a platform. An aircraft would be designed and built, and then companies like Leonardo would work to equip it with useful technology. If you wanted a specific capability, but it wouldn’t fit on the aircraft, then straight away you’ve got a costly and time-consuming problem to solve. We, as Team Tempest, have recognised that this model is no longer fit for purpose.”
What this all means is that although the US NGAD programme already has a flying demonstrator, and while Dassault and Airbus aim to fly a fighter technology demonstrator by 2026, neither programme is necessarily any further ahead than Tempest.
Some would argue that this apparent ‘early lead’ may actually condemn these programmes to being far behind Tempest when they eventually produce an in-service aircraft. Essentially, these programmes are following a more traditional model – setting the requirement early, designing the solution, and then refining and testing it. And if the capabilities and characteristics of the core element are set in stone, then it follows that the design of the other elements will be less flexible and less adaptable.
By the time most aircraft programmes become public knowledge, a configuration has been chosen, and concept artwork usually bears a close resemblance to the eventual production aircraft. Michael Christie, however, has already cautioned that the fighter that emerges from the FCAS programme “may not look like the concept aircraft unveiled in 2018.”
Carrier implications
Adapting the core manned Tempest fighter for carrier operations would be a massive task, and one that would impose tight constraints on the design. The aircraft would need to be able to withstand the stresses and fatigue loads imposed by arrested carrier landings and catapult launches, which would increase structural weight, although overall mass would still need to be kept relatively low.
Quite apart from weight limits, the size of aircraft carrier deck elevators would restrict the aircraft’s overall length (and wingspan). Other design requirements would include a rugged, long-stroke carrier landing gear with associated additional internal volume and a suitable arrester hook, that would need to be fully retractable to preserve LO characteristics. Carrier operations would also demand enhanced corrosion protection, and potentially different LO treatments/ coatings.
Take-off performance and lowspeed handling and control authority would need to be adequate for catapult launch. The aircraft would need to be able to flya standard carrier approach, with the pilot getting a good view ‘over the nose’.
Although BAE produced full-scale models of a notional Tempest design, and displayed them at airshows at Farnborough, Fairford, Cosford and Duxford, and despite multiple computer-generated renderings and animations showing the same basic twin-finned, twin-engined tailless Delta design, the FCAS core element could look very different indeed.
“The future of air operations will be about rapid and large-scale information exchange”
– Iain Bancroft, director of major air programmes, Leonardo
When AIR International spoke with Michael Christie in March 2021, he said  “we’re still looking at multiple options for the configuration of the core, manned, or optionally manned platform. We’re looking at the balance between the various components and at how best to distribute capability across the overall system.
We will model various different sizes and shapes and the different capabilities and roles that each of the components carry out, trying to find the balance between the most effective and the most affordable.
So we will be keeping our options open for a while yet.”
What this means is that other elements of the ‘system of systems’ can be adapted to compensate for features that might be missing from the core platform, or vice versa. For example, if it is found to be more efficient and cheaper to leave penetrating reconnaissance to an adjunct, then that can be done.
The NGAD and SCAF teams, working in a more traditional way, will very soon have to determine exactly what level of LO will be required –a decision that will result in the design being frozen. Team Tempest can continue to mull that over, and to take account of changes to the threat, and of the performance and characteristics of different adjuncts and effectors.
Christie was unwilling to say how many configurations were being examined.
“We’re looking at many configurations. But I don’t really want to give a number because I don’t think it means that much. We have the ability to assess many more configurations than before,” he said.
“If I look back to the days when I was an aerodynamicist on Typhoon, we looked at a range of different configurations, the P110, P113, P120, etc. We had to go through a whole series of wind tunnel tests and gradually mature the product. I could never have depended on computational fluid dynamics in those days to do that.
“I can do that synthetically now an awful lot more quickly than I was able to do it back in the 1980s. We can rattle through these configurations at a great pace. We can do things in a matter of days that would literally have taken months and years. In some of the work we’ve done, we’ve been able to run 60 configurations through a high-performance computer, again in a matter of days.

A digital thread runs right through the Tempest programme, from concepting, through to design, manufacturing, sustainment and operation 

Ray Troll
“But I don’t necessarily want everybody continually looking at lots of configurations. We need to make a clear decision.”
One of the concepts that has been looked at is to treat the core fighter as a ‘minimum viable platform’, adding software and plug-and-play equipment modules to flex its role, rather than treating the aircraft as a multi-role platform in the traditional sense. The same airframe shape would perform different roles, according to what equipment was fitted, but the different aircraft would fundamentally share the same platform.
New design techniques
The Boeing/Saab T-7A programme demonstrated that by using advanced digital design and cutting edge manufacturing it was possible to produce a brand new, clean sheet of paper airframe more cheaply than simply buying an off-the-shelf trainer. Dr Will Roper, the Pentagon’s former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, exploited this capability when he outlined his new ‘Century Series’ concept for building future fighter aircraft.
Roper urged the development of a series of shorter-lived aircraft programmes that would share some common components and subassemblies. Roper’s vision saw new designs being rolled out on a predictable cycle, replacing older models in production – much like new versions of the iPhone. Roper wanted to see a rapid iteration of new designs, rewarding the “volume of design”, not production numbers.

 The core Tempest aircraft will be augmented by a host of adjuncts and effectors, including UAVs of various shapes and sizes, among them ‘loyal wingmen’ and attributable swarming drones


A similar approach to FCAS could theoretically see different operators procure different elements of the ‘system of systems’ – perhaps with a different core platform to suit different requirements – Sweden, for example, might want a lightweight fighter optimised for operation from austere road strips, while another operator might prefer a narrowly focused BVR system.
But while Christie admits that he “bought into some of the thinking of the century series,” he cautions against trying to design too many different platform types, “because there’s a non-recurring cost to doing that.”

 This view of the Tempest configuration shows to advantage some of the LO characteristics that will feature on whatever configuration is eventually chosen


The cynical observer might suspect that BAE Systems is unlikely to embrace small production runs of aircraft, having spent the last three decades becoming more and more adept at exploiting today’s combat aircraft business model, which rewards production longevity and numbers over dynamic design. The more aircraft a manufacturer builds, the longer that company will be able to earn money from sustainment and support revenues.

 Fixed jigs will be rare in BAE Systems’ ‘factory of the future’, but advanced robotics will be clearly in evidence

Carrier capability
There have been numerous suggestions that the Tempest programme could or should produce a carrier-capable version (see Carrier implications, page 24). When Labour peer Lord West of Spithead (the former First Sea Lord) asked about this in February 2019, Earl Howe, the Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, said that any new combat air system would “need to be interoperable with the Carrier Enabled Power Projection (CEPP) programme.” He added that carrier basing would be considered “for any unmanned force multipliers which may form part of the future combat air system,” while seeming to imply that there would be no requirement for a manned combat aircraft on the carrier beyond the F-35.
There is a significant ‘carrier lobby’ in the UK, and some still press for a carrier-based version of the core manned fighter. AIR International asked Michael Christie how dismayed he would be if someone told him that there was now a requirement to operate Tempest from a carrier.
“I’d be surprised, but I might not be dismayed. It will definitely be a challenge to do everything that we’re trying to do and also make it carrier suitable. If that’s a decision that is going to be made then it has to be made early, because it will have a profound effect on the configuration. Carrier capability would have to be built into the requirements. I don’t think it’s likely to be a requirement given that the UK already has a carrier capability.”
With so much still to be decided it will be some time before anyone sees anything approaching a final Tempest aircraft design, even though Team Tempest is aiming to achieve an IOC (Initial Operational Capability) in 2035, with FOC (Full Operational Capability) in 2040. To get hung up on the configuration would be to fundamentally misunderstand what the FCAS is all about.
Six major workstreams
When looking at Tempest, it is tempting to concentrate on some of the exotic technologies that the aircraft will or might incorporate. Much has been written about future ‘virtual cockpit’ technologies, haptics (technology that simulates what would be felt by a user interacting directly with physical objects) and wearable technologies, and even directs energy weapons.
But perhaps more significant than these individual technologies are the six major workstreams that make up the programme.
The first of these is concepting, which Christie describes as being “almost like the integrating workstream.”
The second workstream covers next-generation technologies, many of which cannot be talked about, but which include low observability.
The third includes both power and propulsion technologies, and the fourth covers sensing technologies, while the fifth is based around airframe technology.
The sixth workstream is built around enabling technologies, including manufacturing, model-based systems engineering, and the digital enterprise.
The key to success for the next generation of combat aircraft will be what is now called ‘dominance in the information space’. It is all about finding, disseminating and exploiting information, and this will place a huge emphasis on new technologies, including artificial intelligence and autonomy. To succeed in a rapidly changing threat environment, the system will have to be rapidly reconfigurable and upgradeable.
This will require open architectures in the FCAS but also in the design, development and manufacturing sphere, as well as very agile project management. Everything about Tempest will be quite different to the way that BAE Systems and its partners have managed and executed combat aircraft programmes in the past.

Those who value aesthetics in aircraft design may be reassured by the reminder that this, now very familiar twin-finned, pelican-nosed configuration – may not be the final Tempest design


“The sooner you lock down the design, the sooner it’s obsolete!”
– Andrew Kennedy, strategic campaigns director, BAE Systems Air
 BAE’s ‘factory of the future’ is emblematic of the new approach. A digital thread runs through the entire process, from concept work, through to the design process and into manufacturing.

