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-   -   Harrier dispute between Navy and RAF chiefs sees Army 'marriage counsellor' called in (https://www.pprune.org/military-aviation/360809-harrier-dispute-between-navy-raf-chiefs-sees-army-marriage-counsellor-called.html)

Inspector Dreyfuss 4th Feb 2009 08:59

Harrier dispute between Navy and RAF chiefs sees Army 'marriage counsellor' called in
Daily Telegraph 4 Feb 09:

"The Defence Secretary John Hutton has been forced to call in an Army general to act as a “marriage counsellor” to resolve a bitter dispute between the heads of the Royal Navy and RAF over the future of the Harrier jump jet.

Harrier jump jet, Air Marshal Torpy suggested that the Ministry of Defence could save £1 billion if the Harrier was phased out of service. Photo: PA
The relationship between the First Sea Lord, Sir Jonathon Band, and the Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Glenn Torpy has become “poisonous” due to a disagreement over the aircraft that is jointly run by both services.

Frustrated at the lack of compromise between the two military leaders, Major General Paul Newton, an Army officer with no flying background, has been appointed to resolve the dispute.

Air Marshal Torpy suggested that the Ministry of Defence could save £1 billion if the Harrier was phased out of service within the next five years with the closure of Joint Force Harrier with its 50 Navy and RAF pilots.

This would have signalled the end of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, regarded as the most professional of all air forces, despite the two new aircraft carriers entering service by the end of the next decade.

Admiral Band was incensed by the proposal, which would have meant there would be no Navy pilots to fly off the carriers, and threatened to resign.

But Air Marshal Torpy is thought to have the backing of the Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Jock Stirrup, who was also an RAF pilot.

“Relations between Torpy and Band have become very bitter and very poisonous,” claims a defence source. “General Newton is being used as a marriage counsellor to ensure that the rowing does not become public.”

Major Gen Newton, Director of Development, Concepts and Doctrine in the MOD, is expected to agree with the Navy that a small force of sea-going pilots is vital to Britain’s interests if it wants to project power abroad when he presents his report to a meeting of MoD chiefs today (weds).

There is a suggestion now that Air Marshal Torpy will resign if the Navy wins the bitter turf war, according to Whitehall sources.

The Naval Strike Force will probably become the main Harrier force preparing pilots to fly the ‘fifth generation’ Joint Strike Fighter made in America.

The sticking point for the RAF is that only half of the 150 British JSF are likely now to be ordered with the Navy getting the majority. This would mean the RAF would struggle to get a full replacement for fourth generation Eurofighter Typhoon leaving them without a cutting edge aircraft

A senior Army officer described the dispute as “a bunch of overgrown school boys arguing over who gets to play on a new toy”.

The internecine battles being fought between the Services over a limited defence budget are said to be at the most bitter since the “east of Suez” defence cuts of the Sixties.

The RAF argues that with Afghanistan land-locked and the new carriers not coming into service until at least 2016 there is no current need to have carrier-borne fighters. Once the ships become operational, the RAF would be able to fly off them.

The savings would come through the maintenance contract that has yet to be signed with BAE Systems and by closing RAF Cottesmore when the Harrier force is based.

An MoD spokesman said: “The First Sea Lord and Chief of the Air Staff are committed to working together for the benefit of the Armed Forces and will continue to do so in the future.”“During any planning round a number of options are considered to ensure our spending plans are matching our priorities and delivering value for money. But we do not provide a running commentary on this process. At this stage no decisions have been made.” "

Comments from the floor?

Cornerstone958 4th Feb 2009 09:29

So what happens when the Government cancels the JSF then:confused::uhoh:

newt 4th Feb 2009 10:13

Sell all the Harriers to the Navy and make them pay the bill!! Why should the RAF budget support naval assets? If they insist on keeping a fastjet capability then maybe they should purchase an interim aircraft ie RAF Harriers!

Go on Glen.......give em some stick!!

Sand4Gold 4th Feb 2009 10:44

Ah, bless....CDS not up for the challenge?

rogerk 4th Feb 2009 11:06

Good smacked bum say I !!
These are the most senior officers of both services and they are acting like petulant 5 year olds.

About time the whole of the MOD was sorted out.

onevan 4th Feb 2009 11:32

If you get rid of the Harrier GR9, what has the same capability to assist our troops on the ground in Afgan? :=
Get rid of the GR4, that will save even more money as it will need alot of investment to bring it up to the same capability as the Harrier.
Oh, thats right, offering the GR4 as a cost saving means losing 8 times the number of personnel (RAF) so its easier to remove capability := and sc**w the RN and Troops on the ground := than diminish your own empire.:(:(

Yeoman_dai 4th Feb 2009 11:44

Not this thread again!

