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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 12th Dec 2008, 18:32
  #161 (permalink)  
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Next question

I note that whilst we seem to 'agree' on the copy cost of a Typhoon or F-18E, no-one actually knows how much carrier aviation costs as compared to land based aviation in a 'cost per hour of CAS' or similar. Interesting that this should be so in such an emotive argument. I 'know' that CVF is costing 3.8 Billion or there abouts, but no-one 'knows' how much KAF costs, or Bastion for that matter. I am sure we could fall out at great length about what was actually in the 'cost' and what wasn't.

First point, if we don't know the cost delta, how are we even starting X costs more than Y arguments. Bear in mind we don't even know which war we're talking about yet...

I would also like to ask what we do with KAF when it's all over, do we ship it home overland or by jingly to the coast and then by ship? Surely it's ours, we paid for it..didn't we? Where are we going to put it? Brawdy? Are the USN faced with the same problem or do their flat tops get used in subsequent fights, or are they perhaps biodegradeable/ recyclable? Just interested from a cost point of view.

If i may quickly revisit ther 'whole typhoon thing'. Why do we have lord-high-crab and OC this-that-or-the-other sqn banging on about it, combat ready this, fully capable that. If we don't have the sqn numbers to deploy it, it ain't combat ready. I am happy to believe its ace at everything, and the chaps must be itching to actually employ weapons - but until it drops a bomb, air-to-ground wise it's a zero not a one. And a genuine question to finish, has Typhoon done a Red Flag yet?

Sorry to bear questions and no answers.

Regards, Orca.
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 18:47
  #162 (permalink)  
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There aren't the numbers to deploy in the A-G role, because (as a result of short-sighted cost saving cuts) we don't have enough F.Mk 3 squadrons to maintain the UK AD and Falklands burden......

Typhoon's ready, but there's nothing else to plug the gap. OC 11 and one of his JPs have each dropped a bomb. A live bomb, which went bang albeit on Garvie, not Ghanistan, and loads of them have dropped inert bombs. That's more than a zero.

And it's not the Typhoon Force's fault.
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 20:19
  #163 (permalink)  
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You could say that KAF / Bastion cost the MOD nothing, or very close to nothing, as it is paid for from the contingency pot. Salaries, a proprtion of the eqpt running costs etc would be paid whether the individual was on ops or on (for example) Red Flag. So an anti-CVF stance could argue that it is £4Bn+ cheaper to the MOD to run fixed wing aviation from a land base in AFG than from a spangly new carrier over the horizon (assuming of course you don't buy them...).

I suspect the whole "combat ready" thing was to keep the NAO and other beancounters off the MODs back by saying they have met a target date! I'm also lead to believe that the original press release by the force commander declaring the Typhoon ready for everything and anything was quickly pulled and edited when the grown ups saw it (sadly after it had hit t'internet). Hope he hasn't blown his CBE ....
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 20:25
  #164 (permalink)  
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Good on you Wrathmonk! I am with you.

Jackonicko said
Nice try, but wrong.

Money has to be saved.
in response to DBTW who said

You and your ilk picking a pet project or two and attacking the funding of everyone else is by far the biggest threat to your national security.

I am absolutely certain Typhoon is a pretty good aircraft and it should be worth the wait. I also know (it will have been spoken about before) EAP was the development aircraft and it was emerging from the BAE facility in 1984. RAF had an initial in service date for Typhoon of Feb 1996 when it was re-named Eurofighter 2000 to make the delay sound planned.

And it's not the Typhoon Force's fault.
doesn't cut it.

We are about to slip into 2009 and you are still trying to make excuses for Typhoon tardiness when there have clearly been a few hitches along the way. It's no good harping on about how good it is and how many billions it is really worth or how efficient it will be at close air support. The aeroplane is late and to a great extent the world has passed it by. The last thing the RAF needs to do now is depend on an aircraft which will be an overused phrase "legacy fighter" within a year or so as its primary/only weapon system.

