back to article The truth on the Navy carrier debacle? Industry got away with murder

The Ministry of Defence is in the pillory again today, being corporately pelted for the recent unedifying sequence of events in which the Coalition government decided in 2010 to fit the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers with catapults - and then abruptly changed its mind in 2012, reverting to the former plan which will see them …

  1. Ninetailed
    Flame

    Chocolate Teapot

    Good grief. It's a good thing no one actually wants to start a war with the UK, isn't it? The only actual military activity we've had this century has been offensive actions against middle-eastern countries who couldn't retaliate if they tried. If someone with an actual modern military had designs on these isles, there's not a lot we could do about it, if this debacle is any indication.

    I count myself fortunate to live in a place and time where this is not actually a realistic problem, and the money really is the only issue.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Chocolate Teapot

      Well... except Argentina, of course.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Chocolate Teapot

          Re. Dauntless. It could only fire if fired upon. And by then it may well be too late. Remember the Sheffield? They thought they'd be able to spot the launch of the aircraft that fired the weapon that hit that ship.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Chocolate Teapot

            The main reason that Sheffield didn't spot the aircraft was, IIRC, that the appropriate radar was turned off at the time as it was interfering with vital comms taking place at the time.

            One can but hope that there are no such EMC issues with Dauntless and other new vessels.....

            1. elderlybloke
              Paris Hilton

              Re: Chocolate Teapot

              The story I remember is that the computer on the Sheffield did a reboot as the attack was getting under way, and then another ship came along and got in the way of Sheffield doing anything at a vital moment.

              Computers probably continue with that annoying habit today.

              Depending on missiles for defence was the in thing at the time , but the crews very soon set up machine guns anchored to the railings to give adequate close in fire power.

              PS . The Americans had the same philosophy in Vietnam , while the MIGs had cannon.

              The American pilots were at a disadvantage from my memory of events at that time.

              I will make a prediction-(a safe one) That the next shootout will not go as any of the planners have planned it .

              Like all wars, it won't get faught the way the planners/stratigists etc stated it would.

              Icon - for the tears that will flow.

              1. Paul Smith

                Re: Chocolate Teapot

                Someone clever once said "I don't know what technology the next war will use, but the one after that will be fought with sticks and stones".

            2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Unhappy

              Re: Chocolate Teapot

              "The main reason that Sheffield didn't spot the aircraft was, IIRC, that the appropriate radar was turned off at the time as it was interfering with vital comms taking place at the time."

              A secondary issue was the missiles homing radar was programmed into the radar warning system (under "factory settings") as "friendly."

              Which turned out to be incorrect.

          2. Aldous
            FAIL

            Re: Chocolate Teapot

            exactly, lack of AWACS during the falklands was one of the biggest contributors to ship loss, they simply could not see the attack planes until they were too close. Even the old fairy gannets could of saved many lifes (mind you if the old ark royal was there even in 1970's spec the conflict would of been very different).

            Fast forward 30 years and now we have aircraft carriers with no AWACS again. what could possibly go wrong?

            I wouldn't worry too much about argentina/falklands they are just being bolshy as they know there is no milatary response and so are trying to get oil rights through bully boy tactics. Don't see why Cameron and co don't send a UN election team in with 3 options 1:same as now 2: fully Falklands independence and 3: Argentine ownership, watch the results for 3 be miniscule.

          3. John Hughes

            Re: Chocolate Teapot

            Re. Dauntless. It could only fire if fired upon.

            Why?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Chocolate Teapot

          No doubt, like the American Aegis cruisers, HMS Dauntless could also "take out" any scheduled airline flights that passed nearby.

          Seriously, though, Dauntless doesn't look much like a warship. What if the Argentines were to send out a ship with some old-fashioned guns and just blow her to pieces? HMS Sheffield was sunk by an Exocet missile that didn't even detonate. Just imagine what would happen to those seagoing porcelain curios if they got hit by a shell or bomb that actually exploded?

          1. Alfred

            Re: Chocolate Teapot

            "What if the Argentines were to send out a ship with some old-fashioned guns and just blow her to pieces?"

            The RN's most effective anti-ship weapon is a submarine; we miraculously actually have some quite capable of dealing with the kind of gunboat you describe.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Unhappy

              Re: Chocolate Teapot

              "we miraculously actually have some "

              What you meant was "miraculously we still actually have some, but our government are working to fix that"

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Chocolate Teapot

              "The RN's most effective anti-ship weapon is a submarine; we miraculously actually have some quite capable of dealing with the kind of gunboat you describe."

              Only of use if they're in the area at the right time.

              Sinking the gunboat AFTER it managed to sink a Type45 might make you feel good but it doesn't get the Type45 back above the waterline.

        3. Van

          Re: Chocolate Teapot

          Apparently the 4 ? "not very good" Typhoons based in the Falklands, could take out the whole air force of the Spanish colony trying to claim islands as theirs.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Chocolate Teapot

            "Apparently the 4 ? "not very good" Typhoons based in the Falklands, could take out the whole air force of the Spanish colony trying to claim islands as theirs."

            The antipathy towards the Typhoon is not that it isn't a good fighter. It is simply that it is incredibly expensive, arrived donkeys years after the mission it was designed for disappeared, and notwithstanding British attempts to fit it for strike roles, was designed from the very beginninng purely as an air superiority fighter. In this role on the Falklands I'd expect it to work a treat, but equally expect that the Argentines would never chance any of their small and antique air force against them.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Chocolate Teapot

        Ummm.. wasn't that last century?

    2. Ray Gratis

      Re: Chocolate Teapot

      The Argentinian foreign minister said yesterday that the Falklands would be under their control "within 20 years".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Chocolate Teapot

        With their 30 year old military technology?

        The Argies don't have the money now, they're still using the same kit that they were in 82.

        1. proto-robbie
          Pirate

          Re: Chocolate Teapot

          Well at least they've still got it.

          Why on earth did we ever get rid of the Sea Harriers? Or the "through-deck cruisers"? No wonder the Argies are rattling their castanets.

          I was lucky enough to be on the Invincible from her commissioning until September 1981 - what a wonderful ship she was, and the Harriers were jaw-dropping. The pilots were the best of the best, and surprisingly friendly to this pimply, useless, star-struck midshipman.

          A few months after I left they were off to the Falklands, some not to return. Very brave and able people, and kit we should never have sold off in a million years.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Possible missions:

      Bombing Argentina

      Bombing North Korea

      F18's should be ok with that stuff.

    4. sabba
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Chocolate Teapot

      Lucky then that we have the good old US of A to defend us!! lol

      For those people living on the other side of the Atlantic and who are perhaps not overly familiar with it - this is an example of what we in the UK know as sarcasm!

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Chocolate Teapot

        As long as we don't insist Facebook delete our preferences.

        It's going to be tricky to have a trade war with America if they own all our weapons.

        Or possbly much simpler if they are selling us billion $$ aircraft which we can then refuse to buy?

        1. picturethis
          FAIL

          Re: Chocolate Teapot

          "It's going to be tricky to have a trade war with America if they own all our weapons."

          I wouldn't worry too much about this because, you see, it's going to tricky for the US to have a trade war with China if they own all of the electronic components that go into our weapons....

      2. Dapprman

        Re: Chocolate Teapot

        Good job then that Argentina found a way round all these millitary procurement mistakes as they have made no major investment in the armed forces since the Falklands War, hve not replaced lost aircraft, most their navy (including the CV) is now effectively scrap, and their armed forces makes ours large while also being positioned for the potential restart of a number of border wars.

        Phew.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Chocolate Teapot

          PEACE ... through mutually inadequate firepower!!

          okay.jpg

          1. TRT Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Chocolate Teapot

            "PEACE ... through mutually inadequate firepower!!"

            Mutually Inadequate and Low Firepower.

            Yeah.

    5. Gaius
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Chocolate Teapot

      A carrier would have been damn useful for Libya, and may well yet be for Algeria.

      Helicopter, because, y'know

    6. ideapete

      Re: Chocolate Teapot

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/wtf_32.png Come on chaps the bloody model we built worked just fine , no one, including his Lordship, said it would work in the real world. That's what you get for using Argentinian subs ( my pun ) No wonder Hornblower took a powder with his teapot

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chocolate Teapot

      This reminds me strongly of the lamentable story of tank procurement during WW2. Britain began the war with the excellent Matilda II infantry tank, which - in 1940 - was immune to German tank cannon and normal anti-tank guns. The only thing that could stop a Matilda II was the 88 mm dual role AA gun, which weighed tons and was extremely vulnerable. It is no exaggeration to say that the Matilda II was the Tiger of 1940.

      Naturally, tank development went into overdrive as soon as the fighting began, and soon the Germans were finding that their Panzer III and IV tanks were outclassed by the hitherto secret Russian T34 and KV1. Accordingly, the Germans created the Tiger and Panther series, which dominated battlefields for the rest of the war. (The Tiger was essentially a mobile 88 mm with armour thick enough to defeat almost any anti-tank weapon).

      Meanwhile, Britain messed around, designing and building dozens of different new tanks - none of which was adequate. Either they were too slow, or too vulnerable, or undergunned, or prone to break down - quite often all four.

      Then, in 1945, just in time for the victory parades, British industry and the War Office produced the Comet - more or less as good as the best German and Russian tanks - shortly followed by the even better Centurion. Pity they couldn't have done so in less than five years, as an awful lot of lives would have been saved.

      It looks as if these wonderful new carriers will be a similar tale of delay, incompetence and inadequacy. Thank God we don't actually need them for anything... except to boost sales, maintain jobs, and above all make certain politicians look good. (All of which they are doing quite satisfactorily).

      1. Getriebe

        T34, IS2 vs Tiger any Panter any

        "Accordingly, the Germans created the Tiger and Panther series, which dominated battlefields for the rest of the war"

        Not so. On paper maybe, but in the mud and dust of Belarus and the east German plain they looked good in the German cinemas but failed consistently. Mechanical breakdowns, way to expensive to make and almost impossible to repair in the field.

        As Clausewitz said 'fog of war' albeit about something else - the Germans designed something to fit their mad ideals not the real stuff on the ground.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: T34, IS2 vs Tiger any Panter any

          "but in the mud and dust of Belarus and the east German plain they looked good in the German cinemas but failed consistently. Mechanical breakdowns, way to expensive to make and almost impossible to repair in the field."

          What stopped most Tigers wasn't direct enemy action, but their prodgious fuel consumption.

