"The Royal Navy will retain no less than 19 largely pointless frigates and destroyers"
I thought they all had pointy bits? That's how you tell which end is the front...
Prime Minister David Cameron has taken personal charge of sorting out the UK's defences. Not only has he cocked it up more than somewhat, he has also slashed vital helicopters for our troops fighting in Afghanistan - and then lied about it. If you want detail on that last bit, skip to the last page. Otherwise, we'll take it …
Slightly unexpected in a predominantly IT/tech forum, but interesting nevertheless. Nice to know I probably wasn't the only person shouting at my radio the other day.
Oh, and did you hear about the Lords (and ladies) "suspended" for embezzling thousands of our pounds? That was the other thing that had my neighbours suspecting they lived next to a madman recently... :D
It's never really been explained why on Earth there is a defence section in an IT website, other than the fact that they can do it if they want and it gives Lewis something else to do besides the boffin-related news.
Personally I'd prefer he stuck to reporting on whatever those wacky boffins are up to, but that's because I don't find defence spending interesting, and Lewis has an excellent turn of phrase when it comes to science stories.
This is something that is really starting to wind me up now. El Reg is NOT just an IT site - it is a technical and scientific news site. Check the banner at the top of your browser....
"The Register : Sci/Tech news for the world"
Seems fairly clear to me. Defense uses lots of tech and scientific research. Hence the inclusion.
there's no fucking money!
we can all moan about every section of society and how that devilish government has taken things away from us, moan like big fucking babies, now we can see who has the backbone in society to get their heads down and do some work......
stop trying to find a scapegoat, there simply is no cash left and we are borrowing more than we have, which means we have to pay interest on that - do you get it????
this is a dead economy, it has ceased to exist.
Strange, Lewis Page did a great job of describing more effective cost-saving measures than those introduced by the Prime Minister. If you read the article (especially pages 2 and 3, I'm guessing you skipped them and skimmed page 1 and 4) then you would see the plausibility of having a decent defense force while at the same time making significant savings.
Let me make it clear to you: David Cameron has not made enough cuts, nor has he made the right cuts. You whine about a lack of money, yet you fail to acknowledge a sensible alternative course of action as described in this article.
is that like an affordable defence strategy?
i did read the "sensible alternative course of action", it's neither sensible nor a realistic alternative, just the rantings of an old 'socialist worker' reader.
go and read it again, it's totally flawed, and as i said originally - there is no fucking cash, the armed forces are too big and there's too much admin workers. granted, sending troops to pointless wars doesn't help but it's the cash that counts - and we have none along with a serious debt - so no new military toys for a while - sorry i mean 'defense force' toys....
"granted, sending troops to pointless wars doesn't help but it's the cash that counts"......
no it isn't, we could still have supplied the troops with the much needed Chinooks. Lewis has (in my opinion) detailed excellent alternative that would NOT have seen us axe half the new Chinooks.
"go and read it again, it's totally flawed"...
So where is it wrong (its an opinion)? Care to give us YOUR analysis then rather than "there is no fucking cash"? (Unless you like making statements like this that give us a very poor impression of you, in which case, well done!)
I look forward to reading it and getting a little closer to enlightenment.
I think you can see our armed forces are clearly not big enough.
They are failing - with all their advanced equipment etc. - to take on and defeat a bunch of civilians with home made bombs and second hand rifles.
Looking back at history we rarely fair very well in battle:
The second gulf war was just a total failure followed by a retreat. Afghanistan is already shaping up for the same. We are clearly unable to do more than make a fair bit of noise on the coat tails of a country that spends half of the worlds total spend on 'defence' (heaven only knows against whom).. what is clear is that however good a technology we employ numbers count - and determination counts for more.
The first gulf war showed that even highly trained and equiped special forces are no match at all for a large area of land populated by a large number of enemy. Many were captured, several killed, and only one managed to escape to a fortunately friendly border. While I have no doubt they caused a bit of a headache they certainly weren't going to win the war.
The Falklands - only won there because the Argies ran out of exocets before we ran out of ships - now our entire navy is half the size of the falklands task force, and there is the spur of oil - we can reasonably assume an argentine invasion, the US will once again say i can't help us against one of their strategic partners and Camermoron will be busy bullshitting us that we are handing over the islands in accordance with EU law and the wishes of the islanders.
Ireland shows that we can't cope with any form of uprising on our own land because we are afraid to upset the Americans by fighting properly. One lesson that was stark from here is that we have to be able to build our own war material - if the Argies had been able to build exocets they would have won.
The 'Suez crisis' shows how much we can rely on our 'special relationship' with the USA - they threatened to sell the pound if us nasty horrible colonial bullies didn't move out - and we did as we were told.
The second world war was a disaster in most respects but we should have learnt... (a) we had double the number of defenders on Crete as the Germans had attackers, and lost... no determination to win and numbers don't matter...our equipment was fine, the islands defendable, the leadership and determination missing totally. (b) even back in ww2 the Americans (glorious friends) fleeced us for cash for every clapped out leaking out of date boat they sent us, every substandard and largely useless plane, every boar war era rifle... we had to remember how to make our own stuff - we should remember this now - building boats, guns, tanks, planes, trucks, landrovers, uniforms, missiles, computer systems... are all VITAL skills for the defence of this country. We could decide not to defend ourselves but frankly time has shown that undefended countries are invaded - and just because this is 2010 not 1939 we are not really protected - indeed things are worse now in many respects as the need for raw material, land and water is going to get ever more urgent. (c) As any schoolboy will tell you the weak get shoved around by the strong... this is why we had unions to allow the weak workers to take on the bosses - and strangely enough it did close the gulf between the overpaid executive and the grunt making the stuff - although since the decimation of the unions we see an ever increasing gulf - millions for the boss, and they complain about 10an hour for the workers.
I'm not a socialist, I'm not a conservative, I'm a Brit, I want to stay a Brit - that means we need to understand what it is we must do to keep this island (and its dependants) safe - and that is we need to be able to make things - defence items, general stuff, money (money comes from manufacturing stuff NOT from shuffling profits from my pocket to the bonus of a bank executive). We must also learn that our defence is in the hands of a few people in our forces, these people need to feel they have our backing, the stuff they need (planes to protect ships, helicopters to move equipment and people....) and are not facing a P45 unless some hapless terrorist happens to save the exchequer money by killing them.
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The problem is not that people don't want cuts. People know cuts need to be made and hard work needs to be done. The problem is that the savings are not being made fair for all. People who need help most are being hardest hit, and people who have shedloads of money are not being targetting. This is simply not on, and the fact that you fail to see this frankly obvious point makes me think that perhaps you're not fully qualified to comment on the issues. That and your appalling spelling and grammar.
last I checked it was the government who borrowed money from the banks to give money to the banks so the banks could pay back the banks they borrowed money from.
and as far as I'm aware, those dickbags rarely do what "we" want them to.
can anyone remember the definition of "democracy"?
Its not unfortunate that the last bunch of wasters were kicked out, it is unfortunate that the bunch of morons we have now were not opposing most of the moves the last government made.
Worst still we have yet to get the chance to remodel the 'democracy' so that we (a) get to decide on matters of national importance - war, new EU treaties, massive borrowing to bail some very rich bankers.... on a per case basis, (b) that when 25% of us vote Labour that only 25% of the commons is Labour... and so forth... in a typical uk election each LibDem represents 4x as many people as a Labour MP in terms of the total votes cast.
The problem however is not one lot or the other, its the stupidity of them ALL. It is OBVIOUS to anyone that the economies doing well are those making things - China, Germany... or mining raw material - China, Germany, Australia, Middle East, Russia (yes even them)...
Those of us who have our entire economy based on shuffling money from one pot to another and pretending that somehow we are creating wealth (our banks, entire public service, accountants, estate agents....) are the ones doing the worst.
A look at the office of national statistics will show the full extent of the problem this government are not even part way to tackling.... The working age population make up about 70% of the country. Of the working age population 30% aren't working, 20% work for the government (therefore are largely not producing money but spending it), 20% work part time, 30% work in private companies of which only around 50% produce things rather than offer service, shop sales... thus we get to the point where less than 10% of the population of this country supports all the rest.... clearly not a sustainable situation is it? Trivial cuts, pointless pinpricks of 'bank levys' are not going to address these fundamental problems. Only very determined action to setup our economy to produce things will make any meaningful difference.
Why do people insist on blaming the banking crisis for the current cuts? We spend (note the present tense) more on public services than we earn in taxation. We can't keep doing that or no-one will lend us the money to bridge the difference.
So we have to spend less.
Or tax more.
Given all the stories about waste I know which one of those two options I would prefer.
Uh...that's a good position to take in re, say, World War II. But the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? *Really*? You honestly think that if the UK hadn't invaded Afghanistan, Afghanistan would have invaded the UK?
(Note, this is not necessarily to say there isn't a plausible argument in favour of invading Afghanistan. But to argue that it's a 'fight there or fight here' war is just frankly ludicrous.)
You've not ben following the news for the past 10 years have you? You do realise that there was absolutely no coherent, immediate or indeed credible threat the the UK mainland from anyone in the middle east - and even if there truly is now, it's only because we went and kicked-off against a weakened and critically hemorrhaging nation on a false pretext which has probably created such animosity? Even then, continuing to occupy and systematically destroy these nations (don't talk about 'getting the job done' either - it's a completely strawman argument using PR speak and means nothing of import) will only make the situation exponentially worse in relation to our 'domestic security'.
But perhaps you were referring to the genuine and actual threat of terrorism from the 'Real IRA' and other republican paramilitary organisations currently threatening to target the UK with a fresh bombing campaign. So how does that relate or depend to 'our boys' being overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan again?
I hvae heard this silly arguement as often as the stupid 'if you've nothing to hide you have nothing to fear' one thats rolled out....
Look at history - it can teach you a great deal...
The Argentinians for many years moaned about the Falklands, for hundreds of years there was no credible threat - right up until they decided to invade - largely on a whim to keep the people occupied when the government was useless (ring another bell?)...
The Falklands have oil nearby - many countries have gone to war for oil - not least the aggresive one which spends 49% of the total worlds spending on guns and ammo...
