back to article New BAE destroyer launches today on the Clyde

HMS Diamond launches today at the BAE Systems Govan shipyard, third of the Royal Navy's new Type 45 destroyers. There will be rejoicing up and down the Clyde and quieter satisfaction in many parts of the Navy. Meanwhile in the warzones of Southwest Asia, British soldiers and marines are fighting and sometimes dying, hamstrung by …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    World domination...

    Isn't it time we grew up and stopped playing games we can't afford anyway, Switzerland seems to do quite nicely without running around the planet and having a Navy??

  2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    That's because switzerland is landlocked.

    They don't NEED a freakin navy. They have mountains and lots of guns.

    Our own naval need is greatly reduced, for sure, but it's still a necessity to maintain some semblance of a fleet considering the size of our merchant fleet, and the rising level of piracy in areas where that merchant fleet operates. Or should we just rely on the Americans to solve that for us again? Our European "partners" certainly aren't going to do anything about it, they're too busy spending our money on vanity projects.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Sea Dart

    You neglected to mention that the missile that had been shot down was not heading towards the British destroyer but towards an one of those American ships that you think are so wonderful, one that had completely failed to shoot it down with its own weapon system (although it did manage to put a few stray shots into a US battleship).

    It was also the first succesful missile on missile action at sea, not bad for an obsolete british missile.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice one...

    Nice example, a landlocked country. What a surprise that they don't have a navy.

  5. Matt
    Thumb Down

    World domination

    Good point from last poster!

    Seems to be slag of UK business day on the reg today. Quit honestly I'd rather be doing business in Europe as they regard us as equals and hand over any supporting docs we might need. Unlike the yanks who see us as a convenience and only help if it suits them. They've also got previous for not telling us information we need to know, shooting at us when we fight alongside them (strange how it's always the yanks), keeping back-doors open into our systems and spying on us.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ouch !

    Lewis you are a pessimist and a cynic...

    You're also a realist.

    Superiority in combat is the very last item on the agenda for the acquisition of military hardware.

    Behold the economics of a committee of vested interests.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It'll come in handy...

    ... if the Taliban buy some planes.

    Nice one.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    re: world domination

    Not the best example Anonymous Coward:

    A: Switzerland does not have access to the sea. Unlike the UK which is surrounded by it.

    B: Despite this they have some pretty cool lakes and have a small Navy that paddles around on them as well.

    Considering the UK's location having an effective Naval force makes good sense. The key word being "effective". The tossers at MOD and BAE should maybe look up that word in a dictionary sometime.

  9. Anton Ivanov

    If it is a matter of price..

    We can probably shave off further 30% by going for a Russian system.

    If we do not have them formally declared as the enemy I do not see anything particularly wrong with that.

    It is not particularly different from buying from the French (who are still not part of Nato military command). We can also probably negotiate on getting something newer with a better AA system compared to what the Chinese got. For the same money we will get something that can have the Arley Burke for breakfast, the BAE junk for tea and a couple of aircraft in the meantime for pudding.

  10. Chris Morrison

    Sunny Govan

    I drove through sunny Govan yesterday,

    Where is all this £1bn quid going cos I didnt see much of it floating around Govan. You could count a fancy new bridge and some penthouse apartments but they aint for anyoen working in the shipyards and the place is still a total dump.

    If onyl thatcher hadn't failed in her bid to toaly kick out shipbuilding(and all heavy industry) out of the country.

    We can't compete with any other coutnry in the world so why are we spending double the money to make something half as good!


  11. Leroy Fevrius

    Jesus do some research!!

    Seeing as the Silkworm was actually aimed at a US Battleship, whose CIWS had missed intercepting that Silkworm, then actually the Sea Dart performed damned well.

    The sea wolf is by no means obsolete, seeing as its just been upgraded to a vertical launch system and provides principal air defense for the duke class frigates.

    As for Britain not being able to produce missiles, what rubbish are you talking about? Skyflash? Alarm? seriously if you not even going to do a five minute google search on teh subject, don't report on it

    The one thing you did seem to get right :

    Yes the Type 45 are too expensive, but that what happens when you allow everyone to consolidate to survive your held over a barrel. But hey it means etc money can be made available for endless chav's to be bought up to mug pensioners.

  12. Mark Casey

    Switzerland... (reply to world domination)

    The problem with Switzerland, the overriding primary problem is that Switzerland the country, is landlocked. Therefore having a navy might be a bit problematic for them, oh i'm sure they could have one. But they'd probably need to attach really, really big wheels to their ships.

  13. David Harper

    1 Northern Rock bailout = 40 Type-45 destroyers

    At £605m per ship.

    If Virgin buys up Northern Rock and pays back the billions that Alastair Darling threw at it, then the Royal Navy could name the first one HMS Richard Branson as a mark of gratitude.