          Tankers are seldom armoured, but if they don't make it to the heavy armour, the heavy armour isn't going to travel far.

  2. BenR
    Flame

    It's this bit that worries me the most:

    General Atomics tacked on still more, Mr Gray tells us:

    "Additional aircraft launch and recovery equipment was required, on top of the cats and traps, which had not been included in the original estimate. The cost of going through the FMS [Foreign Military Sales] purchasing route and some inflation adjustments were further components."

    Wait... what?

    You're telling me that some absolute f**king CRETIN in the MoD put together a quote for adding cats'n'traps to our "adaptable" carriers, and didn't include all the aircraft launch and recovery kit? Do these things not get reviewed before going out? Or is there just some YTS, work-experience kid pulling these reports together?

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

      It'll be more like a builders estimate: "Build bathroom with all fixtures and fittings: £5k" sounds reasonable so you sign. Turns out walls, ceiling floor, sink,toilet and plumbing weren't explicitly mentioned so extra £15k needed.

      The poor sod at the MOD who signed for this was probably under the illusion that all the bits were included in the contract but not having thirty years writing contracts with invisible gaping holes in didn't know. If he had known he would have been paid to move to the other side of the contract. If his contract with the MOD states he cant work for the opposition for x years he will get gardening leave in Eden to get him out of the way.

      This, to a large degree, is how government IT has worked since PFI etc has been around and I doubt its any different elsewhere.

      1. Rob
        Unhappy

        Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

        I would love to rip your post to pieces Tom 7, but instead I'm crying into my coffee as it is so unbelievably true, it's heart breaking that these sort of people are in charge of spending our tax money. Incompetent isn't a word they are familiar with.

        1. IglooDude

          Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

          I disagree. They're not incompetent, on the contrary they're very competent, they simply do not have the taxpayers' best interests at heart and are effectively playing for the other side. When called out for it, they feign incompetence because the average voter is more likely to forgive (or at any rate ignore) that than deliberate betrayal.

          Or at least, that's what every bit of evidence seems to suggest.

          1. Mike Richards Silver badge

            Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

            The folks in the MoD are all planning their move to BAE, so it's in their interests to send work BAE's way and to fatten them up nicely.

            Remember the carrier contract when the government next says we have to lay off thousands of soldiers, police, NHS workers and the like - for 'austerity'.

          2. Rob
            Go

            Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

            I think it's a 50:50 split, there are those that have the intelligence to play the game for when they move jobs but there are also those that simply are useless and out of their depth when they are given these tasks, the reality being is that they can't turn the task down because there is no-one else around that can do it either, generally a complete lack of skills across the whole department. I know of the latter as I have met and worked with some of them (most of the time you could've describe my state as despair).

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

            What I find surprising is the way so many ordinary people take it for granted that politicians have their (the voters') best interests at heart. Why on earth should they? Why do we expect politicians to be the only honest, altruistic, selfless people in a world that has more and more been based on money, power, and self-interest?

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

        "The poor sod at the MOD who signed for this was probably under the illusion that all the bits were included in the contract but not having thirty years writing contracts with invisible gaping holes in didn't know. I"

        Well that explains 1 of them.

        What about the other 19999 who work in Bristol for MoD procurement?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

          The contract for the carriers never included the option to convert to CATOBAR in future. That was a random politicians lie. The issue was brought up in Parliment and it was admitted that no such adaptability option in the contract and it would have been impractical to allow it.

          Once the decision to produce a STOVL Carrier was made it was set in stone and was only changed because another politician wanted to appear smarter than the last lot.

          The French confirmed the high cost of conversion when they rejected the option to buy one of the carriers.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Devil

        Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

        But the cough, cough "defence" industry is a scam anyway.

        The education dept smudges up the fact that the 3 biggest global industries are weapons, drugs and sex, and the kids ought to be coming out of that factory farming production line as junkies, pimps, prostitutes etc., dealing in drugs and guns.

        But add in a few layers of remoteness - and this is what the banks and weapons dealers /manufacturers and the oil companies and the registered and unregistered drug companies are all doing.....

        Their greed and desperation - and the lying and the scams.

        And the taxpayers MUST now foot the bill...

        Remembering the mantra of the last 20 US presidents.. "We do not want war..." + "Spreading peace and democracy to the middle east".... "by sharing the American way of life, and our values, our love of god and our fellow man with the rest of the world." - and only invading those countries with oil and minerals, or those that stand against us, or have democratically elected governments that refuse to toe our line - which we use the CIA to orchestrate fake uprisings against, so we can install our own puppet governments into.

        The MOD, the government, the banks and the contractors are all in on the same scams...

        And the taxpayer funds it.

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

          "The MOD, the government, the banks and the contractors are all in on the same scams...

          And the taxpayer funds it."

          That you got even a single thumb down is unbelievable, let alone 3.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

        @Tom 7 - No different from working with Ericsson or NSN, except people who work with Ericsson or NSN eventually learn*.

        * It's actually quite easy, you ask them to quote you for a turnkey solution, and then you sting them when they add in all the little extras.

    2. Mike Ozanne

      Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

      Worked on MoD jobs, Basic ladybird book essentials being neglected in contract writing is not a surprise.

  3. jason 7
    Facepalm

    I wrote to my MP about all this.

    Asking that it was about time that the relationship between the MOD and BAE was investigated by the serious fraud squad.

    The reply from Peter Luff was most upset that I had raised the possibility of fraud and money wasting.

    According to him 89% of BAe's programmes are on budget and 71% are on schedule.

    Room for improvement I'd say.

    My own MP when sending me the reply back mentioned that "you may be disappointed with it!"

    1. Cynical Observer
      Facepalm

      Re: I wrote to my MP about all this.

      Interesting that he used the unit of "Programmes". So of ten arbitrary programmes, the nine that cost £1m each are OK and the one that cost £2b is over budget and delayed.

      All in the interpretation of the lies statistics.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Jason 7 - Confusing

      Are you from Worcestershire (ie is he your MP)

      How many MPs?

      I thought Peter Luff was retiring. Was quite a good MP though. Better than the fox hunting obsessed, post office closer we used to have next door, even worse, some people I work with had Waquie Jaquie.

      1. jason 7

        Re: Jason 7 - Confusing

        No I'm in Norwich, Simon Wright is my MP.

        You write to your MP, they then pass it on to the MP/minister/dept responsible and then you get a response back.

        I have to say the responses you get back do appear to have had some thought. Not just canned replies.

    3. Chris Fox

      BAE 89% on budget --- after being paid for features that are not delivered

      It might be the case that 89% of BAE's programmes are on budget, but this may be a meaningless statistic if in reality the tax payer is paying massively inflated prices for features (such as "adaptability") that are not actually being delivered.

      To some, the "89% on-budget" claim is not very surprising in a context where contracts and sign-off conditions are being negotiated and approved by a body and/or individuals that seem to align themselves more with the interests of the contract holder than those actually paying the bill.

      This the problem with high-level complicity in corruption and fraud; it's just too easy to manipulate the official statistics etc. so that outwardly everything seems sufficient fine to rebuff casual enquiries, and divert attention (AKA "doing an Obi Wan").

      1. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: BAE 89% on budget --- after being paid for features that are not delivered

        Is the MoD/BAE definition of 'on budget' along the same lines as First Great Western's definition of 'on time'?

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          Re: BAE 89% on budget --- after being paid for features that are not delivered

          "Is the MoD/BAE definition of 'on budget' along the same lines as First Great Western's definition of 'on time'?"

          Obviously not.

          That is far too restrictive.

    4. Stone Fox
      Thumb Up

      Re: I wrote to my MP about all this.

      I agree completely that this sounds like serious fraud. If the MP's won't refer the matter how about that online petition thing they set up...? I think we've got enough techies and net-addicts to get some grass roots support for signatures going...?

  4. A J Stiles
    FAIL

    Hmm

    What if all that money had been spent on actually useful civilian stuff like ..... Ooh, I don't know. Power plants (including various renewable technologies and a mix of different variations on nuclear, with an eye on what works and what doesn't); strategically-located recycling centres; high speed railways; repairs to our ageing water supply and sewage networks; social housing and the NHS?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: Hmm@A J Stiles

      "What if all that money had been spent on actually useful civilian stuff like.... "

      You want government more spending than they already do? Maybe you haven't spotted that the budget deficit is running at £120bn a year, and that we are already pi55ing away billions on the bottomless pit of our shambolic health service and welfare programme, and (in the near future) on unrequired high speed rail programmes. The gigantic fail that is energy policy is already (likewise) pi55ing billions up the wall on crummy renewables, for which your energy bills are going up and will continue to do so, and the water companies are investing around £5bn a year in asset renewals - if you want more roads dug up then you'll have to see water bills start increasing significantly above inflation When this was done after privatisation (to fund investment) it wasn't at all popular.

      Going back to government, take that £120bn that Gormless George is borrowing annually , and it equates to the government borrowing half a billion quid each and every working day to fritter on stuff that mostly doesn't benefit me, or gives me a very low benefit - you mileage may vary, of course. In that context the criminal incompetence on display in all defence procurement is small beer, I'm afraid.

      1. A J Stiles
        Stop

        Re: Hmm@A J Stiles

        No, I'm saying: Spend the money on civilian projects instead of military willy-waving. In times of budget defecit, civilians must come first. Even if the entire army, navy and air force wind up on the dole, it'll still be cheaper that way.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmm@A J Stiles

          That's what I thought you meant. My point was that even if you cancelled the entire defence budget of £40bn, the government would still be spending £80bn a year more than it gets in income (plus £10bn for welfare and foregone employment taxes currently recycled from the defence budget), and even that isn't sustainable.

          I agree that we'd save a lot of money if we adopted a Swiss style approach to defence, of simply being able to defend our domestic territory in the British Isles by a very large armed reserve force. Whether that makes sense I'm not sure - we'd have to renounce territorial claims to the Falklands, Antarctica, and any territory that is remote from the UK. We'd have no part in well-intentioned international missions such as Kosovo, Sierra Leone or Libya. We'd have no transport or military skills to contribute to international disaster relief. We'd have no ability to contribute to international missions such as combating piracy off East Africa.

          The "little britain" mob would probably like this a lot. On the other hand, is it right to go all pacifist for a country that is easily in the ten largest economies in the world, is hugely influential politically, and deeply involved in global trade? If France and the UK hadn't stuck their necks out over Libya, it would have been another Syria, there would be continued fighting even now, and probably 100,000 civilians dead (as Russia and China have allowed to happen in Syria). I don't anticipate any gratitude from the Libyan people, but surely as one of the world's largest and most advanced economies, there's a time when you have to do the right thing, and part of that is building the capability in advance of the need?

