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Smith-Weston

Good article.. just a shame the author does not read the Hindustan Times – who seem to have a better appreciation of what’s happening in Ukraine over the Western MSM’s pro-Ukraine nonsense.

JFKvsNixon

Have you thought that instead of being pro-Ukrainian, the focus has more to do with allowing Ukraine decide for themselves?

A bit like the Falklands conflict was all about letting the islanders decide if they wanted to become part of Argentina or not.

The line has to be drawn somewhere, because if the conflict spills into Eastern European Nato countries then we really are in danger of some serious escalation.

Duker

While we are in the Med , have you considered why Nato member Turkiye is allowed to remain in occupation of Northern Cyprus ( an EU and Commonweath country too) which they took by an illegal invasion in 1973 ?
Malta also decided against becoming independent in a referendum in but Britain said ‘your off’
Might is right like its always been , Britain and US invaded Iraq, illegally remember , plus a long list of others . This is what countries in Africa, Asia South America see

Will

When has any invasion been approved by jurisprudence or otherwise subject to lawyers and courts?

Esteban

Illegally? What invasion has ever been done legally??

Duker

RAF has been bombing Syria …..’legally’ for some time. It was just to make the point about nato members invasions

Sean

The RAF haven’t been bombing Syria, they’ve been bombing terrorists located in Syria. But you have a distant relationship with the truth…

Duker

The UN security says its OK for the RAF to do that.
meanwhile in Gaza the UN security Council decided ‘Immediate Ceasefire ( US abstained) both Israel and US says its ‘non binding’ a contradiction in terms

Sean

Clearly the difference between “approval” and “binding” escapes you. Hardly takes a law degree to understand the difference.

So when did you start supporting Islamic State?

Airborne

Here he is!

Sean

Please identify the currently serving politicians who were also in power when Turkey invaded Cyprus? Because unless you can, then your attempt at implying double standards is facile.
You’re also ignoring the fact that states can learn from previous errors.

And a blatant misrepresentation on your part. Northern Cyprus has never been a part of the EU. The Republic of Cyprus was not part of the EU when Turkey invaded the island, it joined 30 years later.

As per usual you misrepresent the facts. The referendum in Malta was whether it should become an equal part of the union of Great Britain, on par with other members, eg Wales, Scotland, etc. However the opposition boycotted it, with a turnout of only 59%. The U.K. did not say either “your off” (as you wrote), nor did it say “you’re off” as is grammatically correct.

You manage to get one fact correct, yes the USA and U.K. illegally invaded Iraq. Blair should be in jail.

The biggest double standard I see is you believing you have the right to say what people in Africa, Asia South America believe. That’s rather imperialist of you.

AlexS

Actually Turkey is occupying Cyprus, Iraq, Syria.

Britain and US invaded Iraq, illegally remember 

Ridiculous, there were many reasons for Casus Belli.

Peter S

Idiot

Wasp snorter

Better appreciation in your biased view, not mine. It’s not ‘pro Ukrainian’ when it’s to simply oppose an invasion that is a Russian landgrab.

Duker

The point was Nato and EU dont care about Indias conflicts where a neighbour ‘moves in’, why should India care about some minor dispute of what Lenin and Stalin created and Putin wanted to take away.
Who cares now about how Ireland lost part of its nation to a form of ‘land grab’ by Britain.
The worlds newest nation , South Sudan is a partition of an existing country with a longer history than Ukraine

Sean

Wrong, Ukraine has a longer history than Sudan.

But then you conspiracy theorists are mindlessly parroting all the disinformation the Kremlin manufactures.

Duker

Under which borders ? Rus was the historic name for the area, from the Vikings /Varangians.
Odessa , Kherson, Nikolayev, Sebastopol was founded by and under Catherine the Great and its region was known as Little Russia

Sean

Under its historic borders, before it decided to found a small city called Moscow.
If you actually consulted history, the term “Little Russia” was only adopted by Russia after it occupied that area. Hardly makes it Russia’s, unless you approve of blatant imperialism – it was the Russian equivalent of Lebensraum.

Sean

Comrade, instead of the mouthful of “Western MSM’s pro-Ukraine nonsense” you could have simply used the word “truth”.

Bob79

You 2 should stop the flirting and just go get a room

Airborne

Yaaaaawn

Andrew Deacon

It’s now the usual guessing game over Caribbean hurricane support, with presumably HMS Medway due back after refit. In theory one of Argus or Lyme Bay could do this, if Panama Canal available. .

ATH

I suspect given a hurricane support ship needs to be on station in about 6 weeks there won’t be one. As an outside bet a Tide with a wildcat may be sent.

Jon

What’s Mounts Bay’s schedule like?

Andrew Deacon

Last reported in Falmouth. At a guess supporting RM and NATO in Baltic. Cardigan Bay is now in Med so could be available. It’s juggling the few assets we’ve still got left and it’s blindingly obvious where the gaps are.

Sean

Forecasts are predicting quite a busy hurricane season…

Duker

The opposite has happened… Last year

Sean
Last edited 1 month ago by Sean
Duker

So funny …‘Named storms’ arent hurricanes. You seem very susceptible to online scams where the meanings are changed significantly
NOAA , just some of their list of events of the Hurricane season

  • Tropical Storm Arlene – 
  • Tropical Storm Bret – 
  • Tropical Storm Cindy – 
  • Hurricane Don – 
  • Tropical Storm Gert – 
  • Tropical Storm Emily –
  • Tropical Storm Ophelia –
  • Tropical Storm Philippe –
  • Tropical Storm Rina – 
  • Tropical Storm Sean – 
  • Hurricane Tammy 

6 hurricanes in a season is very low

Sean

Here’s news for you, a year consists of 12 months not 3.5 months. It’s only April. In fact, we’re not in the usual hurricane season yet (May to November) and El Niño is still in effect – its disappearance will contribute to more hurricanes.
But those are the facts, and as we know, you do t have faith in science.

Duker

6 hurricanes is very low numbers . Tropical named storms (14) arent hurricanes

AlexS

You mean climate political facts,
Because if i ask you how many hurricane occurred in XIX century you or any scientist don’t know the answer..

Sean

Scientific facts are not political, the only politics comes from those people either too stupid to understand them or disingenuously using them to create political division.

Although Putin accepts climate change as fact, the Kremlin propaganda machine continues to pump out climate-change denial stories. So as a Russian troll you natural push this too. No surprise there comrade.

