Defence Spending!

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by FAAFLYNAVY, Sep 18, 2014.

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  1. I've just read a report that states UK defence spending is just under 2% of GDP & could drop as low as 1.5% post 2020 & there's no legislation in place that guarantees any minimum amount/%.

    Yet legislation has just been passed at the whim of the coalition in cohorts with the Labour party to guarantee 0.7% minimum of GDP to be given away in overseas aid.

    Am I just thick, what am I missing?
  2. Purple_twiglet

    Purple_twiglet War Hero Moderator

    No political interest at present in securing defence spending, and more importantly a sense that MOD and the military can be far more efficient with what they have already got, rather than asking for more without a clear idea of what to do with it.
  3. On a slightly different tact I can fully understand the need to be & display cost efficiency, & with the UK politicians unwilling to get involved in more overseas conflicts why aren't the military being used at home in conjunction with the civilian services such as border protection/homeland security, this would provide them with a visual public roll & show a greater degree of cost efficiency.

    Some years ago the then new hospital on Woolwich common that doubled up as both military & NHS had MP's & MET in the A&E in case there was any military/civilian problems, this showed them in a good/public service roll & definitely stopped the idiots from "kicking off", the odd drunken idiot wasn't too worried about the MET but as sure as hell didn't want to F**K with the MP's.

    Surely it's lunacy whilst we have a shortage of border security & police/paramedics on the streets but we have the military being withdrawn from overseas bases only to be home based/billeted & not being used to their fullest public display potential.

    Just a thought!
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2014
  4. Well, apart from the fact they are. Go to any hospital with an MDHU and you'll find military medics, from AB to Surg Capt RN, providing care to all and sundry.
  5. Peterborough hospital had RAF Cpl's working in A & E, funny watching the drunks questioning if they were strippers?

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  6. That's excellent it must be a regional thing, we've none of it in SE London or Kent that I know of & it shows the military in a positive & cost effective light.

    The crux of my discussion is why aren't we seeing the military being used in other aspects of life in conjunction with the civilian services? they have the equipment & training that in most cases is being stored/billeted doing very little & costing a fortune.

    With the positive high profile of the SAR as an example, surely all the military would benefit from such good publicity & have a better argument for a larger share of the UK GDP.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2014
  7. Clearly the head sheds in the, again, reorganised cluster f**k aren't exercising their communication skills very well. I bet they aren't in the arbitrary 5% on a Personal Improvement Plan, though.
  8. I should have also added that I spend about 50% of my time in France & it's quite common to see the military personnel out & about "assisting/working/traveling" in uniform, & this keeps them clearly in the public eye.

    It's about the image being created, the UK public in general dislike our money being given in overseas aid because we can't/don't see what it's doing, & I think it's the same here with the military, it seems that as a nation we're frightened to put the military on public display & show what they can/will do to justify the costs, we seem to adopt the stupid view of "out of site, out of mind".

    The only place that I've seen that seems to buck this trend is Barnstaple where the RM's from Chivenor are always in the town in uniform & are clearly liked & respected.

    Just of course as always a personal view!
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2014
  9. Purple_twiglet

    Purple_twiglet War Hero Moderator

    The irony is that overseas aid, when properly applied, actually makes the MODs life a lot easier. I totally agree that we need people to be ashore in rig though, although the challenge on UK ops is getting the media to recognise that not everyone wearing MTp is in the army.
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  10. I think it's a given that the vast majority wearing any form of MTp/uniform in public won't be in the military, it's far to easy & cheap to obtain.

    The lunacy is in the rail industry all surplus/outdated uniforms have to be incinerated in the name of public safety to stop them from getting into the public domain, yet you can buy a RN/RM dress uniform on eBay, quite legally for a few quid.

    Surely this should come under the "you couldn't make it up" heading.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2014
  11. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    The Govt has no clear strategic vision of what, coming at us from overseas, we need to defend against. Unfortunately it also has no grasp of what a long lead time (hardware AND skills) it takes to build up against a war threat, or that threats can appear very quickly out of a cloudless sky, like the 1982 Falklands War. My impression is that we just scraped by in 1982 and indeed if Galtieri has hung on a few weeks we would have not had Invincible, Fearless and Intrepid to hand and would have been physically unable to get the FI back. That's over thirty years ago now but that doesn't logically extrapolate to another thirty years of no threat anywhere.

    I have no idea how the Putin thing will play out but we seem to be able to do little more than set up token trip-wire demo contributions and assume the US or Father Christmas will do all the heavy work.
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  12. As both the QEII Class are going to be in service, an increase in 45s and 26s seem to be the order of the day, after all they are going to need escorts, and how about refitting the Prince of Wales with Cat & Trap in case the vaunted F35 come up short of the mark
  13. wave_dodger

    wave_dodger War Hero Book Reviewer

    Impossible, been covered in a a host of idiotic previous threads, not needed either. So lets please not this go any further.
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  14. wave_dodger

    wave_dodger War Hero Book Reviewer

    And if you're in a military related town - Portsmouth, Aldershot, Bulford, Andover, Leeming you'll see it quite a bit here too, even in Central London as travel is free if you're in rig.

