Navy Grandees Letter (3 Merged Threads)

i/cflyingcircus

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

SDSR; no matter how many documents or forums I look at I still don’t get it. The Admirals letter yesterday went someway to clarifying the questions I have not found answers to, but in bringing the FI into the equation, they caused the media to miss the point I think, and it detracted from their main thrust.

Now as I see it HMG stated in the Strategic Review that a state-on-state conflict is unlikely in the next 5-10 yrs. OK got that. They also said that likely threats are asymmetric, much like we are encountering in AFG. Right that’s clear enough. So then, the next day, the PM states that the DR was about maintaining “flexibilityâ€. They’ve also made it quite we need to spend less as a nation.

Now if the likely threat is asymmetric, then the Harrier has proven itself a hundred times over. The Tornado maybe able to carry a greater array of weapons than the Harrier, but it can’t carry them all at once, and what it needs to carry to do a job against the asymmetric enemy can be carried, (or at least similar and as effective) by the Harrier. WRT the ISR capability, well from what I hear that duty can and is being carried out by UAV’s, should that then be considered as a factor? As for the claims of tornado serviceability, the first time I heard it was even comparable to the Harrier was when the SDSR was published, prior to that it had been nothing but adequate at best. Then there’s the manpower footprint; again the Tornado requires significantly more to achieve a similar goal to that of the Harrier.

So they go and chose Tornado, requiring £7bn to retain, over Harrier requiring £1bn.

But hang on, in order for the Tornado to fulfil its promise to defend British interests worldwide it requires host nation support; a policy that has been proven to be wildly unreliable over the years. Even recently the US and Canadians have had to withdraw from countries who had previously agreed to provide support, and of course, there’s Turkeys refusal prior to Iraq to consider. That evidence alone should have rung alarm bells. None of which would become such an issue when carriers become involved. Can anyone confirm that at times the majority of air cover over AFG is provided by A/C launched from carriers in the Indian Ocean, (obviously even if the Ark was retained we’d still not be able to do this with the current inventory, but in the future…)?

But how do we secure this support? With the much maligned Foreign Aid Policy where we buy friendship, that's where. So in effect, could it be argued the Tornado is not just costing £6bn more than the Harrier in direct costs, is it costing more via funding for foreign aid?

So the RAF won the day claiming on the one hand, cost is irrelevant, but now argues Merlin 3’s should be retained by them rather than retrain Navy crews at great expense, (which unfortunately is very hard to argue against).

The whole thing appears to be full of contradictions, and I can’t help thinking despite my disliking of conspiracy theories, the Tornado mafia have had something to do with it; by taking advantage of a naïve PM and, dare I say it, an aviation apathetic Navy command!

Somebody put me straight please!
 

Seadog

War Hero
Moderator
Mod cap on: Three threads merged. No need for a new thread for every subsequent media comment on the subject.


From Hermes R12's link to the Mirror article

Sir Julian Oswald, a former Admiral of the Fleet,

We may no longer have a Fleet but Sir Julian is still an Admiral of the Fleet.

seaweed wrote
In 1966 when Denis Healey chopped CVA01, 1SL (Admiral Luce) resigned.

'twas they to whom I referred on page one. I believe the last Admiral to get his way in peacetime was Jackie Fisher.
 
He (Leach) had some success with the intended degree of cuts to the Navy. The resulting axe was terrible but could have been worse.

By the way, what happened to the original Normong?
 

Seadog

War Hero
Moderator
normong2's unwelcome contributions deleted. Original (Normong_Gruntham) was rumbled. This one isn't any brighter, better informed or funny than the previous. Sounding more like the real norman of 1000 user names though.

normong2 (yeah right), if you are watching from your awayday to the Big Smoke, you post, I delete. Confine your contributions to the Gash Barge or post under your established user name. You are, as Seaweed says, degrading the thread.
 
Surely no one here believes that a letter from a few admirals will make the slightest difference to decisions made by a government that has no mandate from the people to rule?
 

Magic_Mushroom

War Hero
i/cflyingcircus said:
The Tornado maybe able to carry a greater array of weapons than the Harrier, but it can’t carry them all at once, and what it needs to carry to do a job against the asymmetric enemy can be carried, (or at least similar and as effective) by the Harrier.