When the protagonists have all had their palpitations over that comment, even if Typhoon is the best thing sinced canned beer, thankfully the RAF have never depended on one type in the past, and they are not about to start now just because some lay aircraft expert/journo on PPRuNe thinks he has the solution.

Please don't start advocating life extensions on Tornado or bringing back Jaguar. The F35 is coming and the RAF/RN will have it. RAF/RN will also have aircraft carriers. Best you just get used to it.
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 20:49
  #165 (permalink)  
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Jaguar's gone, and isn't coming back. I remain of the opinion that it was retired too early, and had useful life left in it, but it's gone, irrevocably, and any whingeing about it now would be as unproductive as WEBF's 'bring back the SHar' campaign.

I would not advocate expanding the Tornado GR4 force, either, even if airframes were available, nor would I spend disproportionate amounts on extending its service life or delaying its OSD.

But I would not spend £1 Bn on extending Harrier's life from 2013 to 2018.

And I would not spend the amounts required to procure, deploy and sustain two CVF and an appropriate number of F-35Bs which will represent an undeniably impressive, but unjustifiably expensive, unaffordable and inefficient means of projecting air power, and one which will unbalance our forces by distorting spending.

It doesn't help that no-one can give a straight answer as to how much F-35 will cost (let alone a firm, guaranteed price), or as to exactly what capabilities it will have.

If we need more than 12-14 FJ squadrons (six or seven Typhoon, six or seven Tornado GR), then I'd be acquiring Gripen NG to augment Typhoon, or perhaps (in the 2023 timeframe) a small number of F-35As to replace the Tornado.

But even as an admittedly air-minded chap, I'd suggest that SH, tankers, recce and SEAD are higher priorities than further FJs, whether JSF, Rafale M, F/A-18 or Gripen NG.
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 22:11
  #166 (permalink)  
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It's not a matter of £1BN to extend the life of the airframe from 2013 to 2018 - the cost is the overall cost of operating the aircraft to 2018. The aircraft can post GR.9 modification happily go past 2018. It should be remembered that not all Harriers at at high hours. What I see as far more realistic is a rethink of JFH and the aircraft being dedicated to Naval operations perhaps in the form of two operating Squadrons with a large number of aircraft being kept at operational readiness but as war reserve.
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 22:45
  #167 (permalink)  
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That's not how I understand it, Riley. £1 Bn is the cost of mods. Op and support costs are extra.
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Old 13th Dec 2008, 17:10
  #168 (permalink)  
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Sorry....Jacko, did you actually write "a couple of F-35A's to replace the Tornado"????! Interesting statement from someone so vociferously anti-JSF.

Oh and you should perhaps watch what you say so glibly about the Texans (or any others) if I were you.....they all carry an armada of guns!
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Old 13th Dec 2008, 18:46
  #169 (permalink)  
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Ah the old "Typhoon is obsolete" routine. Nice one. And totally false.

Nuff said.

So, the Typhoons are late, so will the carriers
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Old 13th Dec 2008, 20:31
  #170 (permalink)  
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Ah the old "Typhoon is obsolete" routine. Nice one. And totally false.

A small-minded person may as easily have said "with the advent of the SS-N-22 the surface navy is obsolete".

25 to 30 seconds to respond makes the 120-150 seconds of an Exocet seem pretty generous.

Of course the surface navy isn't obsolete, whether a slowly moving prize target like a carrier is might be a different matter though, considering the customer base of the SS-N-22.

All those eggs in one basket vs a few missiles moving three times faster than the Exocet with a warhead twice as heavy as that once highly feared missile. Although experiencing a rocket attack in Iraq wasn't much fun I at least had the comfort of the airbase being very large and highly unlikely to sink beneath me.

Good as the T45's may be we won't have too many of them and we are not the US so can't afford a huge group of picket ships to take the attention of any potential incoming away from those floating airfields.
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Old 13th Dec 2008, 20:36
  #171 (permalink)  
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The F35 is coming and the RAF/RN will have it.

