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Future Carrier (Including Costs)

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Future Carrier (Including Costs)

Old 10th Jul 2008, 08:34
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COD, AEW (aka MASC) all put to one side in the hope that "something will come along....." In other words, do the difficult bit first (get the ships funded) and then worry about the TAG and it's components. Don't even have so much as a plane-guard option included as yet......
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Old 12th Jul 2008, 01:38
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COD, AEW (aka MASC) all put to one side in the hope that "something will come along....." In other words, do the difficult bit first (get the ships funded) and then worry about the TAG and it's components.

Is that really a good plan?
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Old 12th Jul 2008, 04:05
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How many C17 loads does it take to get the POL to your DOBs - oh yes, it comes by road, from a maritime hub having travelled by sea - as does about 80% of the support for deployed land ops. Best you have CVF and its merry FF/DD/SM/embarked air to protect the supply routes, or you have no operation. And while they are there why not fly from them?
Grow up Bismark.

Individuals such as yourself fall right into the hands of the divide and rule brigade in the Treasury; it is them who are the real enemy. So may I suggest you and others who argue black and white in favour of land or carrier air power acknowledge that they are each complimentary with specific strengths and weaknesses.

Carriers are very flexible assets that do not need host nation support (although they still require overflight rights as in the case of Afghanistan) directly. In addition, they are as visible as required; they can discrete at times whilst still being able to send a powerful diplomatic message when poised or en route (eg the southerly transit of the Task Force in 1982). Carriers are mobile and therefore generally more difficult to target than land bases. Moreover, that mobility allows them to deny threats (eg MANPADS) or move away from poor weather.

However, carriers are not especially difficult to locate for any nation with even a modest AEW or ASuW capability. That advantage is being further eroded as civilian access to maritime radar surveillance and oceanographic satellites and software (unless the carrier remains stationary and avoids creating a wake) increases. Moreover, when attacked, they are far more vulnerable to total loss of capability than a land base. Likewise, they are far more susceptible to being shut down by accidents such as deck incidents, fire and collision (eg USS Oriskany, USS Forrestal and USS Enterprise). In terms of flight ops, carriers are unable to support the full range of air power and invariably rely upon land based combat support assets such as AWACS, SIGINT, JSTARS, AAR etc. This is true even of USN CVNs. Meanwhile, carriers simply cannot replicate the rate of ops offered by land bases with aircraft often compromised in range, payload and sortie regeneration. Finally, carrier air potentially takes a long time to arrive in theatre if not pre deployed, and entails a considerable support infrastructure of escorts and logistics ships.

In comparison, land bases clearly require HNS for basing (although in reality this is rarely a major factor) and potentially overflight rights. They are fixed locations susceptible to poor weather and attack by enemy air, missile, MANPADS and other forms of insurgent/SF attack (eg rockets). In short, they can become tethered goats and can evolve into significant focus for insurgent and diplomatic discontent. Nevertheless, when attacked, they are very difficult to close down for extended periods and nor are they as vulnerable to accidents as carriers.

Also on the positive side, land bases can generally support the full range of air power assets, will normally have good infrastructure in place and can become operational very rapidly from the order to go (eg E-3D ops over Afghanistan within 36 hrs of the order to deploy in 2001 and F-15C ops over Saudi in 1990 within a similar timescale). This infrastructure can also be used for other components, either as a base in its own right (eg Basra) or as a hub and spoke Air Point of Departure (APOD – eg Al Udeid). The aircraft supported are rarely as constrained as carrier assets and can normally maintain a high rate of ops for extended periods.

In short, they are pros and cons for both land based and maritime air and each is complimentary. Find me a weakness for one, and I’ll find a similar issue with the other.

The sooner people like Bismark stop willy waving and present a united front for the greater Joint good, the better for us, and the worse for our friends in the Treasury.

