Defence Procurement/New Carriers

AdmiralAwesome

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Just been reading the news, and it looks like the new carriers that've been on hold for years are finally going to get built. BUT the planes for them will not be ready untill 2018. I find this ridiculous, especially when we've got troops on the ground crying out for close air support. The new carriers will be slightly larger versions of the ski-ramp jumpjet carriers we have at the moment, flying a jumpjet F35B. While the new planes are miles better than the current Harrier, they have a shorter range, speed and payload than the normal planes the Americans will be fliying off of their carriers.

I think that we should scrap the whole jumpjet idea (and probably save ourselves a whole lot of money) and just build proper, decent carriers that can support normal jets. Instead of buying the F35B, we could buy the normal carrier F35 - or even better, and cheaper, buy F/A18 Super Hornets. While we're at it, we might as well throw in a couple of airbone carrier radars and refueling planes that can fly from carriers. Then we could potentially have two superbly equipped American style carrier battle groups, with the ability to strike almost anywhere and with real force. When an American CVBG shows up just over the horizon, tinpot dictators take notice...

Focus:
It's my opinion that almost anything we buy for our armed forces should be bought straight off the shelf in America. Planes, helicopters, rifles, etc. Anything they'd be willing to sell us - and they'd sell us almost anything they've got - we should buy. It would be cheaper (enormously so) enabling us to either expand the armed forces, or slash the defence budget in half and still have a massively improved capability! Not only that, it would save the lives of British soldiers. In short, it's my contention that if the Americans are selling it, we should be buying it. Discuss?
 

Ninja_Stoker

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A very good topic!

The problem is that millions have already been spent on the design of a carrier tailored to the F35B variant. Aircraft carriers can be modified and adapted to enhance their capability for operating different similar aircraft but logistically I would imagine a standard fixed-wing aircraft could not be accommodated on such a carrier due to the need of catapult & arrester machinery, flightdeck size, lift capacity, weapons magazine configuration and so forth.

Whilst the aircraft are going to be extremely expensive & STOVL aircraft capacity has cheaper through-life running costs as they are less labour intensive to operate.

Possibly we've gone so far down this path & spent so much already, that we are now committed. When you think of it the first Harrier flew in 1966. The RN took delivery of the first marinised version in 1981. It's very difficult to predict the furure needs with much accuracy as it is very difficult to predict the political & military functionality ten years ahead.

Most warships have a 10% allowance in their design to accommodate future, as yet uninvented weapons (of which aircraft are included) & sensors, which may or may not be fitted. The classic military term for this capacity is "fitted for, but not with".
 

Touchstone

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Could you give me a source for where you find this information?

Thanks.
 

Ninja_Stoker

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This is what prompted the topic, but the News forum on here generally keeps a good stream of military-related items. Likewise the RN website frontpage generally gives a good insight with regard RN & RM procurement.
 

AdmiralAwesome

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Millions have already been spent on designing the new carriers, and we've spent a pile on joint development of the F35B (can't find any exact figures, but it's bound to be substantial), yet we seem to be the only ones that're going to fly the F35B - the French are building new, proper carriers, and the USMC look like they're going to be forced to use the F35C (carrier version). It seems to me to be stupid to carry on with jump-jets when it's obvious to everyone that proper jets outclass them in every way. We can either carry on throwing good money after bad and end up with reduced capabillity, or cut our losses, do the sensible thing and order a couple of proper carriers and stuff them full of off the shelf American planes (no building under license).

The problem with the jumpjet carriers is they give you a whole pile of problems - you can't really launch any useful radar or refuelling planes off of them. The Americans fly an AWACS style plane from their Nimitz class carriers that enables them to spot incoming missiles and planes hundreds of miles away, and can stay airborne for hours at a time. If we had that capabillity, the Type 45 Destroyers would become redundant (even more so), as we wouldn't be engaging the enemy planes and missiles at point blank range - we'd be able to do it a hundred miles out. We could cancel all our orders, even mothball most of the current ones, and save billions. I suspect this has a lot to do with why the Navy seems so reluctant to get proper carriers - it would call into question why we need the pretty, sleek destroyers that RN officers love to captain.
 