Joe16

Maybe I’m being daft, but surely turning one of the LPDs over to the FCO and basing it permanently in the Caribbean for drugs enforcement and disaster relief makes sense? Even if still operated by RFA/RN crews, it’s a better use of the hull and a recognition of our ties to the area. Global Britain and all!

fvf

With now both LPD’s being permanently mothballed that will require RFA Cardigan Bay to be converted to a LSS as soon as a LSV can replace her in the gulf no?

Hugo

I imagine it’ll return to amphib duties but it’s not gonna be converted
Though I wouldn’t call Bulwark permanently mothballed, but unless they can turn the crewing crisis around it won’t return.

Last edited 1 month ago by Hugo
Andrew Deacon

Thought RFA Stirling Castle will be heading to Gulf for MCM duties?

Jon

I understood Stirling Castle to be permanently UK based, with the three to follow to be deployable abroad once Stirling Castle has all the procedures sorted.

PaulCC

Unlikely that there will be any conversion work undertaken. A general election is 6 months away, after that SDSR 2025 under Labour will need to define the future of the RM and amphibious/littoral strike capability. Everything is up in the air for the next couple of years. Money being extremely tight my guess is the 3 remaining Bays and Argus will continue as they are for another decade with both Albions mothballed until MRSS emerges in some form . . . or not.

John Clark

Agreed, nothing will happen until the next SDSR.

I suspect Labour will favour European NATO and roll back on any forward deployed forces east of Suez.

I wouldn’t blame them to be honest, assets are spread far to thin, until escorts can be permanently assigned to such a force, the ‘forward’ base should be Gibraltar.

Hugo

A recent article about the Dutch design says we want to arm the vessels with some kind of missile system to allow MRSS to deploy without escorts.
So Sea ceptor more than likely.

Sjb1968

Given the military usefulness of cheap drones any ship that is to be deployed in the littoral (East of Suez or Northern flank) is going to need decent self defence so a couple of Phalanx bolted onto a 20,000t vessel is not going to cut it anymore with or without escorts.

Hugo

We have no other weapons suitable for the current amphibs so it’ll have to do

Sonik

Remember that the LRG concept started off with the ridiculous idea to use converted car ferries as cheap amphibs.

So I guess the original concept, was a small but fast light interdiction force mostly useful against lightly armed sub-state actors.

The up-armament is most likely therefore just a recognition of the recent proliferation of drones & anti-ship missiles to non-state groups.

The resurgence of Russian threat moves the goalposts too, obviously.

Another case of planning for the last war and playing catch up.

John Clark

I think MRSS going to require at least 24 CAMM and 2 x 40mm Bofors mounts to give it some measure of protection.

These shops will be spending a good deal of their lives right in dangers way and subject to a potential mass drone attack with little warning.

The RN won’t pay for the necessary defensive weapons suite and we won’t have the escorts to ride shotgun east of Suez, so you might as well bring them back to Gibraltar were at least an Amphibious task group could be assembled with escorts and dispatched east of Suez if required.

Without proper support and enablers, really not much point them being left alongside in India.

Bit of a gimmick really….

Have a UK task group and a Gib based task group. It’s living within our means.

Hugo

It’s not a gimmick if they’re serving a purpose. Just because we view them as being vulnerable, doesn’t mean that they won’t be deployed, as they are being right now.

Last edited 1 month ago by Hugo
Tumbleweed10101010101

RFAs being armed with missiles is extremely unlikely.

I believe Fort Vic tried with sea wolf midships but Lloyds refused to classify her merchant vessel if armed with missiles so the space was never filled.

All hearsay though as I wasn’t there.

Sjb1968

Labour will not draw down our forces in the Gulf so bringing other assets back from East of Suez will consist of the LRG and two OPV’s. This would be a purely political gesture of no military consequence.
Where it will get difficult is the planned deployment of an an SSN to Oz and I don’t think Labour can renege on that deployment despite the inadequate hull numbers.
The lack of investment in defence over the last 20 years cannot be undone anytime soon and both main political parties will not be able to change that without a considerable uptick in defence expenditure. The consequences of all this is to create some very difficult political choices for at least the next 5 to 10 years.

PaulCC

Yes, Labour are likely to prioritise the European NATO area. Realistically the RN cannot provide a credible ‘in theatre’ LRG(S) with the resources it currently has or is ever likely to have unfortunately. We would gain some respect I think by rejecting tokenism and concentrating the limited assets that remain closer to home.

Sjb1968

LRG(s) certainly does not look particularly viable currently and I do feel it will be brought home, which will probably mean the disposal of Argus. I personally think the two OPV’s will and should stay because they offer a presence that is important to us to counter the influence of China. I wouldn’t even replace them with Type 31’s when they become available because they offer a visible but low key presence that cannot be labelled as gunboat diplomacy.
The hard call for Labour is the SSN deployment.

Theoden

Agree on OPV’s. A solution to LRG(S) might be to allocate the 31’s which are planned to replace them.

Deep32

The SSN deployment to Aus as part of Surf-west (2027) is part of AUKUS deal which gets Aus their SSNs. Have to say that I can’t see Labour going back on this (lots of UK jobs riding on this). They are all about jobs.

PaulCC

Agree. The OPVs maintain a presence and engage with allies for very little cost. Use the T31s closer to home and aim to build another 3 (maybe the stretched version) to bring escort numbers up to 22, probably as good as we are going to get. I’m getting the feeling that we have bitten off more than we can chew with the forward based SSN . . . promises made in haste and all that.

Sjb1968

Ideally another 5 Type 31s and modified if required to take available escorts up to 24 but with the modified 31s offering support to autonomous USVs and MWVs. We are going to lose the Batch 1 Rivers without replacement so only a small overall uplift.
The SSN conundrum is becoming an embarrassment, which may well get worse with two few submariners and those boats available stuck in dock because of a lack of maintenance facilities. It will take a decade to turn this around before we see a consistent uplift in availability and possibly look forward to an increase in numbers beyond the woefully low 7 boats.

PaulCC

Beyond belief how the RN SSN fleet has been allowed to decline over the last 20-odd years. SDR98 promised to maintain a force of 10 boats (a reduction of 2) which was changed to 8 boats by the 2003/4 White Paper. The 8th was quietly dropped somewhere along the line so we ended up with 7. For a while it looked as if this too might go the same way but thankfully it didn’t. 10 would be good, 9 OK and 8 just about credible. Less than 8 is just not workable.