There was no credible threat from Hitler to either us (Munich) or the Soviet Union (separate agreement) right up until there was war.
The Jews and Romanies weren't under threat in Germany until 1930...
The Japanese hadn't been at war with the USA right up until they bombed pearl harbour completely out of the blue (well to all except Churchill who happily sat on the one thing that would ensure the USA finally getting involved in WW2).
This analysis can go way way way back in history to the point where a hitherto unknown warlord from Mongolia (much further than the middle east - and in the days of horses only) managed to conquer right across to Spain....
The ONLY thing that prevents the destruction of a country is when that country is well enough protected - by its own strength.
Argentina and the FI are adjacent to each other. Britain/USA are nowhere near Iraqistan.
Argentina has historical claims of sorts to the FI. Britain/USA have no historical attachments to Iraqistan.
FI is close to oil. So is Iraqistan. Argentina attacked FI. We attacked Iraqistan.
Galtieri attacked FI in order to justify the huge amounts of money he was spending on argentinas military. Funnily enough, GWB controls the largest military budget in the history of our planet.
Congratulations, you have just tarred the "Coalition of the willing" with the same brush as Argentina.
Afghanistan is not in the Middle East. If you hadn't noticed, we've just about pulled out of Iraq. But, either way, our mission in both countries was/is to protect the locals from geurillas/terrorists/a$$h*les that think it's fun to drive truck-bombs into crowded markets, so when you idioticly crow about there being "less money to be killing people" what it means is there is less money to stop the truck-bombers blowing up women and kids.
It's good to see your grasp on foreign policy is as strong as it is on IT subjects Matt.
"our mission in both countries was/is to protect the locals from geurillas/terrorists/"
Do you really, really believe this? When are we going to ride roughsod over those other tyrants that currently busy oppressing other peoples around the world. I hear North Korea is pretty bad. Burma too. Robert Mugabe is certainly no saint either and we hear bad things coming out of Iran too. Then of course there is China, who are busy incarcerating the current winner of the Nobel Peace Prize while they are not off repressing Falun Gong and trying to wipe Tibet off the Map.
When do we send in "our boys" to free the poor unfortunate citizens of those countries Matt?
Why did we choose Iraq and Afghanistan over every one else.
Do you still believe in the WMDs Matt?
Team America! Fuck Yeah!
".....Robert Mugabe is certainly no saint either ...." Well, Goat Toe Jam, your thinking is a clear example of exactly why the UK will never mount an operation to clear out any African dictator - half the voters are too busy worrying about political niceties. Our politicians will never send troops to fight Mugabe's clans because too many of them are terrified of being labelled "white colonials resurrecting the Empire". If we sent British troops to unseat Mugabe we'd have half of Africa screaming about it, mainly becasue they'd be worried their own dictatorships would be next. You could guarantee the majority of the UN would be up in arms even if the Security Council approved the matter. And then there'd be your type of handwringers, so het up about being PC that it would somehow be worse for us to go in and kill a few thousand Mugabe supporters if required, you'd so much rather ignore the ongoing repression that Mugabe has applied for years (300,000 Matabele in one year alone). All this is even funnier when you consider it was the meddling of Prez Carter, patron saint of handwringers, that ensured Mugabe not only got into power but was allowed a free rein.
Korea? You need to check your facts, it was a US-led and largely Commonwealth-backed UN military force that kept the North Koreas from turning all of Korea into the same hellhole as North Korea is now. Political backbone was a lot less lacking back then, but it drew a line at all out war with Russia and China. Even after the massive drain of WW2, the public was behind the Government and our forces, and you didn't see the same type of fashionable anti-war frothing and sniping at our forces as you and your ilk indulge in today. But If it happened today I'm sure you'd be down in Parliament Square with the other wannabe Swampies, slating and slandering our soldiers just so you could feel better in your little bubble worlds.
Burma is a stupid example - the one thing the junta does there is keep everything internal, there is no exporting of terror or similar cross-border problems that we see from the Norks or Iran. With China's backing the junta, there is zero chance of a UN mandate to sort out Burma, and the same UK reluctance to be seen going back to one of our Imperial haunts. The US? Too terrified of the endlessly regurgitated and hyped failures of Viet Nam to want to go anywhere in South-East Asia. And whilst the rest of your fellow handwringers may find time between cappuccinos to feel bad, the rest of the World simply couldn't put a cohesive force together to do the job, even if the UN could get of it's useless backside long enough to forge a consensus. Without US muscle, the UN is not just a toothless tiger, it's one with a self-interest in not having strong Western forces sorting out the World's nasties. As long as the Burmese junta keeps the repression internal there will be zero political will to put a more responsible government in power. Thanks to voters like you.
And would you be prepared to face the costs of fighting China? Our politicians definately aren't. We're talking a Third World War, China has too many friends around the World for anything less. You would have zero chance of getting the UN onside seeing as China has paid off the majority of the petty dictators chumming it up there. A wise man once said you should pick your fights carefully, and the first George Bush was very careful to get the majority of the Arab nations and the UN onside when he went to kick the Iraqis out of Kuwait (oh, did you forget we had a UN mandate to protect the people of Kuwait and return it to the rightful government?). Your example just shows you are not a wise man.
In fact, all you did was perfectly illustrate that it is people like you that ensures the dictators of the World can sleep easy because it is people like you that squeal, wring your hands and endlessly criticise our own when we do get up enough will to smack some dictator down. So the next time you feel the need to whine about the treatment of Liu Xiaobo or other Chinese dissidents, or Myanmar, or just grumble of how the pan-Africa nationalist dream seems to have brought nothing but misery to most Africans, I suggest you stop and look in the mirror - you are the problem.
You've a false and overly simplistic take on war and its consequences. I suggestion you look deeper into the suffering caused by human conflict - the misery, pain and bitter division it causes.
Resolution of conflict and the defeat of tryanny and repression arise through diplomatic negotiation, cultivation of trust, compassionate understanding and tolerance of each other as fellow human beings and the development of strong and binding relationships between the international community.
Warmongering leads to little other than catastrophe and an utter failure of humanity.
I'm trying really hard to credit you with a sense of humour and a sarcastic wit, but I'm sorry to say the reality is you're probably just rediculously naive. I'm assuming your momma kept the apron strings so tight you never went to a school and met a gang of playground bullies? Saddam was simply a massive bully, it's just his gang had MiGs and T-72 tanks.
I suggest you look deeper into the suffering meted out without the slightest hint of compassion by Saddam or the Taleban. Saddam didn't give a damn about compassion, he welded a power-base in Iraq by scaring his own people so badly they wouldn't dare lift a finger against him. To ensure his own success Saddam simply liquidated any opposition in his own Baath party, this was not a man to be impressed with diplomatic negotiation, he simply saw it as weakness. And the Taleban thought (and still think) they have the god-given right to rule. Compassion for them is for other Muslims that match up to their standards - anyone else is simply unimportant. Try reading a little history in between the kumbayah sessions.
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...Ok so why are we not in Somalia, DRC, North Korea, Iran?
Iraq was a pure revenge for Bush's daddy not actually winning* the 1st time round. Invaded on trumped up charges of WMoD.
Afganistan was to make Bush look tough after a dozen people in tents bought the symbol of capatilism crashing to the ground.
So put another way10's of thousands of INNOCENT civillians have died, yes you read that right, 10's of thousands, to save face.
And as for being evil terrorists, depends on which side you sit on. Sadam Hussain (and some other countries such as Turkey) see the Kurds as terrorists. So was the gassing of civillians in Kurdistan justified? Well if a few" terroists" justify killing thousands of civillians, well I guess he was.
<Yawn> Was that just more of the same old uniformed leftist blather you always hear around Iraq? Why, yes it was!
".....Ok so why are we not in Somalia, DRC, North Korea, Iran?...." Because liberal handwringers like you would squeal and whine if the politicians even suggested it. As regards Somalia, Prez Clinton was too terrified of (a) looking like a white, imperial power and (b) too terrified of his own Democrat party and how they'd react to US soldiers coming back in bodybags. Even Kofe Annan admited that Clinton would probably have got majority backing form the UN General Council and definately from the Security Council for a US-led military force to clear the clan fighters out of Mogadishu, he just didn't want to ask for one. Iran? Blame Prez Carter, another Democrat and champion handwringer, who sat by and let the Iranian revolution turn into an Islamist take-over. And then there's the fact that the Norks and Somalians - so far - haven't started developing nuke weapons. Iran is defineately doing so, they have already processed uranium far beyond the level required for their "research" reactors, and it is finally a big enough problem that the Arabs have sat up and taken notice (hence the UN activity - I suppose you failed to notice it's UN sanctions, not just the US and UK?) Oh, and before you start the usual mindless denial, even the UN admits Saddam did have a nuke program, the discussion is whether it was still running around the time of the Second Gulf War.
And even then, Bush Jnr learnt from his Daddy and showed that Saddam was in breach of the UN mandate. He didn't need one for Afghanistan since the 9/11 attacks would be enough to constitute an act of war between two countries. The Taleban refused to hand over AQ, so they put themselves in the frame (and note, no oil in Afghanistan, so don't fall back on the usual whining about why the US wanted to invade Iraq). Bush Jnr was very clear - the US was at war with AQ and friends, not the people of Afghanistan, which is why he had widspread support from Afghan groups like the Northern Alliance inside Afghanistan from day one (I suppose you ddin't know that the Taleban weren't universally loved in Afghanistan, not with your blinkered outlook).
".....Afganistan was to make Bush look tough after a dozen people in tents bought the symbol of capatilism crashing to the ground....." Really? So if a guy broke into your home and murdered a member of your family, I suppose you'd refuse to help the Police because you'd say the attacker was "just trying to embarrass the door-lock industry"? Are you really so stupid that you cannot comprehend that the US Prez has a duty to protect the US people, and that means going after people that attack the US to try and stop them doing it again. Take a look at a few news archives - AQ is on the run, they are hiding away and looking for patsies to launch desperate attacks in the West because Bush (and Blair) sent forces out to hunt and kill them. Without the Afghan invasion to remove the Taleban, Bin Laden would just have sat back in comfort and sent more jihadis to kill even the useful idiots like you. In case you haven't noticed, those jihadis don't stop to ask their victims "did you vote for Bush or support the war in Iraq?"
