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Head of Royal Navy threatens resignation over push to scrap Harriers

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Head of Royal Navy threatens resignation over push to scrap Harriers

Old 8th Dec 2008, 13:04
  #61 (permalink)  
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Well thats easy! Take current RAF Nimrod funding and give it to the Navy.

Or better still stop spending as much on welfare slime and schools and increase defence spending.

Truth is unless the military were to get a good increase this squabling over tiny ammounts of funding and small ammounts of new technology is just going to get worse!
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 14:25
  #62 (permalink)  
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It would appear that there are still supposedly informed opinions on this forum that indicate the possibility of fighting another Falklands war with the help of carriers and Harriers. Forget it. We simply do not have the surface fighting ships to project power over that distance (or even closer) and we no longer have the merchant fleet to cover the logistics.

Those who remember the Falklands war and were informed at the time will know how far from the action we had to keep the carriers in order to avoid their loss and what heroic individual efforts we had to make to ensure the timely arrival on CAP of Harriers with little time available for combat.

Fortunately, there was no combat as the Argies were too busy concentrating on ground and ship attack to bring air-to-air weapons along but what a different story it would have been if they had.

Whilst the present Harrier aircraft could do better and JSF should further enhance capability, one is still left with the need to use a huge slice of the budget just to defend the carriers.

Projection of ship based naval air power over long distances requires the same level of force and expenditure that we see in the US carrier task forces. We simply cannot afford to do the job properly and the cheap alternative risks heavy and unsustainable losses.
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 14:29
  #63 (permalink)  
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Well, assuming that there is some truth in this story as published on Timesonline; then this is all very sad. I hold our armed services in tremendous regard and to see the levels to which all have been reduced is nothing short of criminal, and yes I would be willing pay an extra penny on income tax if I was assured it would make some difference.

The timing of the Harrier story here makes me think it is a pre-emptive strike on behalf of 1SL, to try and build up some support for Harrier and FAA fixed wing aviation before Herrick becomes the responsibility of Tornado GR4. Will it work? I very much doubt it. Much like the Jag, SHAR’s, most of the AD fleet and many capabilities in other armed services that were once viewed as essential I suspect that the writing is on the wall for Harrier. My hunch is that the decision to cut has already been taken and that it will be announced as soon as it is politically expedient to do so – next Summer with a Apr ’10 close out date anyone? Maybe that’s a bit aggressive but I fear that in these economically challenging times anything is possible.

Is it the right decision? Of course not. I note with interest the use of the term ‘legacy’ by some pruners when referring to Harrier; surely this term is equally appropriate for Tornado GR4 and Typhoon as well as practically every other offensive and defensive platform out there – except may be some UAVs and F/A-22, F-35. Particularly with complex military systems, where they can take so long to reach maturity, I feel that use of the term legacy can be extremely misleading and implies a capability that is either no longer needed or is not fit for purpose any more – neither of which apply to Harrier in my opinion.

The root of all these funding problems is, in my opinion, due firstly to the Government of the days complete lack of respect for our armed services (and I don’t believe any of our political parties is any better than the others); and secondly in the requirement for our Armed Services to support our Defence Infrastructure rather than it being the other way round, as it should be. There is the obvious ludicrousy of spending circa £3.5bn to re-engineer 9-12 40-odd year old Nimrod airframes, plus the many billions that were thrown at Eurofighter in the development/bickering stages and next in line, the carriers. On top of that there is the slow drip-drip supply of funding, most of which the general public don’t have visibility of, which is done purely to allow BAESystems and others to keep the coffers rolling in – anyone remember the Adour 106 re-engine program shortly before Jag was canned or how about the £100 million Capability Upgrade Program on F3 just prior to drawdown, Link-16 on SHAR, the list is pretty much endless and it does add up to a lot of serious cash. GR9, upgraded Pegasus and Harrier obviously being another good example.

Not sure what the answer is though. All I will say is that if 1SL, CAS, CDS, etc still believe that, by taking a capability cut or two today, it will lead to more jam tomorrow then I am sure that they will end up being disappointed.
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 14:42
  #64 (permalink)  
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I think 'legacy' is probably a typical mis-used word and part of the modern business speak that is so infectious.

Typhoon - new, entering service, cutting edge etc etc.

MRA4 - new (really), entering service (mm), cutting edge?

When we look at the GR4 and GR9 these are both newly packaged, like the Nimrod, in old airframes.

The F15E is also termed legacy.

Maybe legacy refers to the old-way of doing business and the new all electronic kit it the future.
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 15:09
  #65 (permalink)  
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Barking things happen in times such as these. I genuinely believe losing Harrier would be a mistake. It is in-service, versatile and proven: gambling that we would not need fast(ish) air to be able to operate from rough/short strips is fairly sporting when one looks at the trouble spots in the world.

If we must save money, I would rather risk depleting the AD fleet by grounding F3 now (and deploying Typhoon to FI) than watch a more relevant (at this moment in time) capability be given away like this. Where is the AD threat to the UK at the moment anyway? By the time one exists (and I still can't think of one) the RAF will have its squillionth Typhoon and we will all be safe as bugs in rugs. I wonder how much less safe the ground troops will feel watching Harrier disappear...