Ninja_Stoker

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The T45 also has an ASW capability, the intention being that they will engage submarines before they reach strike range. You will never see a US Carrier without it's escort group as aircraft alone will not protect it.
 

GreyWing

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Ninja

With the Russians having Torpedo's that can travel at up to 250mph+ do you think there is anyway to protect any ship that the enemy genuinely want to sink.

The danger is of course not the Russians, but if they sell them on to countries such as the Argentina or if they fall into the hands of a sophisticated terrorist group.

All the best
GW
 

AdmiralAwesome

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As I understand it, the AA missile systems can be bolted onto pretty much any ship quite cheaply - much cheaper and effective than buying a multi-million pound Destroyer to mount it on. With proper carriers and detection systems, we can engage most threats hundreds of miles out, with the bolt on missiles as a last resort. As for the ASW capabillity, every part of it is carried out by the ASW Merlin the T45 carries, isn't it? The Merlin flies out, dips its sonar, locates the enemy submarine, and can then torpedo it. If a T45 is close enough to hear and shoot at a submarine with shipboard sonar and weapons, then in all probability there's already torpedoes in the water streaking for the T45 and the carrier it's supposed to protect. With the Merlin, you can detect it farther out and destroy it - and the submarine can't shoot back. Which all leads me to conclude that the T45 is pretty much useless... There's better ways to protect a fleet from air threats, and there's no reason the ASW Merlin can't fly off of a carrier, or from a much cheaper ship with a helipad. Besides all this, who's submarines are we going to be fighting anyway?

I suspect the Americans are victims of the same thing the RN is - the destroyers etc have friends in high places. Fortunately for them, they can afford all the useless stuff and still have all the good, really effective kit. We can't - we have to be more efficient with our money.
 

Ninja_Stoker

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It's actually an interesting argument with regard hitting a ship from a great distance & likewise the ability for a ship to strike deep inland.

Cost is the issue, a flotilla of destroyers are cheaper than an aircraft carrier & very potent with the harpoon/tomahawk generation of weapons systems. The big US carriers have a crew of 5000, which is one eigth the size of the RN & one big basket in which to put all your financial 'eggs' & manpower. An aircraft carrier only has to have a fouled flightdeck to become a vulnerable target. ASW isn't just the domain of helicopters- the Nimrods are rather efficient hunters too. The point of destroyers is to have a layered defence system hundreds of miles deep to allow the carriers to strike out unfettered toward high value targets rather than piddle about with the niff-naff & trivia of one to one combat - that's the domain of destroyers & frigates. We have very little in the kitty to buy Carriers, so the only way to project sustainable & potent power globally is by multiple high capability assets which deliver a big punch, or provide "more bangs per buck".

If you look at the submarine-launched tomahawk missile system, a land-based asset 800+ miles inland can be targeted & hit within a 5 metre aiming error, directed by GPS, in part potentially making an aircraft delivered weapon prohibitively expensive & vulnerable. There are only so many pilots.

We have remote control UAV surveillance aircraft which can stay aloft for hours & it isn't a giant leap of technology to arm the aircraft with air to air or air to surface weapons. Equally AWACS could be provided by an unmanned drone or even provided by satellites.

The technology is almost certainly there for a submarine to hit a moving target, be it a ship or even an aircraft whilst remaining submerged, using satellite & remote radar combined for guidance. Already there are remote controlled battlefield robots which can fire heat-seeking weapons - it's not a giant leap for a remote controlled ship to detect & destroy a remote controlled submarine.

If the money were available, we could simply have a virtual war with weaponry entirely delivered by unmanned remote controlled platforms targeting the enemy's remote controlled platforms and that is the way warfare, in my opinion, is evolving.
 

AdmiralAwesome

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A fleet of destroyers might be cheaper than a proper aircraft carrier, but I'm pretty much of the opinion that a lot of the 'deep bombing' we do is not needed whatsoever - and is indeed counter productive in a lot of circumstances. In the Iraq invasion, American and British planes were blowing up bridges and power stations that we then had to fix a week later! Not to mention the 'collateral damage'. There's on occasion a genuine millitary target that needs to be hit far behind enemy lines, and I believe a Tomahawk is the weapon for the job, but there's certainly no call to have a fleet of destroyers to fire them. The submarines can do the job just fine.