"....So put another way10's of thousands of INNOCENT civillians have died, yes you read that right, 10's of thousands, to save face....." In fact, the jihadis are mostly targetting other Muslims, which is ironic given your idiotic views and frothing The biggest killer of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan is other Muslims! More Muslims die there from Muslim-on-Muslim violence than from any other cause - cancer, heart disease, famine - these just pale beside the numbers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by other Muslims. Please tell me those guys driving truckbombs into Iraqi markets are doing so because they think they'll find lots of Alliance troops out shopping, it would be about on par for stupidity as your other statements. And that's even before we look at the number of Iraqis killed by Saddam during his reign (million plus?) and the unknown number of Afghans killed by the Taleban in their rise to power and since (estimates vary from 200,000 up to 800,000, and that includes women hung for not covering their hair, or men shot for shaving their beards, or kids beaten to death for having pop music tapes).
"....And as for being evil terrorists, depends on which side you sit on...." Well, I sit on the side that thinks that driving a truckbomb into a market with the express intent of killing civillians, or of deliberately flying an airliner into an office tower full of civillians, is not the brave act of soldiers, it's just murder. And that soldiers that risk their lives to stop said truckbombers, or those that hunt down the planners behind the 9/11 attacks, they're the brave ones. I'm sure your close little circle of the fashionably outraged will like to think of it another way, but then that's up to you what kind of people you let spoonfeed you your views. Just don't assume for a second that the rest of us are as naive as you. Your blather about Saddam and the Kurds just goes to highlight the rediculous lengths you'll go to in avoiding the obvious - Saddam set out with the deliberate and distinct purpose of suppressing the Kurds to the point where he was happy to commit genocide - the Allies are trying to give support to democratic governments in Afghansitan and Iraq. There was nothing democratic about the Taleban or Saddam. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the terrorists you would no doubt prefer to label "geurillas" or "freedom-fighters" are minorities that are not willing to accept the democratic majority's decisions. In Iraq, even the vast majority of the Sunni populance have turned against AQ and sided with the US and the Iraqi government. Nothing does more to undermine your claptrap than the example of the Anbar Awakening.
Getting rid of Harrier whilst retaining the Tornado makes no sense whatsoever but you can see why the RAF would want to hold onto them.
Tornado has a crew of 2, Harrier 1. What would the RAF do with all those redundant navigators?
Getting rid of the Ark Royal now, no sense whatsoever.
JSF-C a sensible decision, they should never have hamstrung the carriers without the catapult.
Not convinced the decision to get rid of escorts makes sense, they defend the carrier even if only by taking the hit.
And killing the C-130 and buying the A-400 instead, utterly barmy.
You missed another sensible cut - ASTOR, which never worked in the first place.
If cruise missiles are the answer, Tornados can drop four of the things at a time, potentially delivering them to drop-point at Mach 2 after mid-air refueling (all things, the Harrier can't do).
Alternatively, they can carry 6 Maverick's (which most soldiers would probably much rather have, falling around their ears, in close support, than the unguided iron bombs the Harriers drop. When all you have is an iron bomb, everything starts to look like collateral.)
Paveways, HOPEs, all manner of all all-weather, anti-radar, and runway destroying ordinance drop from this jet, that the Harrier hasn't even the lifting capacity to take airborne. In short, Port Stanley was attacked by GR3 Harriers carrying iron bombs: Saddam Hussain's air force was attacked by Tornados dropping smart ordinance. The results more or less speak for themselves.
Tornado may be an old plane, but the Harrier is twice as old, and the fact that the latter is operated, in standard guise, by a vanishingly small number of other air powers means that it would probably be much harder to keep Harriers operational, over the same time period that the Tornado is probably going to be kept flying. My guess is that the Tornado will outlast that other great, obsolete, but strategically vital, old Cold War bomber, the B52 (and current plans put the B52 as being likely phased-out around 2040).
It may be a better plane, but the Typhoon can do much the same thing these days.
Also the Harrier can carry much of the weapons the Tornado can
( I very much doubt the Tornado can carry 4 Storm Shadows operationally - cruise missile strike is still better done from a sub anyway! I don't think they carry Maverick in RAF service, but the Harrier is also capable of carrying it as well, it can also carry the same Brimstone anti armour missiles, and laser guided bombs that the Tornado carries albeit in slightly less numbers)
But saving Tornados, for a marginally better bombing capability is ludicrous compared to ditching all air cover for the Navy and Expeditionary capability that they offer
Lewis's argument is that we don't need deep interdiction, when the last government we fought, was largely beaten using various kinds of deep interdiction. If you can deliver your slow cruise missiles inside the enemy's anti-aircraft envelope via a supersonic jet, you don't need to spend a fortnight obliterating the anti-aircraft cover, as you would using subs (assuming there is a coastline within sub-launched cruise missile range of your target, that is).
In any case, the squadrons which are currently Tornado are the squadrons that will be Typhoon, so the fact that Typhoon can do what Tornado can do is something of a non-argument.
I'm not saying that having no naval air power isn't unforgivable: it is. If we could have used Tornados over the Falkland Islands we simply wouldn't have taken any casualties or missed any targets: period. However, the fact that we couldn't, and and still wouldn't be able to, shows why we need naval air power.
Gambling that the baddies are always going to be in range of friendly airbases is a bit like gambling he'll always be in range of a sub-friendly coast. However (like the sub) a dedicated bomber that can take off from a friendly airbase, is always going to wipe the floor with anything that any ageing, sub-sonic, low payload forty year old light-medium jet could offer as an alternative.
Harrier can meet our current bombing needs in Afghanistan, the way a Hercules with it's back door open, could meet our current bombing needs in Afghanistan. However, that rather misses the point. Harrier can, indeed, carry a fair number of the less specialised ordinance that Tornado can - only in much lower quantities, to much lower ranges, and with much less on-board electronics, to use with it, when it arrives, that's all.
Looking at this specific comment, let's turn it on its head, and state that "Tornado can already do much of the things Typhoon can do", and - old as it is - we already have the Tornados, the trained crews, the ground-staff, and supplies, to keep the Tornados flying.
Or is your argument "keep the Harriers and buy even more Typhoons"?
No, we've bought a whole load of Typhoons we can't use, which is why we are selling them to the Saudis. You could retrain the Tornado crews to use some of the excess. I would far prefer they get the F-35s sorted out, which will take over from the Tornados and Harriers anyway and can be carrier launched, until then, zero sized carrier groups seems the most ridiculous option to me
Also to the person who said we don't have enough tomahawks, and subs to launch them. All our attack subs can launch them as they get pushed out the torpedo tubes, even the old Swiftsures have launched them in the past
".....but the Typhoon can do much the same thing these days......" Yes, Typhoon could do the same if we spent more money on making them up to Tranche 3 capability, whereas Tornados can do the job now without needing any additional kit.
".....cruise missile strike is still better done from a sub anyway....." Yes, but we don't have enough subs capable of launching even Tomahawks, which would mean we would have to spend more instead of cutting costs.
Whilst I'm generally a Harrier supporter, I'd rather have the deep capability of Tornado for hitting Iran, which is looking likelier by the day. And if we do go and smack Iran then we'll need tanks too. Right before we paid out to buy Challenger2 we had a similar "there'll never be a need for tanks" outcry that was equally short-sighted. And when we bought the original Challengers. And Chieftains. Centurions, which preceded the Chieftains, were a direct result of the penny-pinching and short-sighted buying of tanks between WW1 and WW2.
As for Lewis's frankly idiotic idea that we can replace the RAF with drones, he might like to consider that drones would have been even less use than Harriers in the Falklands campaign.
Yes, we should trim the Navy's escorts back a lot, or simply scrap Trident TNG and give all the current subs the ability to launch nuke Tomahawks. But then we could also cancel all the RAF F-35s and simply re-purpose some Tranche 3 Typhoons to do the job from the number we've ordered already, but then that might put the RN F-35Cs at risk too. As a very smart man once said, it's hard to please all the people all of the time.
Port Stanley was attacked by laser spot seeking bombs, dropped by Harriers. The laser was operated by squaddies on an overlooking hill.
I think that was the first angry use of effective guidance. I never discovered if the laser was ground based for technical or strategic reasons. Probably both.
The squaddies snuck in from far off and did this from the ground because there were no other options. Someone has to get reasonably close (a few km max ) and keep shining the laser at the target so that the bomb can see it. That's damn hard to do from 10k ft with a fast plane or from a hovering helicopter, especially since you might get noticed and shot at.
There has been quite a change in technology since the Falklands and it no longer makes a useful benchmark. Remember that the early 1980s had no real drones, no GPS or any of that.
GPS and/or video guidance will do the job just as well without endangering squaddies and with no need to make them get wet/cold.
"Port Stanley was attacked by GR3 Harriers carrying iron bombs: Saddam Hussain's air force was attacked by Tornados dropping smart ordinance. The results more or less speak for themselves.
Yup. The runway at Port Stanley wasn't seriously damaged by bombing. Besides the Harriers were needed for more important things: shooting down Argentinian fighters and ground support for the troops. And anyway, that escapade was over 25 years ago. Weapons development and technology has moved on since the days before mobile phones and the Internet.
The Tornados took the heaviest US-UK losses in the Iraqi turkey-shoot. That can't be called a war because the other side weren't really fighting.
"Alternatively, they can carry 6 Maverick's (which most soldiers would probably much rather have, falling around their ears, in close support, than the unguided iron bombs the Harriers drop. When all you have is an iron bomb, everything starts to look like collateral.)"
<sigh> Harrier GR9 can carry maverick and paveway along with the brimstone missile as well.
I also remember the Tornado's ignominious withdrawal from low level missions in Iraq due to losses and their redeployment on medium level smart bomb dropping runs, each group being led by a Buccaneer to actually mark the target and guide in the bombs as the Tornadoes had no way to do it themselves. Very inspiring...
Done some digging, as I thought, those weapons are in the Tranche 2 spec which is committed to and currently being delivered. However, the full integration is in the second half of the Tranche so appear by about 2012, so yes not quite all available now; how likely is it we'll need to bomb Iran in the next couple of years?