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Ledswinger Hmm@A J Stiles

              After all, we are continually hearing about the "100,000 dead" in Syria. (Without any remotely credible sources, however).

              But what about the million-plus dead in Iraq? (Plus at least as many wounded or crippled, and 4-5 times as many driven from their homes and, in many cases, their country).

              At least ten times the butcher's bill. But because it was our peaceful, democratic, free-enterprise governments that did it, the subject is simply not mentioned in polite company.

              1. Handle This

                Re: @Ledswinger Hmm@A J Stiles

                You may be right that it isn't mentioned in polite company, but it comes up all the time in conversation here in the United States.

              2. Tom Samplonius

                Re: @Ledswinger Hmm@A J Stiles

                "After all, we are continually hearing about the "100,000 dead" in Syria. (Without any remotely credible sources, however). But what about the million-plus dead in Iraq? (Plus at least as many wounded or crippled"

                And your sources? The Lancet survey reported 654,965 excess deaths related to the war 2003 war. And Lancet survey reported the highest number of deaths of any credible sources. 1+ million is an exaggeration.

                "... and 4-5 times as many driven from their homes and, in many cases, their country)."

                Sources again? You are saying 4 to 5 million people left the country? The fact that the population of Iraq increased from 25 million in 2002 (just before the war) to 32 million in 2012, shows there was no mass migration.

                There is a lot of media exaggeration about Iraq. Its true it is a very violent country. The murder rate in Iraq is 8 per 100K vs 1 per 100K in the UK. So Iraq is 8 times as violent as the UK. But Brazil has a rate of 25 per 100K, just to put that in perspective. So Brazil is over twice as violet as Iraq. Venezuela is 53.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Ledswinger Re: Hmm@A J Stiles

            " If France and the UK hadn't stuck their necks out over Libya, it would have been another Syria, there would be continued fighting even now, and probably 100,000 civilians dead..."

            How do you know there isn't continued fighting and killing in Libya? (Hint: there is).

            Our gloriously impartial media wouldn't report any if there were, because we intervened on behalf of the new Libyan regime so they must be Goodies. Therefore they cannot do anything Bad, therefore there is no need even to investigate.

    2. Frank Bough
      Unhappy

      Re: Hmm

      You don't get much High Spend Rail for even the massively over inflated cost of this crapulous carrier.

      1. ideapete

        Re: Hmm catapult

        No No your throw people across the country pinpoint destination with magnetic catapults curtesy on Monty P , No HSR needed

  5. Anonymous Coward 101
    Facepalm

    Lewis misses the point

    The point of the MoD is to shovel as much cash to BAE as possible.

    Everyone is in favour of it; from the senile old general who will sign anything in exchange for a boozy lunch, to the peace loving trade unionist who is fine with the military industrial complex when it leads to metal bashing jobs on the Clyde. The question of what happens if there really is a big war and we only have a bunch of flying Austin Allegros to defend the nation isn't answered by anyone.

    It's a bloody farce.

    1. Seanmon
      Thumb Up

      Re: Lewis misses the point

      Thanks for saving me the bother of typing that.

      The purpose of the UK armed forces is to create jobs in politically expedient areas. The point of Bliar/Brown ordering the carriers was to boost jobs in the labour heartland of Glasgow in the face of the rising threat from the SNP. Actual combat capability - who gives?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lewis misses the point

      Isn't the issue that the MoD doesn't really believe there is going to be a war, so it's OK to be as corrupt as is comfortable?

      I've just read George Bonney's book about the events around the battle of Jutland (Skagerrack), and it seems that nothing in the MoD has changed since it was the War Office. Then, it was shells that didn't go bang properly, and the War Office refusing to admit it.

      Nobody really questions the need for carriers - they are still seemingly expecting to fight a Pacific war without satellites and tactical missiles, having finally fixed some of the materiel problems of 1944-5.

      1. nichomach

        Re: Lewis misses the point

        I thought the problem at Jutland was shells that DID go bang, all of them, at once, along with the battlecruisers containing them...?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lewis misses the point

          "I thought the problem at Jutland was shells that DID go bang, all of them, at once, along with the battlecruisers containing them...?"

          Well two linked problems of defence procurement - inferior armour on Britsh ships of the line, meaning that German shells could set off the magazines with a well placed hit, plus the refusal of the Admiralty to give Beatty proper armour piercing shells, so that when the Royal Navy hit German ships the shells just bounced off (well, in gross approximation at any rate).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Lewis misses the point

            It was more complicated than that - the British ships had inadequate precautions against flash from a turret hit making its way down to the cordite store. That should have been foreseen and was cheaply fixable. Then there was the problem that although the battlecruisers were supposed to engage at extreme range, their rangefinders weren't good enough at long ranges. And then there was the refusal of the War Department to adopt a fire control calculator because it had been developed by a civilian. But, finally, there was the scandal of the crappy supposedly armour piercing shells that bounced off. Even after Jutland, the War Department failed to fix the issue for far too long.

            I worked with a Jutland survivor in the early 70s (that is correct, he was a middy at Jutland and didn't want to retire in the 70s) and he still could be raised to white heat on the subject of government incompetence. His view was that the entire naval branch of the War Office should have been immersed in a sea covered with patches of burning oil for a few hours, so that the survivors would have their minds concentrated.

            1. Dapprman

              Re: Lewis misses the point

              If the Jutland book is blaming German shells penetrating the magazine armour then it's both out of date and inaccurate. Lots of proof now that many of the ships in Beatties BC squadron had all the doors/traps open between the magazines, powder stores and the guns so they could fire as fast as possbile (Beattie was obsessed with rate if fire and not accuracy as he believed if you fired often enough some shells would hit ...). Net result was that a non-penetrating shell exploding could, and in multiple instances, did result in ships exploding. The RN knew about Beattie's effects (he also penalised crews of slow firing ships) before thae start of the war, plus it came out in the internal enquiry, but was then put under Official Secrets so it would not show that Beattie (who soon after replaced Jelicoe as admiral in a politial manouever) was an incompetant donkey. The British press by that stage, while jingoistic, was also intrisive, hence the blame going on the lack of armour on the battle cruisers.

              Think we've some what segued here.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Mike Ozanne

          Re: Lewis misses the point

          "I thought the problem at Jutland was shells that DID go bang, all of them, at once, along with the battlecruisers containing them...?"

          Well two problems :

          Defensive

          Insufficient flash protection which allowed the bagged propellant to be ignited by an incoming shell explosion

          Offensive

          The point of a Semi-Armour-Piercing Shell is that it detonates an explosive load inside armoured object. At Jutland most of ours exploded on contact, spectacular but ineffective

          1. Dave Bell

            Re: Lewis misses the point

            One of the more interesting problems of the time was that if you used the wrong explosive, the shock of impact could detonate it, outside the armour. The Germans apparently fixed the problems. The Royal Navy was still using Lyddite at the start of the war: I'm not sure what they had at Jutland.

            And, please, the Navy was never controlled by the War Office. It was the Admiralty.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Unhappy

              Re: Lewis misses the point

              Yes, sorry. Inaccuracy is my middle name. For some reason I thought the WO was in charge of all shell development.

            2. PT

              Re: Lewis misses the point

              Dave Bell, you are right. The British were still using Lyddite (picric acid) at Jutland. It was too sensitive and the shells exploded on impact, not after penetration. The Germans were using TNT.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lewis misses the point

      "The question of what happens if there really is a big war and we only have a bunch of flying Austin Allegros to defend the nation isn't answered by anyone".

      Nicely and accurately put - especially as it's exactly the same scenario we faced in 1938-9. The Spitfires and Hurricanes arrived just in time, but there weren't nearly enough of them to start with and they had all sorts of teething problems. Not to mention, of course, that it took ages to convert some of the more modern planes to fly off carriers. What we have now is the equivalent of the Stringbags, Fireflies, Walri, etc. of 1939. I hope the people who command our new carriers will be more clued up than the captain of HMS Glorious...

      1. Steve the Cynic

        Re: Lewis misses the point

        "Stringbags"

        Sure, the Swordfish was past its sell-by-date before the war began, much less in 1945, but it was surprisingly effective anyway. Ask the poor lads in Bismarck, or the Italians at Taranto, to name but two groups, what they thought. (But seriously, an open-cockpit biplane with fixed undercarriage? in 1945?)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lewis misses the point

        "Nicely and accurately put - especially as it's exactly the same scenario we faced in 1938-9"

        But that's not where we are now. Current and likely future uses for our carriers are simply as mobile bases for participating in "hobby wars" beyond convenient flying distance from the UK. There's not going to be a conventional war with anybody armed with serious amounts of modern kit. And that's why buying the latest, most expensive fighter on the planet makes no sense - as others have already remarked, Ark Royal circa 1970 would be entirely suitable for most of the things that we might want a carrier for.

      3. evs
        Trollface

        Re: Lewis misses the point

        Myabe they should put the Swordfish back in service as is one of the few fixed wing aircraft capable of actually using these carriers.

        1. Jaybus

          Re: Lewis misses the point

          Why not scrap the entire idea of launching 12 - 40 fighter aircraft and instead devote the ship to a fleet of 100 or more armed UAVs?

          1. John Hughes

            Re: Lewis misses the point

            Why not scrap the entire idea of launching 12 - 40 fighter aircraft and instead devote the ship to a fleet of 100 or more armed UAVs?
            This would be a good idea, except that developing the UAVs would take another 20 years.

            (Any solution to a military procurement problem that involves something "new" just makes things worse. Develop new stuff before you need it).

  6. Charlie 5
    Unhappy

    Dick Jones summed it all up in Robocop

    "I had a guaranteed military sale with ED-209. Renovation program. Spare parts for 25 years. Who cares if it worked or not?"

  7. AndrewG
    Black Helicopters

    I didn't realise there was a difference

    Affter years of watching British defence procurement and how defense budget cuts were apportioned between MOD and the actual services, I just assumed that the MOD was BAE's marketing department

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I didn't realise there was a difference

      Presumably UKIP supporters see an opportunity to get Thales out of the game.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I didn't realise there was a difference

        "Presumably UKIP supporters see an opportunity to get Thales out of the game"

        Why? Can Thales be any worse than BAES?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I didn't realise there was a difference

          French...UKIP wants to trade with johnny foreigner so long as he stays at home and knows his place.