Sjb1968

Totally agree and given they are very much the modern capital ship (boat) 10 is the logical number and would send a very powerful signal to our potential enemies because these vessels are truly respected and feared.

Will

Not Cyprus?

SD67

I don’t se the point of mothballing ships. They’re either a wreck within 2 years or cost a fortune to regenerate. Sell them to an ay for a pound, at least then they’l be within the Western Active Inventory

PaulCC

A fudge that suits those in charge no doubt. The ship is probably unusable but in theory still available if required, i.e. it hasn’t actually been scrapped. Personally I was expecting a ‘hot sale’ of Albion at the turn of the year. Would have been preferable to leaving her to deteriorate into a rotting shell as happened with Invincible.

Sjb1968

Bulwark is still being refitted so could return to sea in theory but the problem is we have no crew for her!
Albion is in need of a refit having been worked hard but is materially sound.
Scrapping these ships would severely upset the Yanks because they are far more capable vessels than the Bays and given the limited number of escorts we have currently just further depletes the number of hulls.
The armed forces are now suffering the full effects of the 2010 SDR, which reduced personnel numbers too far and deferred many procurement projects including those that maintain the fleet.
Behind the scrapping of assets at that time the long term stability of the armed forces was badly harmed by the decisions made at the time. Many of them were not glamorous but essential and the impact on morale is not going to recover until there is an uplift in investment.
As for the LPD’s I would add CAMM and a couple of modern guns to replace the CIWS. QE is due for refit in 2025 so perhaps overall personnel availability could improve to get Bulwark back to sea.

Ben

Clearly on the long run we need LPHDs to operate as Commando carriers similar to the French Mistral or Spanish/Australian Juan Carlos/Canberra classes.

Operational flexibility would be added by having Bay type with a Hamger for a.small number of helicopters as per Dutch implementation.

Hugo

They wanna replace the amphibs with a single class, I don’t expect anything flat top but certainly will have decent hangars.

SailorBoy

Reports in the last day or two that the Dutch believe a single joint class is impossible.
According to a presentation in their parliament the Dutch want a lightly armed flattop and we want a more heavily armed conventional vessel.
The difference seems to be that we want the ships to be able to operate independently.
Have a look at NL’s X page.

Hugo

Oh yeh I read the article, was referring to the RN/RFA haven’t a common replacement

Nigel Collins

Some positive news on up-arming the fleet and possibly Ukraine if all goes to plan.

https://news.sky.com/story/british-military-laser-could-be-used-to-target-russian-drones-in-ukraine-13113231

Sean

It’s good to see the MoD has decided, due to the increased threat level, not to wait for perfected solutions before deploying. In Dragonfire’s case bringing forward from 2032 to 2027.

John Clark

The small Helicopter Carrier approach is absolutely the way, LSD’s and their landing craft are far too vulnerable to massed attack these days.

An attack has to come from over the horizon and be well supported and protected.

A small helicopter carrier, crammed with Chinook and AH64E, under the defensive umbrella of a QE Class battle group is the only way to go.

Hugo

The marines don’t have chinooks or Apache. You can’t design a ship for them, reliant on the RAF and Army lending them aircraft.

Also, these ships will rarely if ever be in formation with the carrier, so don’t design them around being in that position

Last edited 1 month ago by Hugo
Joe16

Problem with that is mass delivered to the fight: Helos, even Chinook, have limitations on what they can deliver to the fight beyond light infantry. Not sure if you’re familiar, but a site called Think Defence did a multi-part piece on air mobile (helicopter) forces and what can be carried by them. He is a bit of a logistics geek, but it was certainly eye-opening for me.
We will need ship to shore water transport to get a properly balanced force in place- acknowledging the challenges you mention.

Will

Attack helos are themselves much more vulnerable than they have been in the past. Just sayin’.

Andrew Deacon

The way things are going, the Torpoint Ferry will be our Amphibious capability!

PaulCC

Not convinced we need Mistral/Canberra-type ships for the type of operations we are likely to be undertaking in future. SDSR 2025 needs to decide the future modus operandi. My bet would be on a single class of 3/4 basic but flexible ships with a large flight deck and hangar aft. The money simply is not there to do everything and whilst we need to retain an amphibious/littoral strike capability it is not a top priority.

Sjb1968

The obvious choice for the RN is to go for something akin to the modern Enforcer design of a similar size to the current Bays. The Bays have been excellent value for money giving fantastic service and are cheap to run. Four or six successor vessels with hangars would be a cost effective option.
Likewise HMS Ocean provided great service, was cheap to build and run so one but preferably two similar vessels with well decks and three or four Enforcer vessels would be my choice for the RM.

PaulCC

Enforcer is the type of ship I had in mind. Basically an updated and more flexible version of the Bays with increased aviation capability plus a larger dock if possible. Anything beyond this is going to be a stretch I think, particularly re. the shortage of personnel and a depleted helicopter force.

Ron

Morning PaulCC, let me try to convince you. A Canberra type ship has several uses in the RN and not for the Royal Marines. The MRSS and or Damen Crossover type ship have a good use for the Royal Marines the Crossovers can depending on the version can operate independently or as part of a Strike Group. The Commbattant version of the Crossover can carry a frigate weapons load and 120 Marines whilst the Amphibious version has a limited weapons load but 250 Marines.
A LHD such as Canberra can fulfil several roles first she could land say a complete Armoured Battle Group of the British Army in battle ready formation with its own air support group, either in a dock or over the beach. The It does not need to be an Armoured Battle Group but say a Mechinised Infantry Battle Group based on Boxer. The LHD could also act as an Anti Submarine Helicopter Carrier working with two or three Anti Submarine Frigates in the GIUK Gap. The LHD could also act as a convoy escort carrier, and yes if we as NATO went to war we would need convoy escorts. A LHD could ferry aircraft out to the front line carriers and finally a LHD could become a heavy humanitarian ship being able to land aid ashore without a dock, This is very useful as dock infrastructure or runways could be out of operation due to natural disasters.

Each Armoured Battle Group would consist of 14 MBTs, 28 Warriors, 4 Scimitars, Artillery and Mortar support, a Low Level Air Defence section, Long Range Anti Tank Section and a Technical Support Group of Engineers/REME/RS. About 800 troops plus its own air support with 6 F35Bs, 4 Apaches and 12 Merlins.