The Harrier is also unable to carry all it’s mix of weapons at the same time but the GR4 does have a greater payload.

The nearest equivalent to DMS Brimstone is Maverick which has a significantly larger warhead. Due to their smaller size, more Brimstone (basically a modified Hellfire) can also be carried by a GR4 than Mav by a GR9 and the smaller bang of Brimstone is more fluffy for COIN.

The lack of cannon on GR9 is I grant, largely offset by the Harrier’s CVR-7; however, that does take up a pylon.

As I stated, there are pros and cons in both although most JTACs would probably prefer a GR9. However, it is not as black and white as certain admirals would suggest and GR4 has undoubtedly introduced some advantages, just as GR9 had its own.

i/cflyingcircus said:
WRT the ISR capability, well from what I hear that duty can and is being carried out by UAV’s, should that then be considered as a factor?

No, and you hear wrong.

There is no UAS deployed (much less in UK service) which can replicate RAPTOR. Most UAS are restricted to FMV which is very narrow field of view. The closest equivalent is Global Hawk and it’s worthy of note that the USAF have just funded an extension of U-2S service life because the RQ-4B is proving just a tad problematic (not to mention expensive).

Moreover, the GR4 can still carry weapons when carrying RAPTOR.

i/cflyingcircus said:
As for the claims of tornado serviceability, the first time I heard it was even comparable to the Harrier was when the SDSR was published, prior to that it had been nothing but adequate at best. Then there’s the manpower footprint; again the Tornado requires significantly more to achieve a similar goal to that of the Harrier.

GR4 serviceability has been excellent in Th although it generally does require a larger manpower footprint.

i/cflyingcircus said:
But hang on, in order for the Tornado to fulfil its promise to defend British interests worldwide it requires host nation support; a policy that has been proven to be wildly unreliable over the years. Even recently the US and Canadians have had to withdraw from countries who had previously agreed to provide support, and of course, there’s Turkeys refusal prior to Iraq to consider.

The HNS issue is hugely exaggerated.

Far from having proved ‘widely unreliable’, HNS has not proved an issue in any major UK op since 1982. The US recently withdrew from one of the Stans’ but this was as much their own choice as it was any host nation issue. Moreover, last time I checked, the US still retain over 15 major op bases in at least 9 nations in the region! Similarly, the Canadians have other options and largely had themselves to blame for the recent incident. Turkey was a very minor drama in the run up to GW2, but subsequently rescinded the decision. However, with dozens of other Coalition bases in 8 other regional nations, it was hardly a problem.

HNS is an undeniable factor, just as port access can be for naval ships. However, HNS has just not proved a major obstacle for any recent coalition or even UK op in the last 28 years.

i/cflyingcircus said:
Can anyone confirm that at times the majority of air cover over AFG is provided by A/C launched from carriers in the Indian Ocean, (obviously even if the Ark was retained we’d still not be able to do this with the current inventory, but in the future…)?

CVN (which have a far bigger CAG than even the most optimistic CVF proposals) are a major contributor to OEF. However, land based aircraft deployed to Afghanistan and several other nations form the majority of ATO assets. Moreover, the CVN will routinely disappear off to port and the French CdG hasn’t been in Theatre for several years (although I believe it may well return soon).

Finally, CVN assets rely almost entirely on land based AAR and other combat support to operate over the Stan.

i/cflyingcircus said:
But how do we secure this support? With the much maligned Foreign Aid Policy where we buy friendship, that's where. So in effect, could it be argued the Tornado is not just costing £6bn more than the Harrier in direct costs, is it costing more via funding for foreign aid?

I’m not quite sure how you connect foreign aid with HNS!

Indeed, many nations actively seek to support such ops for the very protection, influence and oversight of ops it provides.

Regards,
MM
 

i/cflyingcircus

Midshipman
Cheers MM, concise as per and some clarity to my tormented mind to boot.

However, maybe my years of dark blue indoctrination and being far too unimpressed by far too many light blue operatives, their tunnelled vision and methods, still leaves me wondering if this solution, though seemingly fitting well in the short term, will bite us from astern in years to come.