Kind regards,
MM
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Old 12th Jul 2008, 09:05
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"Is that really a good plan? "
Clearly not. But it's the only one we appear to have. In our "capability requirements"-based world, even something as "simple" as a plane guard/HDS/utility helo is too difficult to even think about, unless it's wrapped up into some overarching (and mainly unfunded) programme like MITL......
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Old 12th Jul 2008, 13:43
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The sooner people like Bismark stop willy waving and present a united front for the greater Joint good, the better for us, and the worse for our friends in the Treasury.
MM,

What a delight to see your balanced view. But sadly this is not reality, particularly from our brethren in light blue. Having attended many air power conferences over the years any attempt to show balance by CAS and his team by covering the full gamut of air power, including land and sea based, is sadly lacking. Even in this 90th year of the RAF there is no recognition (bar opening statements re the amalgamation of the RFC and RNAS in 1918) that they had responsibility for both disciplines from 1918 until 1939 (FAA) and 1918 - 1947 (Army).

The CVF is a Defence capability, not just an RN one, and no one would be more delighted than me to see joint arguement in its favour, but this is not happening - apart from people like you and a few others.

Aviation is Joint, not the rightful preserve of just one Service. It is not me that needs to grow up but those that argue that the RAF is the only Service that "does air".

Bis
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Old 12th Jul 2008, 15:52
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Bismark,

Do you expect the RN to operate these aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf?
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Old 12th Jul 2008, 16:33
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The CVF is a Defence capability, not just an RN one, and no one would be more delighted than me to see joint arguement in its favour, but this is not happening - apart from people like you and a few others.
That is not my experience Bismark. I find the vast majority of RAF types are in favour of CVF, although I'll acknowledge many doubt the wisdom of procuring 2 x 65 000 vessels. I was one who favoured smaller 40 000 ton LHD style designs, but have now been won over by the likes of Not a Boffin.

However, why wouldn't we support CVF? A significant amount of our future fast jet procurement is predicated upon operating from it, and our helos are regular visitors. I'll acknowledge that there has been some shenanigans regarding the variant of F-35 favoured, but there are small communities of both shades of blue who seek to undermine the other.

Likewise, I've heard at least 2 RN Flag officers (one an engineer, the other having an AWO/PWO background) arguing that 'I don't care who flies the aircraft, as long as we get CVF!' So it's not just elements within the RAF who sometimes undermine the FAA.

Overall however I find the vast majority of my RAF colleagues are in favour. We must now ensure that that united front is maintained. Arguing for or against one specific flavour of air power will only undermine Joint capability.

Regards,
MM
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Old 13th Jul 2008, 13:04
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MM,

I couldn't agree with you more, but it is at Group level and above that the problem starts.

Bis
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Old 13th Jul 2008, 16:01
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I have to second MM. I just cannot see where the RN's paranoia over the RAF somehow 'plotting against the carrier' comes from. And yes, all three services have something to contriute to the air COMPONENT, but don't confuse the requirement for unity of component command with 'the RAF' trying to control everything that flies. I really hope the carrieres do not get cancelled, partly because I think they provide useful flexibility in deploying air power, but mainly because regardless of the reason they are cancelled, I'm sure it will pass into RN legend that it was the dastardly RAF who undermined the programme. If you look at how bad we are in putting out a united front on things that ARE important to us, how on earth do you suppose we could convincingly brief against another service's project?

However, since you have raised the point, I have never yet heard a convincing argument why the RN needs to own any of the jets or provide any of the pilots. Arguments like "we tried it in the 1920s and it didn't work" are as specious as "the RAF won't want to go to sea". I don't have a problem with the FAA (in fact, some of the most professional crews I have ever worked with are RN), but I just think that it is not best value for UK defence to try to run an unsustainably-small cadre of single-seat fast jet pilots who will do exactly the same training as their RAF counterparts and be employed interchangeably. Everywhere else we have made things more effective by reducing duplication (for example, the Jt GBAD Regt), so why not here?
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Old 13th Jul 2008, 18:14
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MM,

I couldn't agree with you more, but it is at Group level and above that the problem starts.

Bis
I still think that that assertion is wrong.