I don't have any experience with aviation beyond 14 hours in cessna's at a local aerodrome, but I follow MIlitary history, and defense news, and even I can see that the Fleet Air Arm needs to retain a fast jet capability. We do not and cannot predict what will happen, even next year - so you simply cannot say that we won't need the capability of carrier ops because we'llbe in Afghan. We're a P5 nation, we could get called anywhere, and since 80% of the world population live near water, or something like that, it's more likely that we'll need harrier than not. Its just the RAF trying to defend itself from a threat that doesn't exist, ie getting disbanded - and thats from a Wing Cmmdr I was chatting to at a recent defence forum i attended who said he doesn't see his force making 100 years old!. Look, until the Battle of Britain has been forgotten, that won't happen, and this nations psyche is stuck in WWII, so that'll never happen either.

I think the RAF should stop trying to protect itself at the expense of other important capabilities, the Navy should stop acting like the RAF is trying to completely kill it off, and both the top men should act like the proffessional they must be.

THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO ARE WINNING HERE ARE THE MOD!!! Jeez, if they all just provided a combined front, maybe the Treasury would take that 2bn OUT of social services where its being wasted, and make up the differece.

bah, can you tell i'm frustrated sitting in here writing a dissertation when I could be out in the snow :ugh:

skippedonce 4th Feb 2009 11:45

Says who?
"This would have signalled the end of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, regarded as the most professional of all air forces,

Good to see the journo isn't biased then!

exscribbler 4th Feb 2009 12:01

It strikes me that the RAF hasn't yet got over losing "control" of the nuclear deterrent. The FAA aren't allowed to write ROYAL NAVY on their GR9s as they're said to be RAF assets but anyway, what use are GR9s in the air defence of the fleet?

No matter how much you move Australia and other potential RAF landing spots, air defence of the Fleet can only be provided by organic Naval Air. If the RAF can't get their tiny pointed heads around that one, then they're more pathetic than I thought. If such a concept is outmoded, then let's forget force projection, scrap the new carriers, JSF and everything else and sit at home comfortable in the knowledge that we've plenty of spare cash and fcuk-all defence.

Let's hope a sensible soldier can bang some heads together - after all, it's not a competition with a winner - we can all lose at this one.

NutLoose 4th Feb 2009 13:05

Surely the current Carriers the Navy operate can only carry sufficent Harriers to realistically maintain a Cap over the said Carrier, So the carriers only real purpose in a real war situation against a force with credible air assests is to carry enough Harriers to protect itself and is therefore is a pointless exercise in flag waving...

Seems a bit of a Chicken and Egg Situation..

Yeoman_dai 4th Feb 2009 13:20

well, i'm sure someone will correct me if i'm wrong, but the current carriers could carry enough to CAP the fleet, including the LPD and LPH's allowing them to offload booties.

Of course, they'd be ridiculously inefficient, as the only Harriers we have left don't have radar, and can't carry anything more than Sidewinder, so would be pretty damn limited.

Then again, its exceptioanlly unlikely we'd be going up against anyone with a credible airforce, current international poliics being what it is, and the ground attack role would be more useful and Gr9's are pretty good at that ;)

airborne_artist 4th Feb 2009 13:28

Then again, its exceptioanlly unlikely we'd be going up against anyone with a credible airforce
Unless you believe in learning from history that is. Many on this forum can remember the South Atlantic conflict better than where they put their glasses five minutes ago. My father caused considerable FO disbelief/displeasure when warning them about the sabres being rattled when he commanded Endurance from 78-80.

Making assumptions about future foes' military capabilities is a surefire way of getting caught sans trousers.

anotherthing 4th Feb 2009 14:11

Considering a lot of RAF personnel (quite rightly) state they did not join to serve from ships, where is the 'expertise' going to come from?

It's all very well having a group of pilots rotating on stints at sea, but you need a permanent cadre to provide support and background knowledge to those who rotate onboard.

Unless we bin the carriers, the RN must retain FJ capability.

Of course we could bin the carriers, but then, why would we need as many air assets? Why not bin the carriers and amalgamate all the forces into one pared down UK Defence Force?

We could withdraw all support for campaigns in foreign lands, retreat onto our little isalnd and save lots of money.

