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Royal Navy Problems

Old 26th Jun 2020, 14:23
  #41 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Asturias56 View Post
happy to be corrected Boffin. Do you know if they are still going to go for more than 3 ships eventually?
No requirement for more than three. Since original MARS, the JSBL requirement folded into the Fleet Solid Support.
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Old 28th Jun 2020, 07:59
  #42 (permalink)  
 
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Old 28th Jun 2020, 08:45
  #43 (permalink)  
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"It will assess the impact of ongoing financial pressures and determine its defence priorities, including whether it can fund all the original roles of Carrier Strike" which suggest even the basic missions are at risk
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Old 28th Jun 2020, 09:27
  #44 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Asturias56 View Post
"It will assess the impact of ongoing financial pressures and determine its defence priorities, including whether it can fund all the original roles of Carrier Strike" which suggest even the basic missions are at risk
It’s worse than that. All it takes is for the high-end warfighting missions to be formally stripped away for affordability reasons (which seems quite possible given the expense associated with comprehensive defence of flagship assets against ballistic missiles and submarines) and suddenly Carrier Strike is much more vulnerable to portrayal as a legacy of Blair-era interventionism. Which is *desperately* out of fashion politically: shaping most of the RN’s and a good deal of the RAF’s fighting power around a ‘Sierra Leone‘, ‘Yemen’ or ‘Somalia‘ type scenario just won’t cut it. I think hanging onto the high-end roles (or giving the impression they’re being hung onto) is crucial to the whole edifice.

Fudge, anyone?
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Old 28th Jun 2020, 15:14
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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Although ORAC has posted a related tweet already I thought I would just add that ‘Sir Humphrey‘, who has long been a supporter of the RN and the carriers through his Pinstriped Line blog, seems finally to be disillusioned with Carrier Strike and what it has done to the Navy.

I hate to say ‘we told you so’ but the conclusion in the penultimate paragraph of his (exceptionally long) blog has been obvious to numerous critics on here and elsewhere for a very long time.
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Old 28th Jun 2020, 19:38
  #46 (permalink)  
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Many of us argued the same points ad nauseam in the old Carrier thread (which seems to have gone AWOL) but this is the crux of the issue:-

"What we are left with is perhaps the worst of both worlds. An overoptimistic defence and security policy which wants the UK to take on and operate at very high levels of military capability, while at the same time sustaining a domestic defence and aerospace industry. But, there is not enough money to fund everything, and industry does not know what matters most to Government, and where it is prepared to be ruthless and stop something."
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Old 28th Jun 2020, 19:41
  #47 (permalink)  
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even worse - and this from a supporter!

"But there is a sense that so many cuts have been made, and so many compromises made and focus placed on reducing out of sight issues like logistical enablers, that what has emerged is a navy with a capable carrier, but which will, baring a miracle, run out of capable support for the carrier force within the next 5-10 years. To fix this requires decisions almost immediately on more aircraft, new helicopters, ordering of support ships, investment in new surface ships and so on. The most worrying aspect of the NAO report is that they do not seem to have been factored into planning, and there is no sense that the money is there for them."
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Old 29th Jun 2020, 05:30
  #48 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Asturias56 View Post
even worse - and this from a supporter!

"But there is a sense that so many cuts have been made, and so many compromises made and focus placed on reducing out of sight issues like logistical enablers, that what has emerged is a navy with a capable carrier, but which will, baring a miracle, run out of capable support for the carrier force within the next 5-10 years. To fix this requires decisions almost immediately on more aircraft, new helicopters, ordering of support ships, investment in new surface ships and so on. The most worrying aspect of the NAO report is that they do not seem to have been factored into planning, and there is no sense that the money is there for them."
Exactly.

There is a fundamental acquistion principle here. If the Service (not the procurers) has not made materiel and financial provison for the wherewithal to put the kit to its intended use, and succeeded in having the funding approved, then the 'requirement' MUST fail Requirement Scrutiny. MoD's latest explanation seems to be this is too difficult. Agreed, it's not easy, but to omit entire support infrastructure components?