    And the Navy could probably buy another couple of dozen destroyers with the savings in Microsoft licence fees, if they ditched Windows For Warships in favour of Linux for Liners.

  14. Chris Walker
    Thumb Down

    Yeah, lets scrap the lot. Why not.

    I do wish when glibly slagging off the new Type 45 for cost and PAAMS for range, you'd bother to write more exhaustively on the systems as a whole rather than focussing on whichever bit got your goat.

    The escort air defence role (of which the Type 45 is ideally suited) whether as part of a self defence exercise or a co-ordinated anti-air bubble around, for example, a carrier or other capital ship, requires that you engage multiple high speed low level targets often tracked on multiple vectors - and every second counts.

    PAAMS is perfect for this; a range of 75m using the Aster 30 missile is massive and when you consider the rate of fire (8 missiles in about 10 seconds), that is a significant response to an incoming threat. It is most definitely a quantum leap beyond current capabilities and of course fits the NATO standard, and will undoubtedly have further capabilities added to it in future generations of the same system.

    When considering how much air space it dominates, it is too simplistic to simply focus on a single PAAMS system in terms of individual missile range. The PAAMS radar and guidance system goes out much further than the missile itself, and an integrated air defence picture with more than one PAAMS equipped ship (Type 45 or otherwise) will easily give you the air space domination mentioned.

    The Royal Navy has quietly got on with refitting (at enormous expense) existing surface units over the last 20-30 years, however refitting only gets you so far - both in terms of capabilities and of course cost effectiveness. It is about time we (and we are an island in need of an independent naval capability, hence why we're in a different place with different needs than Switzerland) invested in the Royal Navy and ensured they were given the tools required to achieve those objectives that will be set for them over the next 20-30 years.

    Comparing the cost per unit on a like for like basis with the Army, based on the fact it is well publicised that our chaps over in Afghanistan and Iraq are finding themselves short is ridiculous. The Navy maintains much lower numbers of operational units but which operate in completely different circumstances and therefore have different needs - the Army on the other hand has considerably more yet lower per-unit cost assets.

    This is a stupid article, based in part on reading BBC News and in part reading crap from Wikipedia - or at least, thats how it appears. Sort it out eh?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    for(i=0;i<3000;i++) shootSelf(foot);

    Whilst bringing down one antique missile with another is no great feat, it's better than the USS Jarret (in the same incident) which, instead of targeting the Iraqi Silkworm, decided to pick on the USS Missouri, leaving lots of holes and one injured crewman.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Sea Dart

    Sea Dart....hmmmm, I was under the impression it was a very good system. As for Graham.....I think that was the point of the comment.

    You know..., sarcasim.....if not get an american to explain it to you.

  17. Tim Greenwood

    Not a Navy,

    but I think they do have a marine force of sorts. Some patrol boats on the bigger lakes I think.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Complete Idiot

    Mr. Page, you really are a complete idiot aren't you! You seem to have a burning desire to turn the UK into a nation competent in only one field - idiot journalism.

    Cut our manufacturing and heavy industry some slack for crying out loud - the only reason that our home-brew stuff costs so much is because of short sighted penny pinching morons like you. Have you thought of running for government office? You'd fit in well - they're all short sighted penny pinching morons as well.

  19. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Freyed Edges/Diamond Blades?

    "Isn't it time we grew up and stopped playing games we can't afford anyway, Switzerland seems to do quite nicely without running around the planet and having a Navy??"

    Crikey, AC, I thought for a moment you asked if Switzerland ran the planet without a Navy??

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  21. Graham Dawson Silver badge


    Oh yeah, because americans are so good at sarcasm...

    A Hunter has it right. We need an effective navy. The Type 45 destroyer is a one-trick pony, as the americans say. It does air defence. It's designed to play that role as part of a strategic carrier group. Unfortunately we have no carriers, and it's looking increasingly likely that we will not get them either, nor will we have the other components necessary to form a strategic carrier group because we've sold most of our mine-sweeper fleet to the Estonians and mothballed most of the support tenders and other ships in order to pay for the Type45s...

    We could buy a second-hand american - or even russian - carrier, a few of the russian destroyers, keep our support fleet, fit it out with top-of-the-range equipment from Germany and still be quids in. Hell we could even buy the entire Australian Royal Navy for less than the type45s and the carrier, and still come out on top.

  22. Andy Bell

    Never has so much been got wrong by one person

    Without a doubt the most inaccurate, slanted, biased, and downright wrong article i've ever read on El Reg.

    I hope the editor doesn't let you near a defense story again.

    In addition to the merciless debunking already handed out, Sea Dart / Wolf performed well enough in the Falklands scoring many kills, and forcing the surviving Argentine aircraft to fly so low that often their bombs did not have time to arm. Do you think they were skimming the waves to look good on camera ? Or because if they went over ~200 feet within range of a T42 they were dead ?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Combat vs Test performance.