I'm not advocating that course of action, but getting rid of FAA FJ capability is the first step down that road.

soddim 4th Feb 2009 14:23

I see this thread has once again drawn the drivel that the last one on this subject provoked. The article is about the behaviour of the two Service chiefs towards each other - the proposal to shorten the Harrier's life is merely the current focus of this alleged misbehaviour.

But is this really misbehaviour? Why should the CAS not say what he means and why should his counterpart throw his toys out of the cot? The MOD budget is in tatters and savings have to come from somewhere. Strikes me that the argument should never have become public because there is absolutely nothing to be gained from this discussion or any others that concentrate on the personal relationship issues of the two Service chiefs.

In my opinion it is in any case only a matter of time before this country recognises that it is no longer a World power and cannot afford either carrier.

anotherthing 4th Feb 2009 14:37

In my opinion it is in any case only a matter of time before this country recognises that it is no longer a World power and cannot afford either carrier
And where do we stop after that. Obviously, we should bin the nuclear capability if we no longer wish to be a world power.

Taking your argument to a logical conclusion, then you could say that we do not need the current level of armed forces to mount operations outside of the UK (why should we fight in Afgahistan etc if we do not want to be a World Power/Player)? Why not just curl up into a ball and let the USA etc get on with it?

We could really cut down on the numbers required if we just decided on border protection. Give the Army and Navy all the rotary wing assets and give the RAF a couple of squadrons of fighters. Of course, we wouldn't need all 3 services, they could be rolled up into one purple force.

The MOD budget is in tatters...
That issue would be sorted in one fell swoop, and money freed up for other areas.


soddim 4th Feb 2009 14:45

I'm not so sure about the nuclear capability because that does have a self-protection issue in deterrence but the affordability of out of area capability is quite clear-cut - we don't have it.

Although many people think that forward defence and fighting one's battles on other peoples' territory is the preferred option, there is a better way. Why not avoid the creation of more terrorists and secure our borders against those who already exist.

Wrathmonk 4th Feb 2009 15:56

Look on the bright side - the squabbling can't go on for much longer as the current CNS leaves the Service soon (as does the current CAS). Maybe the two new grown ups will get along a bit better.:E


I have to take issue with your comment:

even I can see that the Fleet Air Arm needs to retain a fast jet capability
What we need to retain is a carrier borne aviation capability. It does not need to be Fleet Air Arm. It does not need to be Royal Air Force. It is the capability we need not the colour of the uniform. The quicker people get their heads around that and look forwards, not backwards, then the quicker we can all focus on the real problems at hand!:ugh:

History and hindsight are great for armchair generals/admirals and air marshals but not necessarily the best for a cash strapped Defence!

Yeoman_dai 4th Feb 2009 16:08

I completely agree Wrathmonk. I just believe the FAA would be the best o provide the service soley based upon the fact that the pilots and observers would joint o fly from decks, not land.

Finnpog 4th Feb 2009 16:30

Is naval FJ a capability that we would want as a nation (Both Air Defence and Ground Attack / CAS)?

If YES - then this is in all likelihood best provided by the Navy as one of the weapons systems of the carrier platform.

I have read and posted elsewhere that there could be an effective split of capabilities across all three branches.

RN - Carrier borne FW - AD and GR/CAS - AEW if the carriers went CATOBAR
RW to support the Fleet - Lynx, Merlin, SK & SK AEW
RW to support 3 Cdo Brigade - Consider Merlin, Chinook and 'gunships'
in lieu of AH

Army - Tactical RW - Lynx, Puma, Merlin, Chinook, AH
Some Tactical FW - e.g Islander

RAF - Land based Air defence (for UK and projected forces) and ground
attack / strike / CAS (Wish I could say 'Bomber' and get a squadron or
two of BUFFs)
Strategic Recce / AWACS / ISTAR
All big ME assets

There is also a need to defend what you've got - so keep the Rocks for the RAF (and give them back Rapier?) - and there has never been a outpouring of complaints over the Nimrod MR - so leave that with the RAF too, rather than transferring them to the RN.

Naturally the RN FW will always be amphibious - so that allows a capability for forward deployment on short / rough fields when there is a restricted supply chain - Wasn't that the key reason that the Harrier went into KAF way before the Tonka.

The RAF could also keep Space Command and the Predator UAV for me.

Just my 2p's worth.

Green Flash 4th Feb 2009 16:43

..... and whilst we bicker amongst ourselves the cash gets less and less ...... :(

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