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Bob

Not much point until her F35’s gain some decent stand-off capability.

ATH

Given the threat level I don’t think there is excessive risk in operating F35’s over Yemen, especially at night.

Gareth

The Houthi’s have received some fairly sophisticated Iranian weapons, including SAMs and, I believe, have shot down a couple of Saudi jets in recent years. It would be unwise to underestimate them

Iain

No, we are not ready. A UK carrier would be a massive target we quite clearly do not yet have the ability to defend properly and we are still long way off adding much of the needed offensive abilities. Never mind Airborne Rader.  We need a much larger fleet of F35 ready and more weapons integrated anti-radiation and standoff ground attack missiles for instance.  The NSMs need fitting to the all the Type – 45s and Type 23’s urgently and the Type 45’s need the upgraded antiballistic defence.  

Interestingly the Type 31s have the potential to be a much better answer to this type of situation, with good 4D radar, MK41 launchers, long ranged guns idea for inexpensive drone defence,  and good standoff land attack capabilities all going to be eventually available. They could also have some much longer ranged anti air missiles than the standard sea captor added CAMM-MR and ER. From what I have read there $d radar is better that all but the Types 45’s. 

Iain

The CAMM-~MR can be twin packed in Mk41s and has a 60miles plus range.

Last edited 4 months ago by Iain
RGard

Too bad that the CAMM-MR today does not exist

Iain

Not really an issue as we don’t have any Mk41s VLS fitted today either….

Jon

Or any Type 31s. (Well somebody had to say it.)

Supportive Bloke

I’m not sure what it would achieve?

QEC doesn’t have the best close in defensive fit and us going to be in a very, very high risk environment. Where speed and manoeuvre are limited.

OK T45 does and T23 is very handy too.

TBH this would be a great use for NSM firing a quick shot back.

Essentially the logic here is – send an aircraft carrier because we have no land attack missiles?

I find that logic baffling.

Isn’t the solution to fit NSM to the next T45/T23 to be rotated out there?

Last edited 4 months ago by Supportive Bloke
Iain

The JSM is based on the NSM (Naval Strike Missile), which has been widely adopted by several navies around the world as an anti-ship missile. The JSM is modified to fit inside the internal weapon bays of the F-35, reducing its radar signature and increasing its stealth capabilities.

Our F35s need this now.

ATH

Are you sure it fits in the weapons bay of the B model F35?

Toby J

No, it doesn’t. This is why the much smaller SPEAR3 was developed.

Iain

The Joint Strike Missile (JSM), and Lockheed’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) provide the F-35B with advanced long-range sea and land strike capabilities. There will soon likely be a JSM variant that will fit into the F-35B’s internal bomb bays, thus preserving its stealth.

From May 2020.

This will not be a mission where stealth is needed to launch a 180mile range stand off missile. So yes this would suggest it can carry 4 externally right now.

Last edited 4 months ago by Iain
Jonno

I’m only interested in Spear 3 being fitted. It was likely deliberately held back from fitting by the US Senate who FYI watch to see all non US kit never gets to see the light of day fitted to one of their aircraft.
Ask yourself what British kit is available for the F35B? Indeed when was any weapon last fitted to a US plane. Sometime in the 70’s on an F4K would be my guess.
The result is we haven’t been given a look in as is usual; yet we are supposed to be a 15% partner.

Sean

Ridiculous conspiracy theory you have there, if not, please provide proof of this Senate decision.

F35 Block 4 update will include support of Spear 3, and 16 other new weapons. These include weapons that other countries want to use on the F35 (we’re not the only ones waiting) AND it includes weapons the USA wants to be able to use with it!

Clive

Well, when did we last fly a USA made plane? Oh yes the 70s.

Duker

GR5/7 Harrier was US made with BAE as a subcontractor. The RAF didnt want any more UK made GR3 versions so the USMC and McDD took over development of the major changes AV-8B version. Then the RAF changed its mind and bought c.80
in service from 1989 to 2011

Chris

Well the UK isn’t buying anywhere close to 15% of the airplanes, so it’s not a big customer to overlook.

Had 138 been bought as planned, this would be a different conversation. As it stands now the UK might not even get a full 48.

Supportive Bloke

We will have 48 quite soon.

We might well have 72 before long. The second buy does have a line in the budgets but I don’t think it is fully funded.

Deep32

Ref Ur comment on JSM fitting in F35B bomb bay. Highly unlikely to happen I would imagine. It’s some 14″ to long fot the internal bay apparently, so a big conversion required.
There are 6 F35B user’s, USMC,UK,Italy,S Korea,Japan and Singapore. USMC aren’t interested, they have their own missile sets. The remaining users would have to fund any conversion for the missile to fit, assuming we all agree to purchase it.
As others have posted, we’re getting S3 eventually so arguably don’t need that version.

Jim Camm

And that’s primarily why I don’t like the F-35B.
A roughly 12-20kg warhead with a range of 120km is not comparable to a 120kg warhead (more than the entire SPEAR 3 missile) that can hit 550km away.

D J

JSM is not available. Multiple countries have ordered it for their F35’s. F35 cannot fire it til block 4 software (vapourware beyond even Microsoft’s well known ability). So unless you want to pay for it to be integrated into other aircraft (Australia & Norway are paying for F35), it will be a while yet.

Jonathan

I think I agree with you, simply put unless the Uk can put a properly constituted carrier battle groups together ( four escort min) it should not be sending an irreplaceable strategic asset like a carrier into an essentially enclosed sea full of hostiles forces who are actively kinetic.

it’s asking for the nutters of the region to throw everything at it.

going into what is essentially a war zone with a carrier half arsed is asking for trouble…send Somerset down with its NSM package and re task an SSN..that will allow the UK to participate meaningfully in any strike without significant risk…it reminds me of a what off book some general wrote years back about a conflict with Russia in which the Uk sent a carrier into the north with a half arsed escort just as a shooting war started…

Last edited 4 months ago by Jonathan
Duker

‘sending an irreplaceable strategic asset like a carrier into an essentially enclosed sea”

Thats not how they will operate , a few 100km out in open ocean is where the carrier will operate its missions
Some geography

main1
Last edited 4 months ago by Duker
Jonathan

Hi Duker, the Arabian Sea and gulf of Aden is essentially what you would consider enclosed waters…striking into Yemen would require siting a few hundred miles off the coastline of the Arabian Sea..not the best place to be.