Stopping spend huge amounts of money on destroyers (and building stuff ourselves, when there's an enormously cheaper, more effective American off the shelf equivalent) would enable us to get hold of some proper carriers, with decent strike-fighters on board... They could then sit off the coast of whatever nation we're invading, launching planes to float over the heads of the troops, and delivering plentiful, fast close air support whenever it's needed.

As for the Harpoon missiles... I'm sure they're very good at killing ships, but trying to do it with them from a T45 is giving the enemy a bit of a sporting chance isn't it? A ship launched Harpoon can only sink anything as far away as the horizon (about 24 miles, I think). As always, if you're close enough to shoot them... they can shoot back. The T45's can launch a helicoper that can fire Harpoons, but like the ASW capability, it calls into question why you need to fly it from a multi-million pound destroyer, when it could be launched from a much cheaper, more adaptable ship. Besides, the helicopter will never have the range, speed or payload of a jet... and sending them against any ship with anti-air capabillity, or within range of enemy planes would be suicidal. The best way to fight an enemy ship would be to spot it from our carrier launched STA aircraft when it's hundreds of miles out, and launch a couple of jets armed with Harpoons to sink it. Instead of risking the lives of the hundreds of men and women on the Destroyer, we'd only be risking the lives of a couple of pilots, who'd still be relatively safe. And if the first volley of Harpoons misses? Launch a couple more planes. We've got loads of time - the enemy ship is still a 150 miles out.
 

Ninja_Stoker

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There's on occasion a genuine millitary target that needs to be hit far behind enemy lines, and I believe a Tomahawk is the weapon for the job, but there's certainly no call to have a fleet of destroyers to fire them. The submarines can do the job just fine.
Except submarines cost many times more than warships and there aren't that many of them.

Stopping spend huge amounts of money on destroyers (and building stuff ourselves, when there's an enormously cheaper, more effective American off the shelf equivalent) would enable us to get hold of some proper carriers, with decent strike-fighters on board... They could then sit off the coast of whatever nation we're invading, launching planes to float over the heads of the troops, and delivering plentiful, fast close air support whenever it's needed.
As already stated Carriers are extremely costly in terms of manpower as well as money & need one missile to disable. 10 destroyers need 10 missiles, the tactic is to spread the risk rather than focus it.


As for the Harpoon missiles... I'm sure they're very good at killing ships, but trying to do it with them from a T45 is giving the enemy a bit of a sporting chance isn't it? A ship launched Harpoon can only sink anything as far away as the horizon (about 24 miles, I think).
You're a bit off the mark there, but suffice to say 3rd party targetting enables over the horizon engagements at much greater distances.

As always, if you're close enough to shoot them... they can shoot back. The T45's can launch a helicoper that can fire Harpoons, but like the ASW capability, it calls into question why you need to fly it from a multi-million pound destroyer, when it could be launched from a much cheaper, more adaptable ship.
Because the warship has multifaceted weapons, functions and capabilities besides finding & engaging submarines and ships hundreds of miles distant before they can hit back and can undertake various roles simultaneously.

Besides, the helicopter will never have the range, speed or payload of a jet... and sending them against any ship with anti-air capabillity, or within range of enemy planes would be suicidal.
That's why we use frigates & destroyers to launch missiles costing £1000's to shoot down aircraft costing £millions, likewise the best submarine hunter killer is another submarine. The idea is that your submarine cannot be detected before the target submarine so that you can engage it before it knows you are there. (Shhh! is the keyword)

The best way to fight an enemy ship would be to spot it from our carrier launched STA aircraft when it's hundreds of miles out, and launch a couple of jets armed with Harpoons to sink it. Instead of risking the lives of the hundreds of men and women on the Destroyer, we'd only be risking the lives of a couple of pilots, who'd still be relatively safe. And if the first volley of Harpoons misses? Launch a couple more planes. We've got loads of time - the enemy ship is still a 150 miles out.
The Close-In Weapons Systems (CIWS) fitted to our frigates and destroyers is more than capable of taking out sea-skimming missiles & the aircraft launching them can be taken out by surface to air systems.
 

jimmy mal

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Going back to the point regarding large air craft carriers. As ninja pointed out the crew to man one of the large American aircraft carriers is 5000, 1/8 of the RN. the idea against using these is that the enemy could take out 1/8 of the RN with one missile. The phrase 'spreading risk@ comes to mind.

