We must question the case for aircraft carriers - FT

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by 5dits, Feb 20, 2008.

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  1. FT Link

    FT take on the need for the CVF.
  2. Michael Quinlan has form on this. Check his bio...

    Background: Michael Quinlan was born in 1930. After National Service in the Royal Air Force he entered the United Kingdom Home Civil Service in 1954.

    Most of his career was spent in the defence field, especially in policy posts. He was Private Secretary to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Air 1956-58, and to the Chief of Air Staff 1962-65. From 1968 to 1970 he was concerned in particular with arms control, and from 1970 to 1973 he was Defence Counsellor in the United Kingdom Delegation to NATO (heading also the secretariat of the Eurogroup).

    From 1974 to 1977 he served in the Cabinet Office. In 1977 he became Policy Director in the Ministry of Defence, closely involved with nuclear-force modernisation both nationally and in NATO. After service in the Treasury 1981-82 as Deputy Secretary (Industry) he became Permanent Secretary at the Department of Employment 1983-88. He then returned to the Ministry of Defence as Permanent Under-Secretary of State until retirement in 1992.

    From 1992 to 1999 he was Director of the Ditchley Foundation, which runs a wide-ranging programme of international conferences. He was for several years on the boards of Lloyds TSB Bank plc and Pilkington Group plc. He was a Trustee of the National Museum of Science and Industry from 1992 to 2001. He is is a Visiting Professor in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, and Chairman of The Tablet Trust.

    He has written extensively on defence and international-security matters, especially nuclear-weapon policy and doctrine (on which he published “Thinking About Nuclear Weapons†in 1997).

    He spent the autumn of 2000 in Washington DC at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. His special topic there was European Defence Cooperation; the Center published in 2001 his resulting book under that title. He also taught “Just War†concepts at Georgetown University.

    He has been a special adviser to Parliamentary committees on international-security issues. He is an Honorary Ancien of the NATO Defense College.

    Joined IISS: August 2004

    Would you expect anything else from an ex-crab who was clearly intimately involved in the demise of CVA01? Pushes many of the same old gash arguments that have been countered in previosu IAB submissions. ISTR he was banging on about the CVF programme a couple of years ago as well.
  3. The real question: is there any need for the Financial Times?
  4. Of course there is. There's nothing out there that's as strong, soft and thoroughly absorbent...

  5. Excuse me, first National Serice (which is long time ago) and then the rest of his life as a civil serpant. That hardly makes him genuine ex-crab.
  6. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    It hardly qualifies him to write on the subject of sea power, either.

  7. And a senior serpent in the service of the RAF when CVA01 was binned, I suspect a few mates of mine who were recatted from fast jet to submariner at the time may be keen to have a few words with that gent. How far was it they moved Gan around the Indian Ocean to make that one work.
  8. Fair point, my emphasis should have been more on his CS positions in late 50s early 60s. It is his proximity to SoS Air and CAS during the CVA01 debacle that perhaps has fixed his thinking. However, you can't deny that his MoD background has been largely spent in light blue areas.
  9. That's what probably qualifies him to talk on dark blue matters. I mean we can't have people in the know making decisions or involved in decision making can we?

    Will now return to more serious mode.
  10. I wouldn't bother with serious mate, we're all doomed! Time to get sh1t-faced and take up a low-risk high profit venture, like hill-farming......

  11. 400ish miles and some very optomistic range estimates

  12. Especially as the plane got cancelled too.
  13. Without it the whiskery old joke;

    What is pink and hard in the morning?, Answer; the FT crossword puzzle;

    would not make sense.
  14. There's no real need for this thread. I think we all agreed when they were announced that they would never be built.
  15. Crabman wrote: we can't have people in the know making decisions or involved in decision making can we?

    Quite right - wouldn't want to start a precedent at this late stage.

  16. Just to offer some perspective here, I'm of a Crustacean persuation and a strong supporter of CVF. Overall, I think the majority of my Service support the carriers although many (including myself) feel the sortie rate calculations justifying 2 x 65 000 ton designs were questionable.