So I could see the future British Army having a dedicated Sea Assault Brigade trained and equipped to assist the ship in her defence or damage control and to be able to deploy battle ready formation for operations such as the Falklands or the reinforcement with heavy units in Northern Norway. Whilst the Royal Marines would operate in smaller units or raiding operations. There is a use for ideally four LHDs in the RN.

As much as I like the QE carriers I do sometimes wonder if the money could have been better spent on 4-6 large LHDs. It would have given the RN more flat tops, the Army a dedicated Sea Assault Brigade and the Armed Forces in general more flexibility. The QEs only make sense in the Carrier Strike role.

Sjb1968

Hi Ron, I don’t think you need to convince anyone on here about the usefulness of LHDs but more the bean counters at HM Treasury.
Your point about the QE’s is well made and I think many others feel the same way but we can’t change that decision.
If Labour want to demonstrate a greater commitment to NATO then the enlarged northern flank offers the U.K. a real chance to do so within a realistic budget and without trying to replicate what others are already better placed at doing. So for me a dedicated artic trained and equipped army brigade alongside a reconstructed 3Cdo brigade is the way to go.
With 4 Point class, 4 new Bays and 2 LHDs this level of capability could be afforded without a huge uplift but would reassure our Scandinavian partners and offer NATO a large and unique capability.
If we try to increase our armoured strength and resurrect some kind of 21st Century version of BAOR I am afraid we will be eclipsed by others who quite rightly have a greater need to prioritise a large standing land warfare capability. We plainly don’t need to do this.

Nigel Collins

“The QEs only make sense in the Carrier Strike role.”

Something we are currently looking into it seems with the potential to include the MQ-28 (Ghost Bat) at some point in the future.

https://www.twz.com/air/navys-vision-for-disposable-carrier-based-loyal-wingman-drones-comes-into-focus

PaulCC

Nicely argued Ron. I am in no way opposed to LHDs per se and understand only too well what a potent and flexible tool they are. However, I do not see the level of capability you describe as something we have the political will and even more importantly the funding to facilitate for as far ahead as it is possible to see.

Littoral strike is going to rely on a shoestring budget whoever is in power and I cannot envisage us backing out of carrier strike, chopping more escorts, wriggling out of AUKUS etc. to change this. There is a limit to how many plates we can keep spinning and as Sjb1968 rightly points out we are where we are with the QEs and have to make the best of them. Maybe a different decision should have been made back in the 2000s but then hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Hence my ‘austerity approach’ to littoral strike. Aim for realistic and affordable and then build on this if and when politics and funds allow, not because this is necessarily the best way but because it is the only way the capability can be sustained with the resources we have.

Hugo

What’s your point?

Lord Hood

I am not making any points. If you read the article you will see that the Americans are ditching CIWS and that RIM-116 is an additional and better layer of air defence which we will doubtless end up buying behind the curve.

Hugo

We consider sea ceptor a point defence missile system so I doubt we will get RAM.

Lord Hood

I am aware of what Sea Ceptor is, thank you very much and its use on T23s. I am also aware that nothing we have currently stops Zircon, so is that a royal “we” or just an ignorant one?

Hugo

Ram can’t stop Zircon so I don’t see what your point is there.

Lord Hood

Not much point in having a surface fleet if you’re not even going to try to find a solution. It will all be sunk on day one. As I said, the Americans are ditching CIWS as it’s rubbish and so should we.

Hugo

We’ve only just got enough CIWS sets for the current fleet. No chance of just ditching it and then buying 50+ Rams. Also, high end threats like Hypersonics will be dealt with by destroyers, its not something the frigates are designed to deal with.

Lord Hood

Lol, that’s hilarious. So you know that a T45 cannot stop a Zircon missile either? And that there are only 6 of them? Oh well, what does it matter? The Russians know what happened to the last HMS Prince of Wales and history as they say has a habit of repeating itself…

Hugo

You assume they’re not capable of intercepting Zircon.
And an asset like the carriers will always be escorted by a Destroyer.
Either way all you’re doing is moaning and not actually offering any solutions.

Duker

A false claim there . Zircon is just like a high altitude ballistic missile , would be detected on radar a few 100km out. Cant fly hypersonic at low levels

Zircon will have trouble targeting a fast moving warship as the plasma halo from the air ionisation around it will blind its sensors.

Clive

Zircon will have trouble targeting a fast-moving warship
– the usual daily diarrhea, total fantasy and fake facts

At Mach 5-6 in its terminal phase to strike a moving target, vessel would have only 12 seconds to react

Last edited 1 month ago by Clive
Duker

if you can track a ballistic missile – far faster than Hypersonic at Mac 20- then a mere mach 5 is easier

The hypersonic weapons currently being developed by the US, Russia, and China for conventional uses have maximum speeds below about Mach 10-12. We show that the atmospheric drag on these weapons as they glide and dive to targets on the ground will slow them enough that they can be intercepted by defenses like advanced versions of the Army’s Patriot PAC-3 and the Navy’s Aegis SM-6.”

This is how Ukraine is using Patriots to impact the ‘slowed Kinzhals’
https://www.c4isrnet.com/opinion/2023/12/08/drag-race-hypersonic-threats-are-slow-enough-for-us-missile-defenses

Like supersonic planes at altitude are far slower at lower altitudes , thus the same for hypersonic at high altitude.
Plasma build-up from air ionisation blinds the missiles sensors in the last minutes so cant track a moving ship either and it cant do an ‘area search’ anyway

Sean

Supposedly hypersonic missiles like Zircon can’t be intercepted by existing air-defence missiles. Yet the Ukrainians have shot down two…

Sean

The sailors aboard the USS Graveley would disagree with your inaccurate generalisation that “CIWS is rubbish”.

Duker

Hypersonic speed means high altitude , so no more sea skimming

Duker

Not point defence at all. Its can cover an area of 25 km distance. local area Point defence these days is the CIWS types.

SailorBoy

The Canadians have bought both CAMM and ESSM for the CSCs
They seem to think that CAMM is equivalent to (much better) RAM. It’s cheaper, longer ranged, why wouldn’t you?

Hugo

When I say point defence I was referring to the minimum range, cold launch allows it to shoot at targets pretty close to the vessel, but yes it has a decent max range as well.