Duker

Gulf of Aden isnt adjacent to Houthi ‘territory’ which is more the Red Sea itself-( where they have their radar).
The mouth of the Gulf is 330km wide

Jonathan

The Houthi control ranges down to Taiz which is spitting distance from the gulf of Aden…

Duker

Targeting ? The Gulf of Aden coastline seems to outside their control and any radars they have .
Green is the Houthis . Pink is the ‘old government’, Yellow-green is militias of southern governors before civil war and based out of Aden

1920px-Yemeni_Civil_War.svg1
Last edited 4 months ago by Duker
Paul T

I read a snippet on X earlier that suggested HMS Duncan,now home after her long deployment,will have a maintenance period where NSM works will be carried out.In the meantime i think it;s obvious that HMS Somerset should be prepared to go there ASAP.

Supportive Bloke

I’d heard that too. It is also stated in the fleet availability article on UKDJ from yesterday.

That is totally logical and provides a proportionate response.

Duker

Surely you know a carrier , RN or USN, isnt going to be inside the Red Sea at all.
Thats the whole purpose , they will be a few 100km away in open ocean, exactly where is for the Houthis to try and find …good luck with that

Supportive Bloke

QEC would be a magnet for anyone trying it on.

I agree it wouldn’t be parked right off the coast or anything silly like that.

Given the traffic levels in that area she would be spotted quite fast.

Order of the Ditch

The decades of neglect and underinvestment are now plain for all to see.
The cutting of 12 T45 to just 6 means we do not have enough deployable AAW assets. Even though only 6 T45 were ordered they somehow ended up without proper land attack capability and the radar/processing hasn’t been updated quickly enough.
The RN is in a bit of a tough spot because of manning and the issues around running very old T23s whilst waiting for new T26/T31.
A serious question has to be asked, do we abandon carrier strike?
It has become very clear that the current number of escort hulls can just about support CSG but make it hard for the RN to do anything else at the same time.
If we are serious about keeping CSG and our standing in NATO and at the top table we need to the following:
– Increase defence spending by a sensible, sustainable amount to properly fund the capabilities we need
– RN hull numbers need to increase to above 20 again. (Maybe 2 extra T26, 3 extra T31, 8 T83 to replace the 45s)
– Urgently resolve the man power shortage in RN and RFA. Better recruitment process, higher pay, proper forces housing, restoring job perks
– Build hulls and have a steady drumbeat of orders to sustain the industrial basis and avoid a repeat of the T23 refit saga
– Accelerate lethality programmes. It is taking too long to get the NSM missiles fitted and integrated
– T45 needs the ballistic missile upgrade sooner rather than later
– We also have to look at whether General Dynamics Mojave drone could be acquired to add additional capabilities to the QE whilst we wait for F35 Block IV

With just Paveway I’m not sure if QE can make much of a difference to the current crisis

Jonathan

Agree

Jonno

You’ve hit the various nails on the head. Bravo!

Chris

Uh, why not just take the obvious path of fixing the manning situation? It would solve almost everything across the entire navy and RFA.

Raise pay and low entrance standards.

During ww1 and ww2 sailors didn’t even need to be literate to enlist. The requirements now are simply too high.

Order of the Ditch

Yes manning urgently needs fixing.
But fixing manning doesn’t magically mean the RN has the offensive weapons it needs to be genuinely useful in this situation.
Hulls, manning, weapons, logistics all need urgent attention.

Aquateal

This is all sounding so familiar. Australia’s choice of ships to deploy ( which it isn’t doing due to lack of ships ) are ANZAC frigates with a massive 8 VLS cells and no land attack capability except the gun.

The Hobart Class AWD’s have 48 cells but since they bought only 3, a fearsome 1 is theoretically available. But it’s not.

Pathetic project planning and investment seems to be a common problem.

Oliver Grundy

Fantastic assessment – partly because all of you suggestions are realistic and very possible with some changes to the defence budget:
2x Extra T26 = (2 x £750 million = £1.5 billion)
3x Extra T31 = (2 x £400 million = £800 million)
2x Extra T83 = (probably 1.1/1.2 billion a ship (at end of production?) x 2 = £2.2/2.4 Billion
I’ve increased T31 price per ship compared to current orders as this would likely happen if Mk41 and other MoD upgrades were fitted from the start (and inflation)

These changes would have a massive impact on RN fleet availability and our ability to put out a credible CSG and world presence. For a cost of under 5 billion (spread across the 5-10 yr production timeline of these ships) + maintenance and Crews etc and we have an undeniably massive/hugely significant increase in fleet firepower/strength.

Add in an extra batch of 12x F-35 (12 x £70 = £840 million) and an increase of speed of integration of weapons to it/UK models and we have a legitimate, credible and undeniably on par CSG with the US and China (if 003 EMALS actually works)

P.S I think if we could get out hands on some JSOW that would be a great interim capability for stand off, hardened strike until we get FC/ASW and FC/LACM integrated or even when we do get that.

Last edited 4 months ago by Oliver Grundy
Supportive Bloke

“ Even though only 6 T45 were ordered they somehow ended up without proper land attack capability and the radar/processing hasn’t been updated quickly enough.”

May I unpack that?

Mk41 was omitted in the hope that the budget could be stretched to buy #7&8. I couldn’t be.

So there was a choice add Mk41 to T45 or accelerate GCS / T26 as everyone knew that T23 was going to cost fortunes to run beyond design life.

T45 radar and processing has been upgraded / is being upgraded in the latest refits.

Order of the Ditch

Aware of all of those events but they illustrate why we are in the current mess.
Hulls being cut to fund promises that never materialised.
Type 26 obviously hasn’t been accelerated, the build rate is glacial and the T23s have served well beyond their planned lifespans.
To sum up we didn’t get MK41 to fund hulls 7,8. Then the money for hulls 7,8 disappeared so we’ve ended up with less hulls that lack critical capability.
T45 Sampson has had some upgrades but Sea Viper cannot be used in the anti-ballistic role. That capability needs to be added pronto.

