Prime Minister David Cameron has taken personal charge of sorting out the UK's defences. Not only has he cocked it up more than somewhat, he has also slashed vital helicopters for our troops fighting in Afghanistan - and then lied about it. If you want detail on that last bit, skip to the last page. Otherwise, we'll take it …
"The Royal Navy will retain no less than 19 largely pointless frigates and destroyers"
I thought they all had pointy bits? That's how you tell which end is the front...
Yes, a fair summary of war.
An interesting analysis.
Slightly unexpected in a predominantly IT/tech forum, but interesting nevertheless. Nice to know I probably wasn't the only person shouting at my radio the other day.
Oh, and did you hear about the Lords (and ladies) "suspended" for embezzling thousands of our pounds? That was the other thing that had my neighbours suspecting they lived next to a madman recently... :D
It's never really been explained why on Earth there is a defence section in an IT website, other than the fact that they can do it if they want and it gives Lewis something else to do besides the boffin-related news.
Personally I'd prefer he stuck to reporting on whatever those wacky boffins are up to, but that's because I don't find defence spending interesting, and Lewis has an excellent turn of phrase when it comes to science stories.
Re: Defence articles
It's never really been explained why there are comments, either.
Er, it's because people read it, like. Or just comment on it.
This is something that is really starting to wind me up now. El Reg is NOT just an IT site - it is a technical and scientific news site. Check the banner at the top of your browser....
"The Register : Sci/Tech news for the world"
Seems fairly clear to me. Defense uses lots of tech and scientific research. Hence the inclusion.
Re: Defence articles
"It's never really been explained why on Earth there is a defence section in an IT website"
The Inquirer is in *that* direction. Oh, and at least get the icon right. Sheesh!
Why is there a defence section?
Hey, they let me write articles, so I think they'll let anyone in! Seriously though, Lewis is fantastic - whether the topic be boffins or boats, I personally enjoy every single article.
Ignore the naysayers Lewis! More like this I say!
For the record...
...I wasn't naysaying. I enjoyed the article, and the following debate has been priceless...
Maybe because of IT work?
Probably because a lot of IT contractors get business through the MOD?
let me make it clear to you...
there's no fucking money!
we can all moan about every section of society and how that devilish government has taken things away from us, moan like big fucking babies, now we can see who has the backbone in society to get their heads down and do some work......
stop trying to find a scapegoat, there simply is no cash left and we are borrowing more than we have, which means we have to pay interest on that - do you get it????
this is a dead economy, it has ceased to exist.
Re: let me make it clear to you...
Strange, Lewis Page did a great job of describing more effective cost-saving measures than those introduced by the Prime Minister. If you read the article (especially pages 2 and 3, I'm guessing you skipped them and skimmed page 1 and 4) then you would see the plausibility of having a decent defense force while at the same time making significant savings.
Let me make it clear to you: David Cameron has not made enough cuts, nor has he made the right cuts. You whine about a lack of money, yet you fail to acknowledge a sensible alternative course of action as described in this article.
"now we can see who has the backbone in society to get their heads down and do some work......"
With the occasional pause to rant on an internet forum, of course.
is that like an affordable defence strategy?
i did read the "sensible alternative course of action", it's neither sensible nor a realistic alternative, just the rantings of an old 'socialist worker' reader.
go and read it again, it's totally flawed, and as i said originally - there is no fucking cash, the armed forces are too big and there's too much admin workers. granted, sending troops to pointless wars doesn't help but it's the cash that counts - and we have none along with a serious debt - so no new military toys for a while - sorry i mean 'defense force' toys....
Richard69, missing the point entirely
The problem is not that people don't want cuts. People know cuts need to be made and hard work needs to be done. The problem is that the savings are not being made fair for all. People who need help most are being hardest hit, and people who have shedloads of money are not being targetting. This is simply not on, and the fact that you fail to see this frankly obvious point makes me think that perhaps you're not fully qualified to comment on the issues. That and your appalling spelling and grammar.
"granted, sending troops to pointless wars doesn't help but it's the cash that counts"......
no it isn't, we could still have supplied the troops with the much needed Chinooks. Lewis has (in my opinion) detailed excellent alternative that would NOT have seen us axe half the new Chinooks.
"go and read it again, it's totally flawed"...
