Navy Grandees Letter (3 Merged Threads)


War Hero
Times: "Navy Grandees Attack ‘Perverse’ Defence Cuts"

The Times

10 November 2010

Deborah Haynes - Defence Editor

Navy Grandees Attack ‘Perverse’ Defence Cuts

The decision to scrap a fleet of fast jets and Britain’s flagship aircraft carrier makes no financial sense and leaves the Falkland Islands vulnerable to a new attack by Argentina, a group of senior, retired commanders claim today.

The officers, including Lord West of Spithead and Sir Julian Oswald, Admiral of the Fleet, urge David Cameron to reverse the coalition Government’s cost-cutting measures, announced as part of last month’s defence review.

“We believe the Prime Minister has been badly advised to scrap the Harrier force and HMS Ark Royal and to rely entirely upon Tornado,†they say in a letter to The Times, referring to the RAF’s other ageing fleet of fast jets.

Calling the decision “strategically and financially perverse†— they believe that retaining Tornado over Harrier will cost seven times as much in maintenance during the next decade — the commanders say that it “should be rescinded in the overriding national interest before it is too lateâ€.

Lord West said that he was thinking of writing personally to Mr Cameron to express his dismay. “I’m not convinced he had a full and proper briefing about the implications,†he told The Times.

The Strategic Defence and Security Review outlined plans to ditch the fleet of 80 Harrier jump jets — the only aircraft Britain owns that is able to take off and land from carriers — decommission Ark Royal and scrap a number of other ships to cut spending and refocus resources.

The signatories to the letter, who also include Vice-Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham, Vice-Admiral John McAnally and Major-General Julian Thompson believe that the moves put British interests at risk.

They write: “In respect of the newly valuable Falklands and their oilfields, because of these and other cuts, for the next ten years at least, Argentina is practically invited to attempt to inflict on us a national humiliation on the scale of the loss of Singapore — one from which British prestige, let alone the Administration in power at the time, might never recover.â€

Liam Fox defended the changes and said that the Falklands would remain well protected. Britain has four Typhoon fighters on the islands as well as a small unit of Marines.

A submarine is believed to be located in the area. “It is simply not the case that decommissioning the Harrier would impact upon our ability to defend territories in the South Atlantic,†the Defence Secretary said.

“We maintain a wide range of assets, not least a well-defended airfield to ensure the defence of the Falkland Islands. We have a far greater presence than previously, able to respond to any and all threats.â€

The Government chose to go ahead with the construction of two new aircraft carriers but, because of the departure of the Harriers, Britain will lack the ability to fly jets off these vessels for at least a decade.

Dr Fox defended the move, which was taken after weeks of heated debate inside the Ministry of Defence, with the RAF keen to keep its larger Tornado fleet and the Royal Navy pushing for the carrier-friendly Harriers.

He insisted that there was never a choice because the previous Government had reduced the size of the Harrier fleet to such a level that it would not be able to fulfil Britain’s obligations in Afghanistan and at home.

“The Harrier force has made an impressive contribution to our nation’s security over the decades but difficult decisions had to be made . . . and I’m clear that rationalising our fast jet fleet makes both operational and economic common sense,†he told The Times.

The retired commanders claim that “the Government has, in effect, declared a new ‘ten-year rule’ that assumes Britain will have warning time to rebuild to face a threat. The last Treasury-driven ‘ten-year rule’ in the 1930s nearly cost us our freedomâ€.

Despite the fallout from the defence review, it may be too late to reverse the decision. Ark Royal set sail for a farewell tour yesterday, while a Harrier is due to take off from the carrier for the last time later this month.


War Hero
Re: Times: "Navy Grandees Attack ‘Perverse’ Defence Cuts

The letter:

Sir, We believe the Prime Minister has been badly advised to scrap the Harrier force and HMS Ark Royal and to rely entirely upon Tornado. The following are verifiable facts about the least comprehensible and most dangerous of the defence cuts just announced.

In respect of Afghanistan: Harrier could still use Kandahar runway if half of it were blocked by Taleban action; can use any make-shift landing site; has a response time of less than 10 minutes, as against 30; performs better in hot weather; requires fewer ground crew; and has better availability.