    But apart form being seen which isn't a bad thing - we get paid to do a job, so I'm not certain I follow the rationale of the thread that the UK Military could/should do more in the UK?

    Where we see uniforms in hospitals that too gain clinical experience by working alongside (not instead of) the NHS because we've closed our dedicated Military facilities. I can entirely see the logic of that and extending the use of Military placements (ED, surgery etc) where our people get extended experience. But away from that we have a very fixed set of jobs/tasks that each persons billet is created and funded to achieve and we're struggling to man those so I'm at a loss to see the benefit in what is being suggested.

    We have the URNU for a broadly comparable reason.
  15. wave_dodger

    wave_dodger War Hero Book Reviewer

    and I'd entirely agree with this - in fact I'd say its the sanest thing that been said about us for a very long time.
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  16. 5 or 6 years ago, one of the directors of the company I worked for got a Meet the Navy invite, mikh he says I am on hol that date, go in my place will you. All the usual bumf was given out on the night, question where asked and answered, and then I asked about cat and trap on the QEIIs, I was given a pretty straight answer, off the cuff, although they are not being fitted, provision has been made to the design for retrofitting if the requirement is there in the future. As far as I remember, when it was a joint venture with the frogs, they wanted their version with C&T. I personally believe the lack of C&T has far more to do with the (misguided imho) commitment to the STVOL F35s than the impossibility of it being fitted
  17. I was on the fringes of the design work back in the early days; the concept design didn't specify C&T or ski-jump (or even hybrids, like the STOBAR ski-jump and arrestor wires combo on the Kuznetsov) because there was still a lot of work going into whether the "Joint Combat Aircraft" was going to be STOVL or CTOL and what might be used for roles like AEW.

    One key driver was flexibility; part of the 2001ish Concept of Operations involved the CVF (as it then was) parking in a box off the enemy coast with its deck crammed with 40-48 JCA, smashing 120 sorties a day into Nastyland in order to Deter, Coerce, Degrade and Destroy the bad guys while Reassuring, Supporting, Reinforcing and Protecting the good guys ('effects based operations' being the new black in those days) for a manic week while the Marines stormed ashore and seized a lodgement. At that point, a lot of the JCA would flex ashore to Forward Operating Bases, freeing up the CVF's deck and hangar space to become a plus-sized LPH to help support and sustain operations ashore.

    There was a very definite feel of "how do we make this joint enough that the RAF can't cry foul too loudly?" air to some of these theoreticals, and whoever had put together the CONOPS and the supporting analysis made a fairly clear case that STOVL flexibility was worth more than additional CTOL capability.

    That was one major push towards selecting the STOVL option; another was the point that, in 2001ish, we were on paper intending to buy 232 Eurofighters (not yet named as 'Typhoons') *plus* another 150 Joint Combat Aircraft, at a point where it was not enormously obviously what nearly four hundred pointy-nosed fast jets would find to do once expensively bought and yet cutting the Typhoon buy was at that point politically impossible; JCA needed a Unique Selling Point to justify why we had to stay with the program rather than just life-extend Torrnado and speed up bolting bombs onto Typhoon to save some big money. Choosing the STOVL version as "Harrier replacement" fitted the bill; plus, having JCA roll directly into replacing Joint Force Harrier sorted out "how many light blue and how many dark blue versions?". Politically, many birds could be slain with few stones.

    So, that's why STOVL was selected by the time the designers were going from outline general arrangements to detailed schematics, but leaving voids, spaces and margins to add arresting wires, catapults and associated equipment if required. A significant risk was that steam catapults weren't particularly feasible without bolting in some fairly major donkey boilers, so the electromagnetic catapult being developed in the US was the chosen solution if we changed our minds and wanted to switch back to CTOL.

    The first carrier actually started construction in 2009, and that's where "provision for retrofitting" got overtaken by events. If the decision to switch had been made three years earlier, it could probably have been done; but my educated intuition is that when it came time to start laying down the cabling and control systems that would get the many, many amps and volts required by the catapults from the machinery rooms up to the flight deck, someone - not entirely unreasonably - balked at the cost when the budget was brutally tight anyway, and deferred that work until a decision had actually been made to switch to avoid wasting lots of money on something that, at the time, seemed to have very little chance of being used. Which sounds fine, and makes short-term sense... but explains why the 2010 decision to switch to CTOL turned out to be much more expensive than initially expected, because while the voids and margins had been built into the ship, getting the copper bus-bars into their ducts really wanted doing during construction...