Will

There is no way—absolutely none—that a 21 cell RAM launcher is a better option against incoming missile and drone attacks than the Phalanx. Swarm attacks would swiftly overwhelm the limited missile magazine and then what? Last time I checked, 20mm ammunition can be reloaded multiple times even on smaller vessels and it’s a lot cheaper than guided missiles, too.

Yes, SeaRAM and other point defence capable missiles can generally intercept incoming enemy ordnance further from the ship than Phalanx, but surely the best use of these systems is to operate them in concert with one another.

Duker

yes , its a layer system. Wide area , local and then close in

Deeps

I think that the weapons fit of the type 31 is the sensible option provided that the ammunition chosen is the best available rather than the cheapest

Sean

Agreed, though I recall how much derision some people poured on the T31 weapons fit originally; eg “no big gun” etc…

Paul

There is a distinct possibility that a Phalanx will be kept as well as the RAM/SeaRAM installed. The USN already has 8 Arleigh Burkes with Phalanx on the front CIWS spot and a SeaRAM launcher in back.

Both Phalanx and RAM are crew reloadable at sea.

An 11 or 21 cell RAM launcher can conceivably hit 11 or 21 things, while a Phalanx has limited ready ammo in the drum and shoots at 3000 RPM, how many targets can a Phalanx engage before reloading?

Also ABs use a pair of MK38 chain guns for self-defense against drones. Phalanx and RAM are primarily for ASCM defense, with drone defense a secondary role.

D Horne

Also so a shame the author needed to miss inform and go against the UN and the NGO’s on the ground in Gaza

Duker

Yes. It’s quite astounding and baseless
https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2024/03/06/world-food-program-trucks-blocked-by-israeli-authorities/3951709736641/

And the ‘novel’ floating wharf concept being implemented off shore by US and UK – mentioned in the main story- wouldn’t be necessary if as the author claims more food trucks than before the war.

Jon

14 trucks turned back out of hundreds a day is hardly Israel blocking everything. According to the OSINT bunker podcast, Israel turns back maybe 25 a day. And the floating warf isn’t necessary to get food in. It’s necessary for the US to show that it’s “doing something”.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jon
Duker

Wheres the ‘hundreds per day’ ? Is this the last few weeks, the war has been going 6 months now.

Jon

Agencies are targetting 500 trucks a day and say around 200+ a day are going in (figures from the Today programme this morning so fresh in my head). Not saying the situation is ideal, just that the primary blockage isn’t the Israelis turning trucks away. They are an easy to understand “fix” so it makes for viral blame. If you want to talk about how to fix the real issue, that of distribution within Gaza, the solutions become a lot tougher than a soundbite.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jon
AlexS

Misinform… UN and ONG are there to supply Hamas.

AlexS

So interesting seeing some British people saying WW2 Germany should have been supplied with food from Allies…

Maybe you should think what this means:
“Hamas is perhaps the first regime in recorded history to fight a war designed to maximize casualties among their own population.”

Sean

Actually the Allies did supply food once we had invaded and were in control of Germany.

Jonno

I agree with the Dutch. We are skint and always building single role ships. We should take a look long hard look at ourselves and realise we should drop the present idea and go for large cruiser types, all singing super long range escort control ships with flat tops. These are perfect to operate with Global Britain in the Indo- Pacific, North Atlantic or indeed go anywhere. They can operate with T31B’s and or super POV’s as dispatch vessels. These beasts aren’t RFA’s. Everyone knows surface landing craft assault is only back up. These things could even have things bolted to the decks like MRLS and certainly launch waves of drones. Sea-land control ships.

Hugo

Actually read the article that lead to all this discussion before trying to judge the UK design choice which we still have very little info about.
The Dutch design is looking at minimal self defence while we’re looking at systems like sea ceptor.

Peter S

Without adequate well armed escorts, the LSG concept falls apart. We either need a force that can fight its way ashore or one that can be inserted stealthily.
I just don’t see what use an almost defenceless pair of highly visible platforms like these can be. If you just want to deliver humanitarian aid, why use a warship?

Hugo

Or… arm the amphibs, which is apparently what we’re looking at for MRSS.
But the current Amphibs obviously weren’t designed for LRG deployments.

John A Brabyn

I agree, at the moment we just seem to be putting valuable ships at risk without a backup if they are attacked.

Jon

Yes. I’m also struggling to see what they can do without escorts that a couple of OPVs couldn’t. Mostly what they were already doing before they were taken away to become a LRG. Why would we put our only Primary Casualty Receiving ship on a goodwill, flag-flying tour of Southeast Asia? Both ships are too useful to waste without a concrete purpose. Do either even have command facilities others can coalesce around?

Add Bulwark and a Type 23 and I can just about see a reason for it.

Challenger

Argus with a single CIWS / 3 Merlin’s and a Bay is a pretty embarrassing, threadbare commitment! A single Amphib group with 1 LPD (if Albion/Bulwark can ever be brought back into service) and 1-2 Bay’s flexing between West/East of Suez would be way more realistic set up.

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Not enough mass. You need this much ‘stuff’ to do anything of any worth ashore. And this is a minimum.

This is perhaps what we should have aimed to have done rather than pursue the ‘carrier strike’ fantasy.

ARG’s have high utility in peace and in low level conflict. The UK could swap out the CH53 for Crowsnests cabs………

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Paul

As a former US Marine this chart makes me happy. The Ground Combat Element of a MEU is made up of a reinforced infantry battalion, so you would need all of 40 or 45 Commando plus an artillery detachment from 29 Commando and some communications and intel assets from 30 Commando to fill it out. That would be a fantastic capability.

Last edited 1 month ago by Paul
Whale Island Zoo Keeper

For a while now I have been thinking we built the wrong big aviation ship. We needed to build on what the RN did well and not go spiralling off into areas where the USN all ready had depth. So something like USS Makin Island that could pivot between ARG and ‘sea control’ (ASW helicopters and AEW/ASaC cabs) platform.

We could still just about do it with the QE carriers. Imagine an air group of 4/5 Crowsnest cabs, 4/6/8 ASW cabs, 8 Junglies, 4/6 Wildcats, and 8 to 12 F35 Bravos. Base a RM close combat and a small TAC HQ in the carrier.