Harrier can deliver close air support of ground forces anywhere from the existing carriers; can destroy surface units with Maverick, rockets and smart bombs; has nearly twice as many airframes provided with precision-guided ground attack capability; will not require a further £1.4 billion to re-engine in 2014 and can remain in service until 2023 without significant investment.

The existing Tornado force will cost, over ten years, seven times as much to keep in service as Harrier. Was the recent exercise not supposed to save money?

In respect of the newly valuable Falklands and their oilfields, because of these and other cuts for the next ten years at least, Argentina is practically invited to attempt to inflict on us a national humiliation on the scale of the loss of Singapore — one from which British prestige, let alone the Administration in power at the time, might never recover.

The decision to axe the entire Harrier force is strategically and financially perverse. The Government has, in effect, declared a new “ten-year rule†that assumes Britain will have warning time to rebuild to face a threat. The last Treasury-driven “ten-year rule†in the 1930s nearly cost us our freedom, faced with Hitler.

We believe that these decisions should be rescinded in the over-riding national interest, before it is too late.

Admiral Lord West Of Spithead
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Julian Oswald
Vice-Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham
Vice-Admiral John Mcanally
Major-General Julian Thompson


War Hero
Re: Times: "Navy Grandees Attack ‘Perverse’ Defence Cuts

A tad late to be coming forward.

Q. Who does, advise the government?
Re: Times: "Navy Grandees Attack ‘Perverse’ Defence Cuts

I agree, somehow a bit too late. However the points they raise about keeping Harrier and its superiority over tornado are correct. But more importantly the reasons why it is better sense to keep Harrier is not just down to the few points raised. Harrier capability and proven track record wins hands down.
You never know, in an environment where stupid and rash recisions are the norm, the decision might be reversed.
What if the press found out the true cost of relocating an entire force into long term rented accommodation ? (sssa+HTD+FIA) because nobody dared consider (or planned) the scrapping of the force. For example:- Where are we going to draft this surplus manpower? Where will we accomodate them? How much will it cost?
In a modern Armed Service why are we making such amatuer mistakes?
My mate said reference the French/British treaty on defence, that these things do not just happen. The legal implications need to be ratified well prior to any signing. How true. And they say the decision to scrap Harrier went down to the friday before SDSR and it was a nmbers game?

one word

C"_"NTS! :roll:


Admirals urge rethink on Harrier and Ark Royal cuts

From the BBC:

Not sure if the link will work, headline from the BBC Web today!!! <<ducking early from the "spacker" abuse>> :oops:

BBC News


War Hero
Re: Times: "Navy Grandees Attack ‘Perverse’ Defence Cuts

Who exactly is driving these insane moves through.

Clearly they are half-wits ( that may be unfair to half-wits though)
The RN leaders seem to be powerless, and say nothing (publicly, for the record) whilst in post. Guys, you are getting screwed whether you speak up or not.....So, speak up and face them down, for the sake of the nation and all those servicemen who serve or have served and payed the price

Why not just invest in a large sign that says....'Everyone on call'


War Hero
Re: Times: "Navy Grandees Attack ‘Perverse’ Defence Cuts"

If I may play devil's advocate here...

The GR4 and GR9 each have pros and cons.

The GR9 is cheaper to operate than the GR4, can undoubtedly operate with greater ease from more austere locations and its STO capabilities were very useful when we first went into KAF. Most obviously, the GR9 is of course carrier capable.

Equally, it is simplistic to suggest that the GR9 is the superior CAS asset. Both GR4 and GR9 are highly effective in the CAS role; despite doubts regarding availability when it replaced the Harrier, the GR4 has matched the excellent deployed serviceability of its predecessor in HERRICK. Moreover, I'm not sure where the 30 mins vice 10 mins stats come from, however, last time I heard, GR4 was achieving similar GCAS times to Harrier.

Moreover, the greater variety of GR4 weapons options has brought specific advantages in HERRICK, especially regarding low collateral, precision strike (principally employing Dual Mode Seeker Brimstone and cannon, both of which the GR9 lacks). This has proved very important given the well publicised direction from ISAF leadership on CAS RoE.

The greatest advantage over the GR9 offered by the Tornado however is its ISR capabilities; a role conveniently ignored by these retired gentlemen and arguably of far greater relevance in COIN. In this respect, the GR9 has SNIPER and the Digital Joint Recce Pod (DJRP). In contrast, the GR4 is equipped with the Litening III (broadly comparable to the excellent SNIPER) and RAPTOR.