We continue to want to do more than we are resourced to do. We love to punch above our weight, but don't want to fund doing so. Perhaps the Forces should be taken out of the loop and some independent body should decide what capabilities we need based on realism, operational priorities and appropriate resourcing?? I fear the reality is more likely to be asking Barack which of our key 'niche' capabilites he would like us to provide to him while we watch others degrade slowly and painfully...
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 15:18
  #66 (permalink)  
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Absolutely so IMHO. The really frustrating thing though is that even in the austere years immediately after the second world war when the country was even more broke than it is today the armed forces were (reasonably) well provided for. HM Navy had some ships (even some flat-topped ones) and more ac than the entire RAF today. The army had plenty of infantry, and tanks, artilliary and its regiments where made up of more than one batallion! The RAF had multiple commands, (Fighter, Bomber, Coastal, Transport and Training) and even had multiple air forces, Near East Air Force, RAFG etc.

All this at a time when the country was in an economic mess and when the two-car family was a rarity and rationing had only just ended. Today our polititians tell us that we have had 15 years of continuous economic growth (till mid 2008 at least) and that we have never had more of the population in work (25M ish) and that we remain the fourth largest economy in the world after USA, China, Germany and ahead of France etc. etc. If this is the case why can't we afford to properly equip our forces when they number less than 200,000 compared to over 400,000 30 years ago?

The real question is that without our armed forces being properly funded and therefore capable what business have our polititions (of whatever colour) got strutting the world stage at the UN, G7, or wherever? Our PM, foreign secretary et al might as well go home and leave the soapbox for someone else to stand on!

Defence spending ought to be at c. 5% of GDP in a demoracy at peace and obviously on an "as required" level in time of war.......That way the armed forces are kept trained and equiped to be effective when they are required (always at short notice) and at a size that can sustain its mission. Without the critical mass we might as well give up pretending that we have any right to infuence world events beyond our own borders.

IMHO the world would be a poorer place without the UK's influence to "guide" history and to work with other allied nations. Look at the support the UK gives to the UN and our involvement in Korea for example. If we don't look after ourselves can we really expect our allies (the US/Canada/Australia etc) to carry on alone??

If the government wants to spend it way out of recession it could at least start by spending cash on replacements for Tristar, Hercs, VC10's, Nimrods, CSAR assets, and some more support helos. Then ships for the navy......armoured cars for the army....hospitals for the injured......and all the things we used to have but somehow don't have anymore!

Talk about the "Emperor's New Clothes" - Gordon Brown needs to look at himself in the mirror!

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Old 8th Dec 2008, 15:43
  #67 (permalink)  
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Unfortunately, although we live in a relatively threat-free period at least in terms of military threats, intentions can and do change quicker than we can change capabilities. There are too many potentially hostile nations with force levels we could not contend with at present. Although in the past we have generated improved capabilities quickly in time of tension, modern technologies and the ability to use them preclude the rapid expansion that our small force would need.

So are we content to be a small part of a large coalition or do our politicians want us to be able to influence world events as UK PLC?

It appears that they want the latter with a budget more suited to the former. As usual, they live in cloud cuckoo land but are the military chiefs telling them that?
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 15:57
  #68 (permalink)  
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check your PM's
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 16:27
  #69 (permalink)  
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4th Largest Economy?

"population in work (25M ish) and that we remain the fourth largest economy in the world after USA, China, Germany and ahead of France etc. etc."

Ahem. Japan? Economy 2-3 times bigger than UK. Also see:

Britain's economy overtaken by France, new figures show - Telegraph

We're basically a pissant little island off Europe with delusions of great power status and military adequacy waaaaay beyond our meagre capabilities. Don't forget that in PPP terms we're some way behind India and probably a few other countries too.
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 16:30
  #70 (permalink)  
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It sounds as if this is being justified as saving on a major refurb/upgrade cost. Could JFH get 2nd hand USMC aircraft (assuming their tranfer to JSF goes quicker than ours) . If a UK commitment helps keep JSF out of the s**t in the States we should get a good deal on them.

Might even get some with radar, enabling Air to Air to be worked up prior to JSF
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 17:24
  #71 (permalink)  
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I'm a civvie. I'm not an overt patriot. I'm firmly against both the wars the UK is currently fighting. My level of knowledge as regards military fast jets would be absolutely laughable to most here.

But isn't this absolutely ******* bonkers? Surely, dump Tornados before you dump Harriers, but christ, more cuts? It would force me down the "what exactly are my taxes paying for" line of thought, but that's a bit too Daily Mail for me, so I'll just muse on the fact that Harrier seems to be a well tried piece of kit with unique abilities that's recently seen lots of use, and it would seem crazy to dump it before it's replaced.

Or is my laughable level of fast jet knowledge letting me down here? Is it a complete white elephant?