So where is it wrong (its an opinion)? Care to give us YOUR analysis then rather than "there is no fucking cash"? (Unless you like making statements like this that give us a very poor impression of you, in which case, well done!)
I look forward to reading it and getting a little closer to enlightenment.
last I checked it was the government who borrowed money from the banks to give money to the banks so the banks could pay back the banks they borrowed money from.
and as far as I'm aware, those dickbags rarely do what "we" want them to.
can anyone remember the definition of "democracy"?
can anyone remember the definition of "democracy"?
Democracy - a system in which the public gets to vote for the colour of the 30" strap-on that's heading towards them.
Last I checked we'd had an election, and the aforementioned dickbags who borrowed the money, and mortgaged us all upto the hilt, had been booted out.
Why bring the banks into this?
Why do people insist on blaming the banking crisis for the current cuts? We spend (note the present tense) more on public services than we earn in taxation. We can't keep doing that or no-one will lend us the money to bridge the difference.
So we have to spend less.
Or tax more.
Given all the stories about waste I know which one of those two options I would prefer.
Clearly not big enough
I think you can see our armed forces are clearly not big enough.
They are failing - with all their advanced equipment etc. - to take on and defeat a bunch of civilians with home made bombs and second hand rifles.
Looking back at history we rarely fair very well in battle:
The second gulf war was just a total failure followed by a retreat. Afghanistan is already shaping up for the same. We are clearly unable to do more than make a fair bit of noise on the coat tails of a country that spends half of the worlds total spend on 'defence' (heaven only knows against whom).. what is clear is that however good a technology we employ numbers count - and determination counts for more.
The first gulf war showed that even highly trained and equiped special forces are no match at all for a large area of land populated by a large number of enemy. Many were captured, several killed, and only one managed to escape to a fortunately friendly border. While I have no doubt they caused a bit of a headache they certainly weren't going to win the war.
The Falklands - only won there because the Argies ran out of exocets before we ran out of ships - now our entire navy is half the size of the falklands task force, and there is the spur of oil - we can reasonably assume an argentine invasion, the US will once again say i can't help us against one of their strategic partners and Camermoron will be busy bullshitting us that we are handing over the islands in accordance with EU law and the wishes of the islanders.
Ireland shows that we can't cope with any form of uprising on our own land because we are afraid to upset the Americans by fighting properly. One lesson that was stark from here is that we have to be able to build our own war material - if the Argies had been able to build exocets they would have won.
The 'Suez crisis' shows how much we can rely on our 'special relationship' with the USA - they threatened to sell the pound if us nasty horrible colonial bullies didn't move out - and we did as we were told.
The second world war was a disaster in most respects but we should have learnt... (a) we had double the number of defenders on Crete as the Germans had attackers, and lost... no determination to win and numbers don't matter...our equipment was fine, the islands defendable, the leadership and determination missing totally. (b) even back in ww2 the Americans (glorious friends) fleeced us for cash for every clapped out leaking out of date boat they sent us, every substandard and largely useless plane, every boar war era rifle... we had to remember how to make our own stuff - we should remember this now - building boats, guns, tanks, planes, trucks, landrovers, uniforms, missiles, computer systems... are all VITAL skills for the defence of this country. We could decide not to defend ourselves but frankly time has shown that undefended countries are invaded - and just because this is 2010 not 1939 we are not really protected - indeed things are worse now in many respects as the need for raw material, land and water is going to get ever more urgent. (c) As any schoolboy will tell you the weak get shoved around by the strong... this is why we had unions to allow the weak workers to take on the bosses - and strangely enough it did close the gulf between the overpaid executive and the grunt making the stuff - although since the decimation of the unions we see an ever increasing gulf - millions for the boss, and they complain about 10an hour for the workers.
I'm not a socialist, I'm not a conservative, I'm a Brit, I want to stay a Brit - that means we need to understand what it is we must do to keep this island (and its dependants) safe - and that is we need to be able to make things - defence items, general stuff, money (money comes from manufacturing stuff NOT from shuffling profits from my pocket to the bonus of a bank executive). We must also learn that our defence is in the hands of a few people in our forces, these people need to feel they have our backing, the stuff they need (planes to protect ships, helicopters to move equipment and people....) and are not facing a P45 unless some hapless terrorist happens to save the exchequer money by killing them.