I can pinpoint the moment (in my experience) when this principle was ditched. September 1999. It was a much lesser requirement, only a few tens of millions. The new IPT was contracting shed loads of avionics for a mid-life upgrade, but there wasn't a single penny sought to enable the kit to be actually fitted to aircraft or supported. The Chief of Defence Procurement ruled that this was unnecessary, and one should just sign to say the money was there; which isn't a millions miles from what seems to have happened on the Carriers. A couple of years later, the Infantry did the same on its flagship £4Bn programme, despite a clear warning 'This cannot pass RS'. And they wonder why it wasn't a roaring success?

Implementation was always variable, and I dare say the rules have changed nowadays, but whatever they are this is still a howler. The Equipment Approvals Committee (or whatever they're called now) need to explain.
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Old 29th Jun 2020, 06:16
  #49 (permalink)  
 
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2007......

Future Carrier (Including Costs)
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Old 29th Jun 2020, 11:21
  #50 (permalink)  
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Thanks ORAC - for some reason a search on "Carriers" didn't bring it up - looks as if it died on lock-down
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Old 29th Jun 2020, 11:24
  #51 (permalink)  
 
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Asturias56,

Don't use the PPRuNe search engine. Use Google or another search engine and begin your search string with "pprune".

That way, depending on the search engine, you can also set other parameters such as date windows.
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Old 29th Jun 2020, 11:56
  #52 (permalink)  
 
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tuc,

Given the industrial politics that have surrounded the carriers ever since their inception, is there any chance that proper requirement scrutiny could have ever have stopped a determined minister from approving their construction? I strongly suspect that all of the scrutiny reports will have duly highlighted the issues around affordability of the whole package (which in any case have been staring everyone in the face for years without access to the technical or financial scrutiny) yet here we are. I think the nub of this problem is political: a preference for investment over spending, with industry having the dominant influence and credulous Navy leadership only too happy to play along.

Last edited by Easy Street; 29th Jun 2020 at 12:58.
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Old 29th Jun 2020, 13:28
  #53 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Easy Street View Post
tuc,

Given the industrial politics that have surrounded the carriers ever since their inception, is there any chance that proper requirement scrutiny could have ever have stopped a determined minister from approving their construction? I strongly suspect that all of the scrutiny reports will have duly highlighted the issues around affordability of the whole package (which in any case have been staring everyone in the face for years without access to the technical or financial scrutiny) yet here we are. I think the nub of this problem is political: a preference for investment over spending, with industry having the dominant influence and credulous Navy leadership only too happy to play along.
Digging up the old myth about it being a minister-led job creation scheme falls apart the minute you understand that Brown did his level best to avoid approving them for years right up until he was desperate and thought it might save him. The money spent on the ships themselves averaged £650M per year between 2008 and 2018, which is about half what was spent on acquiring Typhoon pa (merely as an example) over a longer period. The carriers are not and never have been where the money is going, but because they are so much larger than their predecessors (for good reason) have always attracted a disproportionate level of scrutiny and attention. There is a current budget line for the support ships - and had MoD run a better competition, they'd be on contract by now. Crowsnest is funded - but late - through some eye-opening PM failures on both MoD and LM part. The other elements like surface combatants (batch 2 of the T26) and helicopters are largely outside the current ten year EP horizon, so not entirely surprising that there is no defined budget line. However, the spares shortages are the usual games played by all to overcome short term affordability issues. A little like retiring half our E3 frames years before replacement.

The real issue is the jets - for which the RN does not own the budget - and for which there appears to be an exceedingly long decision-loop, not unrelated to approval of FRP contracts with LM.

The real question is whether the UK having left the EU, reverts to being a European land power because the EU nations will not spend their own money, or whether it provides the high-end naval and air capabilities for the European part of NATO. It's not as if anyone else is going to provide the latter.



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Old 29th Jun 2020, 13:33
  #54 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Easy Street View Post
tuc,

Given the industrial politics that have surrounded the carriers ever since their inception, is there any chance that proper requirement scrutiny could have ever have stopped a determined minister from approving their construction? I strongly suspect that all of the scrutiny reports will have duly highlighted the issues around affordability of the whole package (which in any case have been staring everyone in the face for years without access to the technical or financial scrutiny) yet here we are. I think the nub of this problem is political: a preference for investment over spending, with industry having the dominant influence and credulous Navy leadership only too happy to play along.
Not a hope in hell when the driving politician is first Chancellor and then Prime Minister and adjusts the programme timing for political reasons regardless of cost impact.