OA,

I disagree. I think the advantages offered by having aircrew who understand the ethos and wider operational implications for naval and Army aviation is clear. Whilst I accept that the RN has struggled (some would say failed) to maintain a viable fixed wing aircrew cadre for almost 40 years, I don't think that that is irrecoverable. Indeed, it could be suggested that the decision to drastically cut back on carrier aviation in the 60s contributed to that situation. CVF has the potential to reverse that situation.

However, RN aviators have for many years been denied the opportunities of an aviation related career beyond SO1 rank and this has undoubtedly also been a contributory factor. I see signs now that that is changing, with the establishment of several aviation flag appointments.

It's a shame the Army aren't following the RN's example.

In short, it will always be to the Joint advantage if the RN and Army have experienced aviators capable of fighting air power's corner both within their own services, and from their services' standpoint in Joint appointments such as a CAOC.

However, I think there is some debate to be had on whether those RN (and RM) aviators are part of Joint sqns, or naval air sqns in their own right. From my perspective, I think they should be naval sqns but with a greatly increased number of light blue exchange posts. Similarly, it should be an accepted part of a RN aviators career progression to spend time with the RAF (and for that matter the Army). In that way, Joint understanding will improve, and Joint suspicion will reduce.

Regards,
MM
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Old 13th Jul 2008, 20:58
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MM,

thanks very much for that, you make some very good points and I do agree with you in many ways. However, on a strict value-for-money argument it is difficult to justify. FWIW, I would go the same way as you, and offer more opportunities for naval aviators to take up RAF (and air component) posts - however, the consequence is that they then become even less different to RAF officers....

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want to see the FAA disbanded, but I just haven't heard an argument that is likely to sound convincing in the RP world yet. My remarks were a little ill-judged, but I do get a little irritable every time the RAF is accused of opposing the carriers.

I think the debate is there to be had though, just to make sure we're not missing a trick. For example, I would hate to see service politics get in the way of building a proper carrier strike capability - with exchanges on F-18, EA-6B, latterly F-14 etc, the RAF has a lot of experience to offer the RN in operating capable jets off big carriers.


Oh, and JunglyAEO, I think you need to do some more research into Jt GBAD and the RAF Regt. I don't know of another organisation that provides highly cost-effective, specialist force protection to the air component, do you? They're not a manoeuvre unit or something that can be integrated into the Army's readiness cycle. Unlike, for example, the RM....
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Old 13th Jul 2008, 23:34
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" Arguments like (1)"we tried it in the 1920s and it didn't work" are as specious as (2)"the RAF won't want to go to sea". "

O_A

Point 1 - If it did work then why did (a) the FAA end up with Dross aircraft while the rest of the RAF got state of the art machines?

Point 2 - Ok I only got 55 votes but the result was a bit of a surprise none the less

copy and paste

Jointery - Going to Sea - E-Goat :: The Totally Unofficial Royal Air Force Rumour Network forums

Al
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Old 14th Jul 2008, 10:08
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I would say that a lot of this hinges on how the Navy will operate embarked aviation. Traditionally, embarked aviation has been deployed as part of the ship's weapon system; as in parallel with gunnery and ASW. A Naval aviator has traditionally been a Naval Officer first and an aviator second. Indeed, many aviators gain watchkeeping and warfare qualifications and, in turn, command ships.

So what M M said earlier about a limited FAA career path beyond SO1 is true if an officer wishes to remain an aviator. There are opportunities to progress up the "Ship" command chain, though, beyond aviation.

The question is probably; is a Carrier a discreet entity, with its own supporting Task Group and aviation as part of its weapon fit or is it just a "taxi" for deployed aviation?
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Old 15th Jul 2008, 14:40
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I can't be bothered to trawl through all the pages of this thread so some of the following may be a repetition of others work, sorry, but to be honest, I'll still be amazed if we ever see these ships in service.

The parallels with the late 60s are incredible. They are vastly expensive to build and operate, we will be trying to design and build a new generation SSBN, new reactor and new "N" weapon all at the same time, we have several foreign operations which need to be funded, the economy is not looking great for the next few years and the public/ treasury/ and some of the RAF (& even the RN) don't seem to see the need. I fully expect the next Government to look at the books, look at the requirement (and competing requirements) and cancel.