    Aster hasn't actually been fired in anger, Sea Dart was poor but Wolf performed above mediocre and both systems have been substantially upgraded from teh state they were in at the time, when the Navy was being substantially reduced and the missile systems were 20 years old then.

    I guess the test of PAAMS and the A-B's will be when they get shot at.

    I suppose the other Falklands like situation where we have a large fleet in hostile waters with limited air defence will be the war with Iran that's brewing, although I doubt the new stuff will get a chance to play in that.

    BTW Don't we launch our Tomahawks from subs? Wouldn't want to get too close to the enemy in a boat, it might get nicked.

  24. James Farrell

    i just hope...

    that these Windows warships have all got Minesweeper installed...

  25. Anonymous Coward

    a thought...

    Switzerland shares a "coast" with France... seems like a good enough reason to have a navy to me...

  26. Kerry Hoskin


    Our Navy is really struggling I go past Devonport on my way too and from everyday and there’s not many ships alongside and those that are mainly foreign.

    SeaWolf performed very well in the Falklands considering it was brand new and hardly tested, it was probably one of the most advanced missile systems around in 1982 and has since been upgraded several times.

    SeaDart also isn’t an anti-missile missile it’s designed to shoot down aircraft so hitting a missile is bleedy good going.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Whats with...

    ...All the bashing of BAE, the Navy and in particular the Type 45 today? really it is a bit harsh.

    Based on the last few Reg stories we should all go on benefits and let the Americans build all the kit for the Army and Navy. Of course if nobody is paying any Tax and everyone is sucking down benefits there is not going to be any money around for your precious American hardware let alone there being anyone skilled enough to operate or maintain it.

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  30. Tawakalna

    Type 42s aren't "ageing" you cheeky bighters!

    I was 16 when the Type 42 came into service, as as I'm not *old* then neither are they! :P

    cheeky young beggars <shakes stick and hobbles off back to allotment>

  31. graham crocker

    Don't Confuse Wolves With Darts

    Interseting article about the new navy destroyer. However I'm pretty sure that the "antique Silk Worm" missile was shot down by a Sea Wolf missile not a Sea Dart. The Sea Wolf is still a serious piece of kit and well capable of bringing down a cruise missile - Antique or otherwise.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    BAE charging double for worse hardware...

    I wonder where all the rest of the money went then?

    Of course, no one will accuse BAE of taking/giving kickbacks... It is all in the national interest...

    I suppose if these ships were being supplied to the Saudis then we'd get all sorts of accusatons of corruption regarding the inflated price; but perish the thought that anyone other than them would be taking kick-backs.

    No wonder the government didn't want BAE investigated... I wonder what other matters would have come to the surface that the tax-payers don't need to know.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Swiss Navy

    No navy, but water frontiers with France, Germany and Italy and some military boats to patrol them. It also has compulsory military service and a gun in every wardrobe...

  34. Eileen Bach

    Swiss Navy

    Er..why would the swiss need a navy anyway? They are peaceful folk who have a (H) ratio of Hornblowers second to none.

  35. Bryan B
    Thumb Up

    @James Farrell

    LOL! Nice one...

  36. Nev Silver badge

    All being very harsh...

    ... on the first poster.

    Bolivia is landlocked and has a navy.

  37. Mark

    @Graham Dawson

    [Our own naval need is greatly reduced, for sure, but it's still a necessity to maintain some semblance of a fleet considering the size of our merchant fleet, and the rising level of piracy in areas where that merchant fleet operates.]

    Wow, how does peer to peer trading of movies and music affect merchant shipping?

    Gaaah! RIAA Got to me!!!!

  38. Mark

    Yankee "friendly" fire

    [Unlike the yanks who see us as a convenience and only help if it suits them. They've also got previous for not telling us information we need to know, shooting at us when we fight alongside them (strange how it's always the yanks)]

    They could still be pissed off at us in WW2 for shooting an armoured column with a barracge when the american column decided that, although they were told to stay out until 2pm (or whenever), if they started early, they could be near the edge of the target area when the bombardment stops and be the first one into Berlin. They'd forgotten that shells don't fall regularly and got walloped before 2pm on the edge of the zone.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Swiss Army knife ==> Swiss Navy cake

    Switzerland has a navy, and not just of the lacustrine kind. It is based in Genoa.

  40. Keith T

    Where's mine?

    Seeing as this is a BEA product if they broke a bottle when they launched it, did it go "Bung"?

  41. Rob
    Black Helicopters

    Cost vs Competence

    So what the US have a cheaper build with punch. That just translates to more equipment and fire power to accurately destroy you fellow amercian soliders or allies with.

    They may have some really good kit that bests most people but they have an apalling unprofessional fighting force that seems to do more damage politically/pyshically/mentally to everyone but their enemies.