Its not unfortunate that the last bunch of wasters were kicked out, it is unfortunate that the bunch of morons we have now were not opposing most of the moves the last government made.
Worst still we have yet to get the chance to remodel the 'democracy' so that we (a) get to decide on matters of national importance - war, new EU treaties, massive borrowing to bail some very rich bankers.... on a per case basis, (b) that when 25% of us vote Labour that only 25% of the commons is Labour... and so forth... in a typical uk election each LibDem represents 4x as many people as a Labour MP in terms of the total votes cast.
The problem however is not one lot or the other, its the stupidity of them ALL. It is OBVIOUS to anyone that the economies doing well are those making things - China, Germany... or mining raw material - China, Germany, Australia, Middle East, Russia (yes even them)...
Those of us who have our entire economy based on shuffling money from one pot to another and pretending that somehow we are creating wealth (our banks, entire public service, accountants, estate agents....) are the ones doing the worst.
A look at the office of national statistics will show the full extent of the problem this government are not even part way to tackling.... The working age population make up about 70% of the country. Of the working age population 30% aren't working, 20% work for the government (therefore are largely not producing money but spending it), 20% work part time, 30% work in private companies of which only around 50% produce things rather than offer service, shop sales... thus we get to the point where less than 10% of the population of this country supports all the rest.... clearly not a sustainable situation is it? Trivial cuts, pointless pinpricks of 'bank levys' are not going to address these fundamental problems. Only very determined action to setup our economy to produce things will make any meaningful difference.
Drinking the Kool Aid
Cameron must be laughing his head off.
Please, find a basic economics book and educate yourself.
Making us less evil
So there is less money to be killing people in the middle east? I feel a bit better today
I don't want to ride the subway with you!
Fight there or fight here. Makes a difference who dies where. But fighting is not open to debate.
Uh...that's a good position to take in re, say, World War II. But the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? *Really*? You honestly think that if the UK hadn't invaded Afghanistan, Afghanistan would have invaded the UK?
(Note, this is not necessarily to say there isn't a plausible argument in favour of invading Afghanistan. But to argue that it's a 'fight there or fight here' war is just frankly ludicrous.)
You've not ben following the news for the past 10 years have you? You do realise that there was absolutely no coherent, immediate or indeed credible threat the the UK mainland from anyone in the middle east - and even if there truly is now, it's only because we went and kicked-off against a weakened and critically hemorrhaging nation on a false pretext which has probably created such animosity? Even then, continuing to occupy and systematically destroy these nations (don't talk about 'getting the job done' either - it's a completely strawman argument using PR speak and means nothing of import) will only make the situation exponentially worse in relation to our 'domestic security'.
But perhaps you were referring to the genuine and actual threat of terrorism from the 'Real IRA' and other republican paramilitary organisations currently threatening to target the UK with a fresh bombing campaign. So how does that relate or depend to 'our boys' being overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan again?
Fighting is not open to debate.
You, sir, are an unarmed opponent in this battle of wits.
RE: Making us less evil
Afghanistan is not in the Middle East. If you hadn't noticed, we've just about pulled out of Iraq. But, either way, our mission in both countries was/is to protect the locals from geurillas/terrorists/a$$h*les that think it's fun to drive truck-bombs into crowded markets, so when you idioticly crow about there being "less money to be killing people" what it means is there is less money to stop the truck-bombers blowing up women and kids.
It's good to see your grasp on foreign policy is as strong as it is on IT subjects Matt.
"our mission in both countries was/is to protect the locals from geurillas/terrorists/"
Do you really, really believe this? When are we going to ride roughsod over those other tyrants that currently busy oppressing other peoples around the world. I hear North Korea is pretty bad. Burma too. Robert Mugabe is certainly no saint either and we hear bad things coming out of Iran too. Then of course there is China, who are busy incarcerating the current winner of the Nobel Peace Prize while they are not off repressing Falun Gong and trying to wipe Tibet off the Map.
When do we send in "our boys" to free the poor unfortunate citizens of those countries Matt?
Why did we choose Iraq and Afghanistan over every one else.
Do you still believe in the WMDs Matt?
Team America! Fuck Yeah!
Well done, you swallowed the Right wing bullshit....
...Ok so why are we not in Somalia, DRC, North Korea, Iran?