Are you sure? But are you sure?
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Old 13th Dec 2008, 22:04
  #172 (permalink)  
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Jacko- the Harriers have mostly done something like 3500-4000 hours in twenty years. Some have done considerably less depending on the role they have been used for. The potential life of the aircraft depends on flying hours and the type of flying they do. The vast majority of aircraft that have been converted to GR.9 have had life extension mods carried out. The idea that they all need new back ends is rumour and only that. The RAF has spare rear fuselages for a very limited number of aircraft which require the change but that is nothing related to fatigue.
So in summary the RAF Harrier fleet doesn't need £1 Billion pounds worth of mods to add another five years to it's life - it's not serious to suggest that GR.9 upgraded aircraft that leave the Jump line next year will only have four years of life left in them.
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Old 14th Dec 2008, 17:51
  #173 (permalink)  
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The Helpful Stacker

You are correct when you say that aircraft carriers may be relatively slow to move away from some modern weapon threats but at least (unlike land based airfields) they are actually capable of being moved wherever they are needed, or when necessary, even out of harm’s way until the rapid flexible world-wide RAF support can arrive to help protect and support them! (If that is actually true?)

Land based airfields are also extremely vulnerable and modern weapons technology can easily prevent aircraft from operating from them too! If our relatively few UK (or overseas airfields) runways get quickly taken out by anyone, then what other UK resources could be used to help defend our nation? Long range land based anti-air missiles? (Do we have any now??) Radar equipped VSTOL aircraft such as the Sea Harrier or the Italian/Spanish Navy versions of the Harriers? (No, we do not have any of them either!)

You are also right when you say that we are not getting enough T45’s, to help provide very good long range radar and anti-aircraft missile defense for the UK and our other current/future maritime commitments. Unfortunately just six of them have been ordered to replace the few remaining (over 25 years old) Type 42 destroyers! We once had at least 11 Type 42s, plus 3 carriers capable of operating radar equipped Sea Harriers to help attack incoming aircraft 'before' they could launch their anti-ship missiles at us. Likewise we once had plenty of subs to help defend our ships from the extremely dangerous submarine threats, but now we have very few of them in service and few new ones on order! It is no wonder that the Head of the RN is threatening to resign!! (What a vulnerable and sad state our RN is in!)

Finally you mentioned that experiencing a rocket attack in Iraq wasn't much fun but at least you had the comfort of the airbase being very large and highly unlikely to sink beneath you. I only wish that some of the big decision makers in this country could imagine what it must be like for RN and Merchant Navy personnel to be exposed to such threats with so little meaningful long range air defense/anti-submarine capability.
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Old 14th Dec 2008, 19:33
  #174 (permalink)  
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Riley Dove

The idea that they all need new back ends is rumour and only that.

Having seen the cracks firsthand, then I guess you will be more than happy to put your Ass on the line over the winter North Atlantic then.......................
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Old 14th Dec 2008, 20:41
  #175 (permalink)  
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Gullwings - The reason the RN is going to have so few picket ships to protect the CVF's is not down to some RAF dark plan (as some of the more blinkered CVF supporters might want to suggest) but purely due to lack of funds, something the entire military is victim of (any idea when the Canberra 'capability holiday' ends?) But even so, knowing that they would have to rape the rest of the surface fleet (and diesel-electric sub fleet) for the funds for these big, slow and arguably pretty pointless outside out of very specific circumstances carriers the RN has pressed ahead to get their late 20th centurary battleships.
Unlike the equally expensive N-boats I see little point in carriers that the RN will struggle to defend against even a moderate anti-ship threat due to lack of picket ships and without the assistance of significant land-based attack aircraft to suppress that threat.
I'm not anti-RN by a long shot, I just believe the single-minded zeal of certain members of the RN to have these carriers is damaging to the strength of a RN that has far more responsibilities than just those of running a mobile airfield for the RAF.
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Old 14th Dec 2008, 20:54
  #176 (permalink)  
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Last edited by ATFQ; 5th Jun 2016 at 08:09.
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Old 14th Dec 2008, 21:13
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A question I'd like to pose, from a guy who doesn't know too much about warships - how much money could be saved by going for a number of 'Type 45 Batch 2' destroyers in lieu of the carriers? Imagine a stretched version with a TLAM Block IV capability. The Type 45 already has a VLS, I appreciate space may be an issue, but not a problem that couldn't be overcome by stretching the ship slightly?