  42. Anonymous Coward

    Poor Journalism

    I know El Reg prides itself on it's lack on integrity, but accidentally it's aquired some pretty decent journalists. It's not until you read a piece of slanted crap like this article and realise that you expect so much more from this august organ.

    Slanted, poorly researched, after the event and snide. Maybe fit for a blog (though most self-respecting bloggers might take issue with this) but certainly not for the Register.

    I've known a few Weapons Officers in my time and am well aware of "other capabilities" that ships with few guns carry. Strangely the WEO on a ship without guns was the brightest of the lot and most respected by his colleagues to boot. I'd be astonished if PAAMS is the only trick these ponies have.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    Uh oh...

    Holy Crap! I think amanfromMars just achieved sentience! Better find John Conner quick...

  44. Anonymous Coward

    Cost v Competence

    Two mostly unrelated points, there, Rob. Give "our superior personnel" their choice of their "effective equipment" and you might have a Navy that can do something. The attitude and competence levels of their armed forces are related to their equipment only inasmuch as the equipment inculcates the attitude.

  45. Paul Johnston


    Fancy Switzerland being landlocked and having no navy.

    Many years ago when I was in the Merchant Navy I always found it funny the engines which ran the vessels often were made in Switzerland by Sulzer!

    I'm not talking little ones either 7500 BHP ones powering 27000 ton Oil Tankers.

  46. John

    I've met a swiss guy

    He was a missionary and a great guy, but from his talk, you wouldn't want to mess with Switzerland (even by sea :) ). For a start they have nuclear-bomb-proof bunkers for most of the population. They also have pill-boxes everywhere and their army/militia would be ruthlessly patriotric in defending the country.

  47. Rich

    the problem with prices...

    The problem with the price of Defense Kit is how the development costs are rolled into the price tag.

    The MOD want to buy x units of y. They'll be paying a per unit cost and a big lump split across each unit which covers the development cost. Sometimes this is a direct payment on a per unit basis, sometimes its paid upfront but typically the price tag will still get quoted with the development costs thrown in.

    The initial price is normally pretty good, but then there are budget cuts. The problem is the lump sum cost does not get reduced, only the per unit cost. As the numbers dwindle the Kit being bought starts looking less and less attractive in price, and high price per unit costs appear in the news. The Kit might then start to run the risk of being cancelled altogether due to being 'over priced'.

    If they're lucky the Royal Navy will get 6 Type 45's. It was only a few years ago that they were going to be getting 12... and the price looked pretty good back then.

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  49. Anonymous Coward

    If it's about price...

    "the only reason that our home-brew stuff costs so much is because of short sighted penny pinching morons like you."

    So it's absolutely nothing at all to do with huge Swiss-bank slush funds, "irregular" payments of £1bn or more to Saudi Arabian royalty, and that kind of thing? The amount of Prince Bandar's payments is not in dispute, remember, only its legitimacy. And this is only one of the bigger ones that have been exposed, how much is still to be discovered?

    How many soldiers/sailors/airmen (and their families) does a few £1bn pay? More than a handful, that's for sure. It also pays for a few manufacturing and design employees in skilled UK jobs. If it's allowed to, rather than being mis-spent overseas by Tony and his cronies.

    Judging by the unusually large number of anti-Lewis responses here today, the order has gone out from the BAe executive bar/diner - stop him stirring, he's getting troublesome.

    Lewis, watch your back, and your other bits. We don't need another David Kelly.

  50. Anonymous Coward



    "They may have some really good kit that bests most people but they have an apalling unprofessional fighting force that seems to do more damage politically/pyshically/mentally to everyone but their enemies."

    I'm sure it seems that way if you read certain media.

    Fact is, they're still a very long way ahead of anyone, see the Gulf war I & II for good examples. They only lost when forced to withdraw by a hostile media, never defeated militarily.

    Ask our guys in Afghanistan. And of course we should buy American, with the amount we're willing to spend.

  51. John Dougald McCallum

    Type 45 Frigate(Tincan)

    Arleigh Burke-class destroyers 'buckling' under stress, admits USN

    Looks like ALL 50 odd Distroyers are all headed for drydock to be made sutible to be used on the High Seas.Seems that they are liable to get a little bit bent if they hit rough water repairs estimate is $62 Million.And rising?

  52. Mike Richards Silver badge


    ...has a much smaller population than the UK and yet seems to have armed forces that could knock seven shades of shit out of anyone trying to invade the land of Ikea.

    How do they do it? Supersonic fighters, the world's quietest submarines - they even have stealth ships - which not only look mean, but seriously cool into the bargain.

  53. Fred
    Thumb Up


    Makes for a good read tho doesnt it... and the comments are great too!

    Really hope El Reg doesnt go mainstream, itll get spoilt!

  54. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Jobs, jobs, jobs (no, not the Apple geezer!) - and some good missiles.

