back to article Duff French missiles for Royal Navy finally fixed

Problems with the primary armament of the Royal Navy's new, £1bn+ Type 45 destroyers have been rectified, according to reports. Aster missiles being fired in trials. Credit: MBDA Eighth time's the charm The Royal Navy already has two Type 45s, HMS Daring and HMS Dauntless, but test-firings last year of their main armament - …

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WTF?

"operating as expected"

I love that term.... so what was "expected"? We thought it'd fly like a turd in a snowstorm and it did... job done, it operated as expected?

Weasly friggin' words used by weasly friggin' people.

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Obelix

Will they at least have a few canisters for Harpoon or SLAM or _something_, _anything_, on the fantail or _somewhere_ to give them over-the-horizon anti-surface capability?

Didn't think so.

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Anonymous Coward

And what about MDCN ?

Couldn't they carry MDCN, the french cruise missile ? cf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storm_Shadow

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Anonymous Coward

Ok, so it took a little longer...

...but we do now have something significantly better than Standard.

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Grenade

But...

Having delivered a system that didn't work, did the MoD conform to it's usual practice of paying for the non-working system and then paying the vendor to fix it?

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Anonymous Coward

UK approach

"UK trials barge “Longbow"”

after all, why bother sending a ship from a stretched force when a metal box will do.

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1bn?

Buy an old Brittany Ferries boat and bolt on you bloody radar and missiles. Simples.

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Boffin

Missiles

I may be misremembering here but aren't the missile silos a standardised modular design so capable of taking all sorts of different loads? I'm sure I can remember at least 16 different possible configurations that could be installed, Aster being only one option.

BTW, when are we going to see an article on the monumental cockup that is the JSF program? The unit costs on that have gone up a long way and it still doesn't really work, on top or which are the other political and technical shortcomings which have been brushed aside over the years. Of course, that might invalidate some past 'buy American' arguments from certain parties...

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"buy American"??

That's one way of reading the Lewis rants. Another might be to read them as "buy something cheap that's proven to work". Bollocks to the JSF, a bunch of product-improved F18s would still be a huge step up for the FAA (i.e. better than nothing), and Britain might even be able to afford more than 3 of them.

It's an interesting thought experiment - what if, over the last 30 years, the UK had simply bought kit that a reasonably friendly nation had recently put into service and got reliably working, rather than signing up for something "better" that was still in development?

E.g. in 1985 the UK might quite plausibly have started fielding e.g. F18, Leopard 2, Steyr AUG and an upgraded E2C Hawkeye - would that really have been such a terrible disaster for the MOD?

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Go

Rafale

..is a *real* carrier-borne fighter and ready to use. Surely the french would be willing to allow BAE to manufacture the largest part of the Rafales. And they are surely keen on future cooperation.

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Go

Go Rafale!

That would require proper carriers fitted with catapults and arrestor gear, which is *also* something I wish the RN would get.

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Anonymous Coward

Ah, the Rafale...

I'm sure BAE would be happy to do that, except they already have involvement in a very similar product.

After all, Rafale is just a fork from earlier in the Eurofighter development programme...

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Unhappy

AC@12:16

"I may be misremembering here but aren't the missile silos a standardised modular design so capable of taking all sorts of different loads? I'm sure I can remember at least 16 different possible configurations that could be installed, Aster being only one option."

Ah, but there are American "Standardized" missile silos and French "standardised" missile silos.

What's the betting that they are *not* the same, and if by some *miracle* they are, they won't be because the US one will have translated exact dimensions in mm and rounded them to the nearest sixteenth of an inch (or whatever).

Clever idea, compatibility.

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Hit and miss

To some extent, just buying off-the-shelf kit might work - lower risk overall, but essentially that is what the Australia's have done without notable success.

They invested in some kit like the F-111 that took a lot of time and money to sort, despite the potential in the air-craft, they also brought F-18's that again took a lot of time and money to sort out early teething problems.

Other projects like the BAe Hawk or F-16's have generally proved successful, but often early in the development and service acceptance phases, it is hard to tell if these things will get sorted and become successful (the F-18) or never get there (F-111). Things like the Osprey - who knows?