However i don't dissagree with all of AdmiralAwseomes points. I don't think there is a right answer as it is obviously an advantage to have the capacity to carry aircraft near to the enemy target. My belief is that a bit of both is preferable. Unfortunately our defence budget is considerably lower than that of the US and also our manpower is considerably lower than the US. Using US ships designed for a larger amount of personel may not necessarily work for the UK.

Jim
 

AdmiralAwesome

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I'm not that hot on how to do the quotes, so forgive me:

"Except submarines cost many times more than warships and there aren't that many of them."

That's the point that I was making. I don't believe that we need as much 'in depth fire' as we currently posses. Very, very few targets need to be hit that far behind the lines. We should restrict ourselves to close air support of troops on the ground, for which we need proper carriers. In a Blitzkrieg style war, you don't need to destroy the enemies power and manufacturing facilities with the resultant civillian casualties, the war is over too fast for that to matter. Most of the command and control buildings we hit in Baghdad were empty - we risked pilots lives, wasted a pile of money and caused 'collateral damage' to blow up an empty building. I seriously believe that if during the Iraq War us and the Americans had concentrated completely on breaking the Iraqi Army in the field, without going after targets behind the lines, Iraq would be in a much better situation now. I remember reading a British Air Marshal's justification of blowing up power stations - to get the Iraqi's to rise up against Saddam! If someone killed my power during the middle of Emmerdale, it wouldn't convince me that the liberating army is my friend, and I should rise against the government. The real rub of it is, we then had to pay to fix the power-stations, etc.

In short, the submarines we currently have with their Tomahawks provide enough depth fire for the targets in a country we're invading that actually do need to be blown up. If we somehow need more, they don't have to be mounted on destroyers - they could be stuck on almost any ship.

"As already stated Carriers are extremely costly in terms of manpower as well as money & need one missile to disable. 10 destroyers need 10 missiles, the tactic is to spread the risk rather than focus it."

The Carriers I'm suggesting we get hold of aren't American Nimitz class, but something not much bigger than the new carriers we're getting, but still able to launch proper jets. If you told me there was someone out there going to be shooting missiles at my ship, I'd rather be on a Carrier that has a couple of STA planes floating round it to identify enemy ships and planes 200 miles out, and launch some F/A18's to sort it out before they get anywhere near firing range, than on a Destroyer. With a sea-skimming missile coming in at supersonic speeds, the Destroyer would have seconds from spotting it to destroy it. Much better to shoot down the plane before it launches it. There's also no reason that I can see why CIWS can't be mounted on the Carrier or some of the other useful ships in the battle group for the remote possibility that something gets through the fighter screen. The Americans do it all the time.

The Destroyers and Frigates don't do much of any real value, except showing up off friendly shores to provide token humanitarian aid in disasters, and intercepting the odd drug smuggler or two. The risk to a Destroyer from enemy sea-skimming missiles is very real, while the risk to a proper carrier stocked with decent aircraft is almost non-existant. In any real world situation, any threat to the carrier would be spotted hundreds of miles away, and destroyed safely and easily. It's better to have two or three lions, than ten donkeys.

We'd be able to afford some decent carriers, more amphibious assault ships, helicopter carriers, mine sweepers etc. if we stop wasting all our money on useless frigates and destroyers (amongst many other things in all three services, which will be stopped when I come to power.)


"You're a bit off the mark there, but suffice to say 3rd party targetting enables over the horizon engagements at much greater distances."

I did some more research after I posted, and I was wrong - but the point still stands. A Harpoon missile launched from a Destroyer and guided to a target by a UAV or whatever, still does not have anywhere near the stand-off range that an aircraft launched one would have. The further away from the fleet targets can be engaged, the less risk to lives there is. I'd rather stand outside a cage and shoot a rabid dog, than climb into the cage and beat it to death with a long stick.

"Because the warship has multifaceted weapons, functions and capabilities besides finding & engaging submarines and ships hundreds of miles distant before they can hit back and can undertake various roles simultaneously."

