Falklands 25 Years - No RN Fixed Wing


War Hero
slim said:
Your getting old.
Don't remind me mate. I am beginning to realise why, when I was young, all those old crusty Chiefs used to bark one minute and chuckle to themselves the next, I thought they were all going mad!



Sorry to disappoint but I've not edited it at all, it's come word for word from the House Of Commons website. If you want to read more:

Sea Harrier Decommission

Perhaps you're overtired and a little sensitive - try getting an early night :lol:


War Hero
In that case I apologise, having read your link I can see that some Civil Serpent appears to have hacked Sir Jocks statements down into little chunks, having met him three times(and dripped all over him at least once) I must say he is a nice bloke with an uncanny understanding of this and other issues surrounding JFH, I note that he also expressed this opinion "Sir Jock was clear that he would have preferred to have retained a viable Sea Harrier in service "because we will be without one of the layers of air defence—the aircraft layer." From your link.

Reading that link puts all the issues back into context, the discussions ref Type 45 as a defence layer, the expected reliance on ally air defence etc etc all wrapped up into a little bundle which relies on JSF/ JCA being in service for 2012! Well that's not going to happen now is it!


Obviously I had selected the more controversial paragraph that was likely to result in a response and you didn't dissappoint! :lol: The report is actually quite well balanced when read in full, allowing for a bit of the usual spin.

A interesting admission from yourself that Sir Jock might actually know what he is talking about when it comes to air power! :lol:
chieftiff said:
RAF Eng,
I have until now refrained from pointing this out: you are an ass with little understanding and a fundamentally flawed viewpoint, you have taken two perfectly valid quotes (albeit gratuitously hacked to serve your purpose) and chosen to use them totally out of context!

The purpose of the Sea Harrier was never to defend the Fleet, who the hell do you think the Fleet are, when using the term Fleet in this context we are referring to the Carrier Battle Group, how can you operate GR9's from a sinking vessel! The purpose of the Sea Harrier was to extend the defensive capability of the group whilst also projecting power- Multi-role!! The GR9 is incapable of Fleet defence, even with ASRAAM it's ability is limited, but exactly why it is limited I don't think we should be discussing, it is! Bach's understanding of the situation is frankly idiotic, Carriers haven't been used to defend the Fleet since our last major Sea Battle, they proved their role of projecting airpower in the Falklands, that's old news. If you intend to start a battle of misquoted idiocy we can both play at that game, consider the context in which "Sir Jock" made this statement, he was fighting to justify the retirement of the Sea Harrier, there are plenty of Admirals and Senior Naval Officers who argued against it, do you want me to quote them to suit?

The point is whilst we do now have in the GR9 a better ability to bomb the nasty people it is risky to do so from a carrier, with the timelines as they currently stand that risky bit, we call it a "capability gap" is bigger than predicted when the decision was made. Our new CVS's will be kept nice and shiny and new, only to be floated out for the press to gaup at until JCA is brought into service. If not we risk watching them, and their contingent of very capable GR9's slowly sinking to the bottom of some nasty warm (or cold) Ocean (or Sea)
Good post. Bloody JR's!! :wink:


Lantern Swinger
Dear Crabs who seem to enjoy posting on this site more than E-goat:

I don't think that anyone on here disputes that you are the experts in the employment of land based airpower, and probably now that some of your brethren have sampled the delights of the death star and her sisters you'll be more informed as to the complexities of carrier based airpower - so can we please park the expert egos for a while.

We can also assume that because Sir J is CDS we can also assume that he is very well aware of the three services and their capabilities.

However as we seem to have strayed away from the core thread of no RN fixed wing for Falklands 25, you may wish to bare in mind the lessons identified from the Falklands campaign: For ease I paraphrase, however for the full texts refer to the CMND paper.

A number of assets (T42s, T21s and Logs ships) were lost due to the lack of AEW coverage to the fleet, as there were no Nim AEW in service and the Shackletons weren't deployed. The only aircraft that could have provided the coverage were the Mk1 Seaking AEW not in service until the latter stages of the conflict albeit in home waters still trialing the radar. I seem to remember that the MPA working out of Ascension didn't have the legs to help and there weren't enough of them.