So the requirement to have to throw money at T3 is wrong. Tranche 3 is looking at upgrades for possible unnamed future weapons, system updates, such as switching to AESA radar, possible fitting of Thrust Vectoring and Conformal Fuel Tanks etc. A lot of T3 spec is probably undecided
As with most things both of these planes have advantages...
The Tornado can do a lot of things exactly as you say... well almost... it still needed help from another (now retired) veteran to actually drop that smart ordanance as it couldn't target the bombs without help...
The Harrier can very importantly land and take off from the decks of our rather minature aircraft carriers - which means it could attack the runways of Port Stanley when we had no 'friendly' airfields nearby to make use of (as we did in Saudi). The only non-Harrier bombing run was by another now discontinued British made plane which flew from the UK, it did it only once because the strain on the crew and logistics of the mid air refueling that even this long range bomber needed was too much to organise (the successful bomber was not the only one to leave, just the only one to make it there).
An aircraft carrier with no aircraft is a large target, less use than a pub without beer and on a par with a chocolate fireguard.
If we can't get spares for a Harrier, or the airframe is old then we still have the paperwork, patents and plans to make some new ones. We might even be able to uprate the engines and make it supersonic or anything.
I suspect the troops on the ground probably just need some practice firing guns in order to defeat the taliban... as I recollect from my time I could dismantle, clean and reassemble the gun blindfolded long before I got the chance to pop off one round at a target - after all we don't want to 'waste' money training our soldiers to shoot when we can spend it all on parties for the officers do we? (Interesting side note - remember a recent article pointing out that most of the RN ships out and about had no air defence missiles, no cruise missiles, in fact pretty much no ordanance of any type at all because an accountant thinks it saves money - right up to the point where we find a boatload of pirates/Iranians able to kidnap our sailors because the bloody great heavily gunned ship their dingy is up against doesn't have anything to shoot at them.
The aircraft in question were the Vulcan Bomber and the Victor K2 (a bomber converted to a tanker which could also take on fuel from other tankers, useful due to the massive distance involved)
They also flew from Ascension Island off the coast of Northern South America, rather than from the UK, and flew several missions, including some carrying state of the art (at the time) HARM missiles, rumoured to have been supplied by Americans posing as South African Arms Dealers.
Source for the above is a book called "Vulcan 607" which details the hassles the RAF had in planning and carrying out the bombing of the runway at Port Stanley (including a last minute technique change)
We were offered KC-135 tankers from the USA however they are not capable of midair refuelling of the transfer tanks unlike the victor was.
I've also heard a dit that we were offered the use of a Nimitz class carrier and aircraft if we supplied the crew, which unfortunately was a major obstacle even in the early 80s (5000 crew including air group)
There may be no money, but what there is could (and should) have been spent in far better ways. The axing of Harrier instead of Tornado is insane. Keep our pocket carriers flying Harriers, keep a useful capability and keep the Fleet Air Arm in practice then recycle as Helicopter carriers, they would only need to ditch a couple more Frigates to pay for it.
Still at least they didn't follow Robert Peston's supposedly "sensible" idea that carriers are useless and we should switch a carrier for a Frigate order
The inspired use, of the only choice available, is no argument, for its use, as an inspired choice.
Harrier has done sterling service - way beyond it's design limitations. As an emergency measure, it did us well - but the emergency happened in 1984, and the rot that you feel, is the rot that has been allowed to set in during those intervening 26 years.
Just because our only option, for fleet air-arm, is an obsolete pocket carrier with a compliment of obsolete pocket jets it wasn't intended to carry in the first place, does not make it any kind of an option. Malta was saved from immediate invasion by Gloster Gladiators, but that did not mean that Gloster Gladiators became a mainstay of strategic military planning.
Sure, we have no adequate fleet air arm - this is widely acknowledged. But keeping Ark Royal, and its Harriers, will not alter that.
The whole point of keeping Ark Royal, is not just about flying Harriers, though desirable, we're about to scrap a large part of the FAA only to have to rebuild it in a few years time, that smells costly.
Once/If the new Carriers appear it can easily be converted to a Helicopter Carrier, the Hull should still be decent.
As it is the Helicopters that actually do the sub hunting, the chasing of drug running Go-Fasts or Pirates, the deployment of troops etc. such a conversion is far better than keeping Frigates with their one Helicopter. They also make very useful Humanitarian aid platforms
I still think trading the Tornados and some Frigates for this is a far better idea.
After debunking the RR "you can't have catapults without a nuclear reactor" and "Harrier is better than Tornado because of AMRAAM", we have good results.
- F35 Tailhook instead of VTOL. Cheaper, less dead weight, simpler technology, more payload.
- Torndao still there in case a *real* threat has to be tackled (such as a Tu95 or Su-34 airbase to be taken out, defended by S-400 missiles)
- Tornado still there to stop the Tu95/AS-4 Kitchen (look it up, much better than the New World Crap missile tech) 600kms north of Aberdeen
-In emergency, the terror threat is fought by police and visa authorities, as it should be.
...I think it's time Britain followed the example of a fellow bankrupt country and put out a contract for its defence. The Icelanders rely on fellow NATO countries for air defence so not only do they not have to worry about lining BAE's profits, their defenders usually only bring the working kit as they don't want to look bad.
Iceland has four small coastguard vessels of its own, and I suspect on past form they're more than a match for Royal Navy frigates.
What are the odds of Argentina making another assault on The Falklands once the Ark Royal has been mothballed? They'll have a 10 year window before we can get a decent size air strike force out to the islands if we don't have an aircraft carrier. Their navy will be far larger than ours and we won't stand a chance without the USA stepping in.
If I were Lady Britannia I would feel very naked and vulnerable on the world stage. The "when" and "how" questions of future wars are unknown so Britain must be prepared for ALL types of warfare. Yes, even ones where tanks, frigates, bombers and VTOL fighters are needed. Reducing numbers is one thing, but completely mothballing every unit of its kind is worrying.
The Falklands are now fortified, there would be no need for a task force as
the invasion would fail.
There already is a decent sized air strike force out there including a handful of one of
the worlds most expensive air supremacy fighters.
Argentina is now a friendly democratic state, we get on with them as well as we do Spain.
> ...Britain should stop pretending to be an empire and give those couple of rocks back to Argentina.
Or maybe those Spaniards living in Argentina should leave now and give back the land to the descendants of the people they stole it from when they colonised the place. Or doesn't the same logic apply to them?
"...Britain should stop pretending to be an empire and give those couple of rocks back to Argentina."
Actually, the Argentine claim to possession is mostly inherited from the Spanish Empire's claim (although Spain claimed half the planet at one time, thanks to the delusions of some corrupt Pope or other). So, maybe Imperial Spain or the Kingdom of France should have first refusal.
Or maybe the penguins should just have it back...
Withhold payments to the EU until
a) we have cleared our own national deficit and
b) they stop increasing the EU budget in the middle of a recession
All that money we give to the EU each year would clear our budget problems in next to no time. Combine it with a marginal cut to the NHS, say 2% (you'd probably get a decent reduction in spending if you fire a few thousand middle managers and hire the same number of nurses) and we could be running a surplus in a few years.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've not seen any mention of the R1 being up for retirement either, so this will likely continue for a few years yet. Although this is only one aircraft, it presumably has the capability for both electronic interception/intelligence gathering and can probably fill the ASW role if required, just swap some of the equipment round that they took out of the retired MR2A aircraft.
knows more about Mr Putin's intentions for the rebuilding of a greater Russia than the rest of us. Then again as a former consultant he probably went a sold Mr Putin the idea of building a greater Russia after discussing with all the old Communists what was wrong with the current one.
Consultants and lawyers should be banned from being PM as should trade union shop stewards instead we should have people who have actually had to work really hard for a living to get to be PM. Unfortunately there are not that many of them in the old House of Commons these days.
Paris 'cos she'd make a good Tory MP.
"One should also note that every time a British fighter has shot down an enemy plane since WWII, the fighter took off from a carrier to do so."
Though not for want of trying, Javelins were flying to intercept Indonesia aircraft over Malaysia and one crashed trying to avoid them.
Oh, I just found an incident from the 1948 Arab Israeli war. On 22 May 1948 RAF Spitfires shot down Egyptian Spitfires
Also just mentioning RAF fighters is disingenuous, since the RAF were bombing from land bases post war. Eg the Valiants during the Suez Crisis, Lincolns over Kenya, ground attacks in Korea. These are the activities that Eurofighter and Tornado are heir to.
Cameron might be listening to the outgoing RAF and incoming Army chief of staff. Lewis is ex Navy and likes US equipment (obvious if you read previous articles) - granted possibly because it is cheap.
That said, it does seem stupid to get rid of the Harriers and to keep the Tornadoes - I assume it's all dependency linked - you'd need to keep the Arc Royal for the Harriers and there is no money for that?
The most interesting part of the article was providing the history of when key decisions were made and their current financial impact... Labour had been in government SO long I had no idea some of the decisions could be traced back to the previous Conservative government.
I see your point but on the issue of carriers I'd agree with getting some f-18s in. Cheaper and in the super hornet variant about as capable as we'd need against any opponent until the F35s come down in price.
What Lewis doesn't seem to acknowledge in his critique is that his expectations for cuts were unrealistic as Cameron is of course from the very Humphrey class that runs the Army and RAF hence they got their way.
I'm not really interested in who started Nimrod or Typhoon as Labour (during their 13 year reign) had ample opportunity to change things and didn't so are equally culpable especially given some of the huge majorities they had.
I disagree with you on tanks Lewis. The Canadian's reversed their decision to get rid of tanks after finding they were useful in Afghanistan and they were vital in Iraq in the insurgency as well as during the army to army engangement. As one US officer said, when under fire from RPG's or IED's troops hide behind Bradley's and Abrams, not Hummers and LAV's. Also the experience in Kosovo was that without ground forces to oppose, the Serbs were able to split up their tanks and hide them making our air campaign completely uneffective in terms of denigrating their armour. It was only the threat of armoured ground forces being comitted that forces them to negotiate.
I'd say about 200 tanks and 500 armoured AFV's is right.