Not sure I follow you there Ninja. What else does a Destroyer do other than ASW, anti-surface and anti-sub work?

"That's why we use frigates & destroyers to launch missiles costing £1000's to shoot down aircraft costing £millions, likewise the best submarine hunter killer is another submarine. The idea is that your submarine cannot be detected before the target submarine so that you can engage it before it knows you are there. (Shhh! is the keyword)".

I touched on this above - the best and safest way to destroy an incoming enemy aircraft is hundreds of miles out with another aircraft before it gets any where near your warship stuffed with hundreds of lives. I believe we can afford all of this if the defence budget is spent more wisely. I agree completely that the best way to destroy a submarine is with another sub.

"The Close-In Weapons Systems (CIWS) fitted to our frigates and destroyers is more than capable of taking out sea-skimming missiles & the aircraft launching them can be taken out by surface to air systems."

I already covered this above.
 

AdmiralAwesome

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Going back to the point regarding large air craft carriers. As ninja pointed out the crew to man one of the large American aircraft carriers is 5000, 1/8 of the RN. the idea against using these is that the enemy could take out 1/8 of the RN with one missile. The phrase 'spreading risk@ comes to mind.

However i don't dissagree with all of AdmiralAwseomes points. I don't think there is a right answer as it is obviously an advantage to have the capacity to carry aircraft near to the enemy target. My belief is that a bit of both is preferable. Unfortunately our defence budget is considerably lower than that of the US and also our manpower is considerably lower than the US. Using US ships designed for a larger amount of personel may not necessarily work for the UK.

Jim
I don't suggest we use Nimitz style Carriers, but just abandon the jump-jet concept as inefficient, costly and dangerous. The new Carriers that're coming through are designed to be able to be upgraded to proper jobbies later on, with arrestor wires and steam catapaults to launch proper planes. They wouldn't need significantly more crew if they were built in this configuration, and you'd increase the effectiveness of the carriers by a power of ten. Not to mention we'd be able to launch refuelling and STA aircraft from them.
 

Ninja_Stoker

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The Destroyers and Frigates don't do much of any real value, except showing up off friendly shores to provide token humanitarian aid in disasters, and intercepting the odd drug smuggler or two. The risk to a Destroyer from enemy sea-skimming missiles is very real, while the risk to a proper carrier stocked with decent aircraft is almost non-existant. In any real world situation, any threat to the carrier would be spotted hundreds of miles away, and destroyed safely and easily. It's better to have two or three lions, than ten donkeys.
Whilst we're not anticipating another Falklands conflict, the Naval Gunfire Support (NGS) delivered by the frigates & destroyers, enabled thousands of shells to be fired many miles inland in close support of the advancing troops to battle-winning effect without risking aircraft flying over the highly accurate Roland AA missile defence batteries. NGS is often pivotal to Commando amphibeous operations.

It's probably not a good idea to suggest to the Admiralty Interview Board that you consider that Destroyers and Frigates don't do much of any real value, except showing up off friendly shores to provide token humanitarian aid in disasters, and intercepting the odd drug smuggler or two. Bearing in mind the anti-drugs boardings are conducted by RM Commandos deployed from frigates & destroyers. The Interview Board would most likely disagree after they pick themselves up off the deck whilst they stop choking-back sobs of angst: "Mr Awesome, Nul points. Next candidate, please...."

The risk to a carrier from sea-skimming missiles is probably higher because once they are on a flying course to launch and recover aircraft, they cannot easily deviate and not least because they are a bigger target. Such missiles are taken out by surface to air missiles & CIWs, not aircraft.

We'd be able to afford some decent carriers, more amphibious assault ships, helicopter carriers, mine sweepers etc. if we stop wasting all our money on useless frigates and destroyers (amongst many other things in all three services, which will be stopped when I come to power.)
Assault ships with hundreds of troops aboard & minesweepers clearing swept channels do not have the firepower to protect themselves against sustained attack. That's why there are Frigates & destroyers.

Not sure I follow you there Ninja. What else does a Destroyer do other than ASW, anti-surface and anti-sub work?
It takes out the air, surface & sub-surface threats to the Carrier to allow the aircraft to be deployed taking out high value targets. One to one dog-fights are very high risk & it's less risky to let the anti-aircraft picket do it's job.