I am afraid that the days of Admirals resigning over political decisions are long gone. VSO's have worked out that:
A. Military resignations have stuff all effect on political decisions, and there are always well behaved candidates to fill their shoes.
B. The VSO's themselves are not going to be serving when the politically launched chooks come home to roost. The politicians are equally likely to be out of office.
C. Before anything much happens there will be another Defence Review to confuse the picture further.
N
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Old 29th Jun 2020, 14:34
  #55 (permalink)  
 
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Gone, probably, but perhaps not long gone. Rear-Admiral Alex Burton reputedly resigned in 2017 over threatened cuts involving Albion and/or Bulwark - he may have been pushed because of a tweet on the subject though. I suspect the resignation had little impact on the decision to retain the capability. Unfortunately, as Bengo implies, VSO resignations are no longer likely to cause political embarassment for more than a few days and the ex-VSO loses what little leverage over the decision they had and is likely to be replaced by someone more compliant.
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Old 29th Jun 2020, 15:17
  #56 (permalink)  
 
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Easy Street

Noting the responses of Boffin and Bengo, which I don't disagree with, my experience of the CVS programme is limited to MASC (formerly FOAEW and now Crowsnest) being a section within the ship project team. In December 2000 they started up again, FOAEW having been dormant for a while, and put out vacancy notices. The AEW/ASaC Mk7 team (such as it was) was excluded from even applying, on the grounds that AEW experience would be of no value whatseover as the two weren't related. My retort was unprintable, but I did remind the project leader that his assumptions and costings were still completely wrong, as they were assuming it was a case of lifting two consoles out of SKW and bolting them into a Merlin. And here, one must bear in mind that the winning bid on SKW in 1994, by a country mile, was a Blue Vixen variant in Merlin. There was a political overrule, and PE was instructed to let the contract on a company that didn't bid.

I then spent much of the period 95-01 defending Mk7 against cancellation. Part of the RN tried hardest, another part supported the programme to the hilt. Incomprehensible. Bizarrely, there were two particular project managers in an unrelated equipment team that spent their time wandering around AbbeyWood telling everyone who'd listen it should be scrapped. 2 Star and 4 Star in PE (DGAS2 and CDP) issued orders that, if obeyed, would have cancelled it, or made Chinook HC Mk3 and Nimrod MRA4 look like a runaway successes. Those orders were, primarily, do not contract any support infrastructure. At a more detailed level, the RN didn't endorse the Full Mission Trainer, mission recorder, IFF (!), any systems integration, and so on. It's actually easier to list what was endorsed. But it was fine to still spend a few hundred million in a Minister's constituency, on 13 cabs that, if illegal orders were obeyed, could never see front line service. Not unlike the Chinook Mk3 and Nimrod fiascos.

I found all this very strange. There is something very wrong with a system whereby the success of a major programme depends almost entirely on the PM's willingness to completely ignore 2/4 Stars. I remain convinced that CDP was under political direction to block as much expenditure as possible, but without it being seen as political. He did three things. First, announced he didn't want engineers working on engineering projects. Second, all expenditure had to be personally approved by himself - within a day his office was swamped with Submissions and many never saw the light of day again. (Luckily, he forgot to withdraw existing financial approval delegation). Third, he banned any contract from having Government Furnished Equipment/Services/Information clauses. On AEW Mk7, the RN's immediate response was to say, we want 13 new Sea Kings, not modified AEW Mk2s, or else we pull the plug. Even if possible (and the line was being shut) there was obviously no funding, so that would kill the programme. They pulled the plug. There were many very annoyed people when Mk7 kept hitting its milestones, and I have no doubt CVS suffered the same way. Glad to be out!
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Old 29th Jun 2020, 16:45
  #57 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Not_a_boffin View Post
Digging up the old myth about it being a minister-led job creation scheme (...)
However, the spares shortages are the usual games played by all to overcome short term affordability issues. (...)
The real question is whether the UK having left the EU, reverts to being a European land power because the EU nations will not spend their own money, or whether it provides the high-end naval and air capabilities for the European part of NATO. It's not as if anyone else is going to provide the latter.
It isn’t just spares shortages though, it’s manpower too, and the root cause of both is the political direction for the Treasury to prioritise investment over spending for the last decade-plus (and indeed for the decade to come). That’s why I say the problem is minister-led and all of Tuc’s experiences reinforce that contention. Why else would someone as high as CDP (or CEO DE&S in today’s money) have such an unhealthy obsession with driving out support from project costings? I agree that the RAF has been just as guilty as the RN of taking the opportunity to plough capital into known-unsupportable capabilities throughout that time: hence both services’ manpower crises. Hell, maybe it’s OK to invest in the metal and only pay for the bodies, parts and fuel when you think a conflict is in the offing, but at least be honest with the taxpayer about it before someone expects you to deploy the capability and then wonders why you can’t.