    The alleged 'relocation' of Gan during the CVA01 debate is I'm led to believe apocryphal and no recorded evidence has ever been found in the staffwork or presentations of the time of such a claim. I think it's fair to say that both services sharfted each other royally at the time with the result that each lost key programmes. TSR2, CVA01, P1154 are just 3 which spring to mind.

    So let's stop bitching about 40 year old urban legends which may not even be based on fact, grow up, and start working together today to recognise the common enemy. The Treasury.

    If we don't, we'll make Gordon's day and see history repeating itself. :frustrated:

  17. I would say the current problem is a totally supine 1SL
  18. Hello MM, nice to see you back.

    The sortie rate thing is a red herring in terms of cost (if not size). Better to future proof something than to get stuck with something too small to be of use when required. Of course the immediate counter to that is better to have something than not to be able to afford it!

    The problem is that the size of the ship is not significantly driving the cost. It affects it of course, but the saving in going from the 65000te (which is actually over 70000 te at end of life with the assumed growth) to the oft-quoted 40000 tonner would be substantially less than $1Bn for the programme, probably less than half that and the capability provided would drop by half. If you're going to spend tens of billion through life on the jets to fly off them, it doesn't really compute does it?

    By my reckoning we have already spent upwards of three quarters of a billion d1cking about in delays and respecifications aimed at cost "saving" without even ordering the damn things.

    One other point about the Quinlan article which perhaps you're better qualified to comment on than most. He postulates that for carriers to work, you need the escorts and auxiliaries in the fleet as well. No probs, agree with all that. He then goes on to talk about vulnerability compared to land bases and the ship having to keep some of its a/c for self defence etc - all the usual hogwash.

    My question is - how does that actually differ from a land-based op? I know the rock apes Rapier sqns are going, but the logistics side still has to be paid for and someone has to provide fuel, ground defence, maintenance facs, ammo and accommodation and of course IAD of some sort including AEW and DCA aircraft. I know that so far we've been lucky and either KSA or SoK or US have done this, but can it always be guaranteed? Should it not be included (somehow) in any comparison. Not a pop at RAF - I know how much effort has gone into deployability, more a philosophical question to aim at the bean counters.
  19. Hi NaB,

    Okay, you've convinced me on the 65K v 40K argument!! My main issue with the 40 v 65K comparison is that we could have perhaps bought the smaller vessels with SAMs and a decent C2 system.

    Wrt land bases v carriers, each have advantages over the other. Land bases are obviously subject to HNS although historically it could be argued that that has never proved a major problem. They can also be activated very quickly in most cases. In 2001, I was flying over Afghanistan within 36 hrs of the oder to move from the UK. Accom is similarly not a problem as we just live in tents, on base accom or hotels dependent upon the situation. I would actually argue that fuel, ammo etc are easier to stockpile and replenish than with carriers and their supporting RFA. Of course the biggest advantage of land bases is that you can have the larger combat support assets based there (eg AWACS, SIGINT, AAR) and maintain high sortie rates. The biggest drawback is that airfields and their assets can be attacked via a number of conventional or unconventional means as their locations are known. Having spent 4 months in Basra in 2006 I can vouch for how unpleasant daily rocket and mortar attacks are. On the flip side, airfields are extremely difficult to shut down completely for any length of time.

    In comparison, I'd suggest that carriers are arguably harder to target. However, if they are targeted, it is more likely that damage will be catastrophic. Some may argue that no carrier has been sunk since 1945. That is correct, but equally no airfield has been put out of action by fire in that time either. Fires on board the USS Oriskany, Forrestal and Enterprise in the 1960s show how vulnerable carriers are to accidents. Carriers can also carry a relatively limited scope of types and even USN CVNs are almost totally reliant upon land based AAR and ISTAR. On the plus side, carriers can move out of poor weather, are not subject to HNS, and send a powerful diplomatic message when used correctly. They do get a long time to get there although this can sometimes be used to advantage (eg the Falklands).

    In summary, both have strengths and weaknesses which compliment one another. That is why we need both.

  20. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Re the carrier fires of the 60s, remember that those were AVGAS fires which liquid has mercifully long since been removed from RN inventory (and was the cause of cruisers losing their aircraft after an AVGAS fire nearly sank the Liverpool).

    Land bases may be OK but are subject to the political sanction of the host nation. The Royal Navy can go wherever.

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