I touched on this above - the best and safest way to destroy an incoming enemy aircraft is hundreds of miles out with another aircraft before it gets any where near your warship stuffed with hundreds of lives. I believe we can afford all of this if the defence budget is spent more wisely. I agree completely that the best way to destroy a submarine is with another sub.
As stated, an aircraft is better employed taking out the enemy's aircraft factory or airfield rather than dog-fighting one to one.
 

TJ08

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sorry if i haved missed something or if its already been mentioned.
with regards to scraping the VTOL capability,

VTOL aircraft can operate off carriers (meaning smaller carriers are needed) and off land, Meaning they can operate off a very small area of level ground rather than needing a whole runway. So surely with regards to amphibious assaults they can provide air support during an attack and then provide air support whilst runways capable of taking other aircraft are set up.
So i dont think we should scrap VTOL, although i see what you're saying about off the shelf kit. It would be much cheaper.
 

AdmiralAwesome

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sorry if i haved missed something or if its already been mentioned.
with regards to scraping the VTOL capability,

VTOL aircraft can operate off carriers (meaning smaller carriers are needed) and off land, Meaning they can operate off a very small area of level ground rather than needing a whole runway. So surely with regards to amphibious assaults they can provide air support during an attack and then provide air support whilst runways capable of taking other aircraft are set up.
So i dont think we should scrap VTOL, although i see what you're saying about off the shelf kit. It would be much cheaper.
Not only cheaper, but we could buy lots more useful stuff with the money we'd save, and increase our capacity to do some good in this world. Not to mention chucking the poor old grunts an extra 10 grand on top of their wages. They've earnt it - when the firefighters earning 25 grand a year go on strike, who turns out to put out the fires? The soliders, sailors and airmen on 13 grand a year!

As for V/STOL aircraft being able to be operated from forward air bases, it's making a virtue out of a necessity. They don't have the same range as proper jets, so they need to be farther forward. Operating from forward air bases then creates all sort of logistical nightmares - you've got to guard the forward bases which eats into manpower, and then transport jet fuel and ammunition to them. I wouldn't fancy driving a tanker full of jet-fuel through Iraq. Makes much more sense to have our planes sitting out at sea, safe from harm and relatively easy to resupply (easier than getting tons of supplies through hostile territory.)
 

AdmiralAwesome

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Ninja:

"It's probably not a good idea to suggest to the Admiralty Interview Board that you consider that Destroyers and Frigates don't do much of any real value, except showing up off friendly shores to provide token humanitarian aid in disasters, and intercepting the odd drug smuggler or two. Bearing in mind the anti-drugs boardings are conducted by RM Commandos deployed from frigates & destroyers. The Interview Board would most likely disagree after they pick themselves up off the deck whilst they stop choking-back sobs of angst: "Mr Awesome, Nul points. Next candidate, please...."

Of course I'd be Mr. Navy at the interview. But the criticisms I make here are out of the greatest respect for all our armed forces; they overcome any challenge we set them, despite their poor equipment... Imagine what they could do properly equipped and supplied! My ire is directed at the MOD and most of the top brass.

As for the anti-drugs boardings, they're a great idea - we should be doing more of them. But why do we have to send a massively expensive destroyer to do it? In case we have to launch a Harpoon at a drug-runners speedboat, or an unarmed freighter?

"The risk to a carrier from sea-skimming missiles is probably higher because once they are on a flying course to launch and recover aircraft, they cannot easily deviate and not least because they are a bigger target. Such missiles are taken out by surface to air missiles & CIWs, not aircraft."

I agree with you there, a carrier is much more at risk from a sea-skimming missile than a destroyer, once it's launched. With a proper carrier launched AWACS in the air above the fleet, an enemy aircraft would be spotted and intercepted hundreds of miles out before it could even think about launching the missile. The best defence is attack, not waiting to be attacked. In the extremely unlikely event that a missile is launched, I see no reason why CIWS and SAMs can't be mounted on other ships that fufill a more useful role. Much cheaper, more adaptable, and with our increased air cover, we wouldn't need specialised anti-air ships.

"Assault ships with hundreds of troops aboard & minesweepers clearing swept channels do not have the firepower to protect themselves against sustained attack. That's why there are Frigates & destroyers."