This Tempest configuration appears futuristic and ‘stealthy’, and that’s probably why it was chosen to form the basis of full-scale models and press imagery. It looks as you’d expect a midcentury sixth-generation fighter to look – twinfinned, tailless, delta winged. However, the real thing could turn out very differently


The new factory will move away from fixed jigs as far as is possible, and will make unparalleled use of robotics and additive manufacturing (3D printing). Furthermore, it promises to reduce timescales, leveraging higher yields and a higher ‘right first time’ rate.

The future of air operations will entail a ‘system of systems’, with multiple assets exchanging information constantly within the air domain, and across land, sea, space and cyberspace

Getting to grips with the work of Team Tempest and the FCAS project means understanding that there are now effectively two related programmes running in parallel. One is a British national combat air acquisition process, while the other is a trilateral international technology programme.
The UK effort will move into its concept and assessment phase this summer, using funding allocated in the 2021 Defence Command Paper, ‘Defence in a Competitive Age’.
The national and international programmes have run in parallel, but the intent is for both to coincide at some point later in the year, moving to a joint statement of work and then joining together in a single organisational structure later in the programme. This has been laid out in the Trilateral MoU signed by the Swedish, Italian and UK governments at the end of last year.
After the concept and assessment phase, the next big milestone will be the alternate systems review, which is when the system will be defined, and when the formal requirement will start to firm up. There will be a much clearer idea of what the system will be, and what the elements of the system are.
The alternate systems review for the overall ‘system of systems’ is probably 18 months away from starting, while the core platform review is probably two years away.
The whole process will be far less sequential than traditional programmes, with much more work being conducted in parallel. In a traditional programme the customer issues a requirement, to which industry then responds. But for Tempest, there is a more iterative process between customer and industry, with dynamic operational analysis, and with system development proceeding simultaneously.
“One of the core tenets of the Future Combat Air System programme is that it is definitely international by design,” Michael Christie says.
“On day two, as soon as we had unveiled the concept model, we started talking to our partners in Sweden and Italy. We’ve got a group of nations who have come together and who want to, and know how to, collaborate.”
Christie explained further: “We have a very good coverage of all the capabilities that are required to bring a complex combat aircraft system into play. We all understand how to compromise and come up with a solution that works for everybody. That in itself is as important as some of the technical skills. In this market if you know how to come together and work effectively as a team you’ve probably got a bit of a winning formula.”
As well as the three key nations of the UK, Italy and Sweden (each of which is capable of designing and manufacturing whole aircraft, and each of which has capabilities in sensing and weapons), the UK partners are determined to make the programme accessible to new partners joining later.
“All of the partners working together at the moment are experienced in the export market, and we’re experienced in how you gain export customers in this very complex sector,” Christie insisted.
“I know from my time working on Typhoon and Hawk exports that you don’t do exports these days without having some kind of share of the work going to your export partners.
“One of the lessons learned from previous programmes is that if it’s all too tightly ‘stitched up’ up-front, it becomes very challenging later in the programme. So this is a programme that has set out to be international by design.”
Those involved are also determined to ensure that any new Tempest partner will have some level of freedom of action in terms of both operational sovereignty and freedom of modification.
Industrial construct
One of the most important tasks over the next few months will be building the necessary governmental and industrial constructs. “Rather than starting with a structure, we’re starting with an outcome in mind, and this is that we want an efficient, competitive delivery construct,” explained Michael Christie.
Team Tempest is looking at a very wide range of alternative structures, and is hoping to learn from NETMA, Panavia and Eurofighter, as well as from other consortia and similarly complex programmes.
The team wants to avoid duplication in the delivery construct, and needs to move at a very rapid pace if it is to meet the ambitious target of an IOC of 2035.
It is still too early to say what the Tempest platform will look like, what adjuncts and effectors will form the other elements of the Future Combat Air System, or even exactly how the programme will be run. What is certain, however, is that the Tempest Team will shake up FCAS development once and for all.

Glass Half Full

Navy Lookout previously reported that “…the RN recently invited Babcock to submit a tender to continue supporting the system [Harpoon] until 31 March 2024 with 3 additional one-year options, potentially sustaining it until 2027.”

So is that no longer the case, because if it is still accurate then we’re looking at 2027 OSD, not 2023 as this article suggests.

In addition, in July Quin stated “The Planning Assumption for Service Entry for Future Cruise /Anti-Ship Weapon on the T26 Frigate and Typhoon aircraft is 2028 and 2030 respectively.”

Thus, if the Harpoon extension goes through and FCASW holds to 2028 on T26, then the RN may only be looking at a 1-2 year gap for a SSM solution. Even if FCASW fails to meet that timeline, a SM-6 Block 1B option could, as a hypersonic, 1,000 mile range weapon.


Hi GHF, as I’ve stated before (no, not where you think I’m going with this), I honestly don’t see long range, hypersonic weapons capable of hitting moving targets being viable for anyone in the near term. We absolutely should be developing them, but I wouldn’t be planning for their introduction at this stage. Aside from anything else, I don’t see us being able to utilise them for much under the ROE that we’re going to be using- even in a peer war situation.
Either way, they’re going to be prohibitively expensive for most uses. If people moan about using Brimstone to take out Toyota pick up trucks, what will they say when we use one to take out an improvised AShM launcher operated by Houthi rebels (WAY more likely as a target than a Chinese destroyer).
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be developing them, we definitely should. But we shouldn’t be expecting something viable along any time soon, and even when we do I think we should be seeing it in terms of a high/low expensive/cheap mix (Sea Venom/Martlet, but big missiles?!) for the different threats we’re likely to face.

Glass Half Full

Joe, why do you believe a hypersonic missile ROE to be any different to that of a supersonic or subsonic missile, assuming they can all sink a ship or take out a land target?

In any event having a subsonic solution might also be planned, because it offers different tactical options, e.g. a stealthy approach to target (especially for land attack) versus a very detectable thermal bloom from a hypersonic missile. So different tools for different situations and the option to combine them in an attack to help overwhelm defences. A subsonic missile would probably be cheaper than a hypersonic solution but not cheap. Its likely to still cost multiple millions, as a relatively modern, large warhead example, LRASM seems to be costing $3-4M for the US, although the smaller NSM is perhaps half this IIRC.

Regardless of missile type, a target beyond visual/surface radar range is going to need other assets to provide a location for the target. Those assets may include rotary and fixed wing, manned and unmanned, within and beyond the atmosphere, such as AEW, fighters, UAVs, satellites, etc.

The challenge commonly discussed with hypersonic missiles is their ability to detect their own targets when traveling at such high speeds and maintaining the kill chain. There are a number of ways this may be addressed. The proliferation of large networks of LEO satellites is one path to providing targeting anywhere in the world. Operating a mesh network of sensors within the atmosphere is another, comprising manned and low cost attritable unmanned platforms. This is all technology available today. The US is planning such networks, the Russians and Chinese also seem to be.

Certainly an adversary will attempt to counter both space and atmosphere based continual surveillance, but that principle is not new.

One final observation that tends to get overlooked. A near miss from a hypersonic weapon may be just as devastating to a ship as a direct hit, due to the shock wave from the kinetic energy alone of the missile hitting the water.


Hi GHF, I don’t expect our ROE to be any different for hypersonic weapons and that’s precisely my point. We have very strict ROE when it comes to confirming the target, reducing the chances of collateral damage, and accuracy.
Our existing precision weapons are, as I understand them, more accurate than even the best claims of hypersonic weapons by an order of magnitude or more; that means that the conditions in which we’re able to deploy them are immediately more limited- especially in congested areas. More and more these days, a “man in the loop” or similar way to abort the strike at the last minute is becoming a prerequisite. I’m not sure how that is going to work effectively at over 5,0000 miles an hour… Regardless of the offboard sensors, they’ll also need onboard sensors, which are going to need to be both robust enough for rapid manouevring at Mach 7+ and sensitive enough to match existing precision weapons systems (if we want to use them as freely as we would a Spear3) at those same speeds.
Even if we can get a kill chain and maintain it 1,000 miles into enemy territory, I find it difficult to see the above being met anytime soon. The potential damage caused by a near miss would also score against its use in many situations where collateral damage is to be avoided (very common these days).
The satellite nets would make a big difference to that, good point- maybe a reason that the MOD are investing in OneWeb? The cost difference isn’t just int he individual platform; unless drastically improved upon, the most accurate claims for existing hypersonic weapons seem to be CEP20 for the Chinese DF21. That means that 50% of the missiles will hit within 20 m. To ensure confidence of a kill we’re going to need to launch at least two per target, whereas a supersonic AShM (for example) meets the same precision as our existing weaponry. Even if the supersonic weapon is half the price, it becomes a quarter of the price when it comes to resources expended to kill the enemy.
I’ve no doubt that we’ll get all of these sorted, but ultimately it’s going to take time and hypersonics aren’t going to be the magic bullet and will need alternatives- especially in the near term.

Glass Half Full

We’re reaching a bit here Joe in some of your examples. If we are firing off heavy missiles at ships then this isn’t a minor spat, its a full on act of war, with the change in ROE that comes with that situation.