What was need then a class of large fast LPD similar to your LPD-25 San Antonios. This would carry the rump of the commando and perhaps a cavalry element. LCAC’s are OK but reasons I prefer the Spanish LCM-1E. And then finally in a Bay engineers, tubed artillery (I prefer 120mm mortars for mobility), AA battery, and stores.

The objective being a MEU-lite like orbat.

The trouble with these littoral groups is the ships don’t have the speed, lack the sophistication to ‘fight’ in a contested environment, the formation lacks airlift, lacks organic firepower, and lacks mass.

The Royal Marines are not special forces they are specialist light infantry. The idea that my beloved Argus would bimble up to shore unseen, put some Royals into some boats, and then they go onto do useful work ashore before returning is just pie in the sky. The MoD get away with it because the public are ignorant as are many who follow the topic and regard themselves to be experts. To many on these sites are fighting in their minds WW2 with imaginary sci-fi weaponry.

To do work ashore you need to put a company ashore and have the means to support them, reinforce them, and extract the whole. Anything less than that is SF work,

Last edited 1 month ago by Whale Island Zoo Keeper
Whale Island Zoo Keeper

This is what we should have built perhaps……….

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Specs and more pictures here…….

https://www.seaforces.org/marint/Italian-Navy/Amphibious-Ship/L-9890-ITS-Trieste.htm

Sean

The RMs are pivoting to a raiding force. What you’re proposing is overkill for that role, and is more suited to an opposed amphibious landing.

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Bore off Simple Sean. This is another sphere you appear to know little about.

Sean

Typical ad hominem attack to be expected from an idiot. Here’s proof of the fact you disagree with
https://www.rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/rusi-defence-systems/commando-forces-focus-raiding-distorting-future-amphibious-ship-planning

Richard Beedall

I must admit that I had thought in recent months that the LRG concept was now effectively dead, so it was a surprise to learn that the two RFA’s had transited the Suez canal. What next for LRG(S) is indeed the mystery. Without an escorting frigate or destroyer it’s an unbalanced force that on its own can do little more than show the flag in low threat environments and participate in exercises. In the long-term the intention seems to be to regularly join up with a forward deployed T31, but that is 5+ years away and as author says, LRG(S) may well be long defunct by then. But its at least temporarily good news for the RM’s, 40 Commando have spent three years preparing for this role, it would have been gut-wrenching for it to be cancelled when the ships had already reached the Eastern Med.

Sean

Serco seems to be doing something right on the other side of the pond, and heavily armed USVs such as proposed here could come in handy defending LRGs
https://www.twz.com/sea/darpas-defiant-fully-uncrewed-demonstrator-ship-will-hit-the-seas-later-this-year

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

Ron (and his several supporters here on NL)

I am afraid to say that the whole concept of a very large one-ship-does-all LHD – as invented by the USMC back in the 1960’s (Tawara class) and then perfected with their late 1980’s WASP class – is now “old hat”.

Overall the key issue with any LHD (i.e WASP or Tarawa) is that the minimum size needed of ship needed to carry its very large number of troops – and also mixing-in the two very separate functions of rotary wing aviation and floating out landing craft – automatically gives you a ship of such a large size that is simply too large for surviving against today’s most-modern types of warfare.

When docked /flooded down, the large LHD cannot manoeuvre…. which is suicidal…

Therefore, when the USMC eventually get around to ordering some replacement vessels to an all-new design: it is “pretty much guaranteed” that they will not be 250m long hulls of a same-again LHD design (i.e. the old Panamax size of 250m by 30m).

Those new ideas were already being floated about (excuse the pun) in the USN and USMC – and some new ideas were already on the USN’s drawing boards – even before Mr V Putin got out of bed on the wrong side in February 2022: and thus decided (whilst eating his cornflakes) that he would start WW3.

In the two years since then, the ongoing Ukraine vis Russia war has shown us that:

  1. That all large warships – especially large amphibians – are very vulnerable when operating close to shore. They can be hit by all sorts of ordnance (ASM, the new and very fashionable drones, cutting-edge explosive laden USV’s and even sunk by good-old fashioned sea mines (i.e. the really horney versions: so no microchips necessary) etc etc.
  2. That even when operating further away from shore “over the horizon”, all warships need to have effective 24/7 air support: so as to be able keep the “platforms” (horrible term) carrying these small drones, USV’s and missiles well out of effective range.
  3. Furthermore, all of the experiences of Ukraine’s land battles now says that all types infantry need to be moving steadily and stealthily forwards: but only manoeuvring in very small groups. That is because radio controlled model planes (aka drones) have made the land battlefield very “transparent”. Thus both the British Army and the RMC (FCF) need to keep improving on their impressions of small native species of green bonsai bushes. Thus very big infantry formation, such as divisions, brigades, and “probably” even battalions, are now increasingly being seen as “very 20th century”

The one – and only part – of the UK armed services that has been thinking this all through properly over recent years has been RMC.

Therefore this whole thread about littoral’s strike on Navy Lookout really has had only one very serious omission throughout – the AA’s (Amateur Analysists) should have made some reference to exercise Green Dagger, one held in the US of A a couple of years back.

That Green Dagger exercise was when the RMC – using their “then new” FCF tactics. but also (crucially) supported by other allied army units (including heavy artillery) – made mincemeat of a “more traditional” USMC unit who were using the full range of all the usual USMC equipment (Note. The term mincemeat applies when an infantry unit has to be scrapped off the desert floor after loosing = very badly…………).

————————————-

Accordingly, what is very disappointing with this current deployment is that the RN has simply been showboating = grey funnel cruise liner’s SEO (Senior Entertainment Officer) has showing off his (or her’s) white ensign to parts of our former Empire.

However they have been cruising just off Iran’s very vulnerable back-yard.

——————————————

Therefore what I believe that the RN LRG should be doing in the Indian Ocean /Straights of Hormuz is practising the manoeuvres and techniques that will be necessary to transition from todays’ rather ineffective LRG: so as to become a LSG (Littoral Strike Group).

Sea based land attack helicopters must be a key part of any 21s century amphibious group

What should have been being tested done on this deployment was trialling:

  • Argus: first wave assault tactics using CHF Merlin Mk 4 (carrying FCF) and all being escorted by AAC Apache gunships: stealthily inserting commandos from well over the horizon (say up to 50 to 100 i mile) and arriving on target with effective close air support
  • Lyme Bay- testing deploying by landing craft the new Army vehicles of Ajax and Boxer (and it has to be added here – those two very long-awaited new vehicles)

————————–

Furthermore – due to their “not unusual” silo’ed mentally of “I can only work in a single service” – none of the three UK armed services are even considering what the USAF was seriously thinking about back as long ago as the late 1980’s (their AirLandSea battle concept). The USAF were practicing deploying seriously large Army units directly, by airborne delivery, from the continental USA.