They wouldn't need to. Any threat to the fleet would be engaged hundreds of miles out, risking the necks of a couple of fly-boys, rather than ships stuffed with hundreds of sailors.

"It takes out the air, surface & sub-surface threats to the Carrier to allow the aircraft to be deployed taking out high value targets. One to one dog-fights are very high risk & it's less risky to let the anti-aircraft picket do it's job."

I disagree with you completely there Ninja. SAM's are the weapons of last resort for any modern military. That's why there's so much talk of 'air superiority', and why the Americans always have planes in the air ready to respond to any threat to the fleet. There's much less risk involved in sending out our nice, shiny modern planes to destroy any threats far away from the thousands of lives in the fleet. Our jets lose, we lose a couple of pilots, our destroyers lose... and we we lose hundreds of sailors. With up to date American planes and weapons, any of the third-rate airforces we'd be likely to fight wouldn't stand a chance. Aircraft are the safest and most effective way of engaging any threat to our ships.

With increased carrier size (which we'd easily be able to afford when our money is spent more wisely), we'd be able to fly 40 F/A18's off of each of them... That's massively improved from our current numbers. We'd have more than enough aircraft to protect the fleet, and bomb high value targets.
 

Iago

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Admiral,

I think you're putting a little too much stock in aircraft capability.

I'm not sure on exact specifications, but it seems to me that the idea is - or at least should be - to let each asset do its job. So, aircraft would be best suited to provide Close Air Support, whilst Destroyers and Frigates would protect against attacks from the air and surface, Subs can sink other subs (though they'll surely not need to in the forseeable future) and so on.

I read to my amazement earlier that the new T45 Destroyers are able to detect and destroy a cricket ball travelling at double the sound of speed. I don't think that lies very well with your portrayal of the Destroyer as 'useless'! If called upon to do its job, I can't envisage it having many problems.

You have said several times now that using aircraft 'risks the lives of only a couple of fly boys', but I don't think that's a valid argument. Dog fights and such are extremely dangerous, and pilots are an extremely valuable asset. Therefore, losing an aircraft and its pilot isn't as easy as you might like to think. In any case, it's my opinion that it will seldom in the forseeable future get to the point where an entire ship can be sunk, especially considering the potency of the 'future navy', in which the T45 Destroyer is to play a big role.

Also bear in mind that we are fighting a war which is going to be going on for many years to come, against a lightly armed guerilla force, and that it is not a massive scale maritime engagement. Indeed, Afghanistan is firmly landlocked. Therefore I think we can worry less for the time being about missiles, submarines and aircraft, and worry more about providing some nice air support for our boys on the ground, which, by all accounts, they desperately need - a role for which the new aircraft carriers will be perfectly prepared.

I think you make some valid points, though, and I would say that the argument comes down to whether we're comfortable with, as Ninja said earlier, 'putting all your eggs in one basket'. Or at least something along those lines. I personally favour spreading the risks!

Great topic, really has made me think!

Liam
 

Ninja_Stoker

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...Of course I'd be Mr. Navy at the interview.

....As for the anti-drugs boardings, they're a great idea - we should be doing more of them. But why do we have to send a massively expensive destroyer to do it? In case we have to launch a Harpoon at a drug-runners speedboat, or an unarmed freighter?

A wise choice & it's appreciated that we're simply exploring viewpoints, rather than having a heated debate. It's good to hear things from all sides particularly if the AIB ask you to expound a differing viewpoint to that widely accepted. It shows you have made the effort to research & consider differing opinions. I'm quite enjoying it.

In answer to the drug-running, the smugglers use fast boats which can do stupid speeds of around 6OKts+ and a bog standard civilian ship would be very hard pushed to start a hot pursuit as it remains on surface radar whilst the helicopter is launched to chase after it over the horizon & engage it with a .50 cal to incapacitate the supercharged twin/triple/quadruple outboards or Sea Skua missile if absolutely necessary prior to rapid-roping a few tooled-up Royals onto the deck. There's a lot of international politics and protocols involved in boarding a civilian registered vessel in international waters & the drug-runners are acutely aware that diplomatic protocols take time and aid their escape.
 
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