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Still broken? Is the RAF in better or worse shape than ten years ago

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Still broken? Is the RAF in better or worse shape than ten years ago

Old 1st May 2018, 13:15
  #21 (permalink)  
 
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Who knows? But I don't think we have the capability of yesteryear. OK, so some of the hardware is more modern. But with complexity comes problems. I gather we have problems with Typhoon; spares being a bit of an issue. But that pales into insignificance when we see what happens with F35. And don't even think about numbers. I watched a program on TV yesterday re HMS Queen Elizabeth. What a farce! Not an aeroplane in sight, expect for one or two imported helos. Excuse me, what is the purpose of an aircraft carrier (there is a clue in the name). If the Isle of White declared independence now, we would lose.
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Old 1st May 2018, 13:28
  #22 (permalink)  
 
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I cannot understand how we can have one of the largest budgets in the world, but shrinking assets. I still cannot believe we are closing airfields at the rate we are, stick the army on them, you can build a barracks, but a new airfield, forget it, the locals would be up in arms and a barracks is cheaper to build. it also makes no sense to clump all your transport assets at one airfield, not just from a war point of view, but any problems at Brize on the runway and you in effect shut the transport fleet down in one go.
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Old 1st May 2018, 14:23
  #23 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by India Four Two View Post
In 1918, the RAF inherited 22,000 aircraft. Has it been all downhill from there?

How many aircraft in today’s RAF?

Would their Airships be able to launch 100 frontline types today?
No, but we could flatten the German trenches, take out all their aircraft on the ground, take out their command headquarters and the Reichstag before 5 pm tea and sarnies. Whilst conducting an info ops campaign on their radio frequencies and deploy a huge field hospital delivering first class critical care.

It's not about numbers.
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Old 1st May 2018, 14:50
  #24 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by NutLoose View Post
I cannot understand how we can have one of the largest budgets in the world, but shrinking assets. I still cannot believe we are closing airfields at the rate we are, stick the army on them, you can build a barracks, but a new airfield, forget it, the locals would be up in arms and a barracks is cheaper to build. it also makes no sense to clump all your transport assets at one airfield, not just from a war point of view, but any problems at Brize on the runway and you in effect shut the transport fleet down in one go.
I think the icing on the cake from HMG was inclusion of the strategic deterrent in the MoD budget a few years back. Plus growing "soft"capabilities like Cyber (which we are internationally pretty good at) which will place pressure on the likes of bombs, bullets, planes, airfields etc.
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Old 1st May 2018, 15:11
  #25 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by sharpend View Post
Who knows? But I don't think we have the capability of yesteryear. OK, so some of the hardware is more modern. But with complexity comes problems. I gather we have problems with Typhoon; spares being a bit of an issue. But that pales into insignificance when we see what happens with F35. And don't even think about numbers. I watched a program on TV yesterday re HMS Queen Elizabeth. What a farce! Not an aeroplane in sight, expect for one or two imported helos. Excuse me, what is the purpose of an aircraft carrier (there is a clue in the name). If the Isle of White declared independence now, we would lose.
Oh for gods sake, you watched but didnt LISTEN. If you'd paid any attention you'd have learned that the ship is on her very initial sea trials and they were making sure she works, is fit for purpose and can safely embark an airwing. Thats why no fixed wing were embarked on this very early set of sea trials - identical in scope to every other aircraft carrier built in history.

Its akin to expecting a Typhoon fresh out of build at Warton to immediately fill up with munitions and go bomb somewhere without having had a test flight first.
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Old 1st May 2018, 16:29
  #26 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Jackonicko View Post
Leafing through an ancient issue of Air Forces Monthly (dated October 2007) I came across a piece entitled 'Is the RAF broken?'

The article went into detail about the definition of stretch and ‘overstretch’, and discussed sustainability (whether the RAF could achieve the tasks set without breaking harmony guidelines), readiness, retention and the mismatch between actual operations and planning assumptions. It talked about the RAF’s diminishing force structure and the fact that the UK was spending 2.2% of GDP on defence - which it said was the lowest proportion since 1930. It criticised what it called 'the ill conceived rush towards PFIs and PPPs, and towards availability based contracting, which it averred would see the loss of key competences and skills among the uniformed engineers.

Out of curiosity, I looked at an order of battle for the RAF in 2007, and saw that it included 15 frontline fast jet squadrons (two Typhoon, three Tornado F3, seven Tornado GR4, two Harrier, and one Jaguar), while we still had 18 Nimrod MR2s for MPA and ASW duties, and a 'gold standard' military SAR provision…..

​​​​​​​Size-wise, it looked like a no-brainer, but we all know that size isn't everything?

So is today's 'Agile, Adaptable and Capable' RAF in better shape than ten years ago?