Hard choices will have to be made and I would sugget that the Carriers are easier to cancel than the development of the next generation deterrent.

It should be borne in mind that work (& therefore spending) on the next generation nuclear submarine reactor has already started. (I am told that the reactor in Astute can't be used in the next generation of N Subs - age of the design vs safety case limitations - If we don't have new reactor we are out of the N sub game when the current boats reach the end of their lives and I can't see that happening).

It should also be borne in mind that, in addition to new reactors we will need to have new warheads, for the next generation deterrent system (even if it remains Trident based) - We can't use the existing warheads much longer (safety case, again) & can't buy in from abroad (N Proliferation Treat etc). Weapon development cost alone will be huge.

In addition, eventually someone will wake up and see that the Carriers are massively operationally compromised. Not only will we have all our eggs in one basket but:
1. The force protection assets (ie the FFs & DDs) that are needed to accompany them have been cut.
2. There is no plan for indigenous air to air refuelling or long range/endurance AEW assets (I don't count the Sea King AEW & C helos as long range) thus increasing reliance on accompanying shore based RAF assets. If we have to have the shore based support for AAR & AEW then some in the RAF/ Treasury will probably argue that they can provide the stike assets from ashore, too.
3. JSF in its STOVL form may well not yet happen - the ships are initially planned to go to sea with the Harrier GR9 but as we have seen with current ops they are in very short supply. For the first few years of life the ships will have very limited utility without an Air Group and any plan for cats & traps will require another major rethink (I am led to believe that there is a contingency plan to fit cats & traps at the first major refit - more expense and probably very difficult to engineer in if the hull & systems have not been designed for it in the first place!!).
4. Crucially, the weapons designed for JSF (Brimstone and Storm Shadow) do not have a safety case for Replenishment At Sea (RAS) (and the required upgrades to achieve this have been taken as a cost saving measure) thus limiting the strike endurance to the limited outfit carried. A major shortcomming. (Similarly these weapons need to be taken ashore to be tested/recalibrated every 2 years (I think) & so will need to be landed ashore from alongside at somewhere like Crombie (Probably the only place possible & this makes Rosyth as a FOB even more likely, I would say, and adds to the support costs as in reality an extra "Naval Base" will have been created again)).

I remain a pessimist.

Regards
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Old 15th Jul 2008, 16:44
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First of all, let me state that I was having a particularly bad day yesterday and so I was unnecssarily grumpy in my posts. I will get off my high horse but I do get annoyed when people continuously accuse the RAF of being anti-carrier. This is not so, and I personally am in favour of their procurement - but that dosen't mean we shouldn't debate the issues. To wit:

Allthenick,

Point 1: (a) It wasn't as simple as that. One of the issues is that the RN provided observers, not pilots to the maritime part of the RAF, and they did not push aircraft specifications as pilots might - they were, after all, seaman officers on a short tour - compare to the problems the AAC had when their officers were mostly five-minute wonders. But anyway,

(b) I really do think it is different today. everybody is much more joint, the single services do not control procurement to anywhere near the same degree and we are (generally) more interested in achieving joint effect rather than securing a bigger slice of the budget than the other two services. I am not suggesting that the RAF should own everything that flies, merely pointing out that there might be scope for efficiency here.

Point 2: Of course you're right that going to sea is unappealing to people who are used to working at MOBs. But so is living in dusty tents in hot places - I expect you could run a poll about that and get similar results. At the end of the day, we do as we're effing told. Although actually I think that it would be much better for the maintainers and other key surface-employed individuals in the carrier strike capablitiy to be RN, so that the capability of the ship is maximised. I was really just talking about the pilots, who will do the same job whether they're RN or RAF. I don't think you'll find many of them on e-goat.