Supportive Bloke

“ T45 Sampson has had some upgrades but Sea Viper cannot be used in the anti-ballistic role. That capability needs to be added pronto”

Just *speculation* but I’d be very, very surprised if ASTER wasn’t quite effective against short range ballistic.

“ To sum up we didn’t get MK41 to fund hulls 7,8. Then the money for hulls 7,8 disappeared so we’ve ended up with less hulls that lack critical capability.”

We have six very large hulls capable of massive upgrades. The budget lines for the upgrades are there. Ask Cameron/Clegg/Osbourne about why they created this mess to save pennies.

DaveyB

Just a point: ” Sea Viper cannot be used in the anti-ballistic role.” Says who?

The current T45s Sea Viper system, i.e. Sampson, PAAMS CMS and Aster, is not set up for a dedicated anti-ballistic role. However, that does not say it can’t. Without saying to much about the system’s performance. It has in the past been tested against Mach 3+ very steeply diving drone targets. But also against Mach 4+ short range ballistic rockets. Admittedly these are not Mach 5+ targets, but are representative of the threat.

The Sea Viper system is being upgraded in a two part package called Sea Viper Evolution. Part 1 includes upgrades to the Sampson radar, PAAMS CMS and the Aster Missiles. This was signed off last year. The current Block 0 Aster is being upgraded to the Block 1 standard, which includes software and firmware upgrades along with the Block1 warhead. Part 2 integrates the Block 1NT Aster.

Why is the Block 1NT better at targeting ballistic missiles than the Block 0 and Block 1? This is mostly down to the missile’s active radar, which has been changed from a Ku-band to a higher frequency Ka-band. The Block 1NT’s higher frequency radar has the capability to separate targets from clutter and decoys much better.

Having Block 1NT Aster is only part of the picture, Sampson and the CMS must be able not only to detect and track the ballistic missile, but also work out the interception solution. The current Sampson/CMS does have this ability, but the SVE Part 1 upgrade takes this to the next level. Similar to the AEGIS BMD performance.

Jon

General Atomics have built one Mojave drone. It’s a prototype for testing and we have only just started testing it. No way are we ready to buy a very expensive (non-attritable) drone that is at best borderline suitable, a smaller version of the Reaper that the Houthis have already had practice shooting down.

If we sent long-distance suicide drones to Ukraine that were based on the carrier-compatible Banshee, we maybe should look at those.

Last edited 4 months ago by Jon
Russ

In response to your point about escorts, I was on Illustrious back in 97 – 99 when they removed our Sea Dart (dockdown period 97/98) extended the deck park and changed the Dart magazine into another air weapons magazine.

We were told that we would never sail without an escort. Back then we still had the T42s, T22s and T23s.

Deployed for Gulf ops in early 98 in support of Operation Southern Watch will a full load of SHARs and GR-7s (7 or 8 of each, can’t quite remember, kept the baggers for AEW and a single MK4 for pax/mail etc. the rest of the MK4s went to the supporting RFAs). How many escorts did we have? One – HMS Somerset deployed with us as our escort and that was pretty much only to get us through the Straights of Hormuz.

So despite a sizable drop in escort numbers the same problems still exist now.

Jon

Send the carrier if there’s a particular job to be done and a clear exit strategy. Are we ready to bomb or even invade Yemen? I don’t think so, but maybe I’m wrong. Don’t send the carrier for open-ended gesture politics or to “signal” something. She’ll have to come back in 6-8 months and if she’s just floating around trying to look menacing what will have changed?

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Nice picture of the Alborz. Topped out when new at 39 knots.

No point in sending the carrier.

Jonathan

That’s a crazy fast frigate…bet that was vom inducing

Supportive Bloke

I’d be amazed if her GT’s still functioned.

So I do t think she’d be that nippy.

Given the inevitable corrosion in warm salty water I also suspect if you tried a flat out sprint that she would flat pack pretty fast.

Duker

Used more widely than you think
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolls-Royce_Marine_Olympus

This fast Finnish corvette Turunmaa ( with a 120mm Bofors was first to sea with the Olympus before the HMS Exmouth conversion did

sh_cor_turunmaa_p021
NewerX

Your still a putin-lover?

Bloke down the pub

Any military action without targeting the Houti’s Iranian masters would be pointless. Any decision to attack Iranian forces must be taken in the knowledge that they are ruled by an Armageddon cult that would be happy to see the World go up in smoke.

Sean

The answer depends on what is needed for Operation Prosperity Guardian to succeed, ie, how is success defined, what’s required to achieve it, and what resources from the 10 nations involved are required.

But off-hand, if only limited land-strikes are required then cruise-missiles will surface. In which case, an Astute would be useful.
If a large volume is required, then a carrier is required. Currently the USA is best placed to provide these due to sheer numbers of carriers and aircraft available. In which case the Americans are always very happy for a T45 joining their CSGs; could easily see a repeat of the HMS Gloucester saving the day for the USS Missouri.
Otherwise a pairing of a T23 and T45 is good combination for protecting shipping. Though in the highly unlikely event that Iran decides to intervene, then it would be better to have a T23 armed with NSMs. Without NSMs, again an Astute might be useful.

stephen ball

Might as well send it, 3 month deployment.

Navy Lookout it’s shorter from Diego Garcia to Yemen 2.322 miles. But its better getting Egypt to agree a fly over. Politically.

Did watch something on youtube with Dr Chris Parry ex Royal Navy.
“There’s Potential For A World War” Former NATO Commander On Potential Of Totalitarian Regimes – YouTube

he says some of the drones are from China.

Greta Thunderpants

If we can just stall until 2045 then it might just get the promised and designed for 38-42 F35’s …….

Mountjoy

We send our herald to meet the Herald of the Houthi,
and arrange to fight off Mayyun Island, for possesion of the Red Sea ?

Last edited 4 months ago by Mountjoy
Greta Thunderpants

sorry…. What ?