        2. peter 45
          Boffin

          Re: I didn't realise there was a difference

          "Thales be any worse than BAES?"

          Having worked for both I can assure you, No. They are both chock full of managers who are more interested in policies, procedures, reviews, tickboxes and appraisals rather than employing people who know how to design things.

  8. TeeCee Gold badge
    Alert

    "The ships will be there for 50 years or more, visibly cruising around....."

    I suspect they'll be spending much of that time invisibly drifting around to save fuel and er, costs.

    IIRC much of the Navy spends its time with the engines off, when out of sight of prying eyes, for cost reasons. One is forced to wonder whether the cost savings associated with going non-nuclear actually become a net loss over the lifespan of the ship when fuel costs over that lifespan are factored in.

    Especially if you make a realistic assessment of what fossil fuels or synthetic equivalents are likely to cost in 30+ years' time.....(!)

  9. AdamSweetman

    The question is, what can we do about it?

    What avenues are available to the general public to get this disturbingly expensive farce appropriately and independently investigated?

    1. The BigYin

      Re: The question is, what can we do about it?

      None. The private companies now have your money, the MPs will have their kick-back and the top brass will have their nice directorships; so everyone who matters is happy.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: The question is, what can we do about it?

        It's worse than that, BigYin, it's a state security issue and so "none of our damn business."

        As you say, everyone that matters is happy. The rest of us can piss off.

  10. MJI Silver badge

    Why the love for all the US aircraft?

    What is so special about F16 and F18 compared to the European industry?

    1. The BigYin

      Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

      At a guess: cheap, understood, parts are plentiful, range and you can fire 'em off a carrier.

      1. jason 7
        Meh

        Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

        Plus you really don't need anything too cutting edge when your main adversary is roaming around on a donkey or in a toyota pickup truck.

        The only likely 'toughish' foe we have on the horizon is Argentina. However, if conditions there go further downhill then the Presidents diversionary tactic of "oh look at the Falklands, not at how shitty things are at home!" wont really come to anything.

        1. Captain TickTock
          Boffin

          Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

          Plus you really don't need anything too cutting edge when your main adversary is roaming around on a donkey or in a toyota pickup truck.

          Anyone who watches Top Gear knows how hard it is to destroy a Toyota pickup truck.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: The Big Yin

        Cheap, understood,, and usable with a carrier.

        That sounds just like what we had until recently.

        RIP Sea Harriers

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

      The model of aircraft isn't the point - it's whether it's S/VTOL or not. In in 50 years the F-35B will be a relic - probably not even flying at airshows as the parts will be too expensive. However these carriers will still be there, and still unable to launch 95% of the worlds combat aircraft.

      1. The BigYin

        Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

        In 50years it will be solar-powered AI drones getting dropped for lighter-than air floating battle stations.

        Or something.

        1. Frank Bough

          Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

          ...more likely gas-powered drones being launched form the deck of the otherwise entirely unemployed CVF.

      2. GettinSadda
        Mushroom

        Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

        Actually, what happens if in a few years to F-35B turns out to be a dead-end and either none are shipped, or those that are shipped fail so often that we end up with no usable S/VTOL aircraft. I suppose we could just fill the carriers with... erm... ah...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

        The fact is the ski-jumps allows most combat aircraft to launch near their maximum take off weight. You name it F-18, F-16 (couldn't land safely on a carrier however) Rafale etc could all operate off the ski-jump in a STOBAR carrier mode which would be cheap to convert to. Even a E-2 Hawkeye has been successfully tested with ski-jump, the cost precludes the uk buying it at $250million each.

        The advantage the vertical landing gives is the ability to operate aircraft landing and taking off at the same time plus the ability to operate in weather conditions far worse that is possible with CATOBAR. All weather operations are a major advantage.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

      You get a green card with every one.

    4. rh587

      Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

      Flyaway cost of an F-35B is $250m. So we won't actually be able to buy enough to field a full unit on the carriers.

      Flyway cost of an F-18E/F Super Hornet (a far cry from the original F-18 Hornet) is $25m.

      So for 50% the total outlay, we can have 5 times as many aircraft, which gives us full complements onboard, and oodles of airframes at home for training, so pilots are not squabbling over airframes for flying hours.

      That leaves us several £bn of change to spend on Hawkeye/AWACs, light transport aircraft (with longer range and greater capacity) than whirlybirds, etc, etc, none of which will be usable on a non-Cats and Traps carrier. Which means we needn't have built big ones in the first place, and could just have had some new short carriers like our old ones.

      At the end of the day, all likely future deployments involve humanitarian work, or beating up nations that won't shoot back (much). F18 is more than up to the task for the latter, and helicopters and STOL light-cargo aircraft (i.e. carrier aircraft!) are ideal for the former. Unless our masters are predicting a Pacific War against China, having the latest greatest jump-jet stealth plane that costs 10x as much and sacrifices payload, range and patrol time in return for stealth is pointless.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

        "So for 50% the total outlay, we can have 5 times as many aircraft, which gives us full complements onboard, and oodles of airframes at home for training, so pilots are not squabbling over airframes for flying hours."

        And there's more: The casualty rate of SVTOL aircraft appears to be far higher than normal aircraft, which means that a fleet of 40 F35B will very soon be a fleet of 30, pushing the cost/capability further the wrong way.

      2. rh587

        Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

        Oh also, spares are cheap and readily available and our pilots already know how to fly F-18s as the RNAS are flying the American's to keep their fixed-wing skill set in order until whichever year in the 2020s is deemed by the almighty at BAE an appropriate moment to actually deliver the F-35 (for a small delivery fee of course).

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

      Lewis has always had something against the Eurofighter, perhaps he has good reasons too. But looking at the Wikipedia.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurofighter_Typhoon

      You find that "The Typhoon is a multi-role fighter with maturing air-to-ground capabilities" and

      "In 2004, United States Air Force Chief of Staff General John P. Jumper said after flying the Eurofighter, "I have flown all the air force jets. None was as good as the Eurofighter."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

        "You find that "The Typhoon is a multi-role fighter with maturing air-to-ground capabilities" "

        Don't make me laugh. Sellotaping a few bombs on to a fighter certainly fits the words, but it doesn't make it a good idea.

        "In 2004, United States Air Force Chief of Staff General John P. Jumper said after flying the Eurofighter, "I have flown all the air force jets. None was as good as the Eurofighter."

        In 2004 Jumper was 56 or 57. I doubt he was in much position to take a Eurofighter to the edge of its envelope. Maybe there was somewhere for him to rest his stick?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

          Just asking about Lewis "dislike". Where you found the sellotaping, beats me. The wing is indeed needed but the rest is really about the "bombs". As for the numbers I suppose the "Euro" is there to get the numbers.

          NationaI Geographic made a program about the Eurofighter in the Ultimate Factories. You find it on You Tube.

          Nothing much negative about its performance and quality as a fighter.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

            "NationaI Geographic made a program about the Eurofighter in the Ultimate Factories. You find it on You Tube. Nothing much negative about its performance and quality as a fighter."

            You watch and believe NG? Bloody hell.

            And then, because NG do a feature on "Ultimate Factories", you think that makes the Eurofighter good as a fighter? And by extension, you reason that military aircraft are much of a muchness, so it must be a good bomber?

            You must work for the MoD. Nobody real could be that clueless.

        2. Vic

          Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

          > I doubt he was in much position to take a Eurofighter to the edge of its envelope

          Even if he did, he'd likely have been impressed. Talking to those who have actually flown the Typhoon, it's apaprently a very nice aircraft to fly.

          And if you're examining it's capability as an air-superiority fighter, it tends to score highly there, too - that being its intended role.

          But none of that makes it the right aircraft for other types of mission...

          Vic.

      2. HKmk23

        Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

        Serious query, does the Eurofighter now have a working cannon in the front? Or is the piece of concrete they put in it to maintain the balance still in use when they found out that the recoil from the proposed cannon "stopped" the aircraft dead in the air?

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?

      Say what you will about American militarism (and I often do) it has some benefits from a strictly technical point of view. Economies of scale for a start: when you operate a dozen immense carriers, each of them with dozens of jet fighters and bombers, you order a very large number of planes and they get thoroughly tested and enhanced until they work slickly, efficiently, and relatively safely. (Although in an absolute sense there is never anything safe about carrier operations).

      So US jet fighters are very reliable choices. You know they will keep being made, spares will be available, there are plenty of people who can fly and maintain them, etc. And, given a big enough carrier, you know they will fly off it and land again efficiently.

  11. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Another happy illusion

    shattered

    This is what you get for letting BAE buy every single UK shipyard, if there were 2 or 3 shipyards in the UK owned by different companies capable of building the carriers, the price would come down rather quickly.

    But perhaps its time to investigate the whole cosy relationship between the MoD and BAE since it seems most of the defence equipment budget is being shoveled in their direction without any serious questions over price and delivery.

    2 billion to fit cats and traps to the carriers... I would think that breaks down to 200 million for the equipment, 100 million for the design/refit and 1.7 billion to BAE for management bonuses and bribing MoD officials into signing such a useless contract

  12. The BigYin

    Eh?

    Modular ship design is, well, modular. OK, it's not "Lego"(tm) brick modular, but it's still easier than building a new ship. Was it really beyond their with to have the deck built with the channels/room underneath (plated, obviously) so that at some future date the ship could be more easily retrofitted?

    Also, why wasn't the feckin' thing nuclear? "Err, can we delay the war? We have to refuel the carrier. Again. And Italy is getting pissed off about having to refuel all our Typhoons while the carrier is at the petrol station."

    1. Zolko
      Mushroom

      Re: Eh?

      @ The BigYin : "why wasn't the feckin' thing nuclear?"

      yes, exactly my question. If it is acceptable to consider the French Rafale as an option (which is probably one of the best carrier-grade aircrafts flying today), why not consider the French nuclear drive of the Charles-de-Gaulle as an option, that would make long missions possible, and would also give steam catapults for free ?

      I mean, Waterloo, Trafalgar and Austerlitz are forgiven today, aren't they ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eh?

        The more left wing of us have never forgiven Napoleon for losing at Waterloo. If the British aristocracy had gone the way of the French one, we might still be in a mess, but it would be a less oligarchic mess.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Eh?

          "The more left wing of us have never forgiven Napoleon for losing at Waterloo..."