Finally, at long last, the RAF – with their often-maligned A400M – the UK now has the ability to delivery a seriously hard-hitting and large army unit at a range of several thousand miles from home: but only after he RM has secured some suitable local rough airfield landing sites

——————————————

However any development and deployment of these type of very innovative littoral strike tactics – which would only require using equipment which is already in the UK service – would require the RN officers cooperating with both the Army and the RAF….

………and that is where this cunning plan of mine falls far short……

My suggestions on how to easily, quickly and very cheaply enhance the hard-hitting lethality of our Navy’s littoral strike forces have yet to be approved by the institution really runs the UK armed forces = the ADC.

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Note 1. For all new readers of Navy Lookout – the TLA of ADC means “Army Dress Committee” – the very powerful force that, behind-the scenes, has more power and influence than either Strategic Command and/or PJHQ!.

Sjb1968

Peter, a really well put together argument and your point about The Green Dagger exercise and performance of the RM is well made.
i have a few observations to put to you about your comments.
All vessels have been proven to be vulnerable to air attack since WW2 and whilst the weapons have changed to drones and missiles the need for air superiority, stealth or diversionary strategy to counter these has not. I think an argument about the size of vessel is therefore rather unhelpful and it seems MRSS is going to be sizeable vessels probably in excess of 160m so a small LHD is likely to be only marginally larger. The U.K. however certainly does not require a 40,000t plus vessel.
As for the USMC moving away from large amphibious ships that is just not the case and they have recently bypassed the Navy and appealed direct to congress for the continuation of large amphibious ship production.
As for helicopters they have a real utility in inserting light forces but let’s be clear they are neither stealthy or well protected. Attack helicopters have proven to be vulnerable in Ukraine so Merlins protected by Apaches doesn’t fill me with any confidence if there is an enemy force present.
But the old LCU and LCVP are definitely not the answer so some innovative thinking in the ship to shore connectors for both air and waterborne craft is required.
For me our Amphibious capability is not about the RM being a miniature version of the USMC but the reductions in the Royals, their specialist support units and shipping is a cost cutting measure dressed up as a change in strategy that we can I’ll afford.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

SBJ 1968

We can agree on a lot of things here:

  • Old LCU and LCVP are definitely not the answer (or at least, certainly no longer suitable for any type of first wave assault against a prepared opposition).
  • Air superiority/supremacy essential, at all times.
  • Green Dagger gave a number of very good pointers for the future.

Helicopters

  • At the present time, these are the only way of inserting light forces over long ranges from ships lurking well over the horizon.
  • The key issue with helicopters getting shot down in Ukraine has been that we had all simply forgotten (over the past thirty five years) just how highly-capable the old soviet era multi-layered air defences were against all types of aircraft (air defence systems which both Russia and Ukraine have deployed in strength)
  • Vietnam showed the inherent vulnerability of helicopter’s to soviet-era air defences (it was approx. US of A 5,000 whirlybirds shot down by rice-munching blokes wearing black PJ’s: however so many were lost that the Pentagon lost count!) . Israel also suffered, initially, in 1973 and lost a lot of planes.
  • However, having just said that, the Apache is both a far more capable, and also much better protected (especially electronically), attack helicopter than anything used to date during the ongoing Russian /Ukraine war
  • The key trick – CONOPS – is to land helicopters for inserting light troops where there is no enemy present
  • Therefore, in the absence of any other suitable options, helicopters must be the only way to go for long range/ first wave insertions of commando’s.

Other Insertion Techniques

  • Key issue with all other possibilities for insertion – so RMC offshore raiding craft; Swedish CB90’s; semi-submersibles; hovercraft etc etc is that they all require relatively calm sea conditions.
  • These all also have quite short combat ranges
  • = which puts the ship launching them in a very vulnerable position!

Utility of Light Forces

  • These are now far more capable on a modern battlefield, even against heavy forces, than even as recently as twenty years ago.
  • Modern ATM’s have proved lethal against all types of tank’s and IFV’s in Ukraine (note. both Russian and NATO models)
  • As just noted just above, hand-held SAM’s are very useful against helicopters and aircraft (at short ranges)
  • Thus a quite-small commando force with a good radios, and a couple of small drones and plentiful stock of missiles (AAM and ATM) should be able to hold their own and also easily spot nearby targets – and then call in long range artillery and/or air strikes.
  • Key issue is to keep the light forces continuously supplied with copious amounts of mars bars, ammo and medical supplies when operating far from home!….

USMC Doctrine

  • The USMC are definitely moving towards lighter and more mobile forces (hence the ditching of Abrams and heavy tube artillery over recent years)
  • Also get yourself familiar with the US Army’s Multi-Domain Brigade; which is intended to be used in the Pacific. Lots of very interesting ideas being trialled there…..
  • As is their wont, I believe the USMC will keep ordering more Wasp class (or very similar) class LHD ships off the production lines at Ingalls – until they have come up with a better idea………..
  • However I bet that next generation of USN/USMC landing ships will all be smaller and more agile……

MRSS

  • With regards to the proposed MRSS (a programme which the we definitely need) I must be clear here, I never suggested an optimum ship size.
  • However, I did very strongly imply that just copying the USMC practice of having LHD’s 250m long was too large.
  • Frankly, for the UK/RN, anything over 200m long is too big. Suddenly the number of ports in Europe that MRSS would be able to use would be very limited: especially in the Baltic and Norway
  • I would be quite OK with MRSS being say 160-180m long: which is a nice balance between size/capability and overall payload carrying capability

RMC

Personally I would like to see the RMC retained in size: however, as I said in my original post, it definitely needs to become more “special forces orientated”

This leads to a proposed CONOPS

  • First Wave

RMC inserted stealthily from well over the horizon using plenty of helicopters and suppotyed by ligt logistic draones (either that, or invent jetpack with an all-weather range of 100 miles!)