You don't mention FRES but getting rid of that sounds right as well. Medium vehicles (like the LAV mentioned above) are over spec'ed for peacekeeping and under protected for high intensity wars. You want a combination of heavy and light for these two different missions.
I'm with every point you make on the RAF except the Nimrod. We should have got rid of Tornado and kept Harrier. We should never have built the Nimrod but now we have we should get some use for it. Maritime surveillance, communications relay and ASW are missions we do need to undertake. To get value for money though we should have equipped the aircraft with a PGM capability (Storm Shadow and Paveway) and used it in the way the US uses the B52 and B1 to loiter over battlefields where we have air dominance. That would have given the Nimrod more relevance to our mission given how much we've spent on it.
For the RN retaining a world class MCM and SSN force are welcome but everything else is stupid. We should have kept Ark Royal and both Illustrious and Ocean as well as the Bay's. The decision on carriers and amphib is ridiculous.
Retiring the Type 22's makes sense and in future we must go with a high/lo capability mix (we do need some escorts Lewis). At the moment to get the number of hulls we need we leave capability gaps on our ships which means they are under-armed for high end warfighting and over-armed for peacetime duties.
We should be planning to replace the 13 Type 23's and the the 6 ageing RFA's of the Leaf, Rover and Fort Austin class with:
*8 High end frigates equipped for ASW but also carrying SSM and cruise missiles
*6 Large helicopter equipped offshore patrol vessels
*6 Fleet replenishment ships that each carry half a dozen large helicopters
We must buy the E2D for the reasons you stated and we need to equip the Type 45 with all the weapons it is fitted for but not with as it will not longer be escorting carriers which make up for its anti-ship and anti-submarine weapon deficiencies but will need to operate independently and now constitutes 30% of our escort force.
Other than tanks, Nimrod and being a little excessive with regard to escorts this was a very good article Lewis and far better than the superficial rubbish that so called commentators are filling the broadsheets with.
Oh, lastly, on Cameron - did you notice he thinks we have Typhoon's rather than Tornado's in A'stan. Sums up the mans military knowledge perfectly.
Why? What's their role? There's no submarine threat any more - unless we go to war with the Reds or the Frogs, in which case we won't be using the CVs anyway - and a CV's air wing is far more capable of defending it against any surface attack than an escort ship is.
Escorts are Old School thinking, beloved of buffers with OCD, sitting around swilling port, wanking over Orders Of Battle and re-fighting Jutland and Badung Strait.
Mind you, it was CVEs that chafed the Nips at Samar - although as usual, the DDs and DEs got all the gongs and glory - and that's a lesson that does still stand.
Take some cheap container ships, slap Cruise launchers and helicopters on them, and bingo, there's your useful force projection, far more effective and cheaper than a gin palace frigate.
Not reading things I don't agree with. I must try that sometime...
Actually, no, that would be silly. Better to read and attempt to understand rather than complaining about it, n'est pas? I mean, if we never tried to understand opposing points of view we'd be in a pretty sorry state. Wars, fundamentalism, appeals to authority and insults flung at opponents would be the norm. It would be a nightmare.
I'd like to wake up now...
Bloody hell, one hell of a rant that was fun to read, but completely failed to do some proper analysis.
Buying 22 Chinooks WAS NEVER a sensible decision, want to know why? Because WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH BLOODY PILOTS TO FLY THEM OR ENOUGH ENGINEERS TO SERVICE THEM!.It takes at least 2 years to train the pilots and longer for the engineers and by then combat operations in Afghanistan was meant to end. This ignores the fact you have 17k less service men on top of that. 12 Chinooks is a far more realistic number and far from betraying troops, it puts the right resources in at the right level, well too bloody late actually but Cameron cannot speed things up on that front.
As for the A400M plane, give up on the buy American line. Cameron himself hinted they would buy more C-17s, but think of cancelling the A400M order as impossible as cancelling the carriers only with instead of several thousand ship builders hating your guts, it is more like 5 European countries! Labour locked the country in and poured in billions in development. You might as well get some return for all that dosh. Cancelling is just not an option without causing an almighty political mess.
Finally cancelling that many frigates is also a stupid idea. They are still actually quite useful and they do a hell of a lot that amphibs and carriers can't do. Like head directly into harm's way and drop those special forces guys off onto the beach...
There are some valid things to rant about, especially on the Tornados and Nimrods, but undermining your decent arguments by not doing the research properly and coming up with completely crap suggestions that do not take account of the real world does the argument no favours.
Let me make it clear to you Richard - You obviously didnt read the article.
The point of the article was that the plans leaves us wasting money on things that are no longer relevent where we should be putting money on things we need. There could actually be a saving if we cut what is obsolete and spend more economically on what we need.
You got the "fucking" point now? There, I'm macho like you now by swearing.
... was that they weren't considerably larger and didn't entirely rule out a replacement for Trident.
I know you like stuff designed for killing people, Lewis ... but this article was just silly. Major military spending is neither desirable nor affordable.
Being a good (world) citizen is much better, cheaper foreign policy than sending troops off in shiny metal boxes to kill people in far-off lands.
Well, the theory goes that, in the event of a real war and conscription, we would need a base of trained officers to manage the large numbers of cannonfodder conscripts. It takes longer to train officers (during WW2, privates often got as little as three weeks real training!), so if we have extra today we can expand and still maintain a reasonable level of quality. The RN uses the same argument to justify their large number of officers, as Lewis should know. In the event of war, you can buy or build planes, tanks and even warships quickly, you can even get masses of soldiers up to readiness in a short period, but training skilled people and officers takes longer to much longer.
Instead, we should be asking why there is still such an enormous number of civil servants working in the MoD (or a number of other Government departments)? It's years since Cecil Parkinson highlighted the idiocy of having an ever-increasing number of civil servants to look after an ever-decreasing number of soldiers, sailors, arimen, ships, tanks and planes, especially when you consider the expensive systems provided that are supposed to have REDUCED the administration load. Politicians know it is career suicide to upset the civil service UNLESS the public says they won't get re-elected, so instead of "two carriers or no votes for you", I'd rather it were "two carriers paid for by a lot less civil servants, or no votes for you".
The people of this once brave land no longer care about, or have the courage to stand up to, government injustice.
They've freely swallowed the sterilisation medicine of soap opera television, celebrity and "the war on terror" for so long that taking to the streets is impossible.
Cameron wouldn't need tanks to put down anything. All he'd need to do would be threaten the removal of, say, Eastenders for a week and they'd give up immediately.
We make a joke of the French and their supposed unwillingness to fight. But they certainly know how to protest and make their voices heard.
Of course, you also forget to mention that the Red Clydesiders had so little support even in Scotland that the six tanks were really unnecessary. The strikers were returning to work by 4th February, though the obstinate strike committee didn't declare an end to the strike until 12th (the tanks had left several days earlier). Besides, who needs tanks to suppress Scots nowadays? All you have to do is let them come south of the border for work and they suddenly become quite civilised. The ones that stay up north we can happily leave to mess up their own affairs by giving them their own toothless "parliament" at Holyrood. As an exercise in divid and conquer - or maybe that should be divide and maintain rule - Holyrood is amusingly effective.
if the political parties in this country were *actually* different from one another, rather *all* being a bunch of scumsucking nepotistic parasites with different coloured ties, you'd come close to having a point.
You want to hear some weak, accusatory drivel?
How about "I read an article I didn't like waaa waaa waaa it's all Lewis Page's fault waaa waaa waaa"
The start of the article clearly had the word "Comment" as a heading. Not "The Truth".
The scrapping of the Nimrod MRA4 means that the UK has no long range fixed-wing Search and Rescue capability, we have had none since March 2010 when the Nimrods were retired but that was claimed to be just temporary until the new one was in service.
If a ship or aircraft gets in difficulty out in the Atlantic or goes missing then it will be out of the range of the SAR helicopters. Also the Nimrods used to assist SAR helicopters by directing them to a vessel and so saving time as well as giving safety cover whilst there are away from land.
Quite apart from the relative level of expense to keep a single example of a type operational the operational readiness of such a set up would be of no real benefit as it would not be able to respond quickly enough to any emergency. Until it was withdrawn from service there used to be a Nimrod on one hour readiness for SAR tasks and could co-ordinate searches over a vast area using surface, helicopter and fixed wing aircraft and with in flight refuelling could do so for hours.
This is a major loss in capability no matter how you cut it.
The two main tasks the RAF should be able to perform in order to defend Britain are long range maritime patrol and airspace defence. Typhoon whatever else could be said about it can perform the latter task very effectively (although the number of planes needed to do so is a lot smaller) but without a credible Nimrod replacement we effectively lose control over a huge area of the North Atlantic.
With regards to the trimming of the Chinook order, if I remember correctly the delivery date was some time AFTER the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan making ti a nice purchase for Boeing but not one that would have helped our troops on the frontline.
It made a nice bit of PR fluff for McBroon but very little operational sense.
Tory voters hang your head in shame. No matter what you say, we would not be practically defenceless under any other party.
What are these "people" thinking?
Tories are usually from a privileged background, they don’t need a credit line to get by, which is why they are in the process of slash and burn. The majority of normal people have debts, and they rearrange their debts in order to afford to purchase necessary items.
What would the condems know about it? Very little it would seem!
The banking sector caused this whole mess, so how is it fair that I have to pay for it? And why do they insist on repeating "the biggest deficit shit"? The deficit is CAUSED by the greedy bankers, and our need to prop them up.
What ever happened to common sense?
"No matter what you say, we would not be practically defenceless under any other party."
We're not exactly defenceless right now. We might not have the same ability to go on the offensive halfway around the world, but that's not the same thing as being unable to defend ourselves if someone brought the fight to us.
And if you think things would have stayed rosy under Labour, I'd just like to ask you one question. For how long could we have continued to afford to maintain in a state of readiness, let alone use to its fullest potential, the armed forces we had (and were planning to retain had Labour stayed in power), without having to either go on maxing out the national credit card or making even more drastic cuts elsewhere in the budget?