Sure you can avoid issues by waiting for things like the JSF to enter widespread service before deciding to buy, but that could be 10 or more years after the design was settled; and then you might have another 5-10 years for them to go through step changes, localisation, production and finally enter service in your country. Add in need to make decisions on compatible gear (such as on carriers designs which will take the aircraft) and the time frames can be huge if you wait and see before starting to design and build around the new equipment.

Could be that you finally get your aircraft or other system 20 years after they were designed, by which time, everything else has moved on & people want to know why you are buying 20+ year old kit, when new/better gear for the current situation would be a better choice.

So no easy answers, other than I would say that like IT, the bigger and more abitious the program, the more likely it is to fail. So instead of huge pan-european projects like Tornado or Typhoon, several smaller, reduced scale projects (like Hawk) would be better even if some fail,

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Grenade

Good news

That' very good news that targets successfully survived French missiles.

It's a pity that civilian air flight ITAVIA didn't have any defense whatsoever in 1980... and was downed by a French missile with 4 crew and 77 passengers aboard.

http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strage_di_Ustica

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USS Vincennes

..tested their SM-2 missiles against Iran Air 655 successfully:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_Air_Flight_655

So anglosaxons can do that, too. And it were a few more people, btw. In a combat zone, admittedly.

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Boffin

Re: Good news

Just more Italian drivel blaming everything but their own poor maintenance for the flight falling out of the sky. When I worked in Aerospace, we had projects with Italian companies. They all basically fabricated their test data. In the end, we used second source parts in place of the Italian ones, just to be safe.

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Re: AC@I worked in Aerospace

Half of Italian air defense radars shut down, remaining radar logs deleted, witnesses killed, parts of fighters aircraft mixed with DC9 ones rescued from seabed, DC9 fuselage showing the entry blast of a missile, one Libian fighter craft downed in Southern Italy...

Just read before trolling, mate.

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N2

what about

The 2 x Phalanx 20 mm weapons system? - "if it flies, it dies"

& the good ole 4.5 Mk 8 cannon isnt that bad either.

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CIWS is not effective

...against high-g maneuvering, supersonic ASMs, apparently. The current standard is ESSM missiles. All larger ships of the German Navy are equipped with that.

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Ah...

But they don't HAVE the 2x Phalanx 20mm Weapons Systems. They're equipped for but not with - I can see them out of my office window.

The Phalanx earmarked for the 45's is currently deployed elsewhere. :(

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Boffin

Typical

"they will be almost entirely air-defence ships"

Amazing considering they were designed and built to be Air Defence Destroyers.

Guess what? Over land they aren't as good as a tank. Probably because they were designed and built as "ships". If only the Navy had fitted US standard tank tracks! Now the Type 45 will be entirely limited to floating on water with no ability to cross mountain ranges and desert. Unlike the US Abrams Tank which is soooo much cheaper than a Type 45.

What were BAE Systems thinking?

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FAIL

A Lewis P. Classical

Facts mixed with false propaganda to help the Merkin Weapons Industry. The Aster system has the capability to engage both at large distances and altitudes AND very fast sea skimmers.

If LP were truthful and objective, he would tell people that SM-3 is only effective against long distance, high/medium, slow maneuvering targets.

Aster fulfills the role of SM-3 long-distance air defence and ESSM sea-skimmer defence. It is not designed to engage surface targets. It CAN engage ballistic missiles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8K01syDHRbk

The truth is that french systems have proven to be very, very effective historically. The Argies sunk two british ships (Altanic Conveyor and HMS Sheffield) with just four Excocet ASMs in the Falklands conflict. Another Exocet nearly sunk an American frigate in the Gulf, killing 30 Sailors.

I suggest to use the German Taurus stealth cruise missile as a surface-attack option for the Type 45.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taurus_KEPD_350

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Be fair

Aster does not NEARLY have the kinematic parameters of the SM-3, so it can have a valid shot at targets Aster can't even reach. In terms of role, Aster would be similar to the 9M96E2 missiles used in the S-400 complex, and the SM-3 would be like the much larger 40N6.

As a anti-ballistic missile (its intended role), SM-3 has a far better capability - the anti-satellite shot, though it was of course a very planned event and not a fully fair test by ABM standards, at least showed the rocket can handle a far higher closing speed than Aster.