Sir J and Lord B state that the stationing of T42s up threat would provide adequate coverage for the sea skimmer, which would invariably be heading for the pickets anyway. SeaDart even when new was dodgy, it still is now (open source). Ultimately the idea of CAP as you know is the long range protection of any asset or battlespace land or sea based. And to shoot the weapon carrier at long range so that (for the RN anyway) the pickets and high value unit are not threatened.

The layered defence principle is like an onion, ie you put lots of layers in the way of the core. However in the same vain, an onion is very easy to strip, so is air defence and invariably someone or something will get through. What is the role of the carrier battle group? Force Projection, and of course theatre entry. No commander in is right mind is going to want to transit to the battlespace purely through the littoral, thereby placing himself inside the range of the enemies aircraft - note attack on the USS STARK with exocet mid 1980s gulf region.

However once you get to the "battlespace" and you boys (RAF) haven't established the footprint ashore to operate land based DCA, which I am informed for a detachment of F3s takes about a 3-4 week period to achieve and a whole shed load of C-17 flights, then carrier based air defence is the only solution. And failing that, overflight rights aren't always available to us - hence the reason why the USN generally has two CVNs in the gulf region at any one time.

Assumptions like: operating in a coalition, and reduced reliance on open-ocean air defence has reduced have a nasty habit of biting you in the ass. Also planning on future capability is always a dodgy area, Type 45 isn't in service and when it is there will be so few of them that the layered principle will be bloody difficult to maintain. #

We keep saying that Argentina will never invade the FIs again, however the acid test of the capability is surely that we should be able to re-take them if they were invaded again. Given that we teach people the way we think about warfare including, argentinians, you have to assume that in their estimate of the FIs at present they will know that we are weak down there.

However to end, what I find most interesting is that Sir J had a number of other projects to fund notably JSTAR.

I'm sorry, but a Senior Crab and a Labour politician making a decision over the RN and its ability to protect a joint sea based operation with Organic Air Defence? It was always going to be a kick in the teeth for the RN whichever way you look at it. However the knock on is that once you loose a capability, it is very difficult to rebuild it. Then add to that the fact that the money had already been re-allocated in principle to the GR9 project and JSTARs amongst other things, well, I think you can see the angst that this decision caused.

Anyway, i am gutted that there won't be any RN fixd wing at the 25th annevessary. After all, SHAR was the backbone of the air defence and GA until the GR3 were up and running - no-one can argue that. As a case study for carrier airpower it is very good.


War Hero
Ding Dong,

I think your time lines for an operational F3 deployment are somewhat curious. In 1990, F3s and Jags were deployed and flying missions in the Gulf (albeit the latter initially in Oman) well within a week of the order to go.

In 2001, an RAF E-3D flew it's first operational sortie over Afghanistan within 36 hrs of the deployment order. In reality of course both carrier and land based air power has it's pros and cons. Carriers can take a long time to turn up but don't require direct host nation support. Moreover, carrier aircraft tend to be short on legs/ordinance and rely on land based assets for the majority of their combat support (AAR/SIGINT/C2/AWACS etc).

Land based assets obviously require HNS but do often take a long time to gather all the support tail up to ensure robust ops for an extended period.

In reality, we need robust capabilities in both as each is complimentary to the other.



Lantern Swinger

I was basing that on a recent lecture i had from an RAF instructor at the defence academy. In the current two theatres that was apparently how long it took before they were ready to begin training for the word to go.

In reality, a carrier can be most places we need to influence within 3 weeks ( steaming over 10,000 nautical miles in that time frame). And given that something like 145 of the 195 recognised countries in the world have coastlines, and the rest are within range of carrier aircraft - you may see that the CVF opens up a whole range of options for the joint environemt. The first troops into Afghanistan i think were launched via helo from OCEAN in the NAG - someone may wish to check that cause i heard it somewhere.