What are they thinking? Perhaps they're thinking we need to do something pretty damn sharpish to start paying off the quite frankly insane levels of debt Labour have racked up, before things get even worse for us. Some Tories as individuals might not have much experience of managing debt on a personal level, but as a party they seem to understand managing it on the national level a damn sight better than Labour ever did.
>> The banking sector caused this whole mess, so how is it fair that I have to pay for it? And why do they insist on repeating "the biggest deficit shit"? The deficit is CAUSED by the greedy bankers, and our need to prop them up
And the deficit is still getting bigger because the bankers are still causing a mess is it ? (the cuts so far will only slow down the increase in deficit, not reduce it).
The deficit is big because public spending was / still is out of control - in all areas. G.Brown printing money to bail out the bankers just made it worse - it did not, in itself, the CAUSE the deficit.
"The only time you actually need a Nimrod or something like it is when up against a big, powerful force of enemy submarines. The only such forces now in existence are operated by the US, UK and France, so this is an unlikely situation."
Oh, Lewis, Lewis. The UK has been at war with *both* of those within the last two centuries, which as you've been telling us all along is a mere eye-blink to the military bureaucrat's mind. They're probably just lulling us into a false sense of security!
"The UK has been at war with *both* of those within the last two centuries"
Only just, and right now, France has its hands full with, er, the French. (Good luck with that, Nick.) The US is so much more powerful than everyone else on the planet put together that the only thing keeping us safe is that they believe they already own us.
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"If it was up to me i would put ME into power" - I just bet you would.
Tell you what, you establish your own little white-supremacist mini-state in your back garden, and cut off diplomatic relations with the rest of England until we see sense and come begging for you to save us all. I'm sure you won't be waiting long before we come and abase ourselves before your ranty majesty.......
A. D. Irtyforeigner
Why do we want carriers? If you are worried by navel threats you need submarines and corvettes. Come to that Tornadoes have an anti shipping role around the UK.
Carriers are good for attacking other people but we are unlikely to do that in the near future. They are also very tempting targets. Personally I’d worry about a US carrier group, with a UK carrier (especially equipped with Harriers) its a rerun of the Price of Wales and the Repulse
If you read any of the crop of recent front line accounts from Iraq* and Afghanistan, it seem fairly clear that there is still a significant use for armoured brigades to support troops on the ground in counter insurgency roles. Columns of Warrior APCs supported by Challenger II main battle tanks often proved to be the only way of safely delivering vital resupply and troop relief in urban siege situations like that of Cimic house in Iraq.
* Read Dan Mills "Sniper One" for a breathtaking account of British forces in the thick of an all out conflict not seen since WWII
Why not ground those hugely expensive Tornados, cancel the hugely expensive F-35s, and buy up NZ's surplus - and completely rebuilt - A-4 Skyhawks?
The Scooters carry a reasonably big load for a reasonable distance, and they can be transported by the white elephant carriers. The Scooters will cost a lot less to operate, and will operate in many more places. In fact they'd be cheap enough to operate that the pilots could even get some practice now and again.
Certainly they're not brand new, but they are affordable - maybe even free if you haul them away. But you'd best get them before that American mercenary air group gets them all.
Have a nagging worry.
Western defense posture in general seems to be to downgrade and assume the future enemy will be idiots on camels.
When you really need a defense force is when you have to face someone scary, such as the chinese which regret to say are still on the horizon.
Since when did El Reg become a political soap-box for rabid and disaffected people to rant on? If I wanted to hear someone's political excrescence, I would go to an appropriate website.
Can the editor please ensure that no overtly political views are published, it just demeans the integrity of what is otherwise an excellent website.
Well, apart from the fact there is a fair chunk of IT involved in just about any UK military kit built in the UK, there is also shedloads of IT bought for the MoD which could be affected by cuts, all of which is of interest to the readership. Of course, those excuses aside, there is also the sport to be had in lampooning the ranters, anyone that voted for Broooooon, the Scots, the Fwench (still looking for an angle to get that in on this forum), the antiwar squealers, Greenpeckers, Dummicrats, etc, etc..... That might explain why forums off Lewis's articles usually have the highest number of posts, even compared to ones exposing the silliness of iPhone fanbois (ding - add another group to the list!).
Their ground overpressure is more than adequate to detonate anti personnel mines laid near the surface.
This "exciting" new technique has been field tested by the UK in Afghanistan.
Hopefully next time they will have got the soldiers out of the minefield (perhaps by getting the US to send a blackhawk, although a Lynx *should* be big enough for a casualty evac as long as it is only *one* casualty) first.
I'd love to have have seen Paddy Ashdown* in the defense post. I don't know what his position would have been but I doubt he would have swallowed what sounds like a *lot* of senior officer corps BS from all 3 services.
*for those of you less familiar with UK political parties Paddy Ashdown was the Liberal Democrats leader about 3 leaders ago. Prior to that he spent some time in the Navy Special Boat Section, *roughly* equivalent to the US Navy SEAL units. SBS has been helping to apply the royal boot to the rear ends of various ill mannered foreign powers from WWII onward.
"Very roughly, as in competent and not so likely to throw a frag grenade at the hostage they're are supposed to be rescuing."
Not exactly their finest hour I agree. I'm not sure how much training they do in hostage rescue (except possibly on ships and offshore drilling rigs. Not something you're likely to see around Afghanistan. In the States I think the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team handles major incidents but abroad I think it's a bit more confused). I'd guess it's a little tricky to change gears from the enter-building-kill-everyone-inside to the enter-building-kill-everyone-inside-except-the-hostages without plenty of practice.
Not having any stun grenades seems very surprising. If the operation was specially mounted there should have been enough time to get the right kit, and it's pretty hard to believe the US Navy had run out (too many set off at parties?)
The SBS are little known outside the UK and it was to give people a reference point they might have heard of.
As various countries in Europe from Germany onward (The Munich Olympics shoot out 1972) have learned there *are* worse outcomes than letting terrorists get away. The big one being killing one or more of the hostages you are meant to rescue in the full glare of international media coverage.
I think this was a well written comment piece, even if I don't agree with it all. The big problem I have is with the Nimrod. Given the horrendous amount of money we've spent on them it seems a real shame not to get any use out of them now that they are payed for and ready for service. Of course the fact that my sister flies in them and is now looking at redundancy might colour my opinion a little.
Come on Lewis- four pages of this ragged denunciation of the UK arms strategy just leaves the average reader bemused. If you really want to have any impact, you'll have to lay down where you differ from the government in tabular form, state the anticipated tasks for the armed forces, and COST it.
I'd be so ready to believe that generals are pushing for new over-specified toys for conveniently fantastical scenarios- like Buster-Gonad carrying you-know-what in his wheelbarrow. I really would...
Down here in New Zealand about 10 years ago a peacenic female Labour Prime Minister abolished the combat wing of our Air Force.
Without any combat ability it is not an Air Force.
The last time I checked on the size of what is left of our former Air Force , there was a total of 23 aircraft (including some old Vietnam era Helicopters).
Headed by an Air Vice Marshal.
During WW2 when we had 1000 combat aircraft we had an Air Vice Marshal .
Parkinson's Law seems to still apply now as well as it did when it was first developed over 50 years ago.
Hopefully the Australians will come over if we need some protection in the future.
Our Army and Navy are almost in the same state of non existence .
I can't help but feel that there is a certain amount of double-think going on in this article. For example, Cameron is stupid for keeping Tornado because if we want some deep bombing doing you might a well send a cruise missile. But then we're stupid to not have aircraft to fly on the new carriers because we need to be able to mount bombing strikes from them... But we just established that you might as well do that using cruise missiles or UAVs.... Um... Yeah, ok, but the carriers still need air defence. But they only need air defence because they exist (by your reckoning the other day we'd be stupid not to have them, at which point they only exist for the purposes of defending themselves), and apparently we're definitely not going to be taking on any serious nation states any time soon (the kind that might launch credible air attacks against our carriers) which is why we're stupid not to completely ditch tornado...
Also, you say we definitely shouldn't buy F35s now because it'll be expensive to buy during the early production run, but it's stupid not to order lots of them now... Surely, if the UK gov announced now that they're going to order lots and lots of F35Cs in the near future it won't really give them much of a position to negotiate a good price from!
An interesting read, but a bit holey for me, and the really "heart felt" condemnation of the government's "betrayal" of our boys in Afghanistan by cutting the order of helicopters that will arrive after all the fighting is due to be over is frankly more worthy of a hack's tabloid column.
Nimrod is sunk cost, forget it, as to yachties amiss mid Atlantic - tough titty. Incidently the Nimrod R1s have/are being replaced by Rivet Joint (read the small print in the MoD paper). ASTOR is no loss, it started out in the early 1980s as a good idea from teeny weeny airways (AKA Army Air Corps) to get some small fixed wing aircraft with palletised mission loads, then the RAF got hold of it.
As to escorts, I reckon the admirals have been saying, 'PM, think what the Rep Tops will say when a Chinese SSN pops up in the Atlantic in a few years time' (assuming they aren't already there but no one's noticed). Escorts are also quite useful, if I understand it right the only enemy ships sunk since Suez by UK were by heli launched anti-ship msls from frigate based heli (FI and Gulf). Amusingly Herr Page seems to be ignorant of this. That said said, I agree that the suitable capability of a future frigate type ship (in the Nelsonian sense), affordable in useful numbers is a tricky one.
Harriers are absolutely no loss as a means of delivering firepower, the only positive thing that can be said for them is that they are better than nothing, but some might debate even that. Bugger all endurance/range, bugger all weapon load. They were introduced during the Cold War to enable the RAF to escape from the handfull of fixed bases in Germany, they absorbed a lot of resources (including Army signals and engineer regiments), end of Cold War made them redundant, even more than tanks. And in the Cold War they were little more than duty targets for the impressively integrated SGF air defences not forgetting the Spetnatz party. A lot of wasted money over many decades - the Army could have had decent attack heli decades ago.
The Army's reorg is basically that set out by Dannatt several years ago, problem then was that there weren't enough resources for 6 multi-role bdes, but there are for 5, each including a small regiment of tanks, some armoured infantry and a mix of 155 armd SP (with armour busting smart muniitons) and light artillery. Those that have read the MoD paper will have noted that FRES continues -'FRES UV will be the main vehicle for most infantry' with the recce version in the armoured recce units. The concept of the large multi-role brigades equipped for a wide range of operations is a good one, and also less wasteful than having specialised bdes, which is what almost every other army has.