GOLF_BRAVO_ZULU,

Read some Doctrine. Carrier air is a joint asset, not a ship's weapon system. It is not the RN who will decide how carriers are used, but CJO. A carrier can be either a taxi for embarked aviation, or part of a group with a discrete task.
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Old 15th Jul 2008, 22:19
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“It wasn't as simple as that. One of the issues is that the RN provided observers, not pilots to the maritime part of the RAF, and they did not push aircraft specifications as pilots might - they were, after all, seaman officers on a short tour - compare to the problems the AAC had when their officers were mostly five-minute wonders. But anyway,”


Wrong O_A

1918 – The FAA of the RAF were manned by 85% light-blue and as you rightly say, the rest were RN observers. HOWEVER by 1925 FAA Squadrons were pretty much turned around to 90:10 Dark to Light Blue. Why this is I don’t know but I suspect that it was because Uncle Hugh couldn’t convince his boys that the sea-going option was the way ahead (Did he not say that carrier aviation was inherently dangerous?) And not until the Mid ‘30’s did the admiralty have any say in aircraft design. Thomas Inskip was no fool, he must have seen the problems for both services.

“I really do think it is different today. everybody is much more joint, the single services do not control procurement to anywhere near the same degree and we are (generally) more interested in achieving joint effect rather than securing a bigger slice of the budget than the other two services. I am not suggesting that the RAF should own everything that flies, merely pointing out that there might be scope for efficiency here.”

First off – I agree with jointery. Having up to 3 support systems for a single airframe type is ludicrous, but I fail to see how sending people to sea that don’t want to be there is efficient – operationally or monetarily. P1ss people off and they leave, take a look at the wage bill for the MoD and Services and you’ll see what I mean. People are expensive – to train and replace. Common working practices and support systems are a brill idea, everything else is cack.

“But so is living in dusty tents in hot places - I expect you could run a poll about that and get similar results.”

Actually I did! – and got 100% turn out from the Fleet Air Arm ;-)

See here

The Navy Net: Rum Ration › Forums › RN Branches › The Fleet Air Arm › NAVAL STRIKE WING

“we do as we're effing told. Although actually I think that it would be much better for the maintainers and other key surface-employed individuals in the carrier strike capablitiy to be RN, so that the capability of the ship is maximised. I was really just talking about the pilots, who will do the same job whether they're RN or RAF. I don't think you'll find many of them on e-goat.”

Unfortunately the ranks make up the majority of RAF (but only just) so them voting with their feet wont do the RAF any good. Though I dare say that carrier ops on any resume for a pilot looks good.
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Old 16th Jul 2008, 01:54
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Actually I did! – and got 100% turn out from the Fleet Air Arm
What? Both of them said yes?
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Old 16th Jul 2008, 09:18
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andyy

Since when have Brimstone and Stormshadow been "the weapons designed for JSF"?
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Old 16th Jul 2008, 09:53
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"designed for" was probably a bit strong but it will carry them:

RAF - F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter)
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Old 16th Jul 2008, 09:56
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Occasional Aviator. You mean like the Doctrine I referred to at Srl 1807; BR1806? http://www.pprune.org/forums/4232601-post1807.html
As ever, such works can be interpreted in more than one way; as can the principle of "Jointery". I would hope that you have not become fixated with such entries as Ch 8, Page 197 (UNCLAS);

The command and control function for operations ashore can be
based at sea. Although not an aircraft carrier’s principal role, the UK’s
CVSs have the facilities for a JTFHQ (Afloat). In principle, an essentially
land orientated operation can be commanded by the Joint Task Force
Commander entirely from the sea, although the Land Component
Commander is likely to feel more comfortable exercising his command
from a location ashore. The Air Component Commander and key
elements of his headquarters would collocate with the JTFC with the
other elements in a Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) ashore.
Nevertheless, the JTFHQ (Afloat) may have important advantages,
particularly in the early stages of an operation or during withdrawal
when its mobility, security, and command and control fit, combined
with a collocated source of support helicopters, may make it a
compelling solution.


If the Carriers we are discussing are to be of any worth, they would be the spearhead of an offensive expeditionary Force and long before land forces were established. The self same operations that the Navy has experience of and trains and exercises for.

It may have not been immediately clear but, earlier, we were discussing Naval aviation (eg career structures for Naval aviators) which is not exactly the same as embarked aviation.
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