  • Second wave
  • Follow up by landing a seriously highly-mobile mechanised British Army unit, one deployed over the beaches which have already been secured by the RMC
  • Logistics for this requires both ships and large helicopters or drones

————-

That CONOPS just described above really implies that the ongoing MRSS programme really ough to be three different types of ships;

  1. 3no very simple LPH’s – simple helicopter carriers
  2. 3no replacement Bay class – optimised to land mechanised forces – Boxer and Ajax and mobile artillery (tube and rocket) . That landing ship needs to be a lower profile, more stealthy and faster, certainly 22knots plus
  3. 4no replacement Point class; very similar to what we have today, but more self defence armament and, especially, better facilities for over the beach heavy logistics; esp. better cranes for Mexefloats
  4. Modify the Tide class to enable large volumes of fuel to be piped “over the beach”

However the real trick here – with any future war that involves littoral / amphibious manoeuvre – is to make all three armed services work and train together

  • RAF – need to provide both air superiority and also hitting at key targets far “behind the lines” (if indeed the future battlefield has any “lines” …)
  • RAF- really must ensure that the next huge order for UK helicopters, the Puma replacements now in the pipeline, are all properly marine-ised (including folding rotors), so they can all be used aboard all RN/RFA ships without needing any modifications.
  • RN – transportation by grey funnel cruises for delivery of both RMC (FCF) and Army units ashore (these ship’s needs far better self defence and also, critically, some integral on-board coastal/inshore mine-detection and anti-submarine capabilities = so they can operate well-forward in a hostile environment)
  • RMC. The FCF is getting it right with their new approach. RMC should be optimised for either raiding OR first wave assault: both using small groups of stealthy commandos. that is definitely the right way to go forward….
  • Army – properly integrate AAC into JHC and RN : so their very-good helicopter attack capability can be used in any theatre; in support of any UK forces (his really ough to become the best type of close air support for the near future)
  • Army – a “mechanised ” (or “Strike”) brigade, reequipped with the lighter types of vehicle, one which is capable of being either deployed either air mobile and/or ship mobile. It needs to be able to deploy both very quickly from the UK straight into action and also carrying all of its own logistics. That will give that vital heavy “punch” at the earliest possible stage in a battle.
  • RFA – needs ships able to operate in more hostile littoral environment, not least to be able to pump that essential “vehicle juice” either ashore, or to ships that are continuously operating very close to the coast (which makes enemy tracking and missile detection very difficult):
  • And, last but by no means least, having all three armed services exercise and train together = so they can have good practice at working together before the main even

A very tall order for the MOD…………

However the way the world is now going = now essential (i.e. Gulf War Round Three kicked off two days ago)

——————

Overall, I still believe that the key issue here with RN’s LRG is one of “the forces still have a peacetime mentality“.

We now have complete generation of military (including naval) officers and politicians and scientific boffins (buffoons?) who have only grown up during peacetime = who are now running the show. Their idea of a really big fight has been “pistols at dawn” against Mr Taliban.

However those of us “oldies” – who were learning key lessons from the Falklands, Gulf War One and especially the First Cold War (pre 1989) – all have a very different idea of what a preparing properly for a “big fight” means!

Thus the officers now in charge of the UK armed forces have simply lost several of the key skill sets that were developed after the Falkland’s and deployed, to good (not great) effect, in Gulf War Round One

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Sjb1968

Hi Peter,

I think I agree with almost all you have said.

Helicopters
These are too slow and for the type of role envisaged the tilt rotor (but not the Osprey) would seem to be the future providing greater range, speed and some level of stealth.

Other Insertion Techniques
The RM like the CB90s but the budget isn’t available but the LCVP replacement programme may well provide an interesting number of options.

As for the venerable LCU it has a range of 600nm and can carry an MBT but is far too slow. The RM do not want or need a large ACV so the question really is do we believe taking a 65t tank over the beach is needed because if not then something quite different could be procured. These could be designed around a mechanised units equipment. For me I would keep a handful of LCU’s in reserve (I think we only have 9) just in case but move to something lighter and faster.

USMC
There is definitely change going on within the USMC but the USN LHD’s and particularly the America’s offer far more than just an amphibious capability and also cover for the perceived shortfall in USN CVN’s. It is therefore good to look at what the US is doing but it’s not what we need or can afford so we need to think differently as I think we both agree.

MRSS
I mentioned on another post I would take another 4 Bays of a similar size with a hangar anytime. The Enforcer vessels would be ideal.

Where I would add a note of caution is these vessels, basically being built to merchant ship standards to save money would have limited survivability and would not be fitted out with Command and Control systems to support an amphibious task group. They are therefore second line vessels so putting them whatever their size and speed near the sharp end of a real shooting war has all the hallmarks of peacetime thinking and I am surprised how so many observers make no mention of this folly. You have clearly recognised this problem and I think some at the MOD have.

The Point Class along with the Bays have been excellent so yes I totally agree with the need for replacements. My only change would to order two HMS Ocean Mk 2’s but add a small well deck. These vessels with suitable Flag and HQ facilities would provide the mass of airborne lift including in the future the flight deck space for the large drones that will offer air defence, recon, surveillance, support and strike to those RMs going ashore.

RMC
The RM certainly need to evolve but I am worried that both the Navy and Treasury see the words “smaller teams” as a chance to cut the numbers further as they have already done. For me the changes are a chance to get away from being a marine battalion of 750 to 800 men back to the numbers each Commando unit was in the 1960’s of 600, so small teams but also enough mass to secure a beach if required for others to follow, namely the British Army.

Your comments about integration and collaboration between the armed forces are what many on here regularly comment about but sadly I think in peacetime it will be hard to change that mentality. It is in that world the RM get squeezed out as the fight for resources at the MOD takes on more of protecting one’s own service rather than what is the best force structure for the country’s defences.

I am not ex service but have had friends and family in the RN and RM for all my life up until the present day. I remember 1982 very well and the changes that were instigated across the U.K. armed forces were easy to see but back then we also had senior politicians and civil servants with wartime experience. That has all gone now and that’s what got us into the mess of Iraq and Afghanistan not to mention Syria and Libya.

Do we have the leadership at the moment to manage our way safely through the Ukraine war and what’s happening in the Middle East ?

All the best

Will

Love the concept, just not enough ships to fully implement. Again it would not take a drastic expansion of the Royal Navy to reach minimum requirements. The simplest and most direct approach would be to just keep building more T31’s until you get to at least 28 ships in the escort fleet.