    The Government was always going to build the ships here because that meant more jobs in Labour-voting wards. And building BAe's design no doubt also meant some nice and friendly feelings all round (any BAe lawyer's reading this, please note I have not even inferred that bribes, backhanders or illegal campaign contributions may have passed hands between any parties....).

    Sea Dart has the first validated missile-vs-missile kill, the above mentioned save against the Iraqi "Silkworm". In that instance, the USS Jarrett's Phalanx system couldn't lock on to either of the two Silkworms, and the damage to USS Missouri may have been caused by the Phalanx operator trying a manually aimed shot. Interestingly, it is suggested that the battleship USS Missouri (thought to be the main target) would have been invulnerable to an impact by the Silkworm due to her 12.1 inch hull armour (the Iraqi Silkworms were the older HY-2 version and not thought to be capable of a climb and terminal dive attack against the superstructure like the later HY-4).

    But, the Sea dart scored its success again at a height below even its revised minimum engagement height, a trick Sea Darts pulled off several times in the Falklands even with the old Type 965 radar. And here we get to the really interesting bit - the US ships had to rely on Phalanx as the Silkworms fired (two) were BELOW the minimum engagement height for their other defence systems (USS Jarrett's SM-1 Standard missiles)! And there is some muttering from US sources that the new Enhanced Sea Sparrow used on the US Navy's Arleigh Burke ships would not have been able to make the engagement either, and they may have to wait until the future SM-6 development of Standard to be able to defeat cruise missiles with certainty. Which makes the UK's 34-year-old design's achievement all the more applaudable.

  55. Anonymous Coward

    My two eurocents...

    Would this be the same Lewis Page who wrote "Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs"?

    Fair enough that BAE are a bunch of hugely oversubsided mostly-foreign crims, but don't knock the T45 too much! We've finally learnt our lesson with that ship, it is a large hull with lots of room for future kit, and its about time we replaced those T42 rustbuckets. The only reason they are so expensive (per-unit) is because our lords and masters keep cheese-paring the requirement in a misguided attempt to save money.

    Also, while I agree that Sea Dart is a little long-in-the-tooth by now, Sea Wolf (the upgraded version) is actually pretty darned good.

  56. Will

    Fire the man!

    When Lewis Page started out on the topic of bomb disposal his pieces were well informed and interesting, however as his horizons have broadened to include defence procurement, we've ended up with uninformed tripe.

    Every article about the UK military seems to be pushing a pro army agenda even though the defence budget is fairly evenly spread between the three services. Not to mention the huge number of UORs being pushed through (which incidentally is part of the reason the MoD budget doesn't balance!)

    This sums it up for me:

    "PAAMS is mostly French and Italian, though BAE electronics is also used. Most of the UK taxpayers' money for the Type 45 project is not going on hiring young Scotsmen (and perhaps a few women) to work steel on the Clyde - it's hiring Frenchies and Italians to build complex electronics and aerospace components, genuine high-added value work which might be viable for rich Westerners in the 21st century. (The UK version of PAAMS is about to undergo its first end-to-end tests. In France, of course.)"

    This paragraph is actually just wrong, incorrect, bullshit. This mysterious company of dirty Frenchies and Italians is called Mantra BAe Dynamics Alenia or MBDA. Note the BAe part of that name, yes a quick google reveals 3000 UK employees, spread across 3 sites, only one of which actually makes missiles, the rest designing them.

    The whole point of MBDA in the UK and Team Complex Weapons (google it Lewis) is to retain the capability in the UK. It was one of the main points of Lord Drayson's Defence Industrial Strategy... remember him, the guy you slated in this article for cosying up to industry?

    Please let the madeness end El Reg!

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    Does Lewis Page own any shares in US arms manufacturers? I think we need to know...

    PAAMS is actually based on two different missiles, a manouevreable one for short range point defence and a bigger, longer range missile. The AEGIS system put forward by Lewis Page has the second missile type (called Standard) but no point defence missile. You can use Standard missiles in this capacity but they are not designed for it (not as manouevreable). The problems the US navy had with the Silkworm in 1991 underline this.

    South Korea is still a pretty cheap country to build ships (there is a huge number of ship yards over there and the cost of labour is lower) so is it a valid comparison? Japan also has ships built around AEGIS radar/missile system and I doubt the cost was the same as the SK ones.

    How much of the 6bn quid was spent during the 5-10 years the UK government spent trying to come up with a joint design with the French and Italians (Project Horizon)? Eventually someone with an ounce of sense decided there was never going to be any agreement on a common spec.and each country would insist on building the ships in their own country.

    Buying off the shelf is not a home run though, thanks to the Treasury. The UK ordered 8 CH47 Chinooks for delivery in the late 90's. Only the budget wasn't quite enough. So to save the few quid necessary the UK government asked Boeing to rip out the standard digital avionics and fit analog avionics. Despite the fact these still had to interface with digital components. Boeing could not make the now bespoke Chinooks work and they were restricted to flying in sunny conditions only. They have been in store ever since and it will now cost another £250m to put the digital avionics in that should have been there from the beginning!

