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Gareth

Hopefully there will be time for the crews and pilots to integrate and train with the Crowsnest AEW, at least to IOC level, on or preferably before the first deployment later this year. Hope the Lockheed contractors have got their sea legs under them as they’ll likely be going too at this rate.

Last edited 1 month ago by Gareth
4th watch

I hope they can get those prototype heavy lift drones with Crowsnest operational PDQ. That must be the future option for a number of roles. F35s need an anti ship weapon smartish.

Ian

Yes, interesting that omission. Love to know where we are at with Crowsnest. Just finished reading Harrier 809 and it would be unforgiveable for us to mess AEW again.

Bob

Not just unforgivable, criminal.

Challenger

The plan was to get to IOC with a couple of Merlin’s onboard in time for May but remains to be seen how far away they are from achieving it.

It would be worrisome to send QE off to the other side of the world with no AEW coverage even with her F35’s and numerous escorts for protection.

Paul

I understood all 4 available Crowsnest Merlins will be embarked for this cruise.

TrevorH

We are going to war are we?

Gunbuster

Its actually not that unusual for kit to go to sea without being certified as operational cleared for use. A number of systems have been used in anger, Sea Skua in 1981 is a good example, with only tasit clearance and not operationally cleared.
The RN will instigate an interim clearance for use certification process. The capabilities are there but not fully tested in a real life situation and the systems interactions with other systems and some of the unexpected “Features” have not been seen. All will be reported back to the project team under “Special Reporting”.
It may actually help the project as any issues will now be identified in a real life situation as opposed to the usual UK Based extensive trials evolutions.

TrevorH

And in 1981 we went to war.

Ron5

It’s been announced by the RN that Crowsnest will deploy with the taskforce with a limited capability.

BTW it’s the Thales UK contribution that’s caused the massive delay, not Lockheed.

Simon m

I don’t suppose any LMM/martlets are planned to be fitted to the 30mms?

Ron5

Scuttlebutt is that the trials were not that impressive, the combo offered little advantage over the just the gun.

X

I have heard that too.

Supportive Bloke

Probably more useful and cheaper to fit a 40mm cannon with a larger magazine? Range might be better too.

X

Yes. A radar laid bigger gun would have been better.

Challenger

It’d be good if T31 became the gateway to roll out the 40mm across the rest of the fleet.

If commonality is king then it’s head scratching that we’re bringing 40, 57 and 127mm systems into service alongside the legacy 20, 30 and 114mm which be it through choice or circumstance aren’t going anywhere soon.

Supportive Bloke

The 114mm on T45 was supposed to have been replaced midlife but that ran into the sands of cash flow management.

Maybe with the modernisation funds another look will be taken at that issue.

With T23 going OoS then T45 will be the only platform with 114mm so that might drive the change over to the 127mm system? The 127mm is at a whole different level.

57mm I can understand as it is big enough for Gulf escort duties but cheap enough that the T31 platform costs do not balloon. The political necessity with T31 was to be seen to come in on budget.

I can see say T32 getting 40mm fitted and maybe T45 swapping 30 -> 40mm to increase commonality of stores on RFA and training for naval gunnery?

The only thing that might make a mass swap over more likely is that once it is made to work with the CMS 40mm is actually not that expensive and would give the RFAs and other platforms it is fitted on a lot more defensive firepower against a range of platforms, munitions and swarms.

One thing I do confidently predict is that we are going to see a drumbeat of sensible RN investment decisions that will increase capability and in some cases cut costs which is the virtuous circle you really want to be in so you don’t waste money maintaining old garbage; for the sake of having ‘something’.

X

T45 will never go near the gun line. We have 6 of them. They will be at the centre of a task group. Doesn’t need the 5in gun.

I would perhaps replace the Mk8 and the Phalanx with the Bofors.

Now if one could be fitted on the hangar roof that would be interesting. Two issues to be looked. Air flow over the flight deck; shouldn’t be too much of an issue with a bit of testing as the flight deck is huge. And that aerial………..
comment image?auto=compress%2Cformat&crop=top&fit=crop&h=580&ixlib=php-3.3.0&w=1021&wpsize=td_1021x580&s=48b53577b0e07f781e1f852aa2502044

Last edited 1 month ago by X
Supportive Bloke

It isn’t just for the gun line that the 5″ would be useful.

It provides a cheaper long range surface-to-surface capability than firing million pound missiles. Rightly or wrongly firing the big gun is seen as a warning and not the escalation that firing a missile provides.

Say you want to fire a warning shot over considerable range – might have been useful in the Gulf a while back when one of our frigates was just out of range of the IRG’s last efforts.