In addition, how close would you expect a non-combatant to be to the target to suffer collateral damage? Based on your CEP numbers, they would have to be close enough to be at risk of colliding with the target. If we are considering the targeting of a non-combatant in error, then that is down to whatever sensors the missile can use along with its onboard target matching, plus third party target data, the same as other modern missiles.

There are already sensors and electronics in Mach 10+ missiles like SM-3. Russia and China do likewise in their hypersonic missiles, so I don’t understand why you posit speed of the missile being a technical challenge for sensor and electronics operation? I would agree that accurately targeting a moving target such as a ship may be a challenge for the missile alone, if traveling at hypersonic speeds and without third party data. But I would be cautious about assuming that to be the case because of the following.

The most common assumption about hypersonics is that plasma prevents the use of onboard sensors. However, that doesn’t need to be an issue if the missile uses a hybrid ramjet/scramjet propulsion system. With such a system it might transit at hypersonic speeds, scrub off speed to allow sensors to detect and confirm target once in the area and then accelerate back to hypersonic speed for the final attack phase. Its worth pointing out that Meteor is a Mach 4+ throttleable ramjet, that we’ve had operational for half a decade already, so we aren’t that far away from hypersonic technology.

The very speed of hypersonics helps with hitting the intended target. Taking a worst case example, a ship at 1,000 miles is, at a first order estimate, 12 minutes away for a 5,000 mph missile. Both the target and any other vessels in the area can only travel so far within that time, 6nm at 30 knots for example. Add in the ability to continuously update the missile with both a confirmation of its own position (to augment onboard GPS/INS) and that of the target during the missile’s transit and that distance becomes irrelevant, especially if the missile can use its own sensors. However, that doesn’t preclude establishing and maintaining the kill chain.

While the 1SL flagging a possible desire for a hypersonic capability came as a bit of a surprise, the rationale is pretty clear. The missile can travel a long way in a very short time and it bypasses much of the layered defence of a warship and HVT. Note though that 1SL didn’t combine 1,000 mile range with a hypersonic capability, he said “but we should reach out to hypersonic weapons and weapons that have plus-1,000 km range”.


That’s interesting stuff, how to you see the threat from the present generation of Russian shipborne hypersonic antiship missiles. There tends to be a lot at the extreme ends, from they are dross that will never hit anything to an unstoppable super weapon that will invalidate all our present AAW capability?

Glass Half Full

Today I would estimate it still to be a kill chain challenge, in the absence of the type of LEO satellite networks I referenced previously, or in the absence of an ability to maintain persistent surveillance with more conventional air or space assets. It might not be so much of a challenge to establish and maintain that kill chain in a decade’s time.

Higher orbit satellite networks all the way out to geosynchronous orbit might provide persistent surveillance today, at least in certain regions/areas. It then becomes a question of communications and control latency for a fast moving missile at those larger orbit distances, along with whatever the missile sensors can detect, to provide accurate targeting. Some will suggest that satellites can simply be destroyed or disabled but starting down the path of destroying space assets has issue for all parties, since all top tier peers can achieve it.

Destroying space assets also doesn’t address a more conventional targeting capability using stealth air assets as sensors, probably with a combination of manned and un-manned platforms, in a mesh network feeding back into AEW assets. It might then be a case of whose air assets control the domain and deny access to the adversary.

Its then also a question of how capable are the countermeasures. Hypersonic missiles will be detected early from space due to their thermal bloom. The question is how reliably can communications to them be interdicted, their targeting confused/misdirected, or the ability of kinetic counters to reliably intercept them be achieved.

So as is often the case, we live in a world of grey rather than black and white, somewhere on a continuum between phantom threat to addressable threat to unstoppable. What it does mean is we have to take both the threat from and the requirement to have an allied capability seriously.


I think this may be another one of those areas where we have to agree to disagree on some points, sir. But I absolutely agree we need to prepare for their future use and develop our own. I just don’t see it being wise to expect our hypersonic solution to be the only heavy AShM/land attack missile that is arming our fleet- certainly not in the next 10-20 years. Your point about the 1SL not necessarily speaking about both capabilities in a single package may render my concerns moot.
My CEP numbers are only an example based upon what China claims for their DF21, but looking at it another way 95% of the hits are going to land in a 40 metre radius circle. But what we seem to be looking to develop aren’t ballistic trajectory top down attacks, from my understanding these are coming in from the beam (not sure whether strictly sea skimming)- there is plenty of scope for one of these missiles to pass straight over the superstructure and carry on covering 2.3 km/s. I don’t think it unreasonable to think that there may be civilian shipping in such a place as the SCS within a few seconds flight even in a full peer conflict; there certainly was in the Gulf during the Iran/Iraq war. They certainly wouldn’t have to be on a collision course- they could be over 5km to port or starboard.
You make a very good point about Meteor, and SM-3. But momentum in a plane is a square of velocity, so making incredibly rapid and potentially significant course corrections on a ship killer (200+ kg mass) at increased velocity is not a linear exercise. The SM-3 is a very fair analogy, and it’s probably the best example of what can be achieved- I think it would likely be the supreme example of what would be needed from a Hypersonic AShM. However it weighs 1.5 Te and is 6.5 m long, and costs $12M per round. It seems that you need all 3 of the boost stages to get hypersonic too, so there’s not a lot of scope to make it a smaller weapon.
We seem to be discussing developing a missile that can only be utilised in a full peer conflict due to looser ROE, where we are sure there are no civilians that could be hit by collateral, that costs 3-4 times more than the most expensive advanced AShM currently available (LRASM). All I’m saying is that’s an incredibly expensive (and rather large) weapon in the realms of AShMs, and doesn’t lend itself well to being the only heavyweight weapon in a nation’s armoury.


I wouldn’t judge hypersonic abilities based on the SM3. For starters it is a very high altitude and exoatmospheric weapon, meaning the majority of its terminal phase, it is either in very rarefied air or near vacuum. It will also be flying where gravity is being diminished the further from Earth it goes. The ability to make radical course corrections are controlled by the use of reaction jets. It can certainly turn tighter out of atmosphere than when in it.

There are number of trains of thought with aircraft plasma generation at hypersonic speeds. If an aircraft travels faster than Mach 10, the plasma generation is almost instantaneous. However, when it travels in the low hypersonic regime between Mach 5 and 10. The aircraft’s shape and material composition plus altitude have a lot to do with plasma generation. If the aircraft is dart shaped it can delay the onset of the plasma generation, but the very pointed nose becomes incredibly hot and can be burnt away due to the air friction, for example at Mach 5 the skin surface temperature is 1000C.

Both the Russian Avengard and Chinese DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle should be seen as first strike weapons. This is because they can evade ballistic missile search and tracking, as over-the-horizon early warning radars are currently optimised to detect ballistic missiles flying at higher altitudes. Infra-red missile warning satellites in orbit detect the heat plume of missile launches during the boost phase of the launch, but it is harder for them to track a glide vehicle in the glide phase where it is flying at lower level. Hypersonic weapons can therefore overfly existing air defence systems and under-fly missile defence systems, such as the SM3. Hypersonic flight dramatically reduces the time it takes to travel from one place to another, potentially putting any place on Earth within a 90-minute flight time. 

There is a major difficulty is managing the aerodynamics of flight at hypersonic speeds and controlling the travel of the missile. At such high speeds even tiny imbalances (air pockets, air density changes) can cause aerodynamic instability and result in destruction of the vehicle. Mechanically operated flaps or tabs used to control conventional aircraft will have gaps that could disrupt the airflow, while jet or rocket thrusters used in missiles could also interact with flow in unexpected ways due to how the shock cones interact. Precise modelling over a range of high Mach numbers is needed to predict the behaviour of the vehicle in flight, requiring access to specialised high speed (hypersonic) wind tunnels. Flight must be controlled by sophisticated avionics controlled by advanced computer systems in order to react with the necessary speed and sensitivity, and the electronic systems must also be protected from the intense heat generated during flight.

Developing and manufacturing materials and components able to resist these extreme temperatures are very expensive. Special composite materials such as high performance carbon-carbon, ceramic, and metal matrix alloys are necessary for the fabrication of critical components. Especially when designing and building an airframe so as it can manage extreme thermal stress, is significantly problematic, i.e. costly.

There are two types of hypersonic weapons currently under development. Hypersonic glide vehicles which are launched using ballistic missiles and are then released at very high altitudes before gliding at hypersonic speeds towards the target, manoeuvring to avoid air defence systems. Hypersonic cruise missiles can be launched conventionally from air, land, or sea-based platforms and use scramjet technology to fly at relatively low altitudes (above 20km) to the target. The kinetic energy of either type of weapon would be so high that it could be able to destroy certain types of target without the need for an explosive payload. 

The hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), which initially follows a ballistic path, then “glides towards it target will be flying well above 200,000ft and at initial speeds greater than Mach 20. Both Russia and China have said their HGVs will do random manoeuvres to throw off the air defence system’s tracking. By doing this they will start to slow down, as they are unpowered. As it descends it will start passing through denser and denser air and thereby slowing down from Mach 20. These will undoubtedly be generating a plasma sheath as the fall, much like a standard re-entry vehicle. Unless they drop their speed to below Mach 10 they will be essentially flying blind. Which is ok against a fixed static target, but useless against one that moves. If they do slow down to dissipate the plasma sheath, they will be vulnerable to air defence missiles.