Anonymous coward

I don’t suppose taking apache on the QE would add much? Can they do the ground attack work or even shoot down drones for less than an aster?

Chris

It would be more than adequate for ground attack.

The houthis are not a nation state with integrated air defense. They have some Iranian SA-2 copies, rag tag Soviet equipment and some commercial drones.

The issue is targeting. Do you want an F-35 to loiter for hours on end just to possibly once in a blue moon drop a laser guided bomb on a pickup truck? That’s the case here.

Duker

The nation state of ‘north yemen’ in the days when there was separate North and South Yemen.
The Kingdom of Yemen existed under a Zaydi muslim sect monarch from 1918-62. The Houthis are just the armed wing of the Zaydi population – 40% of 35 mill people mostly in the North

Wil

I suspect after the poor performance of Western weaponry in Ukraine, a lack of capability sent and resolve to support Guyana and years of fighting a proxy war through Saudi Arabia that has achieved the square root of denying commercial shipping free and unhindered passage through the Red Sea.. we’ll pontificate! The coalition the yanks recently put together has already fallen apart, and whatever we do will create further exodus of Western friendly counties to BRICS.
We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
What we do need to do is set the conditions for a more peaceful world where following a US foreign policy of bombs and sanctions is brought to an end.

Sean

“Poor performance of Western weaponry in the Ukraine”…
you sir, have the makings of a stand-up comedian.

Let’s check the facts shall we?

• 10 day take-over of Ukraine failed

Conservative estimates of destroyed assets, not including damaged, captured, etc
• 1,717 tanks
• 753 AFVs
• 2,265 IVFs
• 264 APCs
• 91 fixed-wing aircraft
• 104 helicopters
• 13 navy surface ships
• 1 submarine

and an estimated
• 315,000 troops killed or severely wounded

Looks like at Western weapons are doing exactly what they were designed for, and doing it rather well too.

Duker

Casualties doesnt mean ‘killed & severely wounded’. Like all all wars and estimates of ‘body count’ usually wrong.

Chris

We did that, it brought an invasion to Georgia and a land war in Europe. When the US is perceived as weak abroad, bad actors act up.

Duker

https://warontherocks.com/2018/08/the-august-war-ten-years-on-a-retrospective-on-the-russo-georgian-war/
Your simple narrative is very wrong and a common rewrite after an actual Russian invasion of Ukraine.
 Tbilisi’s plan was to recapture South Ossetia with its capital Tskhinvali, reintegrating what had by then become a Russian dependency and outpost of Russian influence back into Georgia proper. The course of the war, and Georgian military preparations, reflected the fact that Georgia did not expect to defend against a major Russian offensive. “

Airborne

Oh dear Wil, I see the US continues to be your whipping boy for the world’s ills! Not sure your western weapons comment is even worth replying to…….research, research and research, it will assist your posts.

Richard Rose

Imagine my surprise that the UK government views the slaughter of 25000 Palestinians with total indifference but when trade is threatened it’s send a gunboat.

Jonno

The understanding is, by the conventions and laws of war, that if the aggressor nation starts a war as Hamas has done, in this case with absolute savagery; especially against Israeli civilians; all bets are off.
Younger people dont understand this but its well that they do, lest every neighbouring country starts wars for no good reason. The Argentines did this with us and the shouts of outrage shown when we sank Belgrano, evidences it came as a shock to many.
25000 dead is a lot of people and highly regrettable but they aren’t all innocent. They are many of them accomplices; the children are not and nobody is indifferent to them being caught up into a bloody conflict.
Check out your moral compass. Trade is the things people live by. Blockading trade is a legitimate cause for war.

Defence thoughts

Thanks for the casual ageism. Younger people very much do understand it thankyou very much! I support Israel’s right to defend itself. The Belgrano had to be sunk- we should have gone for their carrier too.

Go to Nottingham’s Barnardo’s charity shop on Angel Row and you will find young people that work there that fully support this country. I could point you to other places where I have worked and encountered plenty of young patriots that people don’t care about.

Duker

Who has been attacking Yemen for the past 10 years then ?
https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2018/02/us-conducted-a-record-131-airstrikes-in-yemen-last-year.php

Just curious how you become selective in your self defence doctrine, which is Ok for Israel but not for Yemen.
or does ‘rules based order’ override Yemens ability for self defence

Esteban

Always believe the statistics that the Palestinians give you… It’s always the truth. What

John Brian Doyle

Dammed if you do
And
Dammed if you Don’t

It is interesting to note that upon a USA invite to join in to China,that they diplomatically declined and solely on the grounds that only a diplomatic and peaceful resolution in reality was the one and only way to solve this long standing issue but as usual the response from The West was in some areas vitriolic
However most interestingly this article truly exposed the massive shortfalls in the RN in being capable to actually deploying one or both Prince of Wales or Queen Elizabeth
By way of insufficient Deployable aircraft,
On board defensive capabilities, insufficient defense escorts and RFA resupply
Yet The MOD announced that in 2026 they
Will dispatch a Carrier to the S.China Seas

A utterly stupid error especially so if a action by any undertaken that may lead to unintended consequences that all too rapidly spiral out of control along with the ever amplifying terrible consequences
And for certain any RN surface assets deployed would surely suffer the same fate as HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales
Incurred in WW2
Go study the defence resources at the disposal of the Chinese PLAN and PLAF

They say history repeats itself
But never ever does such do so
However History always Echoes and Rhymes with the past
And one can already hear such sounds
Emancipating from China
Forewarned is Forearmed
Just like Churchill was warned when Repulse and Prince of Wales deployed only
To meet their certain fate

Jonno

Not aware we are at war with China. You saying they might start one because we send some ships to the East on their lawful occasion?

Sean

Would love to know what translation software you’re using, so that I can avoid it! You should ask for your money back too.

Aquateal

Don’t they have punctuation in China ?

Airborne

Oh wow, no effort at knowing English prior to pretending to be, er, English!

