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BBC: Guthrie says RN needs more smaller Ships, not Carriers


War Hero
Re: BBC: Guthrie says RN needs more smaller Ships, not Carri

Lord Guthrie also suggested that cheaper systems such as cruise missiles could replace the UK's current submarine-based Trident nuclear deterrent.

Que?? :?

How are they even remotely interchangeable, apart from the fact both weapons are carried on RN Submarines there is no link I can see.


War Hero
Re: BBC: Guthrie says RN needs more smaller Ships, not Carri

Lord Guthrie said:

"Where should cuts fall? What are the candidates?

First, Britain must I think maintain its nuclear deterrent. Our nuclear asset will continue to deter a major attack on the UK by another state for many decades to come. But upgrading our nuclear missiles will be expensive.

Replacing our four nuclear submarines, each with 16 Trident D5 missiles (each of which can mount 12 warheads) will cost about £20 billion. Extending the life of the existing system would therefore be good housekeeping, saving the £20 billion cost of the upgrading, without losing the value of deterrence against aggressive small states. There should, however, be exploration of new lightweight options for delivery. For instance, cruise missiles.

I also believe that we should strive for a nuclear free world and limit proliferation. But we will be listened to far more if we are a nuclear power and can bargain. Would we want to leave the discussion to the US, Russia, China, Israel, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea?

A cheaper nuclear weapon system can be as effective as a state of the art weapon in creating the right strategic ‘effect’. If there is a reasonable chance that our nuclear weapons could penetrate moderately advanced anti-missile defences, then our potential adversary would not take the risk and thus the deterrent effect is maintained."


Lantern Swinger
Nice to see that he doesn't volunteer his own Service for cuts, in terms of procurement or otherwise, bar cutting headquarters back. I thought that the number of Typhoon that the RAF were ordering had been reduced too?


War Hero
Re: BBC: Guthrie says RN needs more smaller Ships, not Carri

Re the carriers and the F-35s, he says:

"The second area for consideration has to be the Navy’s plan for two ‘super’ aircraft carriers and a large fleet of F-35 fighters. Estimates today are that the carriers will cost £4 billion while the aircraft on board will cost over £8 billion.

I am afraid that they should be cut from the programme. It would be great to have them but we really cannot afford them. They will distort the defence budget for years. And they come under the “nice to have†heading. The economic situation has changed since the last SDR. I also wonder how survivable they would be in 25 years time.

I certainly think that the Navy needs a larger fleet of relatively cheaper and smaller ships. Ships to keep the sea lanes open, to conduct anti-narcotic operations and to counter pirates. I was very struck by the size of the Navy when I was CDS. On one occasion, we had just one frigate responsible for Sierra Leone, for policing narcotic trafficing in the West
Indies and for the Falklands at the same time.

Whatever the penalties for cancellation are, it would be much cheaper to do without the aircraft carriers. The Royal Navy is now smaller than at any point in the last century despite the rising number of demands on it. We could probably increase the numbers of the fleet if the carriers and their aircraft were discarded."


War Hero
Really Lord Guthrie? You cut those carriers, and we lose £12bn from the Navy budget that we ain't going to see again. Plus we lose the argument for escorts. Then we lose all capability in the littoral against even a moderately tooled up enemy. We need fast cheap FF's, and we need the tech heavy DD's like DARING, and we need the new CVF's because frankly their just too damn useful to not have. More useful than the V-boats anyway.


Lantern Swinger
The whole point is that we can afford them if we choose to. I'll admit I'm not in fully aware of the particulars of government spending, but if funding was not constantly diverted elsewhere within government - to places such as the NHS (which could do with a thorough shakeup, "rationalising" and streamlining) and the on aid to places such as India which can blatantly afford to do without - then we could easily afford them and other things, like the full complement of T45s and FRES for the Army (albeit with the procurement system being tidied up too).


Book Reviewer
Re: BBC: Guthrie says RN needs more smaller Ships, not Carri

His parochial thoughts and observations are like he, a relic from the past.

Any island nation, like ours, that neglects the sea lines of communicatons, is lost. Period.

Crabs and Pongo's - you answer that in a sane and polite manner.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Senile gibberings. I seem to remember a story to the effect that he only got CDS (which should have gone to Jock Slater) because he was a friend of Nicholas Soames. He has now demonstrated what a second-rater he was. Typical dim Pongo.


