Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
"More generally, some have suggested that the run down of naval aviation in the 1970s meant that the RN lost expertise in using aircraft as a task force weapon. I think the politicians are to blame for that one."
A very good point. One which our politicians could do with thinking about again, right now. Allowing the Sea Harrier to be retired and pretending it can be replaced for Fleet defence by a ground attack variant Harrier. Good grief. And we are still an island, last time I looked.
Mind boggling folly. Let's hope our forces don't have to deal with the consequences of that political myopia (or ignorance) expensively, as too often before.
My LCA was intended to be an entirely imaginary character invented only to make a point. I certainly didn't intend it to cast any aspersions on the actual holder of the top post. I don't suppose his office looks much like that, either.
They were quite surprised to learn the need to protect their ships from low level visual attack aircraft and a lot of modification and practise was completed on the way South once they had been given professional advice on the threat
I served on the Buccaneer on 12 Sqn in the ASuW role from 1974-78. All our operational training was conducted under exercise conditions against NATO and, predominantly, RN surface vessels. The RN were always of the mind that, with the Soviet Navy having no fleet carriers or Fighter Bomber aircraft to attack them at low level, they were invulnerable to that type of threat and that, whilst they did use our low level attacks to train the ship and crew, the attacks were more for our benefit than theirs; this despite the arrival of Forger in the Soviet inventory and therefore the prospect of an increased capability in subsequent years.
Of course, we always flew over the target after we had released our simulated weapons either to simulate a MARTEL missile or iron bombs (which took us pretty close anyway) and to fully exercise the ships' AD systems. Fed up with the ships always failing to realise, despite our telling them, that we were 'simulated' missiles and not the aircraft themselves and therefore claiming kills against us, we decided on one particular mission to conduct our real weapon release profiles and not to fly over the targets as previously. With a 4-ship we attacked the prime target 3 times from 3 of the 4 cardinal points of the compass with each aircraft simulating one MARTEL launch on each attack. On the last attack from the North, we simulated a toss attack of 4x1000lbers (16 in total) which took us within 3 nms of the target. It was only on this attack that our RWRs began to illuminate and viable kills may have been possible. The Navy claimed kills on this last attack but failed to understand that they had already been hit with 12 MARTEL missiles on the previous 3 attacks.
At the subsequent exercise debrief at JMOTS in Turnhouse a very heated debate took place where the only Navy defence was that the Soviets wouldn't operate like we did!
Shame that they never looked beyond that threat despite them then being a global blue water navy. They learned to their cost during Corporate that there always was an air threat at sea.
No training opportunity was missed as the Buccs at Gib were in an ideal position to work the ships up, and did, on their voyage south. Whether the Navy then took heed of the air threat training or not...........................
Location: Temporarily missing from the Joe Louis Arena
WEBF - They ALL had to fight once they were down there, RN, British Army and RAF. Ultimately though the RN and RAF are a means with which to get teeth arms into position and support their ongoing operations. I notice how you aren't so quick to defend the RAF though (who's efforts I'd say were equally 'glossed-over'). A force who its argued could have contributed a whole lot more and lessened the burden of tabbing across the Falklands by the PBI had the RN better protected elements under its care, such as a large number of SHF assets.
As this thread indicates, there were some important lessons to be learned from the Falklands war. What annoyed me at the time was that the MOD refused to allow the dissemination or acknowledgement of lessons learned because 'it was a victory and should be celebrated as such'.
If one does not learn the lessons of war then lives will have been lost in vain and one is destined to repeat the mistakes.
In my experience, armed conflict is a series of errors and he who makes the least probably wins.
If they hadn't modded HMS Hermes for the pointless backwards-flying-at-airshows Harrier (you may guess I don't like them!), then they coud have got Buccs into the fight quite easily (and probably F4s as well). Take a look at this picture from HMS Hermes in the 60s:
Now that's proper Naval Airpower!
They made poor Hermes nearly as ugly as Jump Jet Fanny so we had to endure the meloderous rants of bearded SHAR pilots for years to come!
Twas not only the RN that lost flexibility. The RAF removed the FGR2's bomb and rocket release wiring when the aircraft became single role and the FG1 lost it's carrier capability and it's air-to-ground weapons.
Your point is very interesting. Whenever this topic crops-up it seems that the RN immediately look to place the blame on the RAF for the loss of the fleet's AEW capability provided by the Gannet. However, this argument always struck me as coming from a postion of hindsight, because if they had truly appreciated their own vulnerabilty they would have acquired an AEW helicopter and a CIWS before the Falklands War showed that such equipment was vital to defend against low-level attack aircraft and sea-skimming missiles.
My intent was a training opportunity for the RN. 12 did stand by until about the end of August on 2 hours notice. My recollection was of a lot of sitting about after the fleet sailed and not too many sorties being generated. Then a wait for the flight home after the decision not to go south was taken and AT being in thin supply for the routine tasks.
I still have the sqn photo from that det in the loft showing hercs loading in the background before going to Asencion.
Seeing as FRADU were simulating fixed wing aircraft attack AND missile attack at FOST in Portland and JMOTS for many years before the Falklands it is reasonable to assume that the RN were very much aware of the threat that airpower can have to ships. Sadly, over many years, various defence cuts had resulted in the short range missile and gun systems being removed from some ships specs (T42s and CVS), in the belief that we were only likely to operate in the N Atlantic under the cover of the US CVN air groups. The RNs main role in 1982 was to act as the outer ASW screen against Soviet SSNs & was not expected to have to fight an littoral war against a low level & close in air threat. The fact that it did so with only 4 ships lost is still pretty remarkable. The RN believed they would lose a CVS at least.
I think the 'RN blaming the RAF' came about largely because our political masters had decided our forces would not operate outside the NATO theatre area in future.
'No role East of Suez' marked the beginning of the end. Hence we didn't need carriers because the RAF coud provide air cover for the fleet locally. This of course ignored the point that in any sort of shooting war in Europe the RAF would have been be more than busy enough trying to defend BAOR, let alone the sea areas.
Perhaps some RAF senior officers saw benefit in supporting this daft idea but I suspect (hope) it was not common.