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Anonymous Coward

OMG

I think it's truly awful that the Royal Navy should acquire a ship to fulfil the air defence role and it not be able to attack land targets - oh wait. As it goes there has only ever been "talk" of "potentially" fitting out the Type 45's with Tomahawk. As I recall the navy has said on multiple occasions it was never in the plan and has never been actively planned for - much like trials and simulations for navalising Eurofighter for use on the new aircraft carriers.

But that aside I also recall MBDA saying that Sylver could potentially launch Tomahawk - whether the 45's have the necessary space to do is another matter. There is also the potential to fire the navalised variant of Storm Shadow/SCALP - a weapon that seriously impressed the American's during the second Gulf War.

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Go

Aster 15

At least the video looks very impressive. Note the high-g turn:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TahVQ4bij-A&feature=related

According to wpedia, it can do 50g maneuvers. Pilots can just do 9g.

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Not quite the same thing

I was impressed at the Science Museum with their Bloodhound missile - which for a bit of 1950s tech still has a lot of WOW!

Namely it's go up to 400mph by the time it cleared the launcher and went supersonic in 25 - seconds? no - FEET.

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Happy

@Mike Richards

"Namely it's go up to 400mph by the time it cleared the launcher and went supersonic in 25 - seconds? no - FEET."

Bloodhound use a pair of ramjets as sustainer engines. Ramjets run badly below M1.

You might like to check the spec on the US Safeguard ABM system, specifically the Sprint close range ABM.

Warning. Standing near a vehicle while it is traveling above the speed of sound is *very* unhealthy.

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why am I not surprised

Rather than saying Yay! It's finally working, instead Lewis turns this into Boo! Should have been American.

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Ahem

Can I mention the attack on the USS Cole, An Arleigh Burke class guided missle destroyer with all the whistles and bells including Phalanx.

Perhaps Mr Page would like to explain how good all these systems are to families of the 17 people who died in the attack on the Cole.

All the tech in the world doesn't protect against fanatics.

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The Nasty Truth

..is that most of these tests don't seem to be very realistic. All the youtube tests seem to use a larger RC aircraft with a small piston engine. A realistic test would use a supersonic, vector-controlled, fast/random maneuvering ASM.

And another type which would be stealthy and slow - gliding into the target on the last 10 miles or so. Have lots of fun to detect this kind of ASM. Low RADAR and IR signature. How do you even notice this thing is incoming ??

Or maybe fast, quickly maneuvering, stealthy and ejecting tons of decoys ?

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And the Ukrainians!

They may or may have not uses a S-200 to take down a Tu-154 just after 9/11

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberia_Airlines_Flight_1812_accident

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Joke

All crew members will ...

... will be supplied with peashooters as a fallback in event of system failures.

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French frigate, Italian Frigate, British...

...barge.

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FAIL

Really...

I thought we had learned our lesson in the South Atlantic - if it's near your ship and it has a faint smell of garlic to it, it's not to be trusted...

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Anonymous Coward

surely that depends...

...on which end of it you're looking at? The garlic-fuelled South Atlantic missiles did their job well, as far as the purchasers were concerned.

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Go

Nope

..you should have the corresponding french AA missile mounted before.

Seriously, french technology worked nearly perfectly for the Argies. If they had had 40 Exocets, both carriers would have been under very real threat of being hit and eventually burned out.

It also worked very, very well for Iraq:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Stark_(FFG-31)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exocet

"Iraq fired an estimated 200 air-launched Exocet against Iranian shipping during the Iran–Iraq War with varying levels of success. Tankers and other civilian shipping were often hit."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran%E2%80%93Iraq_War

"Lloyd's of London, a British insurance market, estimated that the Tanker War damaged 546 commercial vessels and killed about 430 civilian mariners. The largest portion of the attacks were directed by Iran against Kuwaiti vessels, and on 1 November 1986, Kuwait formally petitioned foreign powers to protect its shipping. The Soviet Union agreed to charter tankers starting in 1987, and the United States offered to provide protection for tankers flying the U.S. flag on 7 March 1987 (Operation Earnest Will and Operation Prime Chance).[46] Under international law, an attack on such ships would be treated as an attack on the United States, allowing the U.S. Navy to retaliate. This support would protect neutral ships headed to Iraqi ports, effectively guaranteeing Iraq's revenue stream for the duration of the war.[citation needed] During the course of the war Iran attacked two Soviet Navy ships which were protecting Kuwaiti tankers.[47] One of the ships which sank as a result of an attack during the war was the Knock Nevis carrying Iranian crude which was struck by French Exocet missiles fired by Iraqi air force resulting in sinking of the largest ship ever built in history.[48]"

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Joke

@Mike Richards

Now was that a comment on naval activity or on below-navel activity...?