Sunmack

You do a good job of stating the political case but QE brings no added military value to the capabilities already provided by a US CVN.
Compared to an American carrier, QE has a far inferior AEW capability, no SEAD capability and no stand off weapons for the F35’s.
One other factor not mentioned is that the shorter range of the F35B, lack of drop tanks and lack of carrier air to air refuelling capability means that QE would need to operate far closer to land than a US CVN. This puts her at far greater risk from land based missile threats.

Jon

F-35B has a shorter range than what?

Sunmack

The F18’s and F35C’s deployed on the US CVN

Jon

So you didn’t mean the range of the Eisenhower’s helicopters that have actually been sinking Houthi ships.

If it came to bombing, neither the Ford nor the Eisenhower deploy F-35C. The F-35B has a comparable, maybe slightly longer range than the F/A-I8s. Neither the Red Sea nor the Gulf of Aden are particularly wide and neither F-35B nor F/A-18 would be needing droptanks. If the RN decided to move far enough away from the target that refuelling was necessary, a Voyager would be employed.

Last edited 4 months ago by Jon
Sunmack

I was referring to strikes against land targets and how close to land the carrier has to be to conduct them. Drop tanks on aircraft allow the US carrier to operate further offshore thus reducing the land based missile threat against them. F18’s can also undertake refuelling from other F18’s loaded with drop tanks. This allows more aircraft to be deployed from further offshore than can be achieved by a single Voyager flying from a distant land base.
Additionally, the stand off missiles carried by the F18 also allow the carrier to operate further from shore as the aircraft can strike from 100+ miles from the target. UK F35B has no stand off weapons.

Last edited 4 months ago by Sunmack
David Graham

Exactly. The problem is many commentators know nothing about carriers or the topography or geography of Yemen. I lived and worked in Yemen [Min of Fish Wealth and Yemeni Coast Guard} from 2004-2008 and travelled extesively in the country. I also served in the olden days in HMS Victorious in the FES.

Jon

To me, there lies the problem: you think land strikes and maybe it would be, but the current operation is sea escort. We don’t know what the carrier would be sent to achieve other than to make it look like we are “doiing something”. Do we load up with Wildcats or F-35s? If Wildcats we might as well send Argus.

Esteban

It’s not Eisenhower’s helicopters. It’s the American destroyers helicopters… Educate yourself.

Jon

You say I got it wrong. Not Eisenhower’s helicopters you say. Then I got it wrong. The BBC got it wrong: bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-67851897. The New York Times got it wrong: nytimes.com/2023/12/31/world/middleeast/us-houthi-clash. The US Naval Institute got it wrong news.usni.org/2023/12/31/u-s-navy-helo-crews-kill-houthi-assault-boat-teams-after-red-sea-attack. NBC has is wrong, ABC and the Hindustani Times have it wrong. Military.com, Stars and Stripes. Even the US military itself has it wrong, and you can read the original announcement on CENTCOM’s X feed. Everybody out of step except you.

Airborne

Ah here he is, long time no whine! Missed your nonsense on UKDJ, I see you now go where you are not challenged!

Peter

If the UK is going to send the carrier, the RN had better fit some 30mm cannon before sailing. The conflict in the Black Sea has highlighted the very real threat from drone and, in this region, suicide boats. The QE has very little capability to sink this type of craft.

J J

Why are we airing our weaknesses to a global audience? Everybody and his dog now knows what we can and can’t do. Surely, the approach towards existing and potential future enemies is to keep them in the dark with a wall of silence. Someone please tell me why the comments in the above article about our submarine service was included; is the term ‘The Silent Service’ now redundant? The Mushroom Management approach may be more appropriate ‘ Feed them **** and keep them in the dark.

John

OkamsRazor

JJ, it’s called a free press, part of democracy. But the thing is, our press are so crap on military matters and the blogs so “it was better in our day”, that any foreign entity relying on these stories would be completely deceived on our “real” capabilities!

E .harding

As long as they don’t forget to take duck tape so seal the leaks .
Or they could fake going there in pinewood studios.
Or just sail out of Portsmouth and then decide we have a leak. (Did that happen before.?)

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

All

All in all, as the NL author rightly implies, it is a great shame our pollical and military’s leadership still do not understand the principles of how and when to use military’s force(s) as a deterrence…..

Had a RN carrier been immediately moved into the Middle East region three months ago – as I proposed in my NL post of the 14th October 2023 – then these attack’s throughout the Red Sea would “probably not” have happened. Quite simply, the key actor (a nation state) would have been deterred….

As of today, the key issues are as follows:

  1. With regards to the ongoing threats to merchant shipping……as per my post in Navy Lookout three weeks ago…….the correct and most proportionate response to terrorist / pirate attacks onto merchie’s is to put small teams of Bootnecks – armed with AA/AT missiles and plenty of GMPG’s onto the merchant ships themselves (i.e. RMC vis pirates’ would be a rather one-sided fight).
  2. Furthermore, I still do not understand why the allies are not making better use of the existing “aircraft carrier” in the region: the one which is pronounced Djibouti (note: it was originally for this very reason, the control of a key sea route and a choke point, which is why the French originally colonized it)
  3. As a general principle, the narrow choke point called the Red Sea is simply not a suitable sea area for operating any large aircraft carrier with its fixed wing aviation. Operating QE or PoW anywhere in that location would make the carrier itself very vulnerable to being attacked. Indeed, I strongly suspect that our enemies want us to put our carrier in there! (Note. The potential confusion between deep blue ocean naval aviation and littoral aviation is subject that NL has written about at length many times!)
  4. If a carrier was operating anywhere in the Red Sea and/or out into the Gulf of Aden, it would be very vulnerable, at all times, to Houthi drones; cruise missiles; anti-ship missiles and even their ballistic missiles (PS Think of the recent sinking of the Moskva: i.e. they only have to get lucky and find it just once….)
  5. If – and this is a a very big if – a carrier is needed just to deal with Houthi’s in Yeman, it would make far more sense to put a carrier into the Indian Ocean: i.e. out where there is plenty of good sea space = to both avoid detection and also be able to head into wind.
  6. However large scale weaponry – such as land attack missiles – are frankly next to useless in such situations The key issue is always trying to correctly identify the highly-mobile targets – both afloat and ashore – that is the really hard bit…………Quite frankly, I think NL is overestimating how much critical infrastructure one needs to support these operations….. there will not be very much….
  • That key issue of correctly identifying targets was a perennial problem in Afghanistan and it is is exactly the same challenge once again today in this grey zone war in Yemen.
  • Therefore, if – and it is a big – more aviation is needed in this area, then as has just been correctly pointed out by others (directly above), the Apache gunships are by far and away the best choice.
  • Flying close in and also at low level means an Apache attack pilot can distinguish between a Toyota land cruiser 4X4 truck carrying a crude ASM missile: and a Toyota land cruiser 4 x4 carrying a farmer, his entire family and a load of agricultural pipework .
  • I would add that repeatedly killing innocent farmers (i.e. Collateral Damage) only makes things worse….. which is why we came second in Afghan after spending two trillion NATO dollars…..
  • Therefore, there is no reason why an AAC Apache cannot be flown off the flight deck of any RN destroyer or frigate or LSA or LPD. Quite simply: why is there not an Apache flying today off both HMS Diamond and HMS Lancaster? I suspect that “probably” only reason why this quite simple procedure has not being done to date is that there is some paperwork to fill in ! (i.e. The ADC (Army Dress Committee) has yet to decide what uniforms and badges an AAC pilot need to wear when dining in the RN wardroom!) .