Lantern Swinger
Re: BBC: Guthrie says RN needs more smaller Ships, not Carri

It doesn't surprise me that he has come out with this rubbish.

I'm sure if his wishes come true that a future larger army will thank him, when they have no air cover in some far flung land, cos the RAF can't reach them and the RN does not have an aircraft carrier to its name.

He seems to have forgotten the term "Force Projection"

Stupid old fart
Re: BBC: Guthrie says RN needs more smaller Ships, not Carri

I refrained from posting last night because I was still spitting feathers. Guthrie is blithely talking about surrendering capability (unless it's boots on the ground or in vehicles) instead of retaining or replacing it. Of course " cannot magic helicopters out of mid-air; you cannot magic armoured vehicles quickly" but you can obtain them a damn sight quicker than long-lead items like replacement aircraft carriers and their escorts.

Or perhaps Guthrie's crystal ball tells him that our troops and aircraft will be welcomed with open arms wherever they need to fight over the next 5-40 years? Taking SDR 98 and our actual fighting commitments into account, the Defence budget has been woefully underfunded for years and this will not help. As I've said before, you do not cancel your fire insurance just because you've suffered a recent spate of burglaries.
Re: BBC: Guthrie says RN needs more smaller Ships, not Carri

as Naval_Gazer said. Additionally;

Extending the life of the existing system would therefore be good housekeeping, saving the £20 billion cost of the upgrading

Clearly showing a total grasp (not) of the Polaris Sales Agreement and the lifing of nuclear boats.

When yer man visited down South in Austral Summer (like many other goofers) '01, I was convinced then that he wasn't seeing what we were showing him nor listening to what we were saying. Indeed, IRDK was the only DD/FF in the Caribbean, Sierra Leone, FI triangle at the time. That was overstretch, even then.


War Hero
Re: BBC: Guthrie says RN needs more smaller Ships, not Carri

He was Blairs favourite General which says it all but:
As I don't know and someone will,how long will our current Trident last before we have to upgrade it?
We are talking a great deal of cash here that may be deferred for four or five years to release funds for the current campaigns.
I said I don't know but if we could,as there seems to be no nuke strike threat on the horizon,we could do this and still keep both carriers.
I stress I am in favour of upgrading but wondered re. my question,if you can.
Re: BBC: Guthrie says RN needs more smaller Ships, not Carri

seafarer1939. I've been out of what became Strat Sys for a long time so I could be out of date.

As I see it; if/when the US upgrade their missiles/REBs, it will become expensive, if not impossible, to continue with "pooled" servicing at King's Bay. Additionally, we might think that we've learned a lot since the "potting" cracks in Polaris motors but, perhaps, only age will tell. Similarly, although the V boats incorporate much knowledged gained from the R boats, we don't know what the precise "age" limits are. We may think that things like "trouser leg" manifold cracks are consigned to history; but do we know? Guthrie is proposing risks that we may not understand.
Re: BBC: Guthrie says RN needs more smaller Ships, not Carri

On the Today programme, err, today; there was an interesting follow up to Gen Guthrie's brown tub thumping:

The constitutional expert Professor Vernon Bogdanor has argued that serving and former heads of the armed forces are becoming too vocal in their criticism of the government, threatening the constitutional convention by which the armed forces remain politically neutral.

Prof Bogdanor and Major General Patrick Cordingley, former commander of 7th Armoured Brigade and vice president of the UK National Defence Association, debate how far former commanders should be allowed to enter the public forum.

Prof Bogdanor told Today presenter James Naughtie that retired members of the armed service "have every right to take part in the political debate," but added that former personnel "must not appear to align themselves with a political party," particularly in the build up to a general election.

He said Lord Guthrie's criticisms of the prime minister's defence policies went, "beyond what is acceptable," adding that his comments "were unwise."

Major-General Cordingley explained that it was important for military experts to participate in the weapons debate, "how on earth do the public know what it is that they they should know about defence if people like Lord Guthrie don't have their say. And I think he didn't go far enough."

Unfortunately, yer man Bogdanor lost credibility by describing Gen M Jackson as "head of the Armed Forces"! He said some other arguably daft things as well.


War Hero
Re: BBC: Guthrie says RN needs more smaller Ships, not Carri

What constitutes a 'constitutional expert' ?
Particularly when said constitution isn't written. :?
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