          Then the more left wing of us should brush up on their history. Has it escaped your attention that, at the time of Waterloo, Napoleon had been Emperor of the French *and King of Italy* for over a decade? He made his brother Joseph King of Spain, and showered titles on his family, his marshals, and everyone else of whom he approved. Napoleon was no more anti-royal or democratic than the Hanoverian kings of England or the Bourbons. He just aimed to replace the Bourbons with his own dynasty. (And, incidentally, an emperor outranks a king).

          I can't recall the exact wording, but when some Italian snob asked Napoleon about his ancestry, he replied to the effect that it didn't matter from whom he was descended; what mattered was that, in future, his descendants would be top dogs.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Holmes

        Re: Eh?@Zolko

        "why not consider the French nuclear drive of the Charles-de-Gaulle as an option"

        What, and let the incompetents of MOD + BAES design a ship round that? You don't think that would have exactly the same problems that we now have?

        On the basis of defence procurement history, it was evident at the time these were ordered that there would be substantial problems of both capability and cost. Moreover, with at most three being built (even assuming the French do exercise the option to build a third) you'd only ever spread the design and tooling costs over three ships. This was always a disaster in the making.

        The logical approach would have been to have bought a US nuclear powered carrier, this guaranteeing interoperability and buying a far better defence asset. Since the proposed aircraft are US built they already have the ability to restrict what we can do with the new carriers (not to mention the keys to Trident), why not the hull as well? The Yanks are currently having ther own cost over-run problems with the new Ford class CVN, currently being cranked out at a cost around £8bn a pop, but that's likewise for a three ship set. Our ships, even at this stage of construction are projected to cost £5.3bn, so 30% to account for mess-ups-in-progress and yet to be mess ups, and you're talking £7bn.

        So which would you rather have: A couple of oddball, low capability carriers we've made in the shed at the end of BAES' garden for £7bn a pop, or a couple of fully compatible Ford class CVN's for £8bn a pop? A third option might be "none of the above", but until our politicians stop conducting air-based campaigns in far off bits of the world that doesn't seem a good idea.

      3. IsJustabloke
        Meh

        Re: Eh?

        Actually, as I understand it the French nuke engines are barely capable of the doing the job of shunting the big ship around with nothing spare for anything else. They chose "baby" sub reactors over proper "nimitz" type reactors as a..... <insert fanfare> ... cost saving exercise :-)

      4. Ian 55

        Re: Eh?

        And we let them win Austerlitz by not being there ourselves...

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Eh?

          I suppose that at this point it may be worth mentioning that Mr. Bonaparte was born in Corsica from parents of noble Italian ancestry, (did you know his father was the representative of Corsica to King Louis's court?) and he therefore the advantage he had in family connections (ie; patronage) and wealth offered him more opportunities to study than typical citizens had. He was part of the nobility, not an enemy of it.

          Napoleon was also not responsible for removing the existing dynasty of France, that was the enraged citizenry of France incensed at being taxed to death to pay for winning the American revolution. Louis bankrolled the American Revolution and provided cannons, muskets, powder, shot and military advisor's to the Americans. (As well as the help from the French Army & Navy)

          Why did he do this? Because he lost out in the 7 years war quite badly and wanted to get his own back, which means that from a certain point of view you could thank the aristocrats in Britain for the downfall of the Bourbon dynasty. ;)

          Also, if we are being pedantic one could point out that the first industrial revolution was followed by the second industrial revolution which was only really ended by WW1. (some would say because the resultant arms treaties killed off the huge spending on ever bigger dreadnoughts...)

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Eh?

      @TheBigYin 'Also, why wasn't the feckin' thing nuclear?'

      Oh Jesus, can you imagine how much BAE would shaft us for a nuclear carrier?

    3. BenR
      FAIL

      Re: Eh? (TheBigYin @ 11:15)

      Precisely this.

      Claiming the ships to be 'modular and adaptable with the facility to fit cats'n'traps afterwards', and then providing a ship which is neither modular, nor sufficiently adaptable that the cost of fitting said gear to an already extant seaframe exceeds by a considerable margin the cost of building said seaframe in the first feckin' place does very much seem to be the very definition of "bait and switch", and surely must constitute fraud.

      Surely.

      Surely?

      As for why it wasn't nuclear, screwed if I know. It's not even like we have to look at what Peirre across the Channel is doing - we've been developing naval nuclear reactors for our SSN and SSBN programmes for at least the last 40-50 years. Rolls Royce have all the gear ready for the Astute subs - why not just design the engineering spaces of the carrier (which you're designing anyway) around the available power plants rather than doing it the other way round which would no doubt have been substantially more expensive?

      The MoD couldn't be more full of fail if it tried. In fact, I'm surprised that they don't fail at failing.

      Please - take some more of my tax money to piss away against the wall.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. The BigYin

      Re: "pillow biting"

      "Homophobic"? Please explain.

      I view it more about the MoD being the submissive in this BDSM relationship.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. My Alter Ego
          Facepalm

          Re: "pillow biting"

          Hmm, never heard that phrase - I just read it as a reference to being shafted. Maybe I've just led a sheltered life. Then again, I didn't understand the whole American outrage at the KFC advert in Australia that had fain placating Windies supporters by giving them some KFC - I'd never heard about the whole Black, fried chicken stereotype.

          I suppose some people just enjoy being offended and announcing it to the world.

        2. Combustable Lemon
          FAIL

          Re: "pillow biting"

          I didn't actually know that. Well done for perpetuating a phrase that horrifically offends you by telling people just how offensive it is when, clearly, people just weren't making that connection.

          And so the "I’m really offended by x" circle continues, sigh.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Devil

            Re: "pillow biting"

            "And so the "I’m really offended by x" circle continues, sigh."

            Hopefully the Reg Icon Review can offer us an appropriate icon, with a description "I've taken mortal offence, and intend to flounce off as soon as I have mouthed off"

            Mmm...is the word "flounce" permitted? Or will some thin skinned berk presume that they are being got at?

      2. Captain TickTock
        Coat

        50 Shades of Bernard Gray

        byee!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "pillow biting"

      How is a spanking reference homophobic?

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: "pillow biting"

        I've always thought it was referring to non-consensual non-homosexual anal sex* in a dominant/submissive situation.

        * its not sex for pleasure purposes but to show who is boss.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. The BigYin

          Re: "pillow biting"

          "Just because you and others in this thread are ignorant of the term's pejorative use"

          Language changes and given the various...augmentations now available, such an action does not have to be the preserve of the homosexual male.

          If you genuinely feel it is homophobic and offensive, send the author a message asking them to remove it.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "pillow biting"

        How did we get onto the subject of a fear of being the same? Although I have always prided myself on being different, I'm not actually frightened of being the same.

    3. Alfred
      Happy

      Only men can bite pillows?

      The MOD is female.

  14. TheFinn
    Holmes

    Petition, anyone?

    It might be a naïve, shot-in-the-dark, unlikely to garner a meaningful response idea, but would submitting an e-petition via the HM government portal be a worthwhile endeavour?

    If so, may I humbly suggest the Mr Page as its instigator, as one who would best able to phrase it with the minimum opportunities for weaseling out of giving an answer?

    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: Petition, anyone?

      The problem is: would this petition be popular with ordinary people? I suggest that it would not be.

      In the news, military spending is presented in the context of 'jobs', rather than 'decent quality kit delivered on time at reasonable prices'. A screw up at the MoD that forces it to waste money on something they otherwise would not need is actually seen as a good result, unfortunately. Am I too cynical?

      1. DanDanDan
        Thumb Up

        Re: Petition, anyone?

        The reason the MoD doesn't care less is *because* the media doesn't focus on anything but jobs. If the media did a proper job of saying "This is overpriced gash and we need BAE to be more competitive to stay in business", THEN maybe the MoD would start negotiating better contracts.

        1. jason 7
          Meh

          Re: Petition, anyone?

          I often wonder how effective and value for money all these BAe jobs are.

          Say the average BAe worker earns £50000 a year. How much against that is the taxpayer subsidising that wage?

          If those £50000 jobs are costing the taxpayer £2 million each to keep.............

          (shrugs)

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

            Re: Petition, anyone?

            > I often wonder how effective and value for money all these BAe jobs are.

            They just bring negative value to the economy.

            > How much against that is the taxpayer subsidising that wage?

            130% of course. The other 30% are for expensive swimming pools and mansions for the well-connected ones. Where do you think the money comes from. And you get for this... some unusable boondoggle. Not anything that would bring in the bacon in the future.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Petition, anyone?

        You can send all the petition you want, but it won't make any difference as the correct decision was made not to install cats and traps. The scandal was the badly thought out decision to switch away from STOVL in 2010 which wasted £100million before coming to the same decision my by Labour a decade ago..

  15. Parax
    Mushroom

    So they asked for an option but didn't contract the option.. and when they say lets do that option the price doubles.. easy answer.. tax the fucking bollox of the company that thinks it can milk it. This is for the good of the nation after all not a windfall for their profits.

  16. Xamol

    Persuasive Arguments

    I've read the Reg articles on the carrier, catapult, F-35B/C debacle and they're very persuasive; the selection of the F-35C seems like a no-brainer.

    Is it really that simple? Is there really no other case for the F-35B other than the stated cost of installing catapults in the carriers? If there is a case, it should be presented in these articles so that we have a more balanced/interesting article to read.

    Just asking...

    1. Penguin
      Boffin

      Re: Persuasive Arguments

      A good question but when all is said and done it really is that simple. There is nothing that the F-35B can do that the F-35C will not be better at, unless you count melting through the steel plate it’s trying to take off from. The more pounds of lifting gear you are trying to carry with you means less pounds of capacity you have for AMRAAMs. Basically the MOD, the Government and BAE have absolutely no interest in providing a frontline fighting force and by extension no interest in keeping British troops alive and fighting, this whole farce proves it.

      1. John 62

        Re: Persuasive Arguments

        It was mooted in these forums previously, that F-35Bs could take off and land on cheap merchant ships (or at least modified merchant ships). So that rather negates the need of multi billion pound carriers.

        Though taking that argument, if they chose "cats and traps" they wouldn't have needed any type of F-35 and could use F-18s/Rafales instead.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Persuasive Arguments

        The F-35C cannot land on a carrier, its redesigned tail hook has still failed to perform satisfactory. Redesign my require major structural work and delay the variant for years.