Thinking more strategically / geopolitically…………

  1. Just one week after the horrify attack’s by Hamas on Israel, I posted on long note on Navy Lookout pointing out exactly what Iran’s motives were for organizing that Hamas attack (to split up the Israeli / Saudi anti-Iran Coalition).
  2. However, fully three months in, our political and military “leadership” (Please note the inverted comma’s) are still in denial that Iran is fermenting the ever-growing war in the Middle East.
  3. Thus, as the young Baldrick might say in these circumstances:
  • If the UK and other allies are to deter all of these these Houthi attacks:then a carrier battle group needs to be located to be threating the key player in the region.
  • Quite simply, that means threating the key national infrastructure of Iran
  • The F35 carries much more internal fuel that the notoriously short-legged Super Hornet F18………………….so the F35 has a very good unrefueled combat radius.
  • Therefore a cunning plan would be to put the carrier midway along the southern coast of the Arabian peninsula: say 100 miles off the coast of friendly Oman.
  • From there, a nice safe base, the F35’s could reach all of Yemen, Somalia and, of course, Iran.

Regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer

Duker

Thanks for that Peter
Iran was unaware of the Hamas attack till it happened according to reliable US intell.
If Israel wasnt even aware ( which has caused a massive finger pointing) shows it was closely held information
Unlike Hezbollah who are Shia, Hamas is a Sunni movement ( and was partly funded by Emirates), so theres not the same sort of links Iran- Hezbollah .

You dont mention the hundreds US drone and aircraft strikes on Yemen in last 10 years – with no reaction until recently?

Peter

Duker

Gaza /Hamas

Your point about the superb operational security by Hamas in the run up to their very-deadly terrorist attacks into Israel is a good point / one well made. All in all, that OPSEC probably came down to just one factor = Hamas cancelling their mobile phone contracts! (Note. A very simple tactic: however one which always properly b**gers up all western “intelligence” services’ = good and proper like).I also personally believe that Hamas was very surprised by just how “successful” its strikes were (i.e. killing, wounding or taking hostage thousands of Israeli civilians).Thus, as you rightly say, for the first time ever, Hamas caught the IDF asleep on the job…. . However, the deliberate targeting of IDF watchtowers, and also their extensive electronic surveillance net, with quite sophisticated drones – let alone the huge number of missiles Hamas then fired from Gaza into Israel – makes it “more likely than not “ that Hamas had considerable covert support. That support most-probably came from a nation state, probably one beginning with the letter “I”. Immediately after those horrific attacks – so when all of Israel was hopping mad and seeking revenge – I very much doubt if any Iranian with a single functioning braincell would want to publicly own up to Iran having helped Hamas. Quite simply: if on the 8th October 2023 anybody in Iran had been stupid enough to actually admit “on the record” to helping Hamas = then Israel would have retaliated (extremely hard!) against Iran.——————-

Next, taking each one of the ongoing “micro-wars” in the Muddle East (note 1) as follows:

(Note 1: ……and me calling it the Muddle East is quite deliberate)

Lebanon

As you quite rightly say: Hezbollah has very strong links with Iran: especially with their Iranian Revolutionary Guard units. However, even without Iranian interference, that small country has a very long running civil war between many different factions (Note. For full details of the Lebanese’s civil war, I recommend that Navy Lookout readers use their Xmas book token’s to purchase the legendary BBC reporter Kate Adie’s excellent autobiography).Also a very long history, over 40 years plus, of Israel siding with whichever faction in Lebanon it feels least uncomfortable with… Therefore I very strongly suspect that the only two reasons why Israel has not yet tackled Hezbollah in Lebanon is that it is still fully committed in Gaza: and also US diplomatic pressure not to start a second front. However, the IDF launched a drone attack in Lebanon last week….and I suspect that there are probably more to come…..
Yemen

I was aware, as you rightly say, that the US has conducted numerous drone strikes in Yemen. That is precisely why I was suggesting using Apache attack helicopter’s (i.e. rather that drones or F35’s) = precisely because in these sort of circumstance the low-level attack helicopters would be far more useful! The other issue, which you did not mention, is that Saudi Arabia and Yemen quite-recently fought a very prolonged war. That war was – quite frankly – Saudi vis Iran (by proxy). A lot of Yemen was reduced to rubble……Furthermore, Yemen has also recently launched long-range ballistic missiles nearly a thousand miles against Israel (i.e. the world first space-based interception). Please do not expect me to believe that these long-range ballistic missiles (IRBM’s) were developed solely in-house by the excellent YAMA scientists !!!!!! (i.e. Yemeni Aeronautical and Space Agency)….. more likely= they had help!Saudi

Lets not forget that in 2019 Saudi itself was the target of a very severe attack on a huge part of its vital oil/petro-chemical infrastructure: directly by Iranian drones and missiles.