The latter is an exceptionally capable wide area EO/IR recce system which allows significant UK influence within the ISR community. Indeed, the USAF view RAPTOR product on a par with U-2 imagery and it is heavily utilised by UK and Coalition troops for many roles including CIED (although troops may not realise the origin). Unlike DJRP, RAPTOR product can also be datalinked to the ground (as opposed to waiting for the aircraft to land prior to exploitation) and has several other key advantages regarding how it can be passed around the J2 and C2 networks. RAPTOR also provides a degree of strategic IMINT via its stand off capability, a key factor since the retirement of the Canberra PR9.

CAS aside, the GR4 is also more credible in a wider variety of roles than Harrier due to its greater range, higher cruising speed, avionics and additional weapons options (ALARM, Storm Shadow and RF Brimstone) in comparison to the Harrier. The GR4 is therefore more able to integrate into coalition COMAO and penetrate contested air environments consisting of IADS, fighters, SAM and AAA.

In short, it is extremely disappointing that we’ve lost the carrier capable Harrier. However, the harsh fact is that carrier air has not been essential to UK ops since 1982. Faced with the fact that one of the 2 had to go, the options were therefore:

1. Harrier GR9. Excellent CAS asset with limited AD/ISR but capable of operating of carriers.
2. Tornado GR4. A very good CAS asset with far superior ISR capacity and greater versatility to contribute more widely to a variety of coalition scenarios such as strike and SEAD.

Overall, I suggest that the RN would be far better off focusing now on the expected 2015 SDR to ensure CVF/F-35C is retained therein. Constantly harking back to 1982 didn't work prior to the SDSR and preseumably won't work now. Maintaining that position will only harm the RN further and slew arguments regarding a balanced maritime force suited to Joint requirements.

Re: Times: "Navy Grandees Attack ‘Perverse’ Defence Cuts

All very interesting but it will not force a u-turn from the clowns at the helm of the UK Titanic.
Re: Times: "Navy Grandees Attack ‘Perverse’ Defence Cuts

Maybe I'm missing a trick here but in laymans terms what are we saying ?? If the Argentines conducted a suprise attack on the Falklands we could fight them off with the single Guardship (Leeds Castle or similar) and a few dated Tornado F3s or the untested Typhoon?? Then we send down a task force - if we retain a carrier with GR4 or 9 how the Fcuk are we going to defend ourselves against air attack without the capability of the Sea Harrier which we lost years go. The argument about the Falklands was in essence lost the day they scrapped the FA2s. Without adequate AEW and capable sustained CAP it would end in farce and more servicemens lives thrown down the shitter The RAF were no fcuking use in 82 the same applies today we might as well sell the island to the argies with its oil reserves etc then buy the aircraft for the new carriers sail down properly equipped and take the fcuking windswept shithole back.
How sad that these old crusty cnuts only stand up and say something post retirement, pension in the bag, they've retired got their seats in the House of Lords and Directorships with BAE, EADS and all the other defence companies.
Excocet maybe dated but would still scare the shite out of me if one was inbound for me again on any T42, 22 or 23


Re: Times: "Navy Grandees Attack ‘Perverse’ Defence Cuts"

Magic_Mushroom said:
If I may play devil's advocate here...

The GR4 and GR9 each have pros and cons.(snip excellent objective analysis - for a crab)

Thanks for that M-M - clear and concise.

Two points for anyone who may be able to advise ;

i) the letter was signed by an eminent gang of former flag officers - but not the last naval CDS Lord Boyce - wonder why not ?

ii) There are >x serving perss out there who know more than me about the proposed launch/recovery system onboard the new CVF(s).....hopefully someone can tell me the (no, really) SOUND technical reasons why JSF is the only answer?

Our Gallic brethren across the ...ahem...ENGLISH channel operate this beast, from their single flat-top , with some success. At least, I have read no reports of epic failures.

and indeed, over Afghanistan as we write:

Is there any GOOD reason (apart from the apparent death-grip of British Aerospace on the scrotum of HMG) why the French Navy - or indeed (whisper it) RN - could not operate Rafale from HMS QEIII ?

perhaps we should be told.....



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