Projection of Maritime Power in Libya

Discussion in 'The Fleet' started by Naval_Gazer, Mar 24, 2011.

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  1. Totting up significant events to date:

    • HMS Cumberland and HMS York evacuated the bulk of UK civilians plus other entitled personnel just before things kicked off and have been gathering vital intelligence with their surveillance suites and helos throughout
    • TLAMs from HMS Triumph and US Navy units started neutralising the Libyan air defences immediately approval was given
    • HMS Triumph has also been a vital intelligence gathering asset
    • Aircraft from USS Kearsarge (including USMC Harrier AV-8Bs) destroyed the tanks, armoured fighting vehicles and artillery threatening Benghazi (which caused the passage of UNSCR 1973 in the first place)
    • Aircraft from USS Kearsarge also retrieved the two downed F-15 aircrew
    • HMS Cumberland and HMS Westminster are enforcing the embargo of arms to Gaddafi and have helped stop his ships from attacking the rebels from the sea
    • Subject to confirmation, a Rafale from the French carrier Charles de Gaulle destroyed a Libyan aircraft on the ground
    Despite the media's preoccupation with the RAF glamour boys (and girls) based 500 nm (926 km) from the action, this is a pretty good advertisement for the projection of power from the sea.

    HMS Cumberland deployed from the UK in September and is overdue her return to the UK to join SDSR 'Death Row'. While her 180+ day period away from base port is well within the Harmony Guidelines for RN separated service (averaged annual max of 220 days), it is at least two months more than RAF personnel are expected to 'suffer' within any 20 month period (averaged annual max of 140 days) ;P . Even so, it looks like HMS Liverpool might be going somewhere interesting soon.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011
  2. Remember the Tornados that flew an eight hour 3,000 nm round trip from RAF Marham to deliver Storm Shadow cruise missiles from outside Libyan airspace at astronomical expense and effort? They were forced to turn back at the last moment because civilians were detected in the target area. It now appears that Rafale Ms from the French carrier Charles de Gaulle stationed just off the Libyan coast have launched the SCALP EG version of Storm Shadow against targets 135 nm (250 km) inside Libya and returned to their ship before breakfast got cold. Nice photo here.

    Even with the RAF based at Gioia del Colle in southern Italy, its £35k per hour Tornados and £80k per hour Typhoons still face a 1,000 nm (1,850 km) round trip to the nearest bit of the Libyan coast with all the in-flight refuelling this entails.

    Useful picture of the situation below on which to play 'Spot the Union Flags'. It only shows carriers and assault ships so HMS Cumberland, HMS Westminster and HMS Triumph are airbrushed out. However, the UK as a major European maritime nation is still notable for the absence of any large surface units on the plot. Perhaps Ocean will yet save the day with some useful Apache helicopter gunships. These would be even less efficient to operate from Italian bases, if able to operate from them at all.

    Last edited: Mar 25, 2011
  3. If you hang on a couple of weeks, NG, you can add Invincible to the plot... ;-)
  4. But she's already 'SOLD' :winkrazz:
    P.S. I'd have linked to the DT version but that hasn't been published online.
  5. 4-%20PA%20CDG%20(web).jpg
    Maritime air power, anywhere, anytime

    Félicitations to la Marine Nationale.
  6. Interesting combination of old and new technology being applied to good effect by USS Kearsarge and her Harriers off Libya:
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2011
  7. Libya mission for Portsmouth based HMS Liverpool

    Cumberland left the UK in September 2010 for deployment east of Suez so her ship's company will be glad to get back. Liverpool had better not hang around for too long as she's due to join Cumberland on SDSR 'Death Row' next year (link).
  11. This clip from Andrew Neil's Daily Politics Show has to be seen and heard to be believed:It shows Nick Harvey, our Defence Minister, repeatedly stating that no aircraft have flown from British carriers since 2003. What's even more tragic is that none of the other politicians on the panel knew any better. The gist of this pantomime is outlined below but the iPlayer video is even better.
    Andrew Neil's Blog: Not Available for Service (I haven't quoted the comments)
  12. The last Sea Harrier flew off in 2003. Their B*stard plastic sons had been doing it untill 2010.
  13. Watch former First Sea Lord Alan West's corrections to Defence Minister Nick Harvey's gaffes from minute 21:19 here:
  14. wave_dodger

    wave_dodger War Hero Book Reviewer

    In the whole Tornado VS Naval assets debacle you really have to look at the maths: £33k per hour, per aircraft operating costs, plus the associated servicing required after the operation; the in flight refuelling costs - all to deliver 3 stand off weapons!

    The consider the vulnerability of the three air assets - in sum an expensive and needlessly risky advert for the RAF, doing a task TLAM could just as easily have done [and I know the argument about BROACH vs TLAM warhead but thats moot in this instance].

    Politics not warfare.
  15. The cost of rolling on Ark Royal until 2015 has been set at £105m (link). The £37k per flying hour Harrier GR9s were only sacrificed in favour of the £35k per hour Tornado GR4s in SDSR owing to the last minute intervention of the Chief of the Air Staff with the Prime Minister. This was specifically against the military advice of the First Sea Lord (link).

    Not only would a dozen or more carrier-borne GR9s poised 12 nm off the Libyan coast have provided a more flexible and responsive ground attack capability with a higher sortie rate (ideal to react to the fast ebb and flow of current events) but a carrier could also have carried half a dozen helo gunships, all safely based within a few miles of the quickly-shifting frontline. From what I'm hearing on the news, these would be the answer to a maiden's prayer at the moment.

    Some land-based Typhoons (at £70-80k per flying hour) would still have been useful for their range of more sophisticated heavyweight weaponry. However, it will certainly be interesting to see the eventual price ticket for deploying and sustaining 22 RAF aircraft (with the suggestion of more to follow) in Italy, renting base facilities, purchasing fuel at local prices, transporting, accommodating and feeding several hundred aircrew and support personnel, using COMAIR for conveying PAX and stores and flying 1,000 nm round trips to the Libyan coast with the £80k per hour tanker support and extra fuel incurred, all on a possible long-term basis.

    I'm also guessing that there's more trouble to come in that part of the world. Wherever it breaks out, a carrier could move 500 nm per day to address it with little fuss or muss.
  16. Good to know the RN is involved here too (see photo):
    35 to 40 sorties per day is still a fairly hefty contribution for 20 odd aircraft. As with the USMC AV-8B Harriers of USS Kearsarge, prior to their withdrawal from operations, it shows that most carrier borne aircraft are achieving two sorties per day owing to their closer proximity to the Libyan coast (unlike their land-based counterparts which are struggling to achieve even one).
  17. Yes, I know it's the Sun so some of the figures may be arguable but...
    For those who prefer a more upmarket paper, try this from yesterday's Sunday Times:
    Just as a reminder, a full Fleet Air Arm air group capable of supporting up to 18 carrier-borne Harrier GR9s (able to achieve twice the number of sorties of land-based aircraft owing to their closer proximity to the Libyan coast) would comprise about 350 personnel (link). They would be accommodated free of charge with each costing around £2.34 per day to feed (daily victualling allowance). No transportation costs would be involved as everyone would travel into the theatre of operations courtesy of the grey funnel line and live within feet of the flight deck, aircraft hangars, fuel supplies, ordnance, workshops and spares.

    Owing to the premature retirement of SHAR (Sea Harrier) without upgrade or replacement, some land-based RAF aircraft would be useful for the AD (Air Defence) role but it appears that other air forces are happily accepting this role even though they are reluctant to perform ground attack missions.

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