Iraq and Syria

Often overlooked in the mainstream media (and, because of the short coastlines and also the fact that neither country has a very big navy: also overlooked by the otherwise excellent Navy Lookout!!!) – that many insurgents in Iraq and Syria have had massive support from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.US and UK special; forces have been attacked numerous times…..

Also please remember that targeted US drone attack on Iranian Revolutionary Guards leader Soleimani in 2020 took place inside Iraq.

US intelligence

Taking your key phrase:

Iran was unaware of the Hamas attack till it happened according to reliable US intel.

I maybe am getting am a bit long in the tooth….. however I would not take as “gospel” anything that US intelligence now says (Note: the last person who did that, just once, was Colin Powell. That one silly mistake ruined his previously-unblemished reputation for straightforward honesty). Unfortunately, the simple truth is what is all-too-often claimed to be “intelligence fact” is all-to-often, in reality, somebody’s own personal opinion (i.e. when speaking from their office chair, whilst sitting in a warm office in Langley).As I noted above: nobody in Iran is going to be stupid enough to own up to helping Hamas attack on Israel!
Conclusion

All in all, the simple truth in this “always volatile” region is that Iran has been “stirring the mix” in all of these Muddle Eastern countries for many decades (i.e. see my long list above).

The simple truth is that Iran, especially their fanatical Revolutionary Guards, is the key force behind all of the above = even if some of the IRG actions are “grey zone and deniable” (or ………………not yet uncovered by US intelligence!)

As of today, the Muddle East is the equivalent of the Balkans just before 1914. We would be wise to remember that there had been several various / different small wars in the Balkans during the whole decade leading up to 1914. It was that long series of wars which led directly into the start of World War 1 (i.e. a really big war between the big boys). That wider war was triggered by a very small event: the archduke’s chauffer stalling his car whilst doing an quite-unnecessary three-point-turn in Sarajevo………..

That causation of big wars – i.e. that something very major might be triggered by several much=smaller events – is something our politicians now really need to wake to……

Accordingly, if the UK and US are going to start to get really serious about putting an end to this very long running crisis – i.e. all of the micro-wars in the Muddle East listed above – it a direct threat to the heart of Iran which is now necessary.

That is precisely what Carrier Strike Groups were designed to do – and how they should be most properly used – hence the word Strike being the middle letter of the TLA called CSG

Therefore, if the political decision is to be taken to deploy UK strike carriers, then near the Straits’ of Hormuz is where they should be most-usefully deployed.

As I said in my first post in October 2023: that deployment would be application of long-standing military / naval principle called deterrence.

regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer

Sean

I’m guessing you think the moon landings were faked too…

David MacDonald

Quick answer is no. More considered answer is also no.

Last edited 4 months ago by David MacDonald
simon

factor in houthi launch sites will be located in civilian areas

DaveyB

A couple of points. I presume Diamond has a Wildcat embarked. In which case being equipped with Martlet would be a very good counter to the acts of piracy that the Houthis are conducting. But the other weapon of interest would be Sea Venom.

It may still be having “integration challenges”, to progress it past initial operating conditions (IOC). But again it’s an ideal weapon for this type of mission. Especially if there is to be land based action. As the missile can also be used against targets on land. The downside would be its relatively short range.

It is going to very difficult to prevent the Houthis from attacking shipping. Yes Diamond and Lancaster can be used to prevent small boat attacks, missile attacks and the helicopter based assault. But to prevent the Houthis logistically, you will have to attack land targets that support and enable them to sustain these attacks.

Plus, I’m not sure if it is still there. But there was a converted Iranian tanker anchored off the coast of Yemen. Allegedly protecting shipping from piracy. But has likely been used for spotting and identifying targets for the Houthis. If it is still there, then it too must go, but clandestinely with a few strategically placed below the water mines. Thereby ensuring deniability.

There is a very big assumption that if the carrier sailed, that it would be allowed to port in any of the middle eastern harbours. Especially if it has been used against the Houthis. Oman is especially in a perilous position as Yemen and Oman have a history of border clashes. With the Houthis Iranian supplied missiles. They would be an easy target. The port of Duqm would be an easy target. Even the port in Bahrain is within range of Houthis weapons.

To my mind, yes sending QE would be a massive statement. But there’s little point sending it, if it cannot be fully protected and RAS’d. The Op that would be required to neutralize the Houthis ability to target shipping won’t be quick. Plus you’d have to prevent Iran from resupplying them. Otherwise they’d be back at it a month or two later.

To stop these attacks there needs to be a concerted effort that is backed by a UN resolution. These attacks will affect the World economy, as the higher costs for shipping goods will push up the prices in shops etc. The only way to stop the Houthis being resupplied is via a UN supported blockade.

KiwiRob

the UN thanks to the US won’t even attempt to stop Israels bombardment of Gaza, the Houthis have made it abundantly clear they will stop when Israel stops. It’s a pity the Western world has no moral backbone!

Rob N

I am nor sure what sort of military action we are expected to be involved in here – other then safeguarding British citizens. I think Israel can fight her own wars and Palestine is a problem beyond the scope of the UK to fix. I cannot see what value a extra carrier in the region would bring. The USN already have a carrier in the area – this appears more adequate.

Grant

We should send her: it would be a good okace to build up real combat experience – a relatively safe environment. Would be great to get some of those drones they tested on PoW being used as well. Showing we can operate our carriers 1000s of miles from home sends a message to countries like China etc.

It has been mad that other European Navies haven’t wanted to send Frigates to the Red Sea (because of the ‘optics’ around Israel). I always thought from a NATO standpoint we should have more than enough escorts, but our allies seem to be getting less reliable these days and we consequently do need more. An AAW version of the T31 and add a few more T26s into the build schedule.

I do wonder if we should be using our assets less: there has been pressure to have them being at sea, but with so few it’s logical to keep them available for when we really need them.

Smickers

Not a good idea to task a QE carrier
Why not use Diego Garcia which is not that far away from Yemen?

Duker

A carrier wouldnt be ‘inside’ the actual narrow straits. But a few 100k in the open ocean

Sean

You think 3,659km is “not that far”?….