        The F-35B can operate of 20 US Navy and USMC, 1 French,1 Brazillian, 1-2 Indian, 1 Spanish, 1 That and two British carriers. plus any number of Aux/support ships. The F-35C can operate off 10 USN and one British navy carrier.

        The F-35C is so slow its performance specifications have had be reduced. The time it takes to to go from mach 0.8 to mach 1.2 have risen from 70 seconds to 113seconds. F-35B has risen to 83seconds.

        The F-35C costs more than the B and is shares the least commonality with the A and B

        F-35C will not be in service for several years after the B

        F-35C is the least popular variant bought only by the US Navy.

        Due to the very expensive training and certification for carrier landing, only 12-18 F-35C would be affordable on one carrier. This would mean long periods with any carrier while it undergoes periodic refits.

        With the B, larger number of pilots could train to land on the carrier and surge to up to 40-48 aircraft within a few days due to the simplicity of vertical landing and ski-jump launches.

        Two carriers could be afforded with STOL aircraft providing 100% coverage and the possibility of two carriers with up to 40 aircraft each (i.e. most of the RAF) in emergences. The French fly 12 Rafales from the CdG.

        Up to three other Aux-carriers would be possible operating small numbers of F-35B's in emergencies (like the Atlantic Conveyor)

        The f-35C has longer range and bigger internal weapons storage. The UK will soon have a very large tanker fleet that could refuel a fleet of F-35B pretty much anywhere they need to go. The small internal storage is somewhat mitigated by the new weapons been design for the F-35, up to eight SDB's or Brimstones for instance

        These are the reason why the Conservatives/Libdems made the very embarrassing decision to switch back. It really is a no-brainer, the F-35B is the best option..

        .

        1. BenR
          Thumb Up

          Re: Persuasive Arguments

          Not necessarily that I don't believe you, but any chance you could provide some links for some of these claims?

        2. rh587
          FAIL

          Re: Persuasive Arguments

          "The UK will soon have a very large tanker fleet that could refuel a fleet of F-35B pretty much anywhere they need to go."

          I see, and that tanker fleet will be able to operate off the carriers in support of F35B operations in, say, the South Atlantic?

          If we were talking about RAF F-35Bs then you might have a point. But we're talking about naval deployments. The carriers can't carry any sort of refuelling aircraft because they have no cats and traps. Which means you're stuck with the standard range of an F-35B unless the Americans let us fuel off their naval tankers (except we'll be using incompatible drogue-and-probes no doubt) or you're within range of a friendly ground base anyway where you can operate FSTA/Voyager. In which case why are you piddling around with expensive carrier ops anyway when you could just fly the RAF into said friendly airbase?

          The only thing that I agree with is that F-35C doesn't make sense either.

          You're building huge mid-heavy carriers, which you would only pay for if you wanted to run CATOBAR ops from. And then you're not only fielding jump jet fighters (which only need a helicopter carrier like HMS Ocean), but not fitting cats and traps for ancillary aircraft such as transports and AWACs. Which begs the question why we're not building a couple of HMS Ocean variants with ski jumps. That's all we need!

          (expensive) F-35B with (cheap) light ski-jump carriers

          OR

          (expensive) F-35C / (cheap) F-18E/F with (expensive) CATOBAR mid-heavy carriers.

          Building an expensive heavy (yet crippled) carrier for expensive jump jets is plain retarded.

        3. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

          Re: Persuasive Arguments

          You may very well be correct in all the above assertions regarding F-35C, however the point of catapult is to enable the carrier to carry different non-STOVL aircrafts, not just F-35C.

          We are currently building a carrier which can only be used with STOVL aircraft (choice of F-35B or nothing) . This is very suboptimal use of taxpayers money compared to more expensive but also universal carrier which can be used with many different models, including F-18 (relatively cheap and available right now).

  17. Big Browne Paul

    Awful!

    This is just typical of the waste and horrendous decision making that has been going on for decades, go back to the TSR2 best aircraft in the world in its class, cancelled why?

    Nimrod....lets not even go there

    Tornado......Someone needs to ask about the maintenance contractors replacng panels on the airframe damaging them so badly they need to be retired......

    Harriers.....useful adaptable and sold to the US Marines.....

    Jaguars.....useful reliable cheap to run.....scrapped.....

    HMS Ocean.....great idea

    Various Type 22's great fleet ships still effective needing upgrades.....scrapped

    Ark Royal....a disgrace

    Invincible....a disgrace

    Bay Class sold to the aussies, useful adaptable model of excellence.....

    You get where I am going here, why are we doing this to our forces, its beyond belief that we keep seeing these vested interests taking hold and leaving our country in a poor state of defence.

    Its one of the few duties the government has to do properly.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Unhappy

        Re: Awful!

        "TSR2 - according to a former colleague who worked on the avionics, they were utter crap"

        Well, they were only prototypes, so plenty of opportunity to fix them.

        And given that we now can't build an aircraft without help from other nations, perhaps cancelling TSR2 might now be seen as a milestone in losing our advanced aviation capabilities. Interesting to note that the same procurement incompetence, repeated design and spec changes, industrial meddling, and lack of foresight that we see today were all part of the TSR-2 story.

        1. jason 7
          FAIL

          Re: Awful!

          I remember seeing a documentary on the TSR2 that had some retired Shop Steward grinning from ear to ear about how it all went down.

          Basically management would tell the shop stewards that the next phase of work had to be completed in 30 days. The Steward said that 30 days was perfectly acceptable to do the job in but they would demand 90 days instead so the workers could do as little as possible. Apply that attitude throughout a whole project and you can see why it was canned and jobs were lost.

          He however, sat there looking very smug and satisfied with himself. All just a big laugh!

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Awful!

            "I remember seeing a documentary on the TSR2 that had some retired Shop Steward grinning from ear to ear about how it all went down."

            Have you got a reference or link to this 'documentary'?

            Strangely enough the US F-111 was bought as a 'replacement'. Sounds to me like the UK gov got an offer they could not refuse from the US mafia (aka US gov).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Awful!

              The F111 was ordered because the estimates were cheaper than TSR-2, but none were delivered, because of cost over-runs on the F111 programme. So we cancelled our own advanced project, ordered somebody else's advanced project "off plan", and were then surprised when we couldn't afford that. IIRC there was also a slight problem of foreign exchange as well, in that we simply didn't have the foreign currency to pay the bill at the time.

    2. Frank Bough

      Re: Awful!

      Let's not forget the horror stories of Harriers returning from sorties and having to dump their entire weapons load in the sea before attempting to land. STOVL planes look great at air shows, but their military benefit is questionable, and their massive cost unarguable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Awful!@ Frank Bough

        "Let's not forget the horror stories of Harriers returning from sorties and having to dump their entire weapons load in the sea before attempting to land."

        All carrier aircraft have a maximum landing weight, above which they need to dump fuel and/or ordinance to meet that weight. Nothing special about the Harrier, unless you're comparing it to something with very big wings that can land with a full weapons load, and even then you've got limits to the load on the arrester wire that would be an issue. During all wars featuring carriers returning pilots have often dumped unused weapons, rather than risk crashing on landing for the sake of a few bombs.

        In the grand scheme of war, the cost of dumping a few bombs like ths is nothing. Your point about the military benefit of SVTOL aircraft is much more valid.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Awful!@ Frank Bough

          The F-18 super Hornet has a carrier bring back of about 8000lb. The F-35C has 9000lb, The F-35B has just over 5000lb carrier bring back in vertical landing (all its internal weapons plus fuel in effect).

          However, with SRVL (Ship board Rolling Vertical Landing) the F-35B will land at about 40knots relative to the ship and use its brakes to stop (same technique has been use on land based Harriers for over decade).

          This will increase Bring Back to the same as the F-35C - 9000lb. This would only be used in exceptional circumstance when a Storm shadow was not fired on a combat mission for some unforeseen reason.

    3. Mike Ozanne

      Re: Awful!

      "This is just typical of the waste and horrendous decision making that has been going on for decades, go back to the TSR2 best aircraft in the world in its class, cancelled why?"

      Not a simple question to answer, there was too much interference by the Ministry of Aviation both in mistaken overall policy and directly in the project. The '57 defence white paper had allowed gross stupidity into capability planning. Inter-service politics played its part, and the Yanks were their usual helpful selves, and then their was Dennis Healey who thought that if he shut it down he would be able to place other orders that would secure an overall greater number of (unionized) jobs.

      Lets remember what the fall out was from these cost cutting measures. A large investment in the TFX (F-111) which was lost, An investment in the Anglo-French AFVG which was lost, Procurement of Buccaneers for the RAF, Procurement of Jaguar for the RAF, Extended service for the V-force, Extended Service for Canberra PR units until this capability was lost altogether in 2006, The procurement nightmare of the MRCA (Tornado) aka Must Replace Canberra Again. You really need to pay close attention when a politico says we can't afford to finish a project...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New Carriers Defensive Weapons

    It's even worst than that, these new ships will have the most basic point defence weapons installed upon them, in contrast to every other major navy who would install an anti missile, close in guns combination, our new ships will have re conditioned phalanx rapid firing gun, which whilst effective against an exocet class weapon, will not be able to defeat the latest class of anti shipping missiles with final terminal speed of mach 5!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: New Carriers Defensive Weapons

      Wont they have the luxury of protection by our destroyers with their untested anti-missile system? And those fairly pointless frigates mentioned some time ago on the reg?

    2. drand
      Black Helicopters

      Re: New Carriers Defensive Weapons

      That's why they won't go anywhere without a couple of T45s in tow.

      1. Xamol

        Re: New Carriers Defensive Weapons

        I think it's the frigates that carry the anti-anti-ship weapons, not the destroyers.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: New Carriers Defensive Weapons

      "phalanx"

      100% failure rate in combat against 1970's missile, how useful against supersonic sea, stealth sea skimming missiles...

  19. Desk Jockey
    Facepalm

    Splutter

    Bernard Gray seen as a procurement genius by Whitehall? Where the hell did you get that stunning bit of insight? As far as Whitehall is concerned, he is a political appointee who wrote several reports (with big holes in) before he got given the procurement job. A lot of people also forget that he, in conjunction with some rather expensive consultants, set up the procurement structure back in early 2000s. As defence projects take decades to wind their ways through the red tape, the fact that things are a mess now would perhaps indicate that his reforms were not as clever as he likes to make out...