I personally would leave the Phalanx and just swap the existing 2 x 30mm for 2 x 40mm – that way you do have more layering as the 40mm has more reach and you can simultaneously engage targets in different zones.

X

Though I agree about smart munitions for guns I doubt the UK would buy any. And ships further out would deal with any threat like that. As I said T45 in this new era of carriers is going nowhere. As for warning shots I would say 40mm (or multiple) would be enough or the helicopter.

Phalanx is old. The sensors might be upgrades but it can only fire solid rounds. These days that isn’t enough.

Supportive Bloke

It is the range I’m talking about.

If you adversary knows you have a gun capable of firing X km and you have a few boosted rounds for it and RN gave previously demonstrated effectiveness. All you have to do is threaten use to have a deterrent effect.

This becomes particularly true if you have drone oversight. So you can assure target identification. And they know you comply with RoE.

It is only a matter of time before RN has smart munitions as they are cheaper to fire than missiles.

We very often talk about CBE (Can’t Be Everywhere) on here. If you increase the operational radius you effectively multiply platform effects.

Yes, we have too few T45 so it makes sense to make them count and be able to defend themselves well.

As I said at the top the costs of keeping Mk8 114 in service May well be prohibitive for 6 T45.

Glass Half Full

One other suggestion … that we should be thinking about the 127mm more broadly than “just a gun for surface engagement and NGS”, especially in the context of the T26.

To whit the BAES Kingfisher program; basically a payload delivery munition that might deploy any one of a range of payloads such as a depth charge, sonobouy, countermeasures, etc. See the two BAES videos at the bottom of the page at the link below, where BAES also makes reference to a vertical launched future lightweight torpedo that might be used in conjunction with Kingfisher, along with helicopter delivered Sting Ray, to Find, Fix and Finish in their language:-
https://www.baesystems.com/en-uk/productfamily/underwater-weapons

It also seems very likely the 127mm gun will address anti-ship missiles, with solutions similar to the 57mm MAD-FIRES DARPA program and/or using the hyper-velocity round.

Supportive Bloke

That is a very interesting link. I was aware of the program but I didn’t realise that they had put up a video of it. From an immediacy perspective it would be a great asset but also from package delivery with no helo and would give the T45 (assuming retro fit) and T32 ASW teeth if the helo was at a remote location.

You create a 100km circle where sub operations are close to impossible.

If the munitions are compact then the number that could be stored inside the armoured area is quite large. Hopefully these munitions will be more cost effective than a pile of missiles or even short range Martlet type missiles.

The only fly in the ointment is how darned expensive these will be!

Glass Half Full

It will be interesting to see where the RN install the MK 45, which is presumably going to be a function of which novel ammunition types make it to market, when, and therefore the relevance for the platform its proposed for. IIRC the 3 gun systems, training system and ammunition ordered for the 3x T26 cost ~$240M so a full gun system isn’t cheap, before we get to adding the exotic rounds.

Given the likely timing for T4X, there doesn’t appear to be enough T45 service time left to make the investment worth it for installing MK 45 and/or additional VLS cells in T45. Since such an upgrade doesn’t seem to be in any plans currently, it would probably be mid- to late-2020’s before such an upgrade could be implemented. We also need to factor in time required for qualification of new missiles and rounds that justify the installation in the first place. And then we’d have to turn around and start pulling the systems out of T45 for re-use in T4X. T26 would seem to be the vessel for qualification of new munitions for MK 45 and MK 41 so that T4X will be ready as soon as it hits the water with a range of modern qualified weapons available for it.

T32 is interesting. If its an intermediate frigate spec more like Thaon di Revel-class Full then perhaps MK 45 is a fit. If its more like a USN FFG(X) or French FTI spec then perhaps 57mm. Presumably it will depend a lot on the role we see for T32.

X

The mount is what about 10 million and the range isn’t that great.

I do like these smart systems. I wish we had kept the 76mm from the Horizon base design.

It’s the wrong system for specialist ship that will be at the centre of any group.

Duker

The 127mm is at a whole different level.”
Not really
Nav weapons gives much the same range for the 4.5in and the 5in

5in/62 Range @ 47 degrees25,880 yards (23,660 m)

4.5in/55 Range @ 45 degrees24,000 yards (22,000 m)
HE/ER shell Range @ 45 degrees30,100 yards (27,500 m)

http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNBR_45-55_mk8.php

Theres lots of reasons why the RN would change over, but range isnt one of them. Sustainment and development is the most likely reason the 4.5in is running out of time. It seems the other buyers of the T26 want the 5in/62 as well.