Iraq was a pure revenge for Bush's daddy not actually winning* the 1st time round. Invaded on trumped up charges of WMoD.
Afganistan was to make Bush look tough after a dozen people in tents bought the symbol of capatilism crashing to the ground.
So put another way10's of thousands of INNOCENT civillians have died, yes you read that right, 10's of thousands, to save face.
And as for being evil terrorists, depends on which side you sit on. Sadam Hussain (and some other countries such as Turkey) see the Kurds as terrorists. So was the gassing of civillians in Kurdistan justified? Well if a few" terroists" justify killing thousands of civillians, well I guess he was.
I hvae heard this silly arguement as often as the stupid 'if you've nothing to hide you have nothing to fear' one thats rolled out....
Look at history - it can teach you a great deal...
The Argentinians for many years moaned about the Falklands, for hundreds of years there was no credible threat - right up until they decided to invade - largely on a whim to keep the people occupied when the government was useless (ring another bell?)...
The Falklands have oil nearby - many countries have gone to war for oil - not least the aggresive one which spends 49% of the total worlds spending on guns and ammo...
There was no credible threat from Hitler to either us (Munich) or the Soviet Union (separate agreement) right up until there was war.
The Jews and Romanies weren't under threat in Germany until 1930...
The Japanese hadn't been at war with the USA right up until they bombed pearl harbour completely out of the blue (well to all except Churchill who happily sat on the one thing that would ensure the USA finally getting involved in WW2).
This analysis can go way way way back in history to the point where a hitherto unknown warlord from Mongolia (much further than the middle east - and in the days of horses only) managed to conquer right across to Spain....
The ONLY thing that prevents the destruction of a country is when that country is well enough protected - by its own strength.
Argentina and the FI are adjacent to each other. Britain/USA are nowhere near Iraqistan.
Argentina has historical claims of sorts to the FI. Britain/USA have no historical attachments to Iraqistan.
FI is close to oil. So is Iraqistan. Argentina attacked FI. We attacked Iraqistan.
Galtieri attacked FI in order to justify the huge amounts of money he was spending on argentinas military. Funnily enough, GWB controls the largest military budget in the history of our planet.
Congratulations, you have just tarred the "Coalition of the willing" with the same brush as Argentina.
RE: Well done, you swallowed the Right wing bullshit....
<Yawn> Was that just more of the same old uniformed leftist blather you always hear around Iraq? Why, yes it was!
".....Ok so why are we not in Somalia, DRC, North Korea, Iran?...." Because liberal handwringers like you would squeal and whine if the politicians even suggested it. As regards Somalia, Prez Clinton was too terrified of (a) looking like a white, imperial power and (b) too terrified of his own Democrat party and how they'd react to US soldiers coming back in bodybags. Even Kofe Annan admited that Clinton would probably have got majority backing form the UN General Council and definately from the Security Council for a US-led military force to clear the clan fighters out of Mogadishu, he just didn't want to ask for one. Iran? Blame Prez Carter, another Democrat and champion handwringer, who sat by and let the Iranian revolution turn into an Islamist take-over. And then there's the fact that the Norks and Somalians - so far - haven't started developing nuke weapons. Iran is defineately doing so, they have already processed uranium far beyond the level required for their "research" reactors, and it is finally a big enough problem that the Arabs have sat up and taken notice (hence the UN activity - I suppose you failed to notice it's UN sanctions, not just the US and UK?) Oh, and before you start the usual mindless denial, even the UN admits Saddam did have a nuke program, the discussion is whether it was still running around the time of the Second Gulf War.
And even then, Bush Jnr learnt from his Daddy and showed that Saddam was in breach of the UN mandate. He didn't need one for Afghanistan since the 9/11 attacks would be enough to constitute an act of war between two countries. The Taleban refused to hand over AQ, so they put themselves in the frame (and note, no oil in Afghanistan, so don't fall back on the usual whining about why the US wanted to invade Iraq). Bush Jnr was very clear - the US was at war with AQ and friends, not the people of Afghanistan, which is why he had widspread support from Afghan groups like the Northern Alliance inside Afghanistan from day one (I suppose you ddin't know that the Taleban weren't universally loved in Afghanistan, not with your blinkered outlook).