Factor into that that a carrier air wing will have worked up en-route and the "effect" is quite substantial. As you say, HNS and acrued logs tail ashore takes time to build up. However all of the other capabilities you mention, ASACs, SIGINT, ASW, ASuW, AAR (obviously not VC-10 or E-3D!!!!) and CSAR can all be based on carriers.

As aircrew you will know that his is true, i offer EF-18G (Prowler replacement) Buddy refueling (fitted to F/A-18F) as examples which could in theory be embarked in CVF.

We can debate the merits of each form of airpower until the cows come home, suffice it to say, the decision to withdraw FA-2 was not a good one, and based mainly on flimsy arguments and cost savings. Any form of defence is better than no defence at all, and having come froma T42 I have seen the difficulties the equipment give us.

Now the problem becomes that ACC will have to factor into the equation during his estimate process DCA+AAR+AWACS coverage to a transititing CV grp whereas before that came as a composite unit, admittedly still with limitations.

We've always known in the RN that CV/ARG grps provide theatre entry, and provide the opportunity to establish a foot hold so that the RAF can then establish a foot print to provide long term DCA/OCA/AWACS and ISTAR. But the job got harder, because rather than allocate new cash for desperately needed projects like JSTARS and GR9/9A, all they did was size up the options to re-cycle cash. We bet on the jam tomorrow type argument which is now coming home to roost in the form of fewer T45s and the possibility that 8 acres of floating airfield may never be built.

MM - i'm like you, i support the other services and try very hard to learn as much as i can about them. The ideal would be have as much money as we needed - sadly that never happens until a war breaks out, and sadly even then we're still left wanting. I hope it doesn't come to that, but if it were, we may be heading from a disaster that Great Britain would never recover from.

However as a parting shot, how can we succeed when the politicians make statements like this?

"you go to war with the body armour you were issued, not the armour you want" - Donald Rumsfeld. They're no different here, i know from personal experience.


Lantern Swinger
Last time I saw a Battle of Britain flypast over London it had a lot of single piston engine aircraft in it. I have over 10000 flying hours, mainly on jets. I have never had an engine failure and only had one precautionary shut down.(eg I switched it off). What does this "ban" say for the crabs opinion of the maintenance standards of the Joint Harrier Force?

If it is true that only the Red Arrows can fly single engine over the capital. (Single engine civvys are "banned") Is that because they sit their engineers in the back seats to enhance their concentration for the preflights?

On a personal note. When Canberra was off the Lizard the afternoon before her triumphant return into Southhampton I flew down in a light twin to fly over her and take some photos. A Nimrod had got there first and was making repeated passes. I had to hold off. Eventually the Culdrose controller got the crab pilot to come up on the civvy frequency and talk to me. The crab told me that he wanted to make several more passes as part of his welcome to the "Great White Whale". I asked him to hurry up as I wanted to make a couple of passes to welcome back my Dad. He promptly left the area with out making another pass! If only the current light blue crop would show the same discretion as he did.


War Hero

Mmm, I genuinely would take issue with that instructor. Such a comment is a huge generalisation. Ref the value of CVF to Joint ops I concur fully and sincerely hope you guys get 2 x 65 000 ton carriers.

However, whilst the combat support roles you mention can and are based on carriers already, in reality they are insufficient to support ops. USN S-3B tankers did little more than top up a few jets on the drive ways in and out of Afghanistan during OEF. Only land based AAR provided the capacity needed to sustain the ops. Likewise the E-2Cs sensor and crew limitations mean that it was relegated to very minor roles during the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. Again, only land based C2 (E-3, E-8, Wedgetail) can provide the capacity required. The same is true for all of the other roles with the exception of CSAR. Even US CVNs will privately acknowledge that fact.

Hopefully, alongside JCA, the CVF will also have something a bit meatier than SKASaC for C2, and hopefully a small AAR/COD platform. However, it is worrying that MASC is being lost in the JCA noise.

Overall, I suspect that we're both in violent agreement on maintaining a balanced land based/carrier based capability!