A missile such as the Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, which is alleged to hit speeds of Mach 8+ will have a number of methods of operation, depending on the range to the target. If it is a long way away, it will have to follow a high altitude ballistic path, as the fuel it carries is finite and flying at high altitude is more economical. However, it can also fly at low level. I doubt very much it will be hitting the same speeds due to the much thicker air density, plus trying to attain those speeds will eat through the fuel very quickly. It is possible to fly at hypersonic speeds at low level, but it comes at a cost of significantly lower range, but also increased weight due to the necessary thermal protection required.

It is known that Zircon uses both a passive and active radar seeker. The missile is between 8 and 10m long with a diameter similar to the P800 Oniks about 70cm and is over 3000kg. It is not a small missile, but the diameter will allow for a decent sized X band radar antenna, so it may have a pretty good detection range. However, the radar will be relatively simple to not only keep costs down, but probably due to the lack of processing power as space for fuel and the warhead will be paramount. For this reason I think it will more susceptible to either active or passive electronic countermeasures, chaff highly likely, but something like Leonardo’s Britecloud most certainly. The question would be, does the missile radar have a high offset bore capability and can it circle around for re-attack if it misses?

Hypersonic missiles or HGVs are not the golden bullet, as countermeasures are being developed that will mitigate their speed advantage. Any modern ship based PESA or AESA radar will not only detect a hypersonic missile but also track it. Fixed multiple flat panel radars will have an advantage here as they can follow the track in real time, whereas mechanically rotating ones will have to use predictive software when its in the dead zone. The issue is the maths to work out the interception. Both SeaCeptor and Aster can in theory engage both a hypersonic missile and a HGV, so long as the missile is placed in the hypersonic missile’s path. The timing of the proximity fuse will be crucial to ensure that the debris cloud is not only in front of the incoming threat but also large enough so that it passes through it if the missile misses. However, in a passing or a tail chasing scenario, both SeaCeptor and Aster would probably struggle to get in a position to engage.

Glass Half Full

Davey provides excellent observations regarding hypersonic missiles, so nothing worth adding to that. Its very unlikely that we would only have one solution for FC/ASW if its hypersonic. It would leave a huge gap between Martlet/Sea Venom/Sea Ceptor capabilities and a hypersonic weapon. In addition, France will want to sell a replacement for Exocet and that has to be affordable for the many existing users, so at best a supersonic solution IMV.

I expect a long range, low observable, subsonic solution with surface and air launch options, at least for the land attack role, and probably also for use in ASW. This might even be the default option with a hypersonic solution as the stretch goal. Especially because it was already announced in the Commons that the plan was operating capability on T26 by 2028 and Typhoon by 2030, which suggests a subsonic solution to me.


Yes, Davey always seems to have a lot of valuable input!
If your expectations are met, then I’m perfectly happy- they’re pretty much the same as what I want to see. It just seems that they’re dropping development of every except for hypersonic, with no mention of lower-speed but equally important weapons- that’s what has me concerned.

stephen ball

Look’s good. More funding will be given.


Procurement of a new AShM has been pretty shambolic to date but given the current state of affairs I think this could be a sensible move.

Betting big on one highly capable system rather than squandering funds on an interim solution makes sense whilst MK.41 gives a plug & play flexibility enabling a range of missiles to be utilized and stocks easily shared if the T31’s gain some VLS.

The only concerns are the potential length of the capability gap (2023-2028 not too bad but into the 2030’s not so much) and the missile choice – buying off the shelf yet again from America would mean undermining UK industry but there must be concerns about pairing up with France.

A collaborative development and on-shore technology/production with America or another European partner (Italy or Sweden?) could be good.

Armchair Admiral

In the meanwhile we perhaps should be looking at VL or canister launched Spear3 as a stop-gap. The thing has been developed to a point that is can be brought into service soon, and although not the ship killer that some would want, can be launched in numbers to overwhelm defences.
I can understand the need for a good standoff range for Ashm, but if you need to launch at the fantastic ranges being touted then your ship is nowhere near the fight, and such massive ranged missiles can be launched from elsewhere. Having Spear3 or sea-brimstone (or whatever) gives you a good instant response weapon with minimal ship footprint…or at least it is better than nothing. Fire a few ahead of your old Harpoons…
As has also been stated, a “mission kill” does not necessarily require a sinking, just disabling to some degree.


I’d be interested in a VL/cannister launched Sea Venom, if they can add a bit of a booster to push the range out- would give much more killing power than Spear3.


To be honest, if you’re looking at missiles that are actually cleared and formally integrated for Mk41 use (or are planned for it), then the list isn’t all that long. ESSM, SM2, SM3, SM6, TLAM, ASROC last time I checked. We don’t use any of those and they would have to be integrated into our CMS if we wanted to use them. ASROC is so old as to be redundant, American air defence missiles aren’t really required for T26 and T31 (except maybe for their secondary surface warfare capability- rather expensive for that), and contrary to popular belief LRASM is not formally cleared for Mk41 and the USN has no plans to do so.
The argument for Mk41 is probably more towards potential future integrations of missiles because they have a wider user base, it’s the only benefit I see. Except we have a very capable and successful domestic missile development industry, and partnerships with Italy and France that produce some great gear. Just because we’re no longer in the EU doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of that and feed our own industry rather than the USA’s.


I know LRASM isn’t currently cleared for the Mk41. Are you certain that there are no plans to do that and if so is that for technical reasons?


It’s a bit hazy, but my understanding at the moment is that the answer is no.
If you look at the DOT&E reports (they’re a US government department that provides oversight on military procurement projects, about as informative as you’re going to get without security clearance- the MOD could learn a thing or two about transparency), LRASM is solidly part of their Offensive Anti-Surface Weapon (OASuW) Increment 1 programme- that is specifically for an air-launched weapon. OASuW Increment 2 is meant to provide a surface launched capability (potentially a common platform incorporating air-launch too), but it seems that they’re looking at something hypersonic for that and are only expecting delivery into the 2030s (think FC/ASW). To cover the “gap”, they are upgrading their TLAM for maritime strike versions, developing the SM-6 block 1A for surface threats (what they call FCD, not an existing capability), and running the Over the Horizon Weapon System (OTH-WS) programme- which is what they’re calling their procurement of Konsberg’s NSM.
Nowhere, in any of the documents, have they talked about using LRASM for surface launch from navy ships- cannister or VLS. They’ve even reduced recent funding for OASuW Increment 2, seemingly because they’re happy enough with their TLAM Block IV, SM-6 Block I, and NSM.
Here’s a link to the DOT&E main page, if you’re interested:


Thanks very much for taking the time to provide such a comprehensive reply


You’re welcome mate, a good question deserves a decent response. Besides, it was Friday afternoon and things were slow!


MBDA Italy will have the new Otomat Teseo

Blurb from EDR magazine article:

The Italian MoD paid particular attention to operations in congested crisis areas providing the capability to control the missile mission up to the end of the engagement. MBDA Italia added a new miniaturized two-way data link system providing a state-of-the-art capability, relying on military satellite communication constellation, and focused on target update and reassignment, as well as mission abort.


Yeah, some of those other MBDA weapons look to be really good- strange that we keep looking west across the Atlantic when we could be engaging and strengthening our already productive precision weapons relationship with Italy (a Tempest partner) by buying their products.
Of course, it pays to not have all your eggs in one basket, but we can still buy the stuff from the US that no-one else can provide (Apache, Trident, Chinook, C-17), while not tying ourselves to America in every area.


Part of the problem, perhaps the critical aspect, is our apparent inability to actually make decisions on what we actually need/want…….LRASM (which could also be integrated onto F35B) and Tomahawk Block V would suit our purposes perfectly, the Aussies see the that and instead of wallowing in indecision they acted, actually giving themselves an impressive offensive capability whilst we go back to the days of Nelson…….


Hypersonic missiles will not work as clearly stated by some “constructive bloke” due to plasma, hahahhaaa…
It can only hit slow moving buildings !!


Did anyone watch the video? Interesting that 1SL mentioned intent to explore viable simultaneous operation of TWO carriers, by using a combined airwing of F35 supplemented by drones. The thinking behind the catapult RFP becomes more clear.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ben Robins
Andrew Wilde

This 1SL has got to go. His words are fatal. One can almost hear the politicians and the RAF thinking “what a good idea, two carriers operating together, we just require two squadrons of F35bs plus drones to conquer the Universe and helicopters to make the flight decks look busy, unless of course the carriers are on a humanitarian mission. Wouldn’t need as many frigates and destroyers to escort them. Would we need more than one solid support ship and one tanker, hmm probably not. Lets revisit that Support ship requirement again!
This man stinks, he doesn’t spread very thin jam he spreads alarm and consternation. Its all very well telling ships companies to keep their mouths shut or face charges whilst he plays into every bodies hands with his big mouth. The Royal Navy deserve far better than this, he may be on the way out but he hasn’t finished yet.


Is there any chance that ASTER30 has an anti-ship mode. I would have thought defending against supersonic, salvo fired, missiles even with relatively small warheads is a difficult taks.

Paul T

Not to my knowledge – Sea Ceptor does though.