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Flame

Selling weapons to people who don't like you

or having allies who sell weapons to people who don't like you.

What can go wrong with policy?

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Calm Down

If the frenchies had not supplied plenty of Exocets to Iraq, British and American soldiers would probably have died fighting against Iranian troops. Saddam got intel from the Americans because they were very concerned about Iran winning over Iraq.

USS Stark clearly was an accident and not the intent of IRAQGOV.

And France did not deliver a single Exocet to the Argies after they invaded the Falklands. They had the miniscule number of FOUR Exocets.

Anyway, this is a technical discussion and not so much about politics. The point was that french weaponry has an excellent record of technical capability, whatever LP utters.

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Anonymous Coward

The Argies

..could also have bough 100 Soviet supersonic ASMs. Sure death for both carriers in this case (at that time).

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Buy Merkin - not as easy as it sounds

To Lewis, and all the other people who say "buy Merkin - look it works for them". For example Trygve at 1316. What if we bought an F18 in 1985. Well, firstly, buying them in 1985 would have been quite a feat since the US only got their first one in squadron service in 1983 - usually you have to wait a while to get the aircraft because the factories would be working flat out on the US aircraft - but even assuming that we managed to get them within a few years, there are still some problems. Namely, the US does not sell its avionics fit to anyone, not even allies. Israel gets a watered down avionics fit, and other countries get an even more badly neutered avionics fit. Generally, when the UK buys American gear, we end up spending the same again putting proper world class electronics into the things. These days the airframe is largely irrelevant for most air battles, the electronics win or lose the battle. In my RAF days, I've watched Tornado F3s (that can't out-turn the QE2) beat US F18s in 2 on 2 or higher air to air combat, because the F3s have JTIDS which gives much better situational awareness.

We could have bought F18s, but would have spend twice as much as the list price getting decent electronics in, and probably spent an extra 10 years doing so. We would have had half decent aircraft by the late 90s, which is only a few years before we started getting Eurofighter in squadron service. At the same time, in the early 2000s, the F18 might be able to out-turn and burn a Tornado F3, but it wasn't a better aircraft from an Avionics perspective. Overall, we would have had a less effective air force, probably without saving money.

As an aside, I'm always worried that we have a nasty habit of fighting the last war. The last war in this case is the anti-insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. Anti-insurgency doesn't need Gucci ships and aircraft, nor tanks in large numbers. Getting rid of all those could really catch us out when we come to our next war.

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A bit of a scaremongering view here...

You can fix avionics problems by installing your own. An airframe problem is fundamental.

Many countries in the world are reasonably happy using downgraded American stuff and working in their own as affordable. They know that though downgraded, it is still likely better than what they can make or get.

If you have bought F-18s along with the American purchase, you would have had aircraft in the 80s that may be somewhat inferior to their American counterparts but at least presumably have working avionics which as I understand it was more than what could be said for the Panavia Tornado ADV in the 80s. You can then work on improved avionics and slowly work them without rushing in the course of overhauls and upgrading.

But why F-18s in the Tornado's shoes anyway. If long range anti-bomber defence was really the priority, you should have bought F-14s! Since they have only sold them to Iran (it was the Shah back then but Iran is Iran) I don't think Americans can really say much about selling them to Britain. Even a downgraded F-14/Phoenix combination gives a better long-range anti bomber capability than the planned single target engagement (with Skyflash) capability of the Foxhunter.

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FAIL

Is this guy sponsored by the US?

Obviously!

When we buy US weapons the government simply exports britsh jobs to the US. If we want to make upgrades - guess who we have to go to, so its not just a one off purchase - its a commitment to spend for years to come. Guess who sets the price for the upgrades.

As regards the delay - has no software integration project ever been late? Maybe it might be better to ask has one ever been on time. Having worked in the City, where a lot of system integration goes on, I would say not.