I appreciate the GR9 has a very limited, possibly now non-existant air to air capability, so comparing it to the SHAR is wrong and therefore FAA fighting capability is already compromised. But if Lusty remains in service until QE, and the GR9 had been retained, then once we're clear of AFG we could have re-established some regular carrier experience. I also appreciate that we will not be operating STOVL on the new ships so the A/C itself is not really an issue, but we could at least retain some whole ship SOP knowledge/skills. And options if HNS wasn’t available. Some DLT's were conducted whilst the GR9 was in Th and the same could have happened again in the interim. With you're previously stated appreciation of carrier ops though you don't need telling all this.

The boots on the grd seemed happy enough with the GR9 when it was in Th and I've heard nothing, in all honesty, from them implying they're any more or less with the GR4, except for shows of force. As you say the older and bolder JTAC's have opined, in favour of the little plane, but the newer ones also seem happy enough. Therefore would we have really lost much if the Harrier had remained?

My point is though, is it possible the compromise retaining the GR9 would have forced may not have been that painful, and probably have gained more value than the new status quo in the long term?

Lots of ifs, buts and maybe in this piece isn't there, but so it was in the review as well!
 
Magic_Mushroom said:
i/cflyingcircus said:
Can anyone confirm that at times the majority of air cover over AFG is provided by A/C launched from carriers in the Indian Ocean, (obviously even if the Ark was retained we’d still not be able to do this with the current inventory, but in the future…)?

CVN (which have a far bigger CAG than even the most optimistic CVF proposals) are a major contributor to OEF. However, land based aircraft deployed to Afghanistan and several other nations form the majority of ATO assets. Moreover, the CVN will routinely disappear off to port and the French CdG hasn’t been in Theatre for several years (although I believe it may well return soon).

Finally, CVN assets rely almost entirely on land based AAR and other combat support to operate over the Stan...

US carrier aircraft have provided 30% of CAS missions in Afghanistan (link). Here are some examples of what US Navy CVNs can achieve:

USS Dwight D Eisenhower

Wikipedia said:
...Eisenhower stayed on station off the coast of Iran for over 8 months, and was at sea for a total of 254 days. During that period, Sailors and Marines enjoyed 2 beers (1 time) after 45 days without a port call. As a result of being at sea for 154 days, they subsequently enjoyed this on two more occasions. At one point, she spent 152 days (or 5 1â„2 months) at sea without a port call, a new record...

USS Theodore Roosevelt
Wikipedia said:
On 28 December 1990, Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-8 deployed for Operation Desert Shield, arriving in the Persian Gulf on 9 January 1991. With the commencement of Operation Desert Storm on 15 January 1991, Theodore Roosevelt began combat operations; eventually flying over 4,200 sorties (more than any other carrier) and dropping more than 4,800,000 pounds of ordnance before the cease-fire on 28 February...

On the night of 4 October 2001, Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-1 launched the initial strikes of Operation Enduring Freedom against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan from the North Arabian Sea. Theodore Roosevelt spent 159 consecutive days at sea, breaking the record longest period underway since WWII...

Roosevelt left Norfolk on 8 September 2008 for a scheduled deployment to the Middle East with Carrier Air Wing Eight embarked... CVW-8 and CVN-71 supported Operation Enduring Freedom and flew more than 3,100 sorties and dropped more than 59,500 pounds of ordnance while providing Close Air Support for ISAF-forces in Afghanistan.

Charles de Gaulle departed for her fifth deployment off Afghanistan on 30 October after a two week delay for repairs. Her last deployment was in 2005.
 
To maintain fixed wing at sea and provide a credible CAS in the 'Stan, the Harrier ticks the boxes. Had we been in this state in '91 (GRANBY) and followed that line, the UK would have made bugger all contribution with just Harriers.

By keeping a deep strike capability with mass and persistence, we are planning beyond the immediate tribal firefights. If something should kick off with our interests in the South Atlantic, say, Tornadoes will be of more value from MPA than Harriers operating from anywhere. What's bad for the Navy in the long term is good for UK PLC in the short term. Unfortunately, the grown ups don't care about the UK long term.

The Navy could very easily keep the Harriers but it would cost yet more DD/FFs, MCM and amphibious capability to fund it.
 

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