I’m rather skeptical of the whole hypersonic anti-ship missile thing for the same reason that I’m skeptical of China’s DF21 ballistic AShM; so we can reach out 1,000 miles (that’s medium range ballistic missile numbers). But can we find a moving ship-sized target and maintain targetting quality data in order to accurately hit it, at Mach 7, in a cluttered environment, with a CEP 20 m or better (i.e. 50% of the missiles will hit in a 20 m radius of the target point- which is roughly the difference between a hit and a miss on a ship sized target) at that range? I will accept that our kill chain is likely better than China’s, and maybe our tech is too. But that is some serious physics to overcome and I don’t think it’s going to be solved other than iteratively.
Get us a supersonic AShM that doesn’t cost the earth with a secondary land attack capability and a far more reasonable ~500 km range with ~200 kg warhead. Practical hypersonic weapons for moving targets like ships are still a decade or more away, from what I’ve seen int he public domain…


At Mach 7 speed of around 5200 mph will reach 1000 miles in under 10 minutes
DF21 developed as anti carriers of CEP 20 will hit a width 73m and length 280m of HMSQE.

But no worry, is all CCP propaganda, hahahahaha
Is the same physics for MBDA.

Last edited 2 years ago by BoJo

I think you just re-made my point, CEP 20 means that 50% of missiles launched will hit within 20 m of your targeted point, so you’re already going to want to launch 2 or more against each target to come close to being comfortable with making a kill. CEP20 is a claim made by China for DF21, but against a static target and without independent verification. I don’t believe that the DF21 can do it and I see MBDA having exactly the same problems.
I am struggling to think of a scenario that we have target-quality sensors tracking an enemy vessel steaming at ~25+ knots a 1,000 miles away from one of our ships. How we would get that data live back to the launch platform, and receive authorisation to kill a vessel that is so far away that they pose no threat is also troubling me. Oh, and how something travelling at 5200 mph (thanks for that) will be able to maintain lock and make the fine course corrections to hit said moving (and heaving due to sea state) target is a challenge. Oh, and utilising it in a cluttered, potentially littoral environment with possible civilian vessels and all kinds of features throwing up radar interference, plus countermeasures?


A couple thing to keep in mind. It’s undeniably a complex kill chain and the jury is somewhat still out but with the amount of resources being thrown at it, we must assume that the experts in several countries believe it’s doable now or at some point in the future. I posted a link a while back on this same topic (could have been on ukdj) but the Chinese have deployed enough ISR satellites that it’s believed they have a 5 minute revisit rate for any location over large swaths of the south china sea. A ship will find it very difficult to escape being track in such a situation.

In terms of the actually weapon, it’s assumed that the missile will use offboard targeting to get it close enough to the target after which the onboard sensor takes over the terminal stage of the attack. Remains to be seen if it will work but again, I think the prudent approach is to assume that this capability will be refined and perfected over time.


Best is not to enlighten people like Joe, let them stick their heads in sand till the day a hypersonic or DF21 missile hit the deck or up the back side.
Remember V2 sudden came out of the sky hitting London, fools never learn. Is the lack of plasma in their heads.

Last edited 2 years ago by BoJo

Oh, absolutely- the capability will come for both potential adversaries and ourselves. i just don’t think anyone has that capabiity now, or will for some time.
It’s a very good point about China’s kill chain, I didn’t realise it was so advanced, but that is limited to the SCS from what you say? I know we have to prepare for peer conflict anywhere in the world, and be capable of dealing with the enemy’s threats. But there’s a difference between being able to deal with a hypersonic threat and producing one that we would be able to use under our ROE. China’s hypersonic weapons are all ground launched ballistic missiles from TELs, which may well change to ship launched and maybe even cruise missiles in the next 10 years. It’s definitely a threat we need to make sure we can deal with, assuming that China’s claims for these weapons are even close to a reality. However, I find it difficult to think of a situation where we would be cleared to launch a hypersonic weapon at the Chinese launch vehicle from 1,000 miles away, particularly if that TEL was on the Chinese mainland, or the launching ship was in the very busy SCS. That’s presuming we can track the launch, of course.
China is developing these weapons so that they can try and deny or threaten our access to the SCS; as long as we have confidence that we can take out those missiles we don’t necessarily need to have an equivalent capabilty, because we’re fighting in someone else’s back yard. As far as I know, China’s air defence systems are based upon Russian ones, which do not have stellar performance from what we’ve seen in Syria and Lybia. We aren’t going to need hypersonic weapons with a 1000 mile range within the same timeframe that China and Russia feel that they need them, because we can kill their vessels and infrastructure with slower weapons from closer.
I definitely think we should be funding and pursuing FC/ASW in both its stealthy and hypersonic forms. But I don’t think it’s going to be a viable Mach 5 precision weapon anytime soon, and I see it as the ‘high’ portion of a high/low expensive/cheap mix. Get a decent weapon for now, because we’ll be waiting too long for the hypersonic one to be truly ready for practical service.


I need to make a correction on my last post. I went back and checked and the 5 minute revisit time is something they seem to be working towards but they’re not there as yet. It is believe the current revisit time is 30 minutes and is not just focused on the south china sea but the entire area around the coast. You can do a google search on the yaogan satellites.

Note also that there have been leaked images going back a number years of what appears to be testing of an air launched hypersonic weapon by China so they are not all ground based weapons. Russia and the US are known to be working on air launched hypersonic weapons as well with the US weapon being the AGM-183 also known as the ARRW (Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon)

Last edited 2 years ago by Netking

No worries, China denies any hypersonic missiles tests, was just a spacecraft and Pentagon was exaggerating.

we can kill their vessels and infrastructure with slower weapons from closer

Yes, slower and get closer is better, where are those Fairey Swordfish when you needed them? Bring them back!

Last edited 2 years ago by Filipek

top speed 143mph, too fast!

Seymour Clunge

Only down hill though.


It seems the RN is fast becoming an auxiliary force, good for forwarding data for others to fulfil. The T45s already do it and it might be the T83s prime function. Outside of “the bombers” the navy will have no deterrent value whatsoever. The FFBNW nonsense has to stop. We’ll end up with a cardboard cut out navy. A lethality holiday is unfortunate just as all leave has been cancelled in Moscow and Beijing.


It seems the RN is fast becoming an auxiliary force, good for forwarding data for others to fulfil. 

Not worth the cost then. Simples. 🙂


hopefully spear 3 will become operational within a reasonable timescale as well as being developed for deployment on surface warships, this would be far more useful in almost all potential conflicts than a heavyweight anti ship missile and within a cost that each T26s, 31, 32 could be equipped with a fair number.


It has a 10kg warhead doesn’t it?

And what number do you think is fair?


Hi x, these are very precision missiles and a 10kg warhead in the right place will mission kill almost any size warship. Spear three is being designed to act as a swarm missile, this means they will act together to attack a target, if you include the new EW version in that swarm it will become something difficult to manage. With an adaptable warhead that can be either shaped charge or blast frag a swarm of these can sculp the damage to a vessel.

if you also quad pack these cheap missiles into a Mk 41 a warship could easily carry 32 of these missiles in the place of a standard load out of 8 heavyweight AntI ship missiles.

All evidence.of previous late 20c and 21c naval conflicts is that western navy’s ROE and the Kill chain mean that shorter range smaller clever missiles are used and long range heavyweight Anti ship missiles are not. The reality is that western nations don’t want to sink ships and create mass casualties (if we had historically had an option to mission kill the General Belgrano it would have been better) when they can mission kill them and they will never take the risk of sinking the wrong ship.

Remember this USS Worden was accidentally mission killed by its own side using to shrikes with small blast fragmentation warheads.

Modern warships are not the armoured mechanical monsters of the early 20c that literally needed to be torn to pieces and sent to the deep for a mission kill.



Geoffrey Hicking

A heavier warhead would accomplish a mission kill if it hits slightly to the side of the targeted subsystem. A lighter warhead would not.

It is not the principle of mission kill that is flawed- I can list 5 instances of it working magnificently. It is instead the principle of arguing only for mission kill that is the problem. Conquerer went for heavy-weight torpedoes in 1982 because her captain felt that the lighter weapons at his disposal risked failing to sufficiently damage the Belgrano. He had that choice and could make the right call.

A balanced fleet is vital.


THIS ^^^^^^^^^^^^^

In the Falklands Sea Skua failed to ‘stop’ a good number of smaller Argentine auxiliary ships.

The USS Stark lived to float another day after two Exocet hits.

The idea that a tiny missiles launched from a slow moving platform will upset a modern destroyer will a full range of counter measures from EW to the kinetic such as the PLAN is now fielding is reaching a little bit.

As for ROE well they will be our undoing. I doubt China will dither.


But then how likely are 4-8 heavyweight anti ship missiles likely to get through a modern AAW Ships layered defence, would 32 networked small missiles co-ordinating an attack, including EW assets be better. I do think these are the questions that need to be asked and considered by the clever people.


Aren’t you one of the clever people then Jonathan?


only in my field x ( of which will freely admit to being a clever bastard in) which is stopping as many people as possible from dying inappropriately due to injury, illness or errors caused by complex systems failing and investigating what horrible histories call “stupid deaths“. When it comes to warfare and geopolitical history I’m simply studying as an amateur in someone else’s field. It’s like a bus and holiday for me, it’s yet another great example of a system that is impacted by complexity, chaos And human factors with catastrophic outcome if your wrong ( or right).


