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Here we go again! The RN Wasting money it has not really got on things it does not need. They need to stop trying to keep up with the joneses, and be more pragmatic.

Bruce Palmer

Realistically, how much could putting arrestor gear on the QE carriers cost? It seems foolish that they are being omitted.


I agree. Arrester wires have been with us since the 1920’s. Wires together with a catapult on the diagonal should be essential for our carriers. Forget this Harrier Carrier mk2 business, it is going to cost lives at some point if we continue without this modest arrangement.
I always thought there should have been a court of enquiry into the shortcoming of so many of our Capital ships resulting in their loss 1939-1945.

shark bait

Its not the cost, its the restrictions it places on operations. The QE carriers have been very carefully designed to maximize the capability and the efficiency of the F35B operations. They don’t need and arrestor , our helicopters don’t need an arrestor, adding one would be useless and get in the way of F35 ops.

shark bait

I have a few issues here;
Suggesting the Pitcairn Islands “needs a lot of over watch” is rubbish. It doesn’t, no one in the UK would care if a vessel strayed into its waters.
I also don’t believe a Tritton purchase “has already been announced”, whats more your source quotes the sun as its source. I sincerely hope the Tritton isn’t purchased, that would be a whole load of money wasted on a big expensive niche platform that we dot need. That money is desperately needed else where in the navy.
For carrier based aviation the royal navy is in active development of rotary wing UAV’s which you fail to mention. You are correct our mode of operation is restrictive to fixed wing UAV ops. I would like to see a naval watch keeper explored, it has its own mobile catapult launcher and a simple arrestor gear. If those can be used on the flat top without impinging on F35 ops it should be seriously considered.
Small Ship unmanned vessels (both air, surface and sub) do offer great potential to greatly expand the capabilities of small ships and escorts. The royal navy is doing well to position them self to take full advantage of this and is actively experimenting and developing systems in this area which is great. The first seal lord is very vocal about this and clearly sees it has an important place in the future. I hope they can continue on this path and they will become a world leader as he suggests.

shark bait

Sorry cant edit my post. Forgot to mention why would you use a UAV as a “tanker aircraft to extend the range of others”. What possible advantage is there to having that unmanned? I think that would be bonkers!

Alex Clarke

Thanks for you comments. I’ve corrected the statement about Trition purchase – you’re right that it is still under consideration, not a certainty, although everything suggests it will be chosen in the SDSR.
I’m sorry if you doesn’t like the use of the Pictairns – just an illustration of the breadth of task Britain has to undertake.
Rotary wing UAVs were covered in the piece in terms of the escorts – I suppose I should have pointed in the conclusion they can of course also operate from carriers – but I presumed that was a given.
Watch keeper so far has not had the best record, plus it’s designed as an artillery spotter and has yet to be weaponised – there are though some good off the shelf options which could be interesting… although I think having a mobile catapult on deck with F35B is asking for trouble.
UAVs could be very useful as tankers, because no crew are being risked, they could refuel other UAVs as well as possibly helicopters and maybe even fixed wing aircraft, extending the strike range & reach of the airgroup… with no designated tanker type, a multirole UAV providing this role makes far more sense than an expensive manned fighter that is better used for air defence or strike operations.
I’m glad there’s agreement on the small ships, I really think if we can keep all 7 River Class vessels and give all of them UAVs to assist then they will be really effective maritime security assets and force multiplication tools.

shark bait

It just read all doom and gloom for QE drone ops. I think it is far from that, there are many options, just different to the way the Americans are doing things. Obviously rotary and tilt rotors are options but I do think ‘mobile’ catapult could be an option. There is a nice space next to the ski ramp that could become a station for launching UAV’s in between F35 launches, the problem is more recovery. Granted watch keeper isn’t of much use to the navy right now, but it could be developed there. What are the “off the shelf options” you had in mind? (or does that spoil part 2)
Still not convinced on the tanker concept. You are putting crew at risk, the crew of the recipient where looking coms with the taker drone could prove very dangerous. Refueling other drones possibly….
Do you still think the tritton is under serious consideration? I have heard very little buzz about it other than that supplied by Northrop. I dont see it being a particularity good fit for the UK.
I can however agree on your comments about the rivers. With some creative use of unmanned assets we could turn those ships that we didn’t want and don’t really need into something quite useful. It will also develop best working practices for when (if) the auxiliary mother ship thing that will replace the MCM fleet comes online in the late 20’s.