D J

I think SB is referring to long range options like Volcano (BER – 60km, GLR – 90km). These options are not even available for the more common 100mm, let alone the 114mm.

Supportive Bloke

Correct.

Duker

X said it best
Though I agree about smart munitions for guns I doubt the UK would buy any. And ships further out would deal with any threat like that.”

The RAF wasnt interested in smart weapons either , until after GW1.

X

Thank you.

I would have T45 steaming around with 76mm’s and 5in’s with magazines full of smart munitions. I would have them packed to the gunnels with all sorts of toys. But HMG won’t buy them.

X

Crowsnest is everything right now. Let’s hope nothing happens before it is sorted.

Colin

From what I have gleaned from articles in this site, it’s some way off yet. It rather looks like the first deployment will sail without it.

X

If say the RN goes to war alongside the USN we will be covered by US assets.

I imagine our carriers will be with Gator Navy.

Ron5

No, the RN says it will sail with the group but with a reduced capability.

Paul

First deployment will sail with Crowsnest

Something Different

Agreed, it is a true force multiplier. Does anyone know if the F35 sensor suite has enough reach and capability to replicate some aspects of crowsnest?

X

I am disappointed with the project as a whole. From the sensor array to the lack of new cabs to carry the system to the number of systems purchased.

Colin

I did read an article the other day, and I’m pretty sure it was in the Save the Royal Navy page, that due to miss management crowsnest won’t be operational for at least another year or more. How true this is I’m unsure. In general the piece was pretty scathing of the whole handling of CSG.

Ron5

Thales majorly screwed up and were slow informing their superiors in the project: Lockheed & the MoD.

Challenger

How many years does it take to integrate an existing radar onto an existing helicopter! A great many apparently….

Supportive Bloke

The problem is when the existing radar morphs into Something Else……I get the sense that it is a bit more than anyone has let on about.

Being serious you cannot simply plug a high load device into the helos electrical system and draw a lot of power off…….

It would be a bit a bit unfortunate if the load spiked……

Cam

They should be based in cyprus, we have very little naval assets there buts it’s a huge base or bases.

Supportive Bloke

Cam, sorry I slightly missed the point you were making.

Probably being a bit slow?

Challenger

Completely unrelated to carrier-group but does anyone know what’s going on with Scimitar and Sabre?

Assumed they would be removed from service once they were brought back from Gibraltar but it seems they have had a maintenance overhaul and are back in the water at Portsmouth.

Could they be destined for Faslane to cover so that Tracker and Raider can bolster the URNU’s until the 2 new patrol boats take over in Gib? Why go to the trouble of rearranging though?

Sunmack

Good to read but there are still significant capability gaps:
1) AEW not available yet
2) No long range land attack missile planned for the F35 requiring them to operate within the engagement envelope of the sort of modern SAM systems that the Russians are selling to anyone with hard cash.
3) No long range heavyweight ASM planned for the F35, again requiring the launch aircraft to go into the engagement range of area defence SAM equipped ships. Indeed, the QE/F35 combination is less effective in anti-ship warfare than the Invincible /Harrier combination was a couple of decades ago when Sea Eagle was in service.
4) No air to air refuelling or drop tanks for the F35. This will mean the carrier having to operate closer to shore at greater risk from land based aircraft, diesel subs in the littoral, fast attack craft and shore based SSM’S
5) No theatre ballistic missile protection from her escorts as the T45 doesn’t have that capability. While lots of questions have been raised about hitting a warship with a TBM, China and Russia are spending big on developing that capability so the threat will only grow.

Something Different

1 doesn’t worry me because capability is around the corner. However 2 a 5 do need to addressed particularly the anti shop ballistic missile thread as there isn’t any current redress to that point (a sub can cover the cruise missile and anti ship work). That said, this carrier still represents a huge capability uplift to the Navy and something as a nation we should be proud of.

AlexS

As it is , it does not have any offensive capability except bombs and AAMs in F-35. Right now it is more of an “air escort” to other surface ships instead of the other way around.

Supportive Bloke

Are we discounting it’s AEW and EW capabilities then?

Just a sanitizer of airspace is useful.

But it can also protect helos being used offensively.

Duker

The USN wants to get out of the ballistic missile defence against land targets, for which a destroyer has to execute figure of 8s within a smallish box, I presume they mean launched from Iran against Europe.
““Right now, as we speak, I have six multi-mission, very sophisticated, dynamic cruisers and destroyers―six of them are on ballistic missile defense duty at sea,” Richardson said during his address at the U.S. Naval War College’s Current Strategy Forum. “And if you know a little bit about this business you know that geometry is a tyrant. “You have to be in a tiny little box to have a chance at intercepting that incoming missile. So, we have six ships that could go anywhere in the world, at flank speed, in a tiny little box, defending land.”  Richardson in 2018.