Surely the overall cost of such vessels would be considerably less than that of the carriers and JSF, and through life support costs would be lower too? This would give the navy some measure of power projection capability (albeit not as flexible as an aircraft, but remember this is block IV Tomahawk with some capability against time sensitive targets), and the destroyers would be more useful for more of the time performing the sort of roles the Royal Navy has found itself committed too daily - drugs interdiction, anti-piracy patrols, enforcing sanctions and so on. Being type 45 based these ships would retain all of the good air-defence capabilities of the original ships.

A halfway house solution I wonder, if its significantly cheaper - not quite as flexible at power projection as a carrier, but still providing a meaningful boost for fleet air defence and power projection for the navy, and leaving money to be spent elsewhere within the defence budget. I repeat myself, I don't know too much about warships - is it worth considering or not?
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Old 14th Dec 2008, 22:02
  #178 (permalink)  
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The Helpful Stacker

You seem to constantly think Navies only require proper anti-air capable ships such as Type 45s, subs and supply ships to defend CVFs. Other Navies who do not have CVFs still have such ships and subs to defend and support their military/civil maritime fleets and their overseas commitments, etc. As has previously been pointed out elsewhere in this website, carriers do not constantly need lots of your so called “pickets” with them in peace time. They carry out other tasks both around this country and world-wide.

As has also previously been mentioned by others in this website, why does this island nation really need so many land based air defense and strike aircraft and yet have so few quality RN assets that are able to defend themselves properly outside of any meaningful RAF protection and support range? Yes carriers are expensive, but why does the RAF still need so many very expensive strike and air defense aircraft?

Furthermore, if there was a major crisis it would be much easier for the RAF to obtain even more new/second hand aircraft in a hurry than it would be for the RN to obtain any carriers, further anti-air capable ships, be able to crew them and learn how to operate them, etc. Europe has plenty of air defense and strike aircraft and the US also has plenty of such aircraft readily deployable if required. The RN has learnt in the past that it cannot always depend on the RAF and other nations for its protection and support. That is why it needs its own very capable floating airfield, aircraft and warships and not a mobile airfield for the RAF as you call!
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Old 14th Dec 2008, 22:19
  #179 (permalink)  
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If I may, Gullwings, let me point out that it is not a question of what the Navy needs but what UK needs.

Carriers are but one way of projecting power worldwide - they are slow to get there and they need protection. Land based air can often get there quicker and operate from secure bases close enough. But not always and that is why the carriers might come in handy.

However, can our piddly little economy support the projection of power (power we don't have) worldwide.

No - we cannot and our politicians had better get used to the idea. They are subservient even to Brussels let alone the rest of the major nations.
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Old 14th Dec 2008, 23:35
  #180 (permalink)  
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With regards to the economy I totally agree. It is how the financial slices of the cake are made up that worries me and no doubt the head of the RN.

With regards to what the UK and Brussels want, do they both want a well balanced, effective and flexible European military capability? (Without usually having to rely on America, or to a much lesser degree France, for any proper carrier support?). If they do, then perhaps they need to get more countries to help take on some of the very expensive current RAF fighter/strike provisions and allow the UK financial savings made to help maintain/strenthen one of the most experienced Naval forces in Europe before some of its expertise and capability is lost and very hard to ever get back again in the event of a serious crisis.
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