    That's the construction side; on the operations side, a STOVL fleet meant that getting RAF pilots to operate off ships was relatively straightforward compared to getting them qualified for night carrier landings. A very real risk identified in a CTOL carrier was that, while Joint Force Lightning might nominally have had 48 aircraft, it would end up de facto split into dark and light blue, where most of the Navy pilots but few of the RAF pilots were able to actually land on a carrier; which pretty thoroughly defeated the point of the change. (There are those who suggest that SDSR 2010 was a rushed fricassee of foetid dingo's kidneys, with some of its proposals smashed out without proper study or analysis... I wasn't directly involved)

    There''s continuing debate, some of it even informed, about the relative merits of F-35B and C; the CTOL version carries more and flies further, and has fewer technical risks. On the other hand, the training overhead and cost is horrific (even the US Navy struggles with it), you can expect to lose more planes and pilots in day-to-day operations - the USN was losing something like twenty a year in the 1990s - and the nominal range advantage drops off quickly if you're operating far from friendly bases, unless you're prepared to take extra risk. Either you operate with enough reserve fuel to divert to a friendly airfield (and if there's one nearby why did you really need a carrier?) or you lose aircraft if you have a foul deck or other problem that interrupts recovery. (STOVL has shorter legs, but has more options for finding a place to land)

    Or, the short version... the ships were initially designed to be CTOL if necessary, even once we initially chose STOVL the option to change back was left open, but as we went from data in the CAE system to actual metalwork in the dockyard, the costs of making the change went up steadily.
    • Informative Informative x 4
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  18. Cheers JRW a most informative post.

    I can understand the benefits of the STOVL, but imho the advantages of longer legs and bigger payload of the CTOL far outweigh them. And the fact part of the reason for STOVL was to appease the boys in light blue is absolutely astounding!
  19. Eye thankew!

    I used to be of the same opinion, and when we got the SDSR2010 briefing - it was so "you will hear this now" that we were hauled off COLDA into a lecture theatre, sitting in muddy CS95s to hear the story - I rejoiced. At the time I thought we should bin off Lightning and go for a F/A-18F based airwing; off the shelf, proven, lower risk, lower cost, and still scary capable against most current opponents, so we could buy more, operate more, fly more...

    Trouble is, when you look at what it actually costs to make use of that extra capability in terms of pilot training in particular, you realise it's just not affordable: we can barely qualify enough pilots for flying fast jets off big concrete runways on land (and it's not because there's a shortage of applicants or places in the pipeline going unfilled), adding STOVL to the mix makes it a bit worse but still feasible with effort (and if we fall short it'll be gaps rather than chasms) but if we tried to go CTOL for the carriers, then you'd end up with maybe a dozen or so pilots able to actually fly off them - the situation the Russians have been in ever since they put the Kuznetsov to sea. She can nominally embark and fly 20-some Flankers... but you could probably count their carrier-qualified pilots without needing both hands. I think last time out, when anything flew, it was one airframe at a time; they might seriously be down to "the pilot" who *is* "the airwing".

    Doesn't matter how many aircraft you've got, if you haven't got pilots to fly them. (And - again it's not my field - but both versions of the F-35 bring serious capability to the game, the aviators and their supporting techies can explain why it's a serious step up in terms of "what we can do" compared to our current options, and once they've established you're cleared to hear it and qualified to understand it they'll do so at mind-numbing length... the -B model doesn't give up in those areas, and the experts don't seem to be weeping that we're getting the -B rather than the -C)

    Of course it would be easier if you took away the funding constraint and assumed unlimited money available... <sobs with hysterical laughter until a nurse administers some Thorazine>

    It wasn't just the RAF, it was the Treasury, and I think even back then the realisation was sinking in that the fast-jet Fleet Air Arm of 2000ish was maybe thirty or so Harrier pilots (might have been fewer) almost none of whom had ever trapped onto a wired deck (there's a few, Crab as well as Andrew, who have done exchanges with the USN and learned... but it's a terribly perishable skill); the last time we'd mustered three or four dozen CTOL-qualified pilots had been over twenty years before.

    If we wanted the flexibility of surging thirty or forty JCA onto one or both of the RN's proposed supercarriers, the only way to make the numbers work for the Treasury, the politics work between the services and the practicalities possible in the real world was to stick with STOVL; even back then in 2000ish, there was no credible and sustainable way to generate the force of CTOL-qualified pilots required within a cost and time budget that was acceptable. Otherwise, the "fast jet air wing" for CVF would be half-a-dozen aircraft because that's all the pilots we'd have who could safely land the bloody things, at which point the Treasury cut the buy to twenty (six for each carrier, a couple of OCU/training airframes and a couple of attrition reserves), then after a pause of two marching paces bin the whole programme because it's so much money for so little capability.

    (Bitter? Twisted? Angry? Cynical? Me?)
    • Like Like x 2
  20. Again Informative JRW, but as for the cost of training, could I point out

    F35B - STOVL Variant = $156.8M
    F35C - COTOBAR Variant = $142.6M

    $14.2M difference in the cost of airframes, this would go a long way to offset the cost of pilot training, and as my original post was in reference in our defence spending shortfall (below our 2% commitment as per NATO agreement).

    Throw in a 20% increase in payload and a 25% increase in range on the C over the B on top of the lower price and the C version, plus lower maintenance costs, less things to go wrong with the airframe and the C variant makes more sense.

    BTW, not heard much about the Bs recently, have they got them up to scratch yet? are they going to be available to fly from a carrier?
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