".....Afganistan was to make Bush look tough after a dozen people in tents bought the symbol of capatilism crashing to the ground....." Really? So if a guy broke into your home and murdered a member of your family, I suppose you'd refuse to help the Police because you'd say the attacker was "just trying to embarrass the door-lock industry"? Are you really so stupid that you cannot comprehend that the US Prez has a duty to protect the US people, and that means going after people that attack the US to try and stop them doing it again. Take a look at a few news archives - AQ is on the run, they are hiding away and looking for patsies to launch desperate attacks in the West because Bush (and Blair) sent forces out to hunt and kill them. Without the Afghan invasion to remove the Taleban, Bin Laden would just have sat back in comfort and sent more jihadis to kill even the useful idiots like you. In case you haven't noticed, those jihadis don't stop to ask their victims "did you vote for Bush or support the war in Iraq?"
"....So put another way10's of thousands of INNOCENT civillians have died, yes you read that right, 10's of thousands, to save face....." In fact, the jihadis are mostly targetting other Muslims, which is ironic given your idiotic views and frothing The biggest killer of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan is other Muslims! More Muslims die there from Muslim-on-Muslim violence than from any other cause - cancer, heart disease, famine - these just pale beside the numbers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by other Muslims. Please tell me those guys driving truckbombs into Iraqi markets are doing so because they think they'll find lots of Alliance troops out shopping, it would be about on par for stupidity as your other statements. And that's even before we look at the number of Iraqis killed by Saddam during his reign (million plus?) and the unknown number of Afghans killed by the Taleban in their rise to power and since (estimates vary from 200,000 up to 800,000, and that includes women hung for not covering their hair, or men shot for shaving their beards, or kids beaten to death for having pop music tapes).
"....And as for being evil terrorists, depends on which side you sit on...." Well, I sit on the side that thinks that driving a truckbomb into a market with the express intent of killing civillians, or of deliberately flying an airliner into an office tower full of civillians, is not the brave act of soldiers, it's just murder. And that soldiers that risk their lives to stop said truckbombers, or those that hunt down the planners behind the 9/11 attacks, they're the brave ones. I'm sure your close little circle of the fashionably outraged will like to think of it another way, but then that's up to you what kind of people you let spoonfeed you your views. Just don't assume for a second that the rest of us are as naive as you. Your blather about Saddam and the Kurds just goes to highlight the rediculous lengths you'll go to in avoiding the obvious - Saddam set out with the deliberate and distinct purpose of suppressing the Kurds to the point where he was happy to commit genocide - the Allies are trying to give support to democratic governments in Afghansitan and Iraq. There was nothing democratic about the Taleban or Saddam. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the terrorists you would no doubt prefer to label "geurillas" or "freedom-fighters" are minorities that are not willing to accept the democratic majority's decisions. In Iraq, even the vast majority of the Sunni populance have turned against AQ and sided with the US and the Iraqi government. Nothing does more to undermine your claptrap than the example of the Anbar Awakening.
Look in the mirror. No, not the rag you read, the reflective kind, idiot.
".....Robert Mugabe is certainly no saint either ...." Well, Goat Toe Jam, your thinking is a clear example of exactly why the UK will never mount an operation to clear out any African dictator - half the voters are too busy worrying about political niceties. Our politicians will never send troops to fight Mugabe's clans because too many of them are terrified of being labelled "white colonials resurrecting the Empire". If we sent British troops to unseat Mugabe we'd have half of Africa screaming about it, mainly becasue they'd be worried their own dictatorships would be next. You could guarantee the majority of the UN would be up in arms even if the Security Council approved the matter. And then there'd be your type of handwringers, so het up about being PC that it would somehow be worse for us to go in and kill a few thousand Mugabe supporters if required, you'd so much rather ignore the ongoing repression that Mugabe has applied for years (300,000 Matabele in one year alone). All this is even funnier when you consider it was the meddling of Prez Carter, patron saint of handwringers, that ensured Mugabe not only got into power but was allowed a free rein.
Korea? You need to check your facts, it was a US-led and largely Commonwealth-backed UN military force that kept the North Koreas from turning all of Korea into the same hellhole as North Korea is now. Political backbone was a lot less lacking back then, but it drew a line at all out war with Russia and China. Even after the massive drain of WW2, the public was behind the Government and our forces, and you didn't