Of course the touchy question of infantry battalion (probably no cavalry units and the others don't whinge) disbandment has been skipped for the moment. The least cost effective infantry are now the Gurkhas, they've been priced out of the market by well meaning people (think Ms L), but the Sultan of Brunei's contribution (he permanently hires a battalion) may yet save them.
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1. Super powers
a. China threatens - hope that threat of MAD will keep them at bay. If not: curtains.
b. Russia threatens - ditto
c. USA threatens - they own our nuclear capability so no they get a bye on that one.
2. Similar nation states
a. France threatens - at last a use for conventional forces.
b. Germany threatens - what the hell have we got that they might want?
c. Italy threatens - no one takes any notice, they go home
3. third world strife
a. They often don't initially care about their own survival so MAD is no threat. Conventional forces? Oh shit. We have armed ourselves for the least likely scenario. Never mind send the wrongly equipped troops in anyway. They'll muddle through and make us look good, they always have before.
Could somebody explain this to me:
"The disastrous Nimrod MRA4 subhunter* plane, now cancelled just as it approaches delivery, was actually ordered by Tory Defence minister Michael Portillo. The decision that the UK would order the jumpjet version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, for which Mr Cameron yesterday explicitly blamed Labour, was actually taken by the Tories in 1995, looking for a future Harrier replacement."
What exactly was wrong with the "Nimrod MRa4 subhunter plane, and the jumpjet version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter?
If they were so close to being delivered, and I assume all paid for? Why not take them. What's so bad about them that they couldn't be used against any country that threatens us if they needed to be?
If they work and have weapons, if the pilots know how to fly them, then aren't they enough to stand up to the countries who are likely to attack us etc?
...that the government of the day AND its successor (for the slow of think, Tory followed by Labour) allowed themselves to be sold a pup.
They went for the STOVL F35B (it's not even a jumpjet really) because they thought they would get a Harrier replacement and be able to use cheaper ships to fly them off. Problem is that to make room for all the internals required for their short take off and landing capability (a huge vertical fan and some thrust vectoring), they've had to lose a lot of fuel capacity and a lot of weapons lift capability, so while they may be capable of the same headline speed as their conventional brethren, they are significantly worse off in terms of what they can carry and for how far. And they are still not ready. If we'd gone for conventional carriers and catapult and arrester-wire jets (F35C), they'd be a lot cheaper, have roughly the same fuel and weapons load as the land version (F35A), have required a lot less development and would already be pretty much done and dusted. They WOULD have required carriers equipped from the outset with catapults, so probably nuclear powered (no-one was mentioning leccy-magnet launch systems in 1995).
MRA4 is just expensive, nearly three times as much per plane as the US will be payiing for their converted 737 airliners that perform the MR role. That said, it remains the best maritime recon and attack aircraft in the world; given that they are pretty much built, and given that the MR role will still need doing (as well as the other stuff that they do), I'm afraid I don't agree with Lewis - they should go into service. Moreover, they are musch more versatile than the 737s. Mind you, I think the decision to scrap the R2 electronic warfare and intelligence bird was a catastrophe, and our decision to fill in by leasing the vastly inferior RC135 Rivet Joint along with leasing the aircrews to fly them risible. But there we go.
"a 4 per cent cut at the NHS would not only have matched the savings from yesterday's 8 per cent MoD cuts, but paid to sort out its budget crisis as well."
Is that right? Well, in terms of bang for buck we already have the most efficient health service in the western world. By contrast, we spend the fifth largest amount on "defence"of any nation, despite being the 22nd most populous and the 79th largest
We all benefit from the NHS, but our much vaunted 'ability to project military power around the globe' does sod all other than paint a big target on our own territory. So you can keep your grubby fingers off the NHS until such time as the defence cuts mean that we only have enough to defend our own territory, as the name of the Ministry implies.
Cameron has come in with an outsiders' view, and (whether he meant to or not) cocked up our OFFENCES - not defences - and I, for one, applaud him for that.
"...according to recent research at the OECD, despite Labour's spending splurge, Britain still has the 8th worst record for preventable deaths among all its members - right down there with Mexico, Poland, and the Czech Republic. And we have the 7th highest potential for efficiency gains in our healthcare system - ie the potential for improving health outcomes without spending any more money. "
You can prefer whichever source you like, but your blogger has misread the chart anyway, and puts an intense dose of spin and opinion on the stats, concluding that a private market would be better, despite the worst performer on either efficiency measure (the USA) being the most private market based.
When our leaders screw up on an unimaginable scale the best we can muster is a toothless inquiry. When they promise the earth and deliver un-polished turds we complain about it on internet forums whilst our Gallic cousins are busy protesting en-masse.
Oh...sorry. We managed 1000 protesters outside parliament. Good show.
Great article. It just highlights the fact how blatantly corrupt our government is. Keep paying your taxes so that our government can contract their chums to "develop" and sell us weapons that we payed to develop to sell back to us to bomb countries that didn't want our "help" in the first place.
Repeat ad-nauseam .
Booting out one set of cronies to be replace by another...haha. Outright anarchy might be a good starting place if we could all tear ourselves away from our backlit viewing holes. A good starting point for alternatives was laid out by Paul Kingsnorth ini his book "One no and many yesses".
In the meantime, I reckon its time to start collecting small arms and stashing them in the loft...
Yes I know its a Sunday, and I suppose the police will descend on us with tasers and big sticks, but shoudl still be fun. Maybe (though it is unlikely given the bone headed nature of the idiots in charge) we can persuade them to have another look and not to leave us undefended.
Please leave out the politics - the last thing I need is a pro labour el reg.
The amount of vitriol I have against labour politicians and voters is off the chart. Anyone who is with labour in any shape or form = Self interested extremely naive idiot.
They really have destroyed this country. I do not believe it will ever recover.
And now with 'ed nice but dim' who has as much personality as a wide mouthed frog at the top how can they be taken even remotely seriously. I'll tell you - labour is only voted for by A) those with something to gain from it. B) hereditary labour voters who most alarmingly vote like their parents voted, no questions asked.
Anyone with reasonable intelligence who took the time to truly understand what labour really wants would not vote labour - their utopia is an impossibility, but they destroyed this countries finances in pursuit of it.
A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931–2005)
“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”
Lets keep politics off the register.....................
I am NOT and never have been proLabour. I'm also not proConservative or proLiberal, they are all to a man and woman corrupt power grabbing idiots.
What I am against is destroying this country - something they all seem to want to do.
When the ArkRoyal and the Harriers are gone the Argies will walk onto the Falklands and say thanks for the oil.
We will have no choice but to watch them.
Once upon a time we could have sent some Vulcans to bomb them, we don't have them anymore (not that the one trip was more than a demonstration anyway).
Until the Harriers and ArkRoyal are gone we could send a similar task force to the last to evict them, but with no air cover and no ships we won't be able to
The 'special forces' are ok but have been shown unable to beat large contingents - lets face it, the Rambo films with one guy going out with unlimited ammo, huge guns and massive muscles to take on and win against 100 people is not realistic, no more than a 4 man troup against 1000 entrenched soldiers is.
We need desparately to reverse these ill advised and frankly stupid cuts before they happen. This is not about politics its about protecting our nation.
I will be outside parliament on Sunday from about 11
"When the ArkRoyal and the Harriers are gone the Argies will walk onto the Falklands and say thanks for the oil. We will have no choice but to watch them."
If they get desperate enough, maybe. It wasn't exactly Bond-villain-level scheming that opened up the opportunity to invade thirty years ago. I still remember the television analysis: "Yes, Britain has these fancy Jaguars and Tornados <insert arms company and/or archive footage of planes bombing stuff>, but there's no way of actually deploying them in this conflict."
Staging a conflict in a location where most of your opponent's fanciest kit can't be used is a pretty effective way of showing up the limitations of your opponent's strategic planning. The only thing the Argentine armed forces couldn't deal with was the submarine threat, which in turn was apparently the only thing that prevented the Argentines from deploying carrier aircraft, which would have been quite a disaster for British forces.
The quote is a good one, it -seems- coherent, logical and honest.
However, he apparently represents a hard working half that is tainted by the company it keeps - those who receive more than a fair share for the work they do. Redistributing the ill gotten gains of those who cheat the system, to those who are victims of their cheating, is merely addressing the imbalances of kleptocracy. If the poor are created because the rich offshored their jobs in the name of increased productivity and efficiency, perhaps they should partake of that efficiency and be paid to be idle.
A reasonable complaint is about the distribution of wealth without attaching expectations, but I think that first you have to prove that there is indeed work to be done - it's not the poor's fault if the wealthy cannot create new jobs; perhaps the wealthy -should- pay their fellow citizens to be actively idle (education, artistry, inventiveness, etc) and so stimulate fresh demand in the economy.
Division of labour has notionally done away with the need to work. If the work necessary for survival were shared out, the advances in efficiency of production would make for a very slender working week!
This pathology of the idle rich, that the poor should be kept working for at least 40 hours a week to justify their survival, is both a luxury that their privileged grasp on the means of production affords, and an evil that manifests as millions of people spending their lives engaged in trivial things, such as the production of X-Factor Christmas crackers.
I can't help thinking the best way to do a defence review is just ask a couple of dozen squaddies fresh back from Afghanistan, "What do you want?"
I know that's just fighting the current war and not thinking about hypothetical future scenarios, but as those are all hypothetical anyway, why not? If it's helicopters/Tornadoes/Reapers/Frigates that they want - give them to them.
As usual, Lewis is pretty much on the money, and expresses himself with clarity and force.
I think his background as a bubblehead has left him a bit confused by a couple of things about Percy and the skimmers, though (and I think "Percy and the Skimmers" would be quite a good band name).
First, the tank (as in main battle tank) is no more obsolete now than it was the last half-dozen times it obsoletion has been announced by the uninformed. Three regiments (not battalions, thank you, the Royal Tank Regiment went to cavalry nomenclature before the end of WW2) is pretty much the bare minimum needed to retain any kind of capability at all, on the "underpants principle" of force generation (three is the minimum, so you can have one pair clean, one on, and one in the wash).