On the basis that the RN have nothing to fire back with, I’d say it’s highly likely/ certain that at least 1 will penetrate. EN N2 will have understood the capabilities and developed a set of TTPs against a scenario that the layered defence is sound. Of course in the fog of war systems sometimes malfunction. Once 1 gets through then they’re screwed.


I don’t disagree, the present state is not great as even our air launched capacity has removed.

But this is about what do we regenerate around AsuW first.for me the list is as follows:

1) Spear 3 air launched capacity for F35B and sea venom for rotor. This because it’s the most likely used an any number of situations or ROE.

2) heavy weight Air launched anti ship missile for F35B ( our carrier is our main strategic threat and it needs a heavy AsuW strike capability.

3) increased lethality for ships, for this I think spear three looks very good as we could pack large numbers of this very clever swarm missile on our ships.

4)finally a heavyweight anti ship/land attack missile For ships.

This is all predicated on the fact you don’t actually want to put your ships in harms way, they are very much a shield to allow you to get where you want to be. so you use your air and sub surface assets to attack. Clearly if this changed then priorities would change as well.


4 is my no.1 as rarely will F35Bs be in support of surface escorts. T31/23/45s need to be self sufficient.


The west always has a specific disadvantage against authoritarian or totalitarian powers, in that the population demands a level of ethics around ROE and limitation to conflict.

Not sure there is much that can be done about it to be honest. Western powers lose wars at home as much or more than they do on the battlefield.

A nation that losses the public and political will to fight will generally loss a war, look at the french third republic, on paper with the U.K. as an Ally the third republic should have torn the third Reich apart. But there was no political or public will to defend the third republic no matter the cost.

Capt. Curilovic

Laughable, a 10kg warhead!

Remember HMS Sheffield and SS Atlantic Converyor? were not hit with short range 10kg missiles.


What about 12 10kg warheads all programmed to hit critical systems and points. The US had a guided missile cruiser mission killed by a shrike with a small blast frag warhead.

Im not seeing what our loss of ships to air launched heavyweight anti ship missiles has to to with the discussion around priorities for ship based load outs. It’s a good argument for saying our typhoons and F35s need some form or air launched anti ship missile.

Armchair Admiral

Exactly. As I posted previously. What Singleton ship, as is the lone type 31 scenario, is going to launch supersonic missiles 500 miles away?
Surely 8x Spear3 would occupy much less space than 8 NSM or whatever, so say at least 12 might be a “fair number”. Very useful weapon, versatile , utility in targeting small boats, land targets not worth a half a million pound missile, loitering with intent to show intent..
Four on a Wildcat would extend their range quite a bit jammer, one explosive and two sea venom per Wildcat a good combination to fire at larger targets ??
As also posted by other knowledgeable persons…a mission kill is not sinking, but disabling in some way.


Last edited 2 years ago by X

Britain must live within its means. Having an outsized military that can’t be supported by a proper budget is asking for trouble. Under armed hulls sent into battle by greedy politicians will only result in body bags sent home.

We as a country clearly and rightly prioritise the NHS and education over defence. Policies need to reflect this. For example, we need to double down on our NATO commitments in the Baltics and Black Sea against the imminent threat of Russian aggression and not pick fights with China in its backyard.


Does the Royal Navy’s surface combatants still carry torpedoes?

In a peer combat scenario, which has a higher chance of sinking an enemy ship? A Harpoon or a torpedo? Can’t help but notice that there are a lot of equipment made to counter guided missiles, but can’t say the same thing about torpedoes.

A question out of curiosity, by the way.

Tim Hirst

Some carry anti submarine torpedoes. I don’t think any large RN surface warships have carried anti ship torpedoes since the last of the WW2 fleet left service.


Hi Iwan, our submarine fleet still uses Torpedos in the AsuW role but not harpoon, so that should tell you something. Torpedoes ( not the light weight ASW ones found on surface combatants) have one big advantage, if you fire a heavyweight Anti ship missile, you advertise your presence to all who are close to you, but a torpedo can be launched and potter off, not letting anyone know you are there or they are being attacked until you are ready for them to know.

Geoffrey Hicking

All these people saying we should just use SPEAR 3, and that mission-killing is all that matters, yet:

A: A ship that isn’t sunk can come back. The High Seas Fleet was mission-killed at Jutland, but returned to cause problems with convoys in 1917, and kept many destroyers tied up when those could have been used for convoy work. Fleets in Being can be annoying to deal with.
B: The RN has asked for a heavy anti-ship missile. If SPEAR 3 is all you need, and anyone asking for more is automatically a worthless fantasy-fleeter who knows nothing…. why has the navy asked for FCASW?

The Navy is completely and utterly wrong then!

So all those getting angry at the “spotters” here should take it up with the Admiralty instead.

Last edited 2 years ago by Geoffrey Hicking

If there is no need for these heavy missiles why is everybody chasing after them?

Simple as that for me.


It’s always about what to buy with the money you have and what the opportunity costs will be if you send it one thing over another. So yes agree in the fact we should have heavy weight anti ship missiles what I’m not sure over is would the money we spend on that be better spent on something else, luckily we just get to discuss, some other poor buggers have to make that decision and then live with the consequence.




…………yes ? Or ……….No ? Or is it……..s**t ive left the oven on ?

Last edited 2 years ago by Jonathan

The profundity of your comment left one aghast.


I know, sometimes I’m so deep I forget which way is up.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jonathan

Hence why it also important that the missiles have a land attack role. As they are more likely to be used in this respect, rather than languishing in their containers for most of their lives.


Geoffrey, if the navy felt it needed a heavyweight anti ship missile immediately it would get one, it could find the money in its budget. It’s the navy’s choice to gap this as it feels other related opportunity costs would be more damaging.

This is nothing wrong with discussions and I’m not sure who’s getting angry, but if they are they really need to get some perspective, no discussion forum is worth raising your blood pressure over and every can have some valid points.

Geoffrey Hicking

Why is the navy at all interested in heavy weight anti-ship missiles? Why hasn’t it given up on them completely?

Everyone gets angry as this is the internet.


clearly they want the capability, but looking at their choice, they have decided on other things first, I’m not going to second guess them and I do think spear 3 will be a massive jump in capability that I hope is taken forward, but you never know with how spending decisions go.

David Beatty

Muskets and grappling hooks, Britannia rules the waves, hooray hooray.


Not sure what a 21c advanced networked swarm missile has to do with grapple hooks. Spear three will be one of the most advanced weapon systems deployed when it’s ready. And if you notice the discussion is around spending priorities as well as Warhead size vs lethality and smaller larger numbers vs large small numbers as well as slow and stealthy vs fast and easy to see.

if your going to make stupid comments try Facebook.


And do what? 8in guns chucking sabot rounds a few hundred nautical miles? Ramming? Asking the other team to abandon ship, politely, and opening up the sea cocks?


Now mind control that would be a thing, make the other side so scared they abandon ship. Interestingly there are theories around both EM fields and consciousness/free will as well as quantum effects, it’s all magic to me, but I’d did read a paper I had no ability to really profoundly understand about using EM fields to induce fear and other emotions.

dick en dijk

Are you gay or smoking the cabbage again?


Am I gay…… are you a five years old FFS. And so what if I was.

As for cabbage smoking, I do not recollect that events and if I did I would never inhale.

Armchair Admiral

As far as I can see, no one is saying spear 3 is all we need, we all agree a big missile is needed….NSM or something. However with the increasing gap length in capability, spear3 would seem like a good and a fairly cheap stopgap offering, ready soon and fulfilling the brief for a standoff weapon.

David Beatty

Stopgap my foot, Spear 3 will not be operational with F-35 block 4 till at least 2028, that is if there is any money for F-35 block 4.
Get some grappling hooks as stopgap.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Beatty
Geoffrey Hicking

As far as I can see, no one is saying spear 3 is all we need.

There are individuals that do. “If we have heavy missiles, we’ll hit a civilian ship and lose the war”. The Thin Pinstriped Line commentariat said as much some years ago.


Different tools, the RN has never had to use a heavyweight anti ship missile, it has used a lot of other systems, so I don’t think anyone say don’t have heavyweight anti ship missiles but if it’s in a long list of things and there is not the funding to get everything immediately then it’s probably a thing that can be lower down the list.

These long range heavyweight anti ship missiles are pretty much single purpose extreme end of tasking weapons which is why the RN has not fired one even in cases of an exclusion zone with unrestricted warfare.

if it’s a choice of upping the capacity around AAW and or ASW and heavyweight ASuW weapons then I would take AAW and ASW investments.

The comment about the risk of a heavyweight anti ship missile hitting a civilian ship/cruise ship with thousands of souls on board is valid, shipping lanes are busy and killing 4000 people of all nations by accident would be a conflict ending event for a western nation.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jonathan

NOTAMs would clear the seaways before any conflict. Neglecting ASuW capabilities is criminal negligence as all it takes is 1 missile to get through. Without the capability the entire RN wouldn’t last 3 hours against PLAN or Russian Navy, with or without partners as they’re the weakest link in the chain. Get your head out of the sand!