    The US is not a perfect example of how defense procurement should work. Do a search for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). These were supposed to be small, kind of cheap (~$250m) ships designed for use close inshore. Contracts were given to Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics to build two ships each. Only the cost per ship is now in the billions, the contracts for the second ships have been canned and I think one of the two companies has been removed completely from the procurement process.

    The need for a navy is still there while 75%+ of the goods coming in and out of the UK go by sea. The UK needs balanced armed forces and robbing peter to pay paul is not smart. We are not particularly good at predicting the future when it comes to defence.

    After WW2 the UK decided it didn't need any special forces (disbanding them) then spent 12 years in Malaya where it found it actually did need them. In 1981 the UK decided it didn't need amphibious ships and aircraft carriers because the threat was from the Soviet Union, the following year the Falklands were invaded. The defence budget does need to be bigger to pay for it, the MoD keeps putting off all sorts of purchases because there is not enough to go around.

    I agree with Lewis Page that big improvements do need to be made the procurement policy but I would suggest the first place to look is European collaborative programmes. I think Eurofighter is very good now that it is being delivered but it was delayed endlessly trying to keep the four partners happy (EAP, the tech demonstrator flew in 1985!). Will the next story from Lewis Page look at the A400M???? The Reg has already got the European version of GPS covered.

  58. FrankR


    So these ships are totally useless against the Swiss threat?

  59. Glen Turner

    Your Arleigh Burke price is at least half what Australia determined

    The Australian Navy has just embarked on a similar project -- the Hobart-class Air Warfare Destroyer. The US Arleigh Burke went up against the Spanish F100. The F100 won (because of price, risk and schedule) although the Navy claimed the Arleigh Burke would be more capable (which was actually one of the issues, since increasing capability increases staffing requirements in an age where few youth sign up for the Navy and its long periods away from home). Despite the Spanish hull, the weapons systems are all US, a typical Aegis system. The hull includes standoff weapons and space for storage or future systems, a criticism of the RN Type 45.

    Projected price for the RAN Hobart-class is UKP 850m each. This makes the article's claims about the Arleigh Burke (which was rejected partly on cost grounds, remember) being UKP 450m very doubtful and makes the RN Type 45 look about right for the price.

  60. Jim Black

    @Turner and @ Rob

    "since increasing capability increases staffing requirements in an age where few youth sign up for the Navy and its long periods away from home"

    Increased capability does not always mean increased staff. Hopefully, the increased capability can be managed by computers or other automated means or if necessary by more intense training of people. The US Navy is now in the process of designing a new aircraft carrier for the 2020 time frame and beyond and the goal is to reduce the approximately 6,000 people on the current aircraft carriers (e.g., USS Ronald Reagan, CVN 76 and the George H.W. Bush, CVN 77, which is not yet operational) to around 5,000. And the capability of the new carrier will be greater than that of existing carriers.

    Rob, I don't know where you get your information about the professionalism of the US military but it is wrong. A previous poster said to ask the Brits who are now in Afghanistan about the US troops. I would suggest that you ask around and find a professional British military person and ask them whether the US troops are any good. Or, since the US is supposedly so "unprofessional", ask them if they would like to take on the US military. If you can find a graduate of RMA Sandhurst, that would be someone with the appropriate training.

    Before anyone alleges that I am bad-mouthing the British military, let me say the the British troops are as professional and competent as any in the world. It was the British SAS that gave us the ideas for and sometimes actually trained many of the US's best special troops. Britain's military problems stem from British politics, the same as US military problems stem from US politics.

    This similarity is not surprising. The American colonists fought side by side with the British Army in the French and Indian war, including a young Colonial officer by the name of George Washington. From 1776 until 1783 we fought against the British, led by that same George Washington. In 1812, the British Army burned and gutted our White House and later we routed the British at the Battle of New Orleans. In our War Between the States, Britain traded with both sides but mostly with the Union forces. Then in 1917 the US joined the British and French in the War To End All Wars of 1914-1918 and again joined with Britain and France for WW2. Britain joined us in Korea and British troops there fought magnificently, as they have in every war. Britain joined the coalitions of 1991 in Iraq and again in 2003. As one pundit put it, Britain and the US are two related nations divided by a common language. Rob may consider this an insult but the US and Great Britain so far are joined in a brotherhood of shared sacrifice and in many cases shared ancestors.

    Finally, there is no technical reason why the British could not manufacture all the high tech equipment you need. You have the scientific brains necessary and enough innovators to be serious competitors to anything the rest of the world can throw at you. So if Great Britain has problems, it is not because of lack of intelligence or courage - those are available in abundance. So what is the problem?