As for “revert to being a European land power”, exactly what period of British history would that be reverting to? The question should really be how we best deliver the air and naval power to which our geographic and geopolitical positions suit us so well (including our five-eyes privileges, although the Huawei episode made me wonder whether the current government placed as much value on them as many of us military types do. It’ll be interesting to see how the government’s positioning on ‘Europe v US’ matters changes with the departure of Sedwill and MacDonald just before the Integrated Review).

Last edited by Easy Street; 29th Jun 2020 at 17:16.
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Old 30th Jun 2020, 08:51
  #58 (permalink)  
 
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The manpower issue is I suspect, less to do with Treasury investment and more to do with political and institutional reluctance to make certain decisions. The manpower crisis is two-fold - insufficient overall headcount allowance, combined with specific pinch-point / experiential retention issues, which combined have a multiplier effect. The first is absolutely down to reluctance to increase overall AF headcount following the 2010SDSR and a similar reluctance to grasp the "what sort of army do we need?" nettle. The second is possibly an indirect result of the first, with endless back to back deployments etc, which hits in the hardest to replace part of the manning plot.

The Navy are at least trying to make the best of its headcount allowance - although the proof will be in the pudding, given the methods being used. I'm sure RAF are doing the same.

I'm not sure certain constituencies have yet agreed that we should be delivering air and naval power in line with our geographic position, which brings us back to the first issue.......

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Old 30th Jun 2020, 13:24
  #59 (permalink)  
 
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Crowsnest Follow On

The following assumes I haven't gone mad due to the lockdown.

I understand the Merlin OSD is in 2030, so Crowsnest will only have a fully operational lifespan of seven years on its intended platform. I trust the follow on is already under consideration. Will Crowsnest just be fitted to another new platform (40 years after the radar's initial incarnation in Nimrod MR.2) a la AN/APS-20 or will a completely different solution be looked at?

Ignoring current budgetary constraints (and my technical ignorance) should the RN be looking at an AI-enabled STORVL RPV/UAV AESA solution? Among those nations with current or planned (pseudo-)carriers (USN, PLAN excepted), I believe only Italy currently has a ship based AEW/ASAC capability - also EH101s. So unless they all intend to rely on landbased AEW in the long term, presumably there is a market outside the UK.

The Merlin solution is hampered by service ceiling (c. 15,000') I understand a Chinook could go 5,000' higher and Osprey another 5,000' more. A simplistic view maybe but height increases detection range, doesn't it? So ideally a follow on would have a much higher ceiling.

Constraints that I can see immediately are size and weight of radar and data transmission systems (both command and radar picture), ability to provide sufficient electrical power. The need to adapt a current or in development platform. Existence of secure, robust data link with sufficient bandwidth. Room for the necessary processing systems and for the baggers to work onboard ship. I am assuming it would be possible and more efficient to transmit the raw output and process onboard ship.

I assume lack of an aircrew could increase time on station, potentially if the system is cheap enough you could deploy more platforms at longer distances from the CTG to increase coverage further?

Thoughts from the experts and others please?

.
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Old 30th Jun 2020, 15:43
  #60 (permalink)  
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Osprey's would be a good buy if the cash was available but.................... by 2030 they may be hoping for a drone mounted solution they can fly off the Carriers.................
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