Glass Half Full

The gaps exist today at IOC but 4 out of 5 might be addressed as early as FOC with initial solutions if needed, although we are subject to F-35 Block 4 missile support timing for that. Its going to be a moving target on capabilities and counters though (wasn’t it always?), as especially adversary space surveillance capabilities increase.

1) Crowsnest as an interim solution for the next 15 years or so. The current delay for Crowsnest is inexcusable though.
2) JSM supported early in F-35 Block 4 update. It was also suggested a while back that JSM might also be qualified for Typhoon. So an option if MoD/RN/RAF want/need to go down this path. Might also make logistics/commonality sense if NSM is the I-SSGW. Not super-heavyweight or super-long range though. That’s likely to be FC/ASW in early 2030’s with sub-surface, surface or air launch. However, air-launching missiles below ground/sea based radar horizon allows closer engagement, unless the adversary has, and can maintain/persist with, suitable air assets at altitude capable of extending that radar range at lower altitudes.
3) Ditto 2). ASM might also be augmented by SPEAR Cap 3 including EW variant for shorter ranges.
4) No near term solution. Perhaps sometime in the 2030’s for an unmanned VSTOL platform based on current commercial developments. There is a VSTOL platform already being developed that is about a third of the way to MQ-25 payload and range, so mid-2030’s seems doable for a MQ-25 similar capability. The platform might also provide next generation AEW in combination with LEO space assets.
5) According to BAES, Sampson should get a BMD update around 2023-5. That would presumably support Aster 30 Block 1 NT, assuming the current T45 radar system doesn’t already have the capability. The introduction of T26 with Mk41 would add the option for SM-6 and SM-3, using targeting from T45. Also Aster 30 Block 2 BMD for longer range and maneuvering threats.

So we certainly have options to address the gaps.

Bob

All very well, but 2030 is nine years away and that’s just for introduction.
What happens if the carrier is called into action now?

This was all foreseeable when the decision to drop cats & traps was made.

Glass Half Full

We aren’t in a hot war, we aren’t even in a cold war at this point. We are in a worsening environment vis-a-vis Russia and China and authoritarianism in general. But why do you believe a UK carrier will be called into action at the level of a peer conflict, which is the level of conflict requiring the type of weapons and capabilities outlined, before it even reaches FOC? What geopolitical context makes this such an urgent issue?

You focused on 2030 as a date. Why? A CSG capability isn’t tied to having FC/ASW or to having re-fueling, those capabilities improve options but lack of them doesn’t negate a CSG role. As I indicated, depending on how well F-35 Block 4 s/w development goes we might have significant capability by mid-2020’s and perhaps earlier.

Bob

We may well survive to 2030 and beyond without ever needing these assets, but God help our sailors if we are wrong.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Ron5

@Sunmack

Were you whining a few years back that the RN didn’t have any carriers at all?

Didn’t think so.

Sunmack

I’d answer your comment if I could fathom it’s relevance

Duker

No long range land attack missile planned for the F35″

Spear Cap3 will be 100-130km.
Block 4 F-35 will include external fuel tanks

Sunmack

At one time 130km would be long range but is now well within the range of the the sirt of sea and land based SAM systems Russia will sell to anyone. The F35 needs to carry something like Storm Shadow with it’s 560km range

Glass Half Full

Leaving aside F-35 SPEAR Cap 3 internal carry and F-35 low observability, which we really shouldn’t, its entirely practical for an F-35 to launch SPEAR3 well below the surface radar horizon of its target. Targeting for SPEAR3 can be provided by a clean F-35 that doesn’t launch weapons, thus avoiding open weapons bay door or missile launch detection. Even if the target ship has some airborne surveillance assets, its still going to be hard to provide a target solution on the missile launching F-35, assuming its even detected.

TrevorH

You would complain if the dam missile didnt go half way across the globe and back

wjcolton

“Today the RN formally declared IOC for the UK Carrier Strike Group which is now at ‘very high readiness’, available to deploy anywhere in the world at five days notice.”

Does that mean the UK Carrier Strike Group can set sail within 5 days of notice? If so, a lot can happen in 5 days and a lot more can happen when it takes a week to get where you need to be.

Gunbuster

largest peacetime RN task group to put to sea in 25 years”

OMG that means me being on Ocean Wave was 25 years ago…Where did that time go?

heroic

In Lockdown mostly !

X

What was Nelson really like Granddad?