  61. David Shaw
    IT Angle

    I worked on SeaWolf design

    in a minor role, many years ago. It was a lovely cost-plus contract for the GWS25 - "Guided Weapons System type 25". I was one of the 200+ technical apprentices who worked on Skolnik based systems. I enjoyed the days of calibrating the radars with a rented RAF fighter, or just using Solar noise (a few dawns in misty east anglian airfields) Then, rounds of defence cuts, overcomplex design requirements from the MOD (one of our radars would have SUNK the destroyer that it was to be mounted on!) , led to a situation with about 12 apprentices. The 188 remainders went on to good jobs, one guy started, one became an accountant at ENRON, several joined spooky services, I left the country hardly to return again.

    I did come back for one post-weinstock job interview for the old company. "We want you to manage the Test Department", they said. "What would be my responsibilities?," I said. "Oh, just select the 30% of staff to fire and do *more* testing" they said.

    ..sigh... I do know people still hacking in the UK defence industry - but I reckon I earn 4 times what they do, and I know I won't be randomly sacked in the next 20 years.

    IT angle, er... well the radar development computers in the '70's had Dungeons and Dragons loaded! but we could only play at mid-day. "You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike"

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Lions supplied by rats

    @Jim Black

    Great posting Jim - actually notably better than the original article imho!

    The problem with UK defence is, and always has been, politicians. They just can't make up their minds, which has led to past disasters like the cancellation of TSR2 and many, many others.

    The more recent problem is a drive to "efficiency", which seems to equate to "privatise" in the minds of our right-wing politico's, (and the recent left-wing ones which are undistinguishable), so we ended up with large scale sell offs of capability and more money for hopeless private companies. My personal experience follows...

    I was lucky enough to be able work in the defence research area in the 80's through the 90's and it was a hard, but very rewarding job. Where else could you feel that you were serving your country, working with the best in the field, *and* getting paid for it? (Sorry the SAS wouldn't let me join - :p) Okay, the pay was consistently below the industry norm, but the chance to do all this challenging work and enhance your technical abilities was priceless.

    Then the (right-wing) Tory PM John Major and his government came and the area I was in got "agencyised" and a bunch of faceless "experts" with no track record were brought in to run it. Result: more paperwork, more "initiatives" and less productive work. Later, at the behest of a different set of politicians, that agency was later remolded (with more money wasted and a corresponding increase in paperwork/"initiatives" and decrease in useful output) into a slightly different agency, (but no change in management).

    Finally, (and by this time I'd bailed out to private industry, so I got this from the diehards who remained), the agency was privatised, still with the same team of woeful inadequates in charge. Result? The timescales and admin costs on every project skyrocketed, (admin costs heading rapidly towards 50% of total project cost). Meanwhile, the folks who'd been at the helm of this defence research "Titanic" were rewarded with honours and obscene bonuses, (tens of millions of US$'s)

    The end result of this is that the brains of these outfits, (that's the folks actually *delivering* the projects, not the management), either left to work in other industries, or were pink-slipped to save money. Trouble is that, in research, your people (and their ideas!) are your major asset.

    End result of this is that UK Plc has to spend a lot more money to get less capable goods delivered in longer timescales. Or, as Mr Page points out, we have to go cap-in-hand to our defence partners to buy their older gear, (although I'm a big fan or European or UK-US cooperation in defence R&D) It's enough to make you weep ....

    My answer? Scrap the agencies and move stuff back into government control, especially R&D. Put new management teams in the newly-nationalised agencies and claw back the bonuses and honours assigned to the current management. Consult the (chiefs of) defence staff over what THEY want - e.g. Stealth suit for soldiers or boot's and body armour for the guys and gals on the ground *now*; an extra Eurofighter (beautiful plane btw) or a repair budget for runways and other facilities, and so on.

    Government led defence R&D *can* deliver - the example that most readily comes to mind is the AEW Sea King. Do something similar with Nimrod, but use a modern chassis - I'm sure Airbus would give a good discount! ;) etc, etc. And less PHB's means lower admin, which means the cost-per-unit goes down. :D

  63. Phil

    "hiring Frenchies and Italians to build complex electronics"

    Um.... HELLLOOOOOO???!!!!! Have you ever owned a Fiat or Peugot?

    We're all doomed....

  64. hammarbtyp
    Thumb Down

    Things are never that simple...

    Firstly while it may seem strange building a guided missile destroyer at the time when the UK is involved in a land locked war, it has to be remembered that a ship is not just for for Christmas. It wasn't long ago the UK fleet was involved protecting oil supplies in the straits of Hormuz against Iranian launched sea skimming missiles. Is anyone going to suggest that this is a unlikely scenario in the future?

    Just as important ships are not like combat vehicles which you just order off the production line when you need them, the Falkland islands proved that you should never second guess what type of conflicts you will be involved in, and ensure you have good all round combat capabilities.