Brilliant, Iran issues a NOTAM, seaway cleared entire western economy massively impacted, Iran’s job is done.

one role of a navy is to keep restricted sea lanes open, from all threats, heavyweight anti ship missiles don’t do that, get your own head out of the sand and keep a civil tongue.

The next major war is going to be won and lost on so many domains within an incredibly small macro timeframe or it may be lost without a major conflict over Macro timescale. You may not have noticed but we actual did have world war three, it was just not like any previous war but the Soviet Union fell just as hard as any other loosing power.


control of the seas keeps sea lanes open. An under armed surface fleet facing a highly capable peer that doesn’t play by our ROE is going to lose badly. Remind me, how long does it take to rebuild a navy, once it’s sunk? a long time and that’s how long we’d lose control of the seas for. But for the want of a basic capability. You don’t see the RAF doing away with Meteor, why? Because with it, it controls the skies. Move away from Group think, it’s going to kill the RN

Geoffrey Hicking

I don’t think anyone say don’t have heavyweight anti ship missiles


People have said this. I am not saying you’re suggesting this, but people have said this. Please please please don’t do the whole “no one says X”. It’s a annoying belittling tactic. I can think of many stupid things I’ve said here and I can own up to it. Don’t try to portray any particular side as perfect or squeaky clean. I’ve seen that before and it’s very very childish.


That’s fine Geo happy to tighten up my language, I am not suggesting don’t have heavyweight anti ship missiles. As noted, I just think they are right down the list as protecting from subsurface and air threats to my mind has been the defining factor in modern navel combat. I also think the evidence is modern navy’s anti surface warfare is generally conducted with small light weight missiles via air to ship/ground weapons so I would prefer the investment in this area first I’m also pretty sure the delivery of a lot of very clever swarm missiles that coordinate and overwhelm will be one of the ways the way future tech will go, 32 very clever missiles making a co-ordinated strike will maybe have more chance of overwhelming AAW ships that 8 large missiles.

not being an expert my view is as pointless as all the others who are not in a position to know or influence, but it’s an interesting discussion.


Then don’t quit your day job at the NHS and get help to your Alzheimer’s and Hemorrhoid diseases.


gosh Glyn I’m in awe of your knowledge and wisdom, thankyou for diagnosing my arse pain and memory issues.

I promise not to quit my day job if you promise not to be a petty little troll.



Geoffrey Hicking

Grow up and show some respect.

Geoffrey Hicking

While I think that the development of more autonomous missiles will lead to an “ecosystem” of heavy and light missiles cooperating together depending on the situation, I nonetheless see your point as to their sophistication.


I agree, I’m sure we will end up ( well I hope) with ships armed with a good mix of a lot of very clever small swarm missiles, that will be useful in a lot of small type conflicts or missions to keep open sea ways. As well as a smaller number of Very clever heavyweight Anti ship missiles that are more a deterrent and can be used in land attack roles if needed.


It depends on the type of sensor the missile uses. If it has a very high frequency radar as used in Brimstone/Spear-3, this can map out the ship compare it to a library image for validation. However, if it uses a lower frequency radar such as X-band these can general only produce a rough outline of a ship, which means they will get confused if general outlines are similar. The best method is the imaging infrared sensor, as that will produce a detailed photo quality image of the ship making it easier to validate the ship against a stored library image. Also a lot of today’s missiles have a two-way data-link, so the operator can see what the missile sees, further helping to validate the target.


A lot of comments on this and other defence sites have contrasted the sorry state of the army with the relatively clearsighted and coherent plans of the RN. Whilst it is undeniable that the army is an organisational mess with continued failures to replace outdated equipment, is the RN really much better? It is now obvious that the acquisition of 2 huge carriers designed to deliver a sortie rate that we will never have the aircraft numbers to achieve was a massive mistake. Build costs doubled from £3.5 to £7b.The 48 F35Bs will have cost £9b by 2029. The result is insufficient funds for anything else. We double down on FFBNW by maintaining headline numbers with 5 frigates that wlll be all but useless. We reduce the support ships for a CSG to the bare minimum. The handful of carrier capable jets will have nothing more lethal than PavewayIV and Asraam for years to come.The surface fleet has almost no combat capability..Might we be better off rebuilding our SSN fleet than spending so much of the budget on all but useless surface ships?
If we can safely accept capability gaps of a decade or more, do we really need that capability at all?
Worst of all, whilst numbers and fighting capability continue to decline, we have political leadership that wants to embrace wider commitments in a tilt to Asia Pacific. It is hard to accept that political and military leaders are so useless but the evidence is becoming overwhelming.


No the RN is no better. Is it beyond the ken of the MoD(N) and successive 1SL’s that the RN needs to provide 18 (as the barest of minimums) or so escorts equipped to deal with the enemy? It appears so. The rise of China and Russia re-entrenching itself against a hostile West seems to be a complete surprise to the West.


surprise would have been forgivable, what has happened is not surprise and is not just a symptom in the U.K./MOD but across all western nations.

What it is is a failure caused by utter hubris seen across the west after the defeat of the Soviet Union. Instead of property reevaluating the risks and opportunities, the political classes on the west suffered some bizarre “end of history” fantasy/delusion in which the other geopolitical power blocks would fall into a western way of thinking and the world would sing ging gang gooly around the warm fires of capitalism.

So the west opened its markets, demolished its own production bases in some bizarre neoliberal self destruction mode and rushed across Eastern Europe to include them in the capitalist dream. all the while Russia nursed its grudges in defeat and felt even more threatened and treated like a defeated second class nation, and China analysed how a communist superpower should not engage the west, looked back at history and dusted of the British Imperial play book and started its campaign to destroy western hegemony using its greatest weakness against it ( capitalism linked into rampant unchecked neoliberal dogma).


I think the RNs thinking is…
• FC/ASW being jointly developed with the French is what we want, but we don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket…
• we don’t want to be lumbered permanently with with an interim solution if FC/ASW is late or fails to deliver

The obvious answer is Mark41 VLS (T26 check, T31 just announced). With that the RN can equip its frigates with Tomahawk V missiles. They’re already in service in the USN and can take out an enemy ship a 1,000 miles away.


RN thinking? Lethality is a word they need to grasp the meaning of as everything they build lacks it


Your of course being ironic, being that a vanguard class submarine is one of the most lethal killing machines ever developed and can end a nation of millions and probably tip the planet into a lethal cooling event lasting years.

or an astute class submarine, probability just about the most lethal anti surface vessel platform on the high seas.

or maybe a T23 and soon to be type 26 linked with a merlin 2, which is defiantly the most or one of the most lethal Anti submarine combo on the sea.

Or the type 45, those 17 Russian planes buzzing HMS Duncan in 2018 would have been simply dead in a shooting war.

what about leathal power projection onto land, being able to deploy 1-2 squadrons ( and later 3-4) of 5 generation strike aircraft as well as land attack missiles from subs and a landing force of marines is more lethal power projection than every nation on Earth bar the one that’s a close ally.

so all in all the RN has the lethality to literally destroy nations. Clearly you must have been being ironic ?

Last edited 2 years ago by Jonathan

Astutes are great but not ubiquitous – the RN surface fleet lacks the lethality to destroy major peer surface threats. Of course with limited ASW capabilities RU would have sent a kilo. For t31 might as well name them Bacchante Class for all the use they’d be in waters where there’s an ASuW or ASW threat. You have your head in the sand, the RN wouldn’t last till tea time against a well equipped peer as a result of multiple capability holidays.


We’ve apparantly now decided not to arm RN /subs wth hypersonic missiles in the late 20’s or early 30’s. It’s become obvious that arming ships with this type of weaponry will be a waste of money bearing in mind the likely oncoming availability of high energy phasers and quantum torpedoes in the 2040’s


Any bets that someone from MOD/upper reaches of the RN reading the above starts asking for info re phasers and quantum torpedoes…

Chinese Gordon

The MOD thinks Tony Stark is a real person.
The Pentagon told them so.


So reading the commentary, it appears I might be the only cynic that thinks the Admiral is just indulging in misdirection to cover up for I-SSGW being cut from the budget to pay for the Borisy Yacht, sorry National Flag Ship?

I mean T31 “fitted for but not with” Mk41 is a little bit of a stretch, no? The Iver Huitfeld class have their 32 cell “standard length” Mk41 where the T31 has its CAMM launchers. So it could be reasonable to say the T31 has weight and space margins that would allow a Mk41 to be fitted, but could that be a longer/deeper “strike length” version ?

Meanwhile, back to national maritime strategy – all previous comments were that T31 would be replacing forward deployed River B2, so perhaps 1 in the gulf, 1 with the LSG (South) out of Duqm, and 2 bimbling around the pacific. Does the RN think that in such a role the T31 needs to be able to attack FAC / Corvette’s / Frigates, or was I-SSGW really a land attack tool with an anti-ship capability? Could 8 x I-SSGW constitute a big enough “precision” strike against a “terrorist training camp” in the littoral? So is that the capability that is really being removed?

The ability to go toe to toe with an enemy surface action group via anti-ship missiles has never been a key capability for the RN – when we put 8 Harpoons on T22B3 and T23, it remained a woeful number compared to the Soviet opfor. However it did make these ASW focused ships somewhat more “general purpose” warships.