Second, I agree that the RN needs platforms capable of operating both ASW helos and long-range missiles; but to me that sounds like a pretty good description of a frigate. You also need ship-borne ASW sensors and weapons, unless you are crazy enough to think that the embarked helos can run flight ops all day, every day, for weeks on end. And you still need a gun for junk-bashing.
As usual the comments include a generous dollop of the customary farrago of phantasmagorical drivelling from clueless buffoons flapping their gums on a subject they know nothing about. It is hard to pick out favourite pieces of idiocy from this, as some of these people are obviously crazy on acid, but at the saner end of things on the "my aeroplane is better than your aeroplane" squabble, let me just say that I've seen study results ranking the usefulness of fast jet types for CAS -- in other words, the role needed now for the war we are fighting now -- and it ranked Harrier above Tornado above Typhoon. So whatever basis these mysterious "advisors" may have come to their decison on, factual evidence clearly did not feature very largely.
As for the idea that the first Gulf War we were invited to was won largely by deep interdiction -- the idea is so very badly at variance with the facts that even the shade of Guilio Douhet himself would be ashamed to utter such fatuous claptrap. The war was won by ground forces seizing and holding ground and forcing the enemy to surrender, the same way all land wars are won (OK, the bombardment of Zanzibar might possibly count as an exception).
I haven't seen any comment on where FAS next steps is taking the Army's organization, but the idea of having a small number of notionally identical over-large but oddly-mixed brigades has never seemed to me to be a good one. Nor have I seen any recommended change to the defence planning assumptions, but we are getting to the point where deploying a two-brigade force against a capable enemy will be more than the UK can manage.
Still, let's hope there's not another war for at least ten years, eh?
What Lewis fails to realise about the Chinooks ordered in a fanfare of PR by the Labour governement is that they are *not* just available 'off the shelf' and require to be built-to-order. The estimated delivery date of the first of the new batch of Chinooks? 2015. Right on schedule for our WITHDRAWAL from Afghanistan.
I hadn't realise the lead time for the helicopters, but I guess it doesn't surprise too much. The fact is that this is a good arguement to keep the provision of equipment and trained men far higher than we do today. A war of any description (and the Argentinians certainly want the now oil rich Falklands even more than before, and Afghanistan will be a retreat soon but will be followed by others, maybe Pakistan, perhaps Iran.. who knows) can flair up quickly (WW1, Gulf war 1 and the Falklands all did), and will destroy much equipment and kill many men quickly necessitating their replacements. Just saying we need a pause for 10 years won't cut the mustard.
Yet again Lewis presents opinion as fact and gets the basics wrong.
The reduction of the Chinook order is irrelevant as the order will not be completed before 2015 when we pull out of Afghanistan!!! And it will take longer still to complete all the testing, training and integration. The upgrades to the Mk 2 Chinooks is still going ahead as is the much needed and cheap upgrade to the Puma. So in the event of us staying longer in Afghanistan we will have better helicopters ready to go.
While Typhoon could do the job in Afghanistan they do not have enough aircraft or crews to deploy. It is that simple. Even the larger GR4 force is struggling to support Afghanistan along with UK training, exercise etc.
Harrier is an expensive relic with far too high a training burden to be cost effective.
As Lewis knows, and forgets to mention, the Nimrod MRA4 would have been a spy plane with an ISTAR capability. It would have been far more than just a sub-hunter.
The Queen Elizabeth carriers are a fudge. They should have been nuclear powered so not at the mercy of oil prices. Yes the cost is more but balanced with the instability of crude, the ability to run without refuelling (involving a dangerous RaS) and increased storage space for aviation fuel and ordnance.
Aircraft should be the F18 Hornet/Super Hornet as there will be zero R&D costs. It's combat-proven and ready now.
As for the Illustrious Class, they were designed for a war that never happened - protecting the North Atlantic convoys from Soviet submarines. Turn them over to the Marines/SAS/SBS for a role like the US Tarawa, Wasp and America Class ships perform.
The Nimrod is using 50+ year old technology. Replace them with something like the P3 Orion, if only for the UK Maritime SAR role.
The Senior Service still has a vital role to play, but we need to stop being so independent and start looking at existing solutions.
Even a 10% cut would've left the troops in the field with sufficient equipment to do the job. It's not necessary for the West to win in Afghanistan *at any cost*. It's a risk benefit game and at some point the if the cost is too high then we take on the risk and live with the consequences (if any). But we cannot keep throwing money at conflict, there are other priorities like my pension.
... I read an article by Lewis without ending up foaming at the mouth, but I can't find any flaws in this one. I'm no defence expert, just an interested bystander, but what Lewis has to say seems credible. He's not just knocking the decisions made but giving reasoned alternatives to those decisions.
Lewis Page squeaked: "Say what you like about Labour, but in their last months they did the right thing and ordered a good big number of these vital machines. They planned to pay for them, sensibly, by cutting some Tornado bombers among other things."
Bob Ainsworth said last December that the first 10 would be operational in 2013. That means the rest would have been delivered (a few years?) later, after our troops should have left Afghanistan in 2014. Operations in Afghanistan should not be affected as the choppers cut from the order won't have been there in time to be missed, if you get my drift.
Was the announcement of 22 new and 2 replacements a firm order, or as I have seen suggested elsewhere an immediate order for half with the rest being left on the back burner as we weren't sure how long we would be in Afghanistan for?
Sometimes I read your articles and find them interesting and informative (though always slightly biased) - however on other occassions it's neccessary for the reader to wade through so much vitriolic frothy-mouthed hatred at the world in general, that I really can't bring myself able to read it.
Sometimes it seems as if you're as bad as some of the more ill informed commentards here who's understanding of defence strategy extends as far as Command and Conquer or Halo.
Sadly this article seems to fall firmly in the latter - but the good news is if the Reg ever goes tits up, I'm fairly sure you have a safe job at the Guardian.
the continuing politician vs senior military types, battles won't stop until there is (ideally) a PM or a sec of defence with a spine and a bit of independent knowledge! The defence staff brigade have spent so long cosying up to the defence companies during their careers, by the time they get to the exalted levels, it would cost them their future non-exec posts they all want, in those companies, once they leave their respective services.
as an ex-nimrod avionics eng, I am glad the trigger has been finally pulled on that behemoth. It should have been done in the 90's (and AWACS bought) but the siren's call of it being made in uk, swayed the decision makers. The A330 tanker just turns me in to a fist-shaking nut, swearing about the bloody French.
it's not a huge surprise that the tornado's were kept in - only fast jet pilots get to the Air ranks, so they are looking out for their own... I suspect the Army and Navy have similar selection prejudices. Drones are the way forward for the RAF for both weapons delivery and communications platforms - but not many aircrew to select and promote there ;-)
The fact that the Navy contract was allowed to get signed with such penalties included, just beggars belief - that to me is the crime in this. Poor decisions you can accept, but negligence from some civil servant who is so cosy in their job, they didn't bother querying such a clause.... in the real world they would have been hunted down and fired if it cost a company so much.
Re the Army - I suspect it is because all the nice guards regiments are Tankees... horse guards/blues & royals etc... and can't upset the upper classes - where would they send the 2nd sons after eton? ;-)
As usual, well written. Thanks Lewis, even though I was reminiscent of "On the Beach" and "The Road" as I read it.
Think there was a cartoon in The Times not so long ago (can't access it now, won't go through 'paywall') where Gordon Brown was saying much the same as Cameron, as the defence minister was exclaiming "...OOO, look!! Brand New Muskets!!"
Head. Meet desk.
I could think of several flaws in this article.
Firstly, as many have rightly pointed out, the majority of the original Chinook order wouldn't come on stream until 2015 by which time the British Army would have left Afghanistan. The first batch arriving in 2013 wouldn't be affected by Cameron's cut. So your argument Lewis is false.
Secondly, on the idea of cutting Frigates. Which ones? The ones currently patroling the Indian Ocean for pirates and using their Lynx and Merlin helos - a capability the Americans and others in the multi-national anti-piracy task force don't have by the way - and generally providing excellent mentoring for other navies? Maybe the ones patroling in the Caribean for drugs and providing excellent soft power? Or maybe the ones protecting traffic passing close to Iran in the Gulf?
As said by John Salt, a lot of what Lewis says (ASW, etc) can be done by Frigates who can also do a lot more.
Again the tanks. Why were the Americans, Canadians and now Australians are considering using heavier armour in Afghanistan? Because its a safer and more accurate projection of force. Being able to get close up in a Leopard II means less civilian casualties and less aggro as a result. Simple economics.
As for Nimrod, after chatting with a good friend who is working on the Global Hawk program, I'm really excited about the idea of using Global Hawk as an ASW, Search & Rescue and Spy platform. Sounds like an excellent use of money!
Lets be honest, this is an awful set of circumstances but while the Tories did indeed sign up to the Typhoon, Nimrod upgrade and other programs (to be fair to the Tories, the F-35 program was barely a twinkle in the eyes of planners when the contracts were dried in 1995, remember that it wasn't until the ealy 2000s that Boeing and Lockheed's prototypes were rolled out) Labour had over 13 years..THIRTEEN YEARS LEWIS COUNT THEM..to either renegotiate or cancel these programs altogether.
They had all that time to sort it out and in the end fiddled while Whitehall burned. That in itself it a more damning indictment to me.
To take part in a truly meaningful debate on military spending, I would have to have some credible material on the future threats we are likely to face. Current and historic data are a poor guide to future requirements, apart from vague recognition of the Argentinian threat I've seen nothing to clarify the kind of threat we are likely to meet in the future when the harvest is reaped from the choices made today.
Without that, I have no choice but to rely on the RAF, Navy and Army to make those decisions themselves...I hardly expect the PM to know better.
But are you ex navy by any chance.... ;)
getting rid of the harriers will estbish a preseidence that the RAF fly fixed wings!
Also you need to research the capability of the Nimrod a bit more.... but i agree the MRA4 was a licence for BAE to print money, if UK Gov didnt still have a load of shares in them they should be taking them to the cleaners.
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