    As to the ship itself, compared to the american ship. A ship is more than the sum of its parts and there is nothing to say that the Arleigh burke is any better than the UK ship. In fact the T45 is in a number of ways more advanced, For example it's electric propulsion system is far in advance of the american's and gives the UK an important technical lead.

    The article smacks of something like a Duncan Sandy defense review who said in the 1950's that manned aircraft was obsolete and anyway if we need them we could always by American who were obviously better. Both proved to be wrong(TSR2 vs F-111) and caused a decimation of the UK aircraft industry that it never truly recovered from.

  65. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Mr Magoo in Control of Sight ... Results in Impaired Vision

    "So if Great Britain has problems, it is not because of lack of intelligence or courage - those are available in abundance. So what is the problem?"

    Nice post, Jim Black, and I wouldn't argue with it being a case of "Lions supplied by rats".

    With a tad more of both of what we is not lacking ... intelligence or courage ..... will the rat be returned to their sewer run without the lion having to share his catch/feed the manufactured vermin. That is the problem?

    The solution? .... Oh that is simple, offer new technology further afield into foreign lands if it is treated as alien at home. Very soon immediately they discover that all of a sudden they have a dire need of IT..... which is also enriched exponentially if not having the Technology presented to others is a Consideration.

    Then of course, you get into the Mug's Game of Costly Secrets which no one will use...... Madville HQ, Fort Meade?

    Of course, IT is even simpler just to Share what you know Spontaneously and Post IT to the Web. That way you wouldn't need to worry about Missing Post and Posts/Spooks and Spy games. At least not until after you have been well enough paid to consider the additional options available to your own free choice.

    Until then, I imagine that the rats remain in the sewer and the Lion Hearted Reign in their Virgin Fields of Endeavour in Free Enterprise, and just as nature Intended too...... which is always that which delivers Outrageous Success.

  66. Gaius

    Paying double

    Economics of scale apply here too - the original estimate was based on designing once and building a dozen of them. The UK Govt cut the order to six - so of course the portion of the design work in the cost of each ship has gone up.

    We're an island. Navy procurement projects can take decades. The idea that the Navy can be run down now presupposes someone has a crystal ball with infallible vision of the next 20-50 years and that simply isn't the case. We should have doubled our original order of these, not halved it!

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    A couple of years ago I was employed as a minor code monkey at one of her majesty's esteemed defence contractors, though I'd not claim to have much other than an interested layman's view of the shambles that represents our establishment.

    Here in the UK funds seem to have tightened every year since the 1960's, maybe a few blips but I don't think anyone would disagree with the trend. As a result, we've taken to lying to ourselves in order to get equipment that's at least halfway near what we should have had in the first place, but that noone would pay for it. "Through-deck cruisers" being the euphemism got the invincible et al built at all. And I think the Type 45's are just another example of this kind of self deceit (the new carriers too - just buy the normal jsf's, they're good enough for the USN aren't they? stop kidding yourselves).

    On paper the Type 45 is pretty good if you ignore the fact almost everything apart from the hull comes with a 'fitted for but not with' caveat, but for 10 years hence they'll be not a lot more than exorbitantly priced ocean liners. Still, we made something useful out of the 'through deck cruisers' so in time I think the Type 45's will become valuable assets, of course by then we'll only have 6 of them, thanks to budgetary cheapness rather than 12 and there'll be no facility at all to make more, so we have to throw another £5bn at BAE (since there's noone else in the UK who can build ships for the RN now) developing something new to fill a gap, rather than on 6 extra ships that would go some way to safeguard against there ever being one.

    Of course I'm sure BAE are perfectly happy whether we buy 3 or 6 or 12 ships because as the government funded defence monopolist they get paid either way as a result of this kind of short sighted stupidity.

    And here I'll try and sum up - UK defence has two main problems, politicians like others have said, interfering, privatising, beauraucratising, and the other problem is BAE. Purely financially I can't say it doesn't make more sense to buy from abroad but as a defence policy that is shooting yourself in the foot, and just because we're already enslaved to the US (thanks to trident and god knows just how much else) isn't a reason to shackle your knees and ankles to them as well. Unfortunately at home anything major has to be built by BAE, since there's noone else. It used to be the case we had a defence industry (not to mention other industries, what fun it was for me to setup an acorn for use on an RN submarine), but it was eaten by the end result of a consolidation program that was allowed to proceed unabated for what, 60 years? And now BAE are bigger than the MoD. Try and tell me that this good for us.

  68. Nigee


    As I understand it a significant chunk of the electronics on T45 are UK, starting with the main radar (active phased array) and including the C&C suite.

    Next as I understand it UK costs for T45 include missle stocks. Not all countries account this way. Furthermore UK has traditionally been fairly 'generous' with their stocks unlike some other nations that procure very few (there's a lot of 'parade ground' armies around and presumably 'fleet review' navies). Superficial and underinformerd comparisons can be very misleading.

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