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Old 8th Dec 2008, 18:46
  #72 (permalink)  
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Just as an aside, to the best of my knowledge, the case presented by what was DOR(Sea) and later DEC (PS) for the carriers never even considered the F******** as a realistic scenario.

The need was based on European and Asian scenarios, for which the capability was deemed complementary to land-based air.

The other nice thing about them - particularly considering what is currently happening in Peshawar and elsewhere along the LoC is that it brings several thousand tonnes of F44, C4ISTAR, messing, workshops, spares and several hundred tonnes of stuff that goes bang with it, in a controlled, defended environment. Granted, not a vast amount of use in Kandy, but less politically sensitive and vulnerable to cheap attack/denial than other bases out east........
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 19:21
  #73 (permalink)  
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Yes, Not a Boffin, you are quite right, the carriers in a benign air defence environment are a very good way of (slowly) deploying a respectable force and projecting power over long distance.

However, why are we spending such a large slice of our budget on a force incapable of defending itself in a hostile air environment? Do we intend in the future to continue to generate hate in the muslim world and home-grown terrorists by fighting conflicts such as the present day ones in Iraq and Afghanistan? Are we sure that the future is free from the same aggression we faced in the cold war days? Or are we relying on Uncle Sam to protect our carriers?

Personally, having spent years defending UK, I want to see a very capable air defence force in this country able to provide integrity of our own airspace before we start messing about around the world and pissing off the muslims even more. If we want to stop the drugs trade we could do worse than defend our own borders and if we want to exclude terrorists we could do worse than have tight border controls. Let's put our own home defences in order before wasting money projecting power.
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 19:38
  #74 (permalink)  
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As someone who works as Abbey Wood (Not on CVF before you ask) I know the amount of scrutiny that goes into approving these projects, especially one as big as CVF and their need is fully justified. The requirement for them stands, not based on todays operations but of those in 15-50 years. That's what the SAG scenario book is for.
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 19:43
  #75 (permalink)  
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What a shame, only watching, that these same people who know best could not see the need to adequately defend UK airspace in 15 years time or so.
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 19:47
  #76 (permalink)  
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As far as I am aware the Typhoon contact is virtually airtight, so there should be no shortage of UKAD in that timeframe.
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 20:14
  #77 (permalink)  
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Or is my laughable level of fast jet knowledge letting me down here?

If you seriously think that Tornado should be dumped before Harrier, then yes.

It's not just capability - though Tornado has radar, Raptor, a second pair of eyes, is faster, flies further, carries more, and is fully compatible with PWIII. It's about how much life is left in the airframes. It's about seven versus four squadrons......

Harrier will be dumped before it's replaced, unless you're prepared to sell several million pounds on each airframe just to 'sticking plaster' an extended OSD, because Harrier OSD and JSF ISD don't tally. Harrier could get to 2017 before the recent nastiness upped the utilisation rate. Tornado GR's good to 2025.


You're not going to get a defence of Gordon B from me, but I would gently point out that it's the other lot who have done the most damage, and have presided over the biggest cuts in defence forces, programmes and structure.

I would also suggest that comparing the forces c.1952 with the forces today is unprofitable. Defence then was manpower intensive, and top-of-line fighters like the Venom and Hunter were relatively cheap. Even by 1964, when a Ford Cortina cost in the order of £800, a frontline fighter was equivalent to less than a thousand family cars - whereas today's Typhoon is equivalent to more than 3,000!

I like your list of spending priorities - "If the government wants to spend it way out of recession it could at least start by spending cash on replacements for Tristar, Hercs, VC10's, Nimrods, CSAR assets, and some more support helos. Then ships for the navy......armoured cars for the army....hospitals for the injured......and all the things we used to have but somehow don't have anymore!" though I'd head that list with Support Helicopters and tankers. But either way, carriers and JSF don't make the cut beside such 'defence essentials' - and by cancelling them you could afford most of the rest.
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 20:30
  #78 (permalink)  
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Nice to see that the age-old inter-service nonsense is still alive and well. It's also nice to see that Sir Glenn is still maintaining his reputation as a spineless waste of space.

I wonder how the various camps might change their views if JSF finally gets dumped in favour of Typhoons?

Still, it's nice to know that heroic short-termism is still a valued skill down in the corridors of Whitehall. Some things never change.
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 20:38
  #79 (permalink)  
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jackonicko, one can at least acknowledge your professionalism as a journo.
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Old 8th Dec 2008, 20:40
  #80 (permalink)  
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Here we go again...

I trust at least some of you have read the history of the FAA just before WWII ?!

No I am not a forces member, but have worked with all UK ones.

The JSF/B is still dubious, though I expect it will come right in the end, but by that time we might have warp drive...

The obvious thing to do to save money and make the Typhoon look good ( which seem to be the priorities ) - scrap the Tornado F3 completely for a start !

We've only just upgraded the Harrier to GR9 - and I hear from various people at the design & troops in sandy places that it's VERY good.

The Harrier's only enemy has not been the Argentinians or Taliban, it's the northern English ' not made here ' mafia.
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