Has the flood of leavers at the 38/16 point slowed, or does it no longer matter?

Is morale better? Has faith in the senior leadership been restored?
If you could look at any post war reviews of the RAF's order of battle you'd find very much the same sentiment, however, back in 2007, at that specific time, nobody envisaged an air force with no more than six to eight frontline combat squadrons and no MPA. Where we are now from then is a result of the 2010 SDSR driven by the country's oversized unauthorized overdraft. By 2007, we'd already seen unexpected cuts to assets and personnel driven by the Blair governments need to find savings elsewhere in the defence budget to pay for the sustained British military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, things were getting that tight that certain critics with dark blue and khaki backgrounds resumed openly questioning the need for an independent air force at all. Before 2007, the previous defence review 'delivering security in an ever changing world' under Geoff Hoon in 2004, we had at that time; six Tornado F3 squadrons, seven Tornado GR4/4A squadrons, three Jaguar GR3/3A squadrons and three Harrier GR 7/7A squadrons. The orbat you mentioned from 2007 later that year lost the last Jaguar squadron and by end of July 2009 we were down to just a single Tornado F3 unit. Go back to 1990 about the time 'options for change' revealed the Blue print for the post cold war RAF, we had 30 operational squadrons, variously equipped with Tornado GR1, Tornado F3, F-4M Phantom II, F-4J Phantom II, Jaguar GR1A, Harrier GR3/5 and Buccaneer S2A/B. The TGR1s and Buccaneers were able to carry WE177s and the four Nimrod MR2 squadrons we also had could carry US mk 43 nuclear warheads. Oh how the mighty have fallen!
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Old 1st May 2018, 17:35
  #27 (permalink)  
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We would have to find the Isle of White first. Is it in the White Sea?
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Old 1st May 2018, 18:12
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Originally Posted by sharpend View Post
Not an aeroplane in sight, expect for one or two imported helos.
I didn't realise Somerset had declared independence.
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Old 1st May 2018, 18:59
  #29 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by 99 Change Hands View Post
How many GR1s lofting dumb 1000-pounders would have been needed to achieve the recent action in Syria?
Different times with respect to collateral damage, but you could loft 8 x cheap air-burst Ks and easily achieve utter carnage at the target. We could also drop cluster munitions too, so a single aircraft could wreak havoc.

Precision has its place but it should not have become as all-consuming as it has. Watching a successful Brimstone hit slicing through a car, before some of the occupants opened doors and exited with little more than tinnitus, suggests that surgical strikes can sometimes be too clinical.
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Old 1st May 2018, 19:30
  #30 (permalink)  
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Consider counter air mission. The ultimate aim is to destroy the enemy aircraft. The traditional approach was to crater the runway thus pinning the aircraft to the ground. The program then continued with further attacks on the runway with the hope of collateral damage hitting the aircraft. HAS were a counter and area denial a counter-counter.

These programs need lots of aircraft. PGM may reduce the number of aircraft needed to crater the runway and PGM can more easily plink the HAS, but you still need lots of weapons over target. 4 Paveway on a Typhoon don't cut it.
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Old 1st May 2018, 20:03
  #31 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Pontius Navigator View Post
Consider counter air mission. The ultimate aim is to destroy the enemy aircraft. The traditional approach was to crater the runway thus pinning the aircraft to the ground. The program then continued with further attacks on the runway with the hope of collateral damage hitting the aircraft. HAS were a counter and area denial a counter-counter.

These programs need lots of aircraft. PGM may reduce the number of aircraft needed to crater the runway and PGM can more easily plink the HAS, but you still need lots of weapons over target. 4 Paveway on a Typhoon don't cut it.
I think the answer these days is now a lot more clinical, and I suspect you could stop a Sqn getting airborne without ever even dropping a bomb on the airfield. Identify key personnel - arrange an RTA, bring people on base for security - unfortunate Gas explosion in the Mess, aircraft need IT for key parts of their operation - computers catch a cold just like humans. And those options are far more calculating and sinister because they are far more personal than dropping a bomb and bring with them a whole host of considerations that would tie the chain of command in knots rather than actually doing their warfighting role.

Of course, a degree of depth and resilience would go some way to mitigating those risks.

Last edited by Melchett01; 1st May 2018 at 20:16.
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Old 1st May 2018, 20:16
  #32 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Pontius Navigator View Post
Consider counter air mission. The ultimate aim is to destroy the enemy aircraft.
Is it though? Surely what you want is to prevent those aircraft from impeding friendly freedom of manoeuvre? If they are trapped in the ground because they’ve “blue screen of death” on their maintenance system, or you’ve put an ALCM into the base power supply so that they can’t pump fuel out of the BFI, have you actually achieved your aim?