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French missile????

Why are the missiles referred to as French when BAE is the largest shareholder (37.5%) of MBDA? Surely that makes them British as much as French, no?

Also, if the Astute submarines already have block IV tomahawk, why put them on an expensive AWD platform like the Type 45. It's not like the RN is going to use 'shock and awe' on anyone. Furthermore, fitting an anti-ship missile isn't a huge undertaking and will probably occur at some future point.

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Testing

What I want to know is, having tested against modern missiles, supersonic ones HAVE they tested against good old fashioned Exocets?

We've been caught by those before, some of you might remember. The lesson..don't forget the old weapons that are still in use by some countries.

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Whithall Growth/Sloth

The purpose of government departments is often perceived as being in the name.

The Ministry of Defence would appear to be a service to procure the best items for securing

the defence of our country. The only attacks on our country have been terrorist for which

we have little other than intelligence gathering to defeat the problem. ( Post Falklands)

The main purpose of the MOD and indeed any other civil service departments is self preservation and expansion.

If targets are met there becomes less chance of expansion and consequently promotion.

The longer contracts are stretched, the more chance of maintaining the status quo to

ensure a smooth passage to retirement for the incumbents.

Knighthoods and all manner of "gongs" are liberally distributed to the wasters of time and assets. I do not begrudge them the accepted accolades of their chosen living...but..

I do begrudge the lives lost through the slow grind of the system.

I do begrudge the money squandered without the forethought of a good alternative.

We should have the best equipment for fighting for the security of the rest of the world.

A complete overhaul of the decision making is required for targets to be met.

The "Yes Minister" attitude should ensure that this never happens of course.

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Tu-95 Bear

look it up and then please withdraw your post.

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The Problem With Gatlings Is That They Are Useless

Gatlings have a very long delay until the projectiles impact on the target. For example, Phalanx has a muzzle velocity of about 1km/s.

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phalanx_CIWS

At one kilomter distance, the bullets will need about 1 second until impact. But a modern ASM maneuvering at 20g can move

s=1/2a*t^2=1/2*20*9,81m/s^2*1s*1s=100m

during that time. So even if your RADAR works PERFECTLY, this is pointless, as the target will on average have jumped 50 meters during that time. And certainly the jump vector is determined by a an AES256 random number generator or even a physcial random source like resistor noise.

You will now argue that the bullets will take less and less time when the AMS closes in, but also the angle speed relative to the gun will go up dramatically. Also, you don't want an ASM to explode 50meters from your nice little frigate or aeroplanes. Shrapnel could easily do lots of damage to antennas or a/c.

ESSM is the solution, as the sea sparrow missile can maneuver at least as quickly as the ASM, in theory. But it needs a sizeable fragementation warhead, as hit-to-kill does not work:

Assuming that thrust vectors take 1/10th of a second to operate, the ASM will have jumped 1m during that time. As the time difference is being squared, super-fast-reacting thrust vectors must be a huage R&D priority.

But the best solution clearly are lasers, as light travels much faster than any conceivable ASM and it is easy to deflect the beam at very high angle rates. The ABL laser should be mounted on frigates instead of a 747.

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Boffin

@joeuro

"The ABL laser should be mounted on frigates instead of a 747."

Watch out Lewis, someone is after your job! Repeat after me, "A is for '**AIRBORNE**', B is for 'Bugger, didn't think of that!'"

But your comments regarding the efficacy of CIWS is flawed - that ASM will MOVE 50m, not JUMP 50m. That ASM is going to move in a straight line during that second, and regardless of how random the course changes are, the CIWS will (should) be pumping out a large amount of metal and it only takes one to hit the ASM to make a dirty great hole in it at supersonic speeds, or to deflect it and cause it to depart 'controlled' flight and into the sea.

Also, is that 20G turn an instananeous transient or a sustained rate? How much of that 20G is acceleration along the flight path at launch, and how much is "available" for near-terminal guidance/course correction?

Just because something is "old tech" doesn't mean it is useless - something else Lewis seems to forget regularly. Big Guns are still around for a reason - a TLAM may well be able to hit a barn door at 2000nm but it's a lot harder to knock holes in a moving gunboat with one.

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