If we had the budget to be serious about any of this, then perhaps strike length Mk41 for Tomahawk V dual purpose land attack / anti ship would make the T31 a more useful general purpose ship. If one is cruising somewhere in the pacific and it needs to get within 800nm of a terrorist training camp to deliver a “stiff telling off” it could now do so with somewhat more verve, while also adding a long range anti ship capability ?

Would not a cheaper general sea denial option to be to buy JSM for the F35 fleet, giving the carriers a real anti ship capability ?

John Hartley

205 comments at the time I post this. I am not surprised. Would the budget option be to refurb/update the RN existing stock of Harpoon? They just need to last another 7 to 10 years. Boeing did offer to upgrade USN stocks of block I Harpoon to block II+ standard. Could that be done to RN stocks?


They have spent tens of millions on evaluating potential new missiles which could have been far better spent upgrading harpoon with a massive saving, typical of the whole procurement system within the UK military. That said the navy on the whole seem to be doing a far better job than the army., whose expenditure is on a huge scale with a tiny return.


It’s like making the same mistakes that were made before WWI and WWII all over again.

Captain P Wash

Said that about 200 comments back !

Mike Jones

Are we just building a new Maginot Line with our defence policies? Every procurement perfect, but no redundancy?
Batch 1 Typhoons to be sold off, because they have no A2G capability (many a naval operation would appreciate some top cover). Type 45, the “perfect” air defence platform, but just 6 of them? The original Type 23, thankfully converted from an “unarmed” anti-submarine platform to a general purpose platform. And now the desire for the perfect anti-ship missile…


Um. Interesting that you bring up the Maginot Line because it does provide a lesson to us, but not the one you are alluding towards. The Line failed because the Germans went through Belgium not because it was not up to the task. The reason that happened? The French and Belgians had a deal that the fortifications would continue on from their border to Belgian coast. The latter never happened. And we all know what did happen. The lesson is therefore never trust a third party with your defence. Something those above who spoke to me about NATO (and the USA) plugging out ASuW gap should perhaps consider.


That is an absolute lesson through history. Nations don’t have friends/family they are tied to with moral chains, nations are amoral and work only on self interest ( sometime enlightened). History is scattered with cultures that depended on others for defence and fell. Always be able to defend yourself, it’s one reason we must always maintain CASD.


The shared capabilities idea has never held water with me. As you say it lacks a fundamental logic.


Yes there is a difference between working well with allies vs being dependent on another nation for a key part of your defence.


Shades of pre world war 2.
Basically Good aircraft carrier design, but fixed wing aircraft under control of the RAF and inadequate numbers of aircraft.

Under armed ships with woeful AA batteries

Too few escorts

Up and coming super power + allies with expansionist ideas to right the wrongs of the past

Poor political leadership in the UK and Europe

Isolationist USA

History repeats itself, it has to because nobody listens

Captain P Wash

Indeed it does but this time, we have a fraction of the Navy Assets we had not so long ago and a Country inhabited by Snowflakes and do gooder’s. Interesting times ahead I fear.


I am Groot.


We also have nuclear weapons and intimately tied multinationals and globalisation. It’s always good to have a big stick, but at the moment our geopolitical rival is tying the west in knots with a very well run mercantile strategy. I would say it’s going to go one of two ways, with a nasty unpredictable wild card ( and this is all finger in the wind bull session stuff):

1)The West is so bound to its neoliberal dogma ( the market is everything and if China can make it cheaper we buy from China, no mater it destroys our own manufacturing and future tax base) it let’s China gain utter overwhelming dominance in all areas of trade and science. We ( the west) suffer a slow death of power and influence and simply become a market place for China to sell what it wants and when. China will within around 50 years hit a demographic and food security crisis, which will probably mean it needs to take most of Russia east Asia, depending on what is left of western power and will the west many challenge this and support Russia.

2) The west takes a stand ( within the next decade or so) and limits market access to China and at the same time reduces china’s access to resources in the second and third world. Economic pressure at home will force China to become more bullish ( to keep the population in line) this will potentially trigger a western nations – China war with either Taiwan or Japan as the trigger, Russia may or may not side with China depending on how it sees the Chinese threat to its east.

3) Something unexpected triggers early unrest in China ( economic slowdowns or sudden drought) and China uses an external enemy ( Taiwan) to keep its population happy.

The big thing here is this is not really a European trigger ( as it was in the 20c) so the USA and China will always be the protagonists as well as the other Pacific powers. What will be interesting is how some of the power blocks align and which allies fall in or out of any potential conflict ( some are pretty fixed, like the U.K., others not so such as Russia and the EU).

Last edited 2 years ago by Jonathan
Captain P Wash

Great reply and vision. Worrying times ahead that’s for sure.

Meirion x

China is facing a more immediate demographic time bomb!
A majority of Chinese were born between the 1960’s and 1970’s, due to the one child policy birth rates declined a lot in the 80’s and 90’s. So expect a large number of retirees due in the next decade or so, and add the smoking death rate problem there among the middle ages as well, far worst than in the West
So could China be in decline post 2030’s?

Last edited 2 years ago by Meirion x

Why woukd the RN simply not buy the Harpoon Block 2 as an ugrade of their existing Harpoons…insane. It is a travesty to the see once mighty Royal Navy slowly becoming impotent.

Phillip Johnson

I suspect it is simply money. In high end warfare the RN has pretty much reduced itself to 2 Carrier Task forces and the SSN’s. If those are your priorities, ship launched ASM’s are down the list some where. At the high end, the carriers and the SSN’s are your strike force so the weapons on your aircraft and on the SSN’s(Tomahawks) are the priority.
If you are talking about less than high end operations defending against someone else’s ASM’s would be more important hence Seaceptor on the T45’s.


Two carrier groups? You mean one group (at best.) There will be a time when QE will go into refit and we will enter into the cycle of one duty and one in deep refit.

An SSN isn’t a panacea. Submarines are tools of sea denial. Yes they sink ships. But in a defined set of scenarios. Never mind we have too few now.

The USN with carriers that have AShM and lots of submarines have realised that they painted themselves into a corner reducing the lethality of the surface fleet.

I am not too concerned about tiny less the war incidents. They are rare enough. What I am concerned about is the growing fleets of China, Russia, India, and most of Asia.


Effin’ bean counters, they should be lined up on deck every time a RN ship deploys.

Captain P Wash

Well I guess they’d be safe from being shot even at that distance given the ever decreasing Armaments !


Don’t worry the bean counters will be safe to walk away with their bonuses as the guns will be ffbnw bullets!


It is important to remember that not since the first half of WW2 has surface ships been the Navy’s (and the USN’s) primary anti-shipping weapon has been the submarine and the fleet aircraft carrier.
Since the decision not to replace the Audacious class, but to only maintain a force of light carriers (or “through-deck cruisers”), this role is almost entirely done by the submarine fleet.
In the Falklands (the most recent naval conflict), though the Royal Navy & Armada de la República Argentina had surface-launched Exocet AShM, neither ended up using them. In the end, just 3 WWII vintage torpedos from an SSN were enough to win the naval battle and force the Argentinian taskforces to be recalled to port.

I’m not sure if it’s just because subs are (understandably) much less visible, so tend to be forgotten about, or because the Soviets (and now China) went down the route of more potent missiles to make up for their deficiencies in sub-surface and carrier power, and its another case of the grass looking greener on the other side.
Because even 30 years ago when Harpoon was in its prime, it was still was no match for the soviet AShM like the Granit, because real war-time experience (and not top trumps) showed that air-power & submarines were what won wars.

Very long range shore-based AShMs might be a similar theatre superiority weapon like carriers and subs have been for the last nearly century, but that’s largely because you can’t sink an island. And again, it’s likely that only submarines are going to be able to get close enough to those missile batteries to knock them out… Hence the US investing in the turning SSNs and SSBNs into SSGNs (VLS packed, cruise missile subs), and I think the Astute successors will be designed around a fair number of VLS cells too.


It’s clear the next 5 years are NOT a good time to take a lethality holiday


A big risk is being taken here, another capability holiday that undermines deterrence, working on an assumption that adversaries will not start any wars in the next 10 years or allies will bale us out. Although the RN has never fired an anti-ship missile from a warship in anger, the ability to sink enemy ships is an absolutely core function for any bluewater navy???

in next 10 years ,SPEAR3 achieved foc,why canot sink enemy ships?dont understand


Most clued up followers of Naval matters have been aware of hypersonics for the last 5 years or more. Not to have prioritised this has been a major omission by the leadership of the RN and USN. More so in the case of the RN because we already knew there was a capability gap in ship killing, before the carriers became fully effective and the F35’s were equipped with any kind of stand off weapon.
This ‘holiday from war with a peer enemy thinking’ is it seems, a sickness that must be taught or caught somewhere in the training and higher echelons of UK commanders.
Can someone explain, now that we have been caught without any effective offensive armaments; how one of the 21st centuries major defence scandals has come about?
Like most things; I blame the RAF; who seem to have absent mindedly wandered off and forgotten we needed to sink warships in a war. Fortunately we got away for ten years without any kind of MPA’s after Nimrod was taken out of service. This neglect was quite scandalous.
Is Jock Stirrup to blame?


Why does everyone seem to forget about submarines when talking about a navy’s ability to sink skips?


Really can’t believe I can watch this . Freedom of information is all well and good but part of this should be classified and not available to a worldwide public audience