I do subscribe to the ‘precision isn’t a substitute for mass’ argument somewhat, but arguing that 8x airburst 1000lb’ers is going to have a lasting effect on a target is probably a little disingenuous.
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Old 1st May 2018, 20:23
  #33 (permalink)  
 
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We would have to find the Isle of White first. Is it in the White Sea?
PN,
That’s not the “white answer”. It’s in the Bay of Plenty!

White Island is New Zealand’s most active volcano.

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Old 1st May 2018, 21:36
  #34 (permalink)  
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Melchett, that was the regular security issue in Cyprus. In the exercise, one year we would lose the aircraft, the next the crews.

Frodo, what you are saying is a mobility kill will enable freedom of movement by friendlies. This is true. Similarly disabling systens will achieve a firepower kill. Ultimately only a hard kill will give you freedom of movement. Pebble Island was an effective firepower kill whereas the Vulcan attack was a mobility kill.

A B2 with JADM or TLAM attacks can achieve the firepower kill without the need to deny movement and then plink each aircraft. To achieve the first strike kill you might need 8 or more Typhoon with 4 missiles each.

Against a modern air force you need mass and precision.

Oh, and I never suggested 8x1000 was an effective solution. In my day we planned 36 with aircraft unrevetted and that was still not enough.

Last edited by Pontius Navigator; 1st May 2018 at 21:51.
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Old 1st May 2018, 23:06
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Considering the RAF could not even keep a fleet of Gliders and SLMG serviceable to the point that the SLMG's are having to go back to the manufacturer and hardly any of the VGS Squadrons (those that are left) are operating as normal must be an indicator as to level of technical ability actually at the head of the service nowadays. Surprising :- NO Disappointing :- YES. Once you loose the 'Technical' control and the bean counters think that outsourcing is the way ahead then all is lost. Has this saved shed loads of money ! NO; it merely wastes loads of money on trying to keep old equipment going, and also puts the whole organisation under even more stress trying to keep up a capability level. The people at the coal face do a good job 'making it work', but get little back up from those that should be supporting them, and the 'leadership' that has allowed the decline to continue for many years. Many people in the service took their skills on into another related career that also passed on a valuable experience level gained in service of the Country, the true benefit of that has never been considered when looking at defence spending, and is now being felt with a lack of expertise out in the workplace.
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Old 2nd May 2018, 07:43
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I think rather than comparing RAF capability with yesteryear, surely you need to compare capability relative to a potential enemy against time.
Are we safer now than before?
We certainly have been worse - 1940 and the cold war for example.
Its very difficult to imagine a scenario where UK air defence could be challenged.
And how different is our ability to project airpower from 10 years ago?

But having said that I think we get very little for our defence spend. We spend more than France and (I understand) we have less than half the fast jets in service.
Also they have a (functioning) carrier with aircraft that they don't share with the airforce - how does that work?
Train crashes in slow motion are a bit more painful to watch.

I think our carriers and F-35B purchase is an albatross around our financial neck - not just the (lack of) capability they will offer but the drain on resources from the services will hurt.
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Old 2nd May 2018, 07:59
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POB - The glider situation is a poor bellwether when you are struggling to produce crews, technicians, aircraft and weapons for recent conflicts. Running out of Brimstone missiles during 2 simultaneous conflicts whilst keeping the glider fleet in top shape could be seen as odd. Non-combat units have always suffered when resources are stretched and air cadets are as far away from combat as it gets.

That said, the glider issues were a shambles and I breath a sigh of relief in that the air cadets still exist and still receive MoD money.
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Old 2nd May 2018, 08:36
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The french look good by prioritising shop window projects and not the enablers, hence a major reliance on UK and US strat airlift. They also pay appallingly and offer little support to troops who get bad equipment.

I shared a room on HERRICK with a French Officer who told me a few horror stories of how bad the French military is beyond their shop window.
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Old 2nd May 2018, 11:07
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Just This Once My point being how would you expect the 'High Tec' part of the service to be fit for purpose when the same responsible people (Up Top) can not even organise something simple. It is not even about money in that case, its about not having the right people being in charge who any idea about tech matters and or how to organise themselves. The ATC case was just an example of a system not being fit for purpose despite it being funded and not getting anything for large sums of money already spent. The same scenario is the same even at the higher level of hands on 'Combat' part of the service, in that large amounts of money are wasted yet there s a lack of capability at the sharp end due to poor leadership and past decisions. Every sympathy with those who actually strive to keep it going DESPITE the poor leadership and back up from up top.
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Old 2nd May 2018, 11:28
  #40 (permalink)  
 
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I think the not so hidden message from the new Defence Sec to the chiefs was interesting, ie grow a pair and start fighting harder for funding and in public. Whether that was just for show remains to be seen......
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