    As for blaming the current lot for less than adaptable carriers, the answer is sort of a 'no sh*t sherlock'. The current lot are being castigated for trying to change the requirement while the things are being built. If you wanted carriers capable of launching CV F35s, they should have made that decision a long time ago, changing it all back and chopping off large chunks of metal from the new carriers was bound to cost a fortune. That sort of revisionism is what got MOD into trouble in the first place.

    Final point - there are only three full blown carrier nations in the world - Russia, France and the US (China does not count, not for several more years at least). However, there currently are an equivalent number of STOVL (India, Italy, US marines) and quite a few helicoper carrier (France, Italy, India, US marines, Russian, Australia and a few more I can't remember) around. Thus if you want to be interoperable, STOVL is actually more interoperable with other nations than carrier variant. If your carrier gets sunk, your STOVL can land on the decks of the other nations or in an emergency on the deck of a destroyer. Lose a CV carrier and if your jets cannot get to land they are all lost. As the Russians (and others) are making and selling supersonice ship killing missiles, and as the carrier is always the no.1 target... Maybe, just maybe being able to disperse your naval airforce on the assumption there is no such thing as a perfect defence, might be a good idea. It is not as if we have a hundred destroyers handy to protect carriers now is it?

    1. Measurer

      Re: Splutter

      No, but we don't even have 12 destroyers, each to take 1 F35 jump jet (the standard pitiful compliment), if the carrier was sunk, assuming of course that the jets could be landed on the back of destroyers (they're slightly larger than a merlin or lynx I suspect). Fundamentally you can fly both types of F35 (STOVL may require straight through longer runway, so risk of being run over by carrier, but could do it just like harriers used to from land) + AEW + helo's + drones + transports + kites on a sunny day from cat and trap carriers. Let the yanks have the cutting edge stuff, we'll have the F18's or Rafale's and still probably beat them in a straight fight.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Splutter

        > No, but we don't even have 12 destroyers, each to take 1 F35 jump jet

        Flaming pieces of crap, I hope to see that in my lifetime on live TV, that would beat Battlestar Galactica action!

    2. Frank Bough
      WTF?

      Re: Splutter

      That doesn't make any sense at all - cat launched jets have far better range that STOVL, so would better be able to make land, refuel in the air and pretty much anything else... at lower cost!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Splutter

        The F-35 has a bit better range, but its hardly significant, especially with mid-air refueling.

  20. Matt Hawkins
    Thumb Down

    Really?

    The truth is that Industry designed the carrier that was asked for. The MoD kept changing its mind.

    You design the carrier around the aircraft. It is hardly the fault of the supplier if the MoD changes its mind every five minutes. You can not expect to design a carrier for fixed wing and STOVL aircraft and expect the budget to not increase.

    Go and order a car from a car dealership. Then change your mind every 5 minutes about the colour, engine size and fuel type. See how you get on with that.

    Or contract a builder to build you a house extension and then half-way through the build move its location. Then stand back in shock and amazement when the builder dares to ask for extra money and says it will take longer to build.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      Yeh - you'd think they'd have the sense to build an adaptable one wouldn’t you. Oh hang on ...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really?

      "You design the carrier around the aircraft".

      Quite so. And before that, you choose the aircraft in accordance with the necessary mission profiles.

      Whereas, in the present exercise, none of that seems to have been done. Broon thought "How can I land people in my constituency with a huge, long-term lump of work?" and realised that a couple of carriers would do the job.

      1. Lapun Mankimasta Bronze badge

        Re: Really?

        You need a good idea of what you ned the aircraft for before you lay down the big ones. I'm sure this is a novel thought to the MoD and whitehall.

  21. Ray Gratis
    Flame

    Piston Broke

    How big a boiler could be built for a BEEELLION pounds? There must be alternatives to a nuclear reactor for generating steam for catapults.

  22. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Pirate

    The reality of "convertible".

    I'm guessing but I would suggest the main problem was in the definition of "convertible" used in the contract. Put simply, you could remove the ski-jump from the STOVL design, put in a cat for direct launch over the bows, making the cat capable of launching a light aircraft at low speed, and - voila! - you have specified your "conversion", and it probably looks quite cheap. Of course, when you start talking about throwing a heavy superjet, and then you want to add an angled deck to avoid any launch failures getting run-over by the ship (requiring considerable changes to the hull), and instead of chucking a light aircraft at low speed you now need to throw that heavier superjet at twice the speed because they have the low-speed ability of a brick, then suddenly the costs get much higher. Anyone looking at just the two pics in the article should be able to see that the "conversion" is actually a complete redesign of the ship.

    In essence, I can claim that I can take the space shuttle and "convert" it into an airliner like a 777. Of course, there will probably be nothing left of the original shuttle except for the crew seats, but in essence it is not an impossible conversion. Someone at the MoD needs to account for the "convertible" statement as that is what I see as the crux of the issue. It could simply be it was added without serious consideration, then the MoD and BAe had to actually go back and do a realistic costing.

    /YEAARGGHHH, obviously.

  23. Potemkine Silver badge

    UK will never ever buy Rafales

    The US will not allow it. Having the keys of british nuclear dissuasion with its Trident D5 missiles it provides and maintains, the US will be the real decision maker in the end.

  24. LPF
    Meh

    BAE , need a good sorting out, how that company gets away with what they do is beyond me. 4Billion for Nimrod , you having a laugh!

  25. NomNomNom

    So these are like big boats that have airplanes on top? Surely it would have been a cheaper option to put small boats in big planes.

    Or they could've make one giant duck shaped boat called the Sitting Duck and just let it drift into the enemy as a diversion.

    Who are we going to be fighting anyway?

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. Robin Bradshaw
    Alert

    Righteous indignation

    I know I should be more annoyed at the MOD screwing things up.

    Sadly however I am just surprised we aren't discussing problems of the planes propellers getting tangled in the rigging, or difficulty procuring enough oak to build the carrier, hemp with which to rig it and incompatible cannon ball sizes .

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  28. Kimo
    Pint

    Having been “designed for conversion”, and conversion having proved far more expensive than we expected, do we have any comeback against those companies that did the design?

    Comeback with a sandwich?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why we ordered these things in the first place

    We only ordered these so as to keep some bloody Scottish shipyards open. No other reason.

    It would have been cheaper to let them go on the dole with all their other friends/relatives.

    A very expensive way of keeping people busy. It is what happens when you have someone from Fife running the country

  30. Joe Gurman

    Would be interesting to have a cost estimate

    ....for building, say, nine destroyers with an aft flight deck large enough to accommodate two VSTOL aircraft each. Would certainly cut down on the "one big target" weakness of a carrier.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      Re: Would be interesting to have a cost estimate

      They will actually use nine requisited container ships all flagged in Liberia with Phililpino crews and Georgian captains.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: Would be interesting to have a cost estimate@Joe Gurman

      The required flight deck would be quite long if you want to take off with any fuel and weapons. This leads to the idea of "why don't we build something like a large destroyer sized aircraft carrier, that wouldn't cost much?", and before you've finished you find that you've specced an Invincible class pocket carrier (which is broadly speaking exactly how they were developed).

      A near like for like replacement of the Invincible class would probably have been far more appropriate to the UK's means and needs..

  31. alann2
    Black Helicopters

    lets build a death star

    as long as we don't get:

    A. government involvement

    B. BAE involvement

    then it should come in on time, under budget and out perform the original design criteria.

    1. PhilBuk
      Alien

      Re: lets build a death star

      If BAe built a Death Star to the usual design, it would come out looking like a Borg cube with lots of trenches and ventilation vents.

      Phil.

      1. Jason Hindle

        Re: Actually, if BAe built the Death Star

        It would have a catastrophic, single point of failure; a relatively unprotected exhaust vent leading all the way down to the reactor at the centre of the otherwise impregnable battle station.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Actually, if BAe built the Death Star

          Yeah but the main destroy-o-blast cannon would have been "left out" to be "fitted in once the design has been finished at some future date".

          "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed - it was made by BAE"

  32. Oldgroaner
    Unhappy

    Remember Skybolt -- supposed to be the future of Britain's deterrent -- then the USA abandoned it -- as they could the F35.

  33. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Mushroom

    MoD contracts

    "provided the word "adaptable" is actually on the contract somewhere (this is a secret of course, like all MoD contracts)."

    And that's your problem right there. If the process is kept secret, the taxpayer *will* get shafted. It's called the free market and all the major parties claim to understand it, but clearly none of them have a fucking clue. Defence contractors have every incentive to inflate prices and unlimited expertise in the products being sold. Civil servants have limited incentive and limited knowledge. If at least 50% of the defence budget isn't being creamed off in grotesque profiteering then the contractors aren't going their jobs properly and will be replaced by people who do. Don't believe me? Then you don't understand the free market either.

    Politicians who continue to accept that "it has to be secret coz it's defence" are costing the country billions per year AND failing to deliver adequate armed forces. I don't care how much pain it causes, there's little point in *having* a defence budget if we continue to manage it entirely behind closed doors. We should insist on contracts being published before they are signed. It's only the contract. It isn't a blueprint or a battle-plan.

    Contractors who refuse to bid under such rules will find that others are quite happy to take their place, but I doubt it will come to that. The UK is one of the biggest spenders on defence and no-one in the business can really afford to turn their backs on us.

  34. phuzz Silver badge
    Trollface

    Why bother?

    Why bother building some big old aircraft carriers that'll only go over budget anyway.

    Just attach some honking big engines to the coast and we'll sail the entire of blighty out where ever it's needed. Hopefully somewhere sunny.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Why bother?

      Thanks! Now I can't get rid of the mental image of de Kirchner's face as she sees the entire of Mainland GB hove into view from over the horizon.

  35. DF118
    Flame

    SDR

    Regarding the carrier project, the original wording in the conclusion of Labour's Strategic Defense Review (the one that set the ball rolling on the new carriers) was pretty unequivocal when it came to their purpose:

    "...an ability to operate the largest possible range of aircraft in the widest possible range of roles."

    Kinda fucked that one up.

  36. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    In the early 60's Labour cancelled the TSR2 in favour of the "customized" F111 variant.

    Which never turned up.

    Could the F35b be the F111 6 decades on?

    Just a thought.

    Fail for the procurement and the stench that wafts off the BAe/MoD "special relationship."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In the early 60's Labour cancelled the TSR2 in favour of the "customized" F111 variant.

      "Could the F35b be the F111 6 decades on?"