John Toner

The report raises concerns over allied assistance in supporting ships providing the political will is there from participating countries.
It seems strange that our carrier can not do the tasks its designed to without outside help.

Ron5

You are misinformed, the UK can, if needed, provide all elements of a taskforce.

X

Our carriers mesh into a wider ‘defence of the West’ framework. The USN has already altered tasking of Burkes and other assets in support. And European neighbours will provide other assets too as their national interest allows. The RN has a limited capability to do stuff purely on its own at the moment. We all know what the RN lacks. Navies are expensive. We have let our capability run down too far for a variety of reasons.

BigH1979

My observation is as follows. How many countries in the world have 2 carriers, credible ASW and AAW escorts, nuclear attack subs, sufficient replenishment capability and 100 years of Aircraft Carrier Doctrine to back it all up?

Duker

Yes. The RN operated the first carrier strike group in WW1, a flotilla led by seaplane carrier HMS Ben-My-Chree ( Woman of My Heart in Manx) against the Ottoman empire at first the Gallipoli landings and later along both the Red Sea coast in support of the Kingdom of Hejaz/Arab Revolt and the Levant and Anatolian Coast. It included the first aerial torpedo attack on another ship
https://www.naval-encyclopedia.com/ww1/UK/british-aircraft-carrierscomment image

borg

Just catching up on this, Fantastic news that has been a long time coming, now lets get a full load of RAF Aircraft onboard.

Deep32

Yes, but, a bit of a dilemma with that. Do we wait and buy BLK 4 A/C, now two years late(2026ish) and £1.5 billion over budget, or, do we buy BLK 3 airframes and pay some £27 million to upgrade each one!!! Between a rock and a hard place springs to mind!
Not a good choice either way.

borg

I’d still opt for the Block 4 though, personally. We can always bulk up with USMC again.

Deep32

That avenue also works, it will be interesting to see what MOD decide to do with buy rates over the next few years. Especially as we only have limited strike (Paveway MK4) capability until BLK 4 arrives.
Think that X might have been on right track with going cats/traps from the get go. Hindsight, such a wonderful thing!!

borg

To be fair though, It was always a consideration from the start and even back in the 1960’s , hindsight is wonderful but experience and budget played the biggest part in the eventual design. Lets just hope we can continue to design and purchase aircraft that are capable of taking off and landing for the next 50 years !

Deep32

Totally agree with that mate.

Cam

I’m just glad the Royal Navy’s looking better than it has for ages, new submarines, frigates, carriers ect. But it annoys me when the GOV cut cut cut then say oh look our navy’s getting bigger!! It’s the smallest it’s ever been in Hull numbers in the modern era. And when I look at Japan, South Korea ect they have navys far far bigger and Britain’s got a far bigger economy than South Korea’s. I supose trident does eat up loads of funds though.

BigH1979

Burns my arse so much that CASR comes out of the defence budget. To my mind if it isn’t at the disposal of military planners then the military shouldn’t be paying for it!

X

That is interesting. Tell me, who actually orders release of the missiles?

Last edited 1 month ago by X
BigH1979

Are you asking who gives the final order to release the weapon? The Commander of the boat of course. But he will ultimately receive that order based on the decision of someone who is most definitely not military.

If you are talking about the Letters of Last Resort then that is based on a very specific situation where the Government is assumed to be incapacitated and the instructions in the letter are still given by the PM.

Cam

Imagine what our millitary could get with the money saved from trident, Trudent budget should not come out the defence budget, it never used to u TIL recently I believe.

N-a-B

It has come out of the defence budget since at least the 80s. The idea that it did not is largely a myth. The original Polaris agreement – which was a ring-fenced budget – may have led to that myth.

The operating and support costs have always been in-budget too.

I wouldn’t get too excited about money saved. In the highly unlikely event that it didn’t just disappear back to HMT, you’d still be looking at something like £2Bn a year, give or take. Better than a poke in the eye, but hardly game changing.

Trident is exceptional value for money.

X

Most of the cost of deterrent yearly is Aldermaston.

TrevorH

Especially as it stops us from being dropped on by a thermonuclear device.

TrevorH

The whole armed forces are there because of political, national needs.

X

I don’t think BigH1979 quite grasps that or indeed how the UK’s nuclear weapons are brought into use.

Cam

Anyone ever serve ON HMS DECOY OR HMS JUNO??

borg

Missed out on the Decoy trips , great ships though. Have we ever had a better time ?

Cam

Don’t think so mate.

Mike Jones

So, if a Royal Navy strike force with F-35 fighters, and Type 45 destroyers, went up against a US carrier (like in WW2) who would win? Both these elements are both newer and more expensive than their US equivalents…