OkamsRazor

Some good news for a change;

“Disclosure of the Asraam system in Ukraine emerged as UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Dec. 29 that the UK would provide more Asraams to boost Ukrainian ground-based air defenses. This followed a series of attacks using air- and sea-launched cruise missiles, the Khinzal aeroballistic missile and one-way attack uncrewed aircraft systems.

A rapidly developed surface-to-air missile system using based on MBDA’s Asraam has achieved hit rates of 90% against Russian targets in Ukraine, the UK defense ministry has revealed.

The air defense system was developed by a joint team from the UK defense ministry and MBDA and fielded in just four months, defense officials announced in late December.”

Shows what we can do when we get our fingers out!

Sunmack

Hadn’t heard about that so thanks for the update. Great news.

JJ Smallpiece

My concern is why RN warships are so consistently so weakly armed both in terms of anti shipping strike ability as well as land attack capability.

Sunmack

And anti-submarine sensors (see T31 and T45)

OkamsRazor

Compared to what? Land attack by ships is silly with the advent of long range missiles, from subs and airplanes and drones.

Dan

What about the RAF Reaper squadron based in Kuwait ?

Esteban

Geography… Not even really remotely close to where the action is at

Michael

The American website The War Zone released an article that reports that two RN Type 23 Frigates HMS Argyll and Westminster are going to be retired because of the lack of sailors to crew them. Unbelievable.

Darryl2164

We have paid a lot of money for the carriers , now let’s see them defending British interests . Get them to the gulf and let’s see what they can do , otherwise why did we build them if not for deterrent and defence

KiwiRob

If the UK had any balls they would pressure the Israeli government to stop bombing the crap out of Gaza. The Houthi’s said they will stop when Israel stops. It’s pretty simple really, get Israel to agree to a ceasefire and they stop causing problems with shipping entering the Red Sea.

Turing more of Yemen to dust is going to do much more than shift one pile of rubble to another location, there’s not much left to bomb.

RMM

The crisis is here and now. Are we waiting for a ship en-route to the UK to be sunk before we send a CSG, I thought we were in the game of deterarants and a show of force and capability would be a clear sign of our commitment to protecting our merchant fleet and supply route. As well as backing up our allies namely the US ahead of a possible Trump victory

Peter

All

The “battlespace model” that the allies (including the UK) needs to be adopting here off the coasts of both Yemen and Iran is the exactly same one that US El Presidentee Ronnie Raygun authorised in the Arabian (then called Persian) Gulf back in April 1988.

Overall, it was then a very similar situation to what is happening today. The build up to that operation was that small Iranian warships, civilian ships, pirate “boghammer” boats and disused oil rigs had all been used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) to “deniably” attack civilian ships as part of their so called long-running “Tanker War”.

However in April 1988 the IRG got caught red-handed laying mines in international waters: one of which hit an US frigate Samuel B Roberts, almost sinking it (unbelievably there was no loss of life). The US media showed gave extensive coverage to the USN’s IR TV pictures showing one ship laying the mines at night.

In Operation Preying Mantis, the US Navy went in extremely hard against the supposedly “covert” Iranians – using their full force of carriers, surface action group, attack helicopters and the US Marines (note: after all: you can’t have proper war without inviting the USMC!). It was one of the USN’s largest surface fleet actions since WW2

After those short and sharp targeted attacks, the USN then, very cleverly, both disengaged and resupplied: whilst remaining “lurking” in full view of the enemy by cruising just off the Iranian coast….

This was this short sharp shock – in essence Operation Preying Mantis was a one-day war – that finally brought the Iranians to their senses……

Attacks on merchant shipping in the Persian Gulf ceased. Also, a few months later, the long running Iran vis Iraq war was concluded, after eight long years, with ceasefire negotiated by the diplomats.

regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer

Paul42

No real need for a another carrier, IKE is already there with a strong escort and with her own defences the QE lacks. Get another T45 to sea and perhaps an Astute with Tomahawks into the area. We need to put an umbrella over shipping in the Red Sea without starting another major conflict. QE would be exposed without a heavy escort, and perhaps apart from F35Bs shooting down missiles has no real role to play.

Richard Rose

I would opine that it was only barking mad right wingers who objected tio the dispatch of humanitarian aid to Gaza. With regard to QE2 it is somewhat sanctimonious to ignore the genocide in Gaza but send warships to protect trade.

Mike Jones

The two carriers have been specified for fleet defence, however with their escort requirements, they are our fleet! Without a USMC contingent aboard their role is simply self perpetuating.

Mark Tucker

A better question would be: Could the Royal Navy relieve a US carrier in the event of a US carrier was unexpectedly unavailable, for example due to a mechanical break down? Lets face it the US Carrier fleet is not as large as it what it once was either and they can’t be everywhere.

I suspect the answer is the Royal Navy could, but only with significant support from the US. The US Navy would have supply a couple of AB’s and fleet support vessels, the US Marines would need to supply a number of F35’s.

The big problem would be responding quickly.

Will

“Like them or not, without the global presence of the US military there is a long list of adversaries who will quickly move in and ferment chaos and fuel further global instability. The health of the wider world economy is obviously in the US interests but it should be remembered that shipping in the Red Sea is predominantly facilitating European trade with Asia.”

100% correct. Red Sea shipping is first and foremost a European concern. If Europe doesn’t want to field sufficient military forces to ensure the free flow of that trade, then that is Europe’s problem, not America’s. Well, not directly, as you allude here.

“This could imply an expensive open-ended commitment, tying down limited naval resources for years that would exceed the effort already expended containing Iran in the Persian Gulf.”

Yes. Again, the Royal Navy’s spiraling down and swirling the drain has direct, real world consequences for the UK and its people. As a Canadian naval officer put it not long ago, “You can have as much sovereignty as you are willing to pay for”. It really is that simple, at least in the main. Europeans should defend European interests. To be sure, some of those interests are the same as, or overlap with, those of the United States. But again, the postwar free ride for Europe is over. It is long since part time for the UK and other European states to build and fund proper militaries.