      Very probably yes. BAES have no monopoly on over-running defence projects, and there's real concern in the US about the whole F35 cost trajectory. As with the Eurofighter in Europe, the US are having to order less than they want to stay within budget, and if the costs continue to spiral then they'll have to ask why they are working on three variants when they only need two. Only the British and the US Marines really want the notably problematic B, so that's most at risk of being canned, or having its capabilities drastically curtailed to reduce costs - perhaps that's a more likely outcome, and we'll end up with something that is both expensive and crap. A bit like our carriers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In the early 60's Labour cancelled the TSR2 in favour of the "customized" F111 variant.

        " Only the British and the US Marines really want the notably problematic B, "

        And the Spanish and Italians have ordered the B. Up to another eight nations are considering the B.

        Only the USN are buying the C, the major issue with it is even its redesigned tailhook only managed 5/8 successes on land, which is basically a unacceptable failure rate. The USN have several other options for a carrier aircraft, including the Super Hornets.

        The UK could adapt the Typhoon fro STOBAR use, its possible, or simply cancel the idea and sell the carriers off cheap to India or Australia

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: In the early 60's Labour cancelled the TSR2 in favour of the "customized" F111 variant.

          "Only the USN are buying the C, the major issue with it is even its redesigned tailhook only managed 5/8 successes on land, which is basically a unacceptable failure rate. The USN have several other options for a carrier aircraft, including the Super Hornets."

          The B is essentially then for small export orders and the modest USMC requirement. I might also ask where (as with the UK) the Spanish and the Italians plan to get the money to buy these hugely expensive toys? A few export orders vulnerable to cancellation won't protect the B. The C however is the core of the proposed capability of the Ford class CVN's, and possibly replacement of the older USN jets on existing carriers. I really can't see cancellation of the C being politically acceptable, particularly as they've just spent almost $40bn on three new catapult equipped carriers for this. The tail hook issue is not something that cannot be overcome, but the continued complexity issues and weight of the B aren't going away either.

          The US hasn't faced up to its defence budgetary problems yet. In its perceived need to project force globally and demonstrate technical superiority it isn't going to adopt the Super Hornet as its first line assets, so the F35 will make it into carrier service in one form.

          For me, the existence of a third/fourth* US air force in the USMC is another expensive anomally that looks vulnerable. If the military need to reduce the costs of F35, that means cutting one of the three programmes - who do you think has more clout in Washington, the USN, or the USMC plus Spain, Italy, and the UK? Look at what the UK did to the FAA to "reduce costs". In the same hard place, the USMC may be willing to surrender their air corp in return for the USMC's continued existence, and then there's no American customers for the B at all.

          I don't know what the outcome will be, but common sense says that the B is the most troublesome, most expensive, and least significant to the US armed forces.

          * USAF, USN, USMC, Air National Guard.

          1. Vic

            Re: In the early 60's Labour cancelled the TSR2 in favour of the "customized" F111 variant.

            > The B is essentially then for small export orders and the modest USMC requirement

            Hasn't the USMC just sorted out its requirement by spending fifty quid on some used Harriers?

            Vic.

    2. Green Nigel 42
      Childcatcher

      Re: In the early 60's Labour cancelled the TSR2 in favour of the "customized" F111 variant.

      Black night rocket program before that, built on a shoe string & successfully put a satellite in orbit then shut down!

      Think deeper.

      Fail for procurement MOD/BAE/LM/DOD & we were going to be stitched up like a kipper from the start!

      Staggering incompetence, as the old joke said, man walking down Whitehall asked which side the Mod was, "ours I hope" replied the PC.

      1. John Hughes

        Re: In the early 60's Labour cancelled the TSR2 in favour of the "customized" F111 variant.

        Black night rocket program before that, built on a shoe string & successfully put a satellite in orbit then shut down!
        No, it was worse than that.

        Black Arrow was cancelled before launching Prospero. But it was on the launch pad, ready to go, so they just launched it anyway.

        And so Britain got its status as a space power, having launched one and only one satelite on its own launch vehicle.

  37. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Flame

    So how long until the British MoD throws in the towel....

    And turns these into the worlds most expensive container ships??

    "The HMS Ark Royal arrived in Southampton today, bearing a cargo of T-shirts and consumer electronics......"

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: So how long until the British MoD throws in the towel....

      Didn't see that these had already been named Price of Wales and Elizabeth. Many apologies to those fine ships bearing the name "Ark Royal".

      1. Lapun Mankimasta Bronze badge

        Price of Wales?

        LOL. How much is it actually? Have they really put Wales up on ebay?

  38. Herby

    Simple problem, simple answer...

    It is only a matter of money. Just spend more!

    That's what we do here in the good ol' USA. Best government inflation will buy!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    why do i keep reading about the royal navy on a computing site?

    why do i keep reading about the royal navy on a computing site?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: why do i keep reading about the royal navy on a computing site?

      Never heard the term "Windows for Warships"?

    3. fnj

      Re: why do i keep reading about the royal navy on a computing site?

      With all due respect, can it. This is by far the most illuminating site anywhere on this subject.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The carriers should be donated to the wanna be Americans Australia. Let them police Asia.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Carriers without catapults? Sold out your jump-jets? I have the solution!

    Simply use the Hercules AC 130 on your not-so-adaptable carrier.

    Google for it, the Hercules could land and takeoff from ANY post-WW II carrier with so-many-feet of flat deck on it. The only real hazard was the tip of the wings would come REALLY close to the upper structure.

    And you know the AC 130 can be converted into anything, including a bloody flying artillery position with 105mm guns. Fitting a radar dish on top of it or a dozen air-to-air missiles and nose guns should be a breeze too.

    Since you are talking about incorrect planes to equip your "carriers", at least put something that works on it.

    Oh, and the term carriers is so descriptive, because it can CARRY modern and decent fighter planes, not LAUNCH or RECOVER them. So you should lobby a more fitting alternative like I suggested above.

    Pictures or it didn't happen, below! The historic landing on USS Forrestal, and it didn't happen just once, the pilots landed and took off many times.

    http://markosun.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/forrestal.jpg

    http://images.defensetech.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Forrestalherk.jpg

    I would go for the troll or fail icon, but anon fits better.

    1. proto-robbie
      Pirate

      Re: Carriers without catapults? Sold out your jump-jets? I have the solution!

      That's one brave pilot.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Carriers without catapults? Sold out your jump-jets? I have the solution!

      "the Hercules could land and takeoff from ANY post-WW II carrier with so-many-feet of flat deck on it. The only real hazard was the tip of the wings would come REALLY close to the upper structure."

      I've seen the footage. It's quite scary - and they had to clear the entire deck, which is a significant operation all by itself.

  42. Anonymous Coward 15
    FAIL

    We're having an upgrade

    Let's throw out our production servers before the PHB has even decided on the new ones.

  43. armster
    Coffee/keyboard

    This is how MoD contracts work

    The problem with MoD contracts is that the skill is not in building the kit, or designing the kit, but rather in designing a Cost Model that the MoD buys for designing and building such kit. Nobody ever believes that any program can be run at the promised cost, but if the Cost Model can be tweaked so that it fits within MoD budget all is well. Once you have spent all the money under the cost model, you then just have to ask for more, and show a new Cost Model that shows you are at least 50% there. So if you want to have more than 100% cost overrun (as in the case of the carriers) you just have to do multiple rounds of this. This is especially easy to do on projects >4 years since the politicians change, and so you can claim a change in requirement.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FMS Markup

    "The cost of going through the FMS [Foreign Military Sales] purchasing route..."

    1) Buying FMS is typically not optional for most USA kit. It's a given. You know about the FMS markup going in, from the outset. You CANNOT honestly claim to be surprised.

    2) The markup factor isn't even double digits, less than 10%.

    3) Supposedly it gets you the same base price as negotiated by the USN, good or bad.

    4) It might be a bad assumption that you can negotiate a lower price, as the USN's contract would have a low price guarantee. So their price is always the lowest.

    5) FMS also avails technical support from the USG's own staff. Useful.

    Grumbling about FMS "costs" is essentially a bald faced lie. Serioiusly.

  45. All names Taken
    Alien

    FUD gets everywhere or so it seems?

    Note to self: if flogging arms n munitions to UK appeal to Whitehall and guvmints paranoia, poor self esteem and basic insecurities of self rather than state?

  46. 1 Million Dollars

    My doubtless uninformed opinion. The secret sauce that is selling the F35, is its sensor array and the software in it. Lots of pundits have bemoaning the lack of performance, but what is being claimed if the software really does its job is something else, in terms of ability. Pilots are stepping out of simulators into STOVL aircraft in a few sessions. The Harrier was, is one of the hardest aircraft to fly, accident rates for early Harrier's were high. Reduction in pilot workload, means pilots get on with to use the modern turn of phrase, war-fighting.

    The sensor array, if what's being claimed is true. Can automatically build electronic order of battle. These planes act as flying sensors, if a radar is turned on, be it from a tracking station or a handheld device. They can track, identify and relay it on to other aircraft. To do that with the current aircraft you'd probably need a F-18 Rhino and F-18 Growler, probably relaying that to another AWACS aircraft. This one airframe does all that.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      It almost makes you wonder why you need a pilot at all !

    2. Zack Mollusc

      Perhaps the Harrier would be easier to fly if it had been developed over the decades?

  47. This post has been deleted by its author

  48. Stoke the atom furnaces

    I understand that the United States Marine Corps operates an excellent VSTOL aircraft called the "Harrier Jump Jet".

    This aircraft would be ideal for operations from this new ship, the Royal Navy and RAF should investigate the purchase of this aircraft intermediately.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  49. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    I'm entirely onboard with the concept of greedy, incompetent defense contractors

    We have a good number of them here in the U.S., not least of which is our buddies at Lockheed Martin, home of the incredibly expensive F-35.

    However, these constantly changing specifications from various numbskulls are the real problem. They can't agree on a strategy, so they can't agree on a force package to meet that strategy, so they can't agree on what they need to procure for the force package.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The F35

    I was interested to read on Gizmodo the other day that the F35 program was also "designed" to be too big to cancel and also the work has been split up over the country to prop up politicians popularity and provide jobs which has led to a lot of the problems:

    http://gizmodo.com/inside-the-pentagons-trillion-dollar-f-35-embarrassmen-1325863089

    The recent grounding for "engine fires" sounds particularly worrying :

    "The engine ripped through the top of the plane," one source told the news agency leaving behind "about six feet of debris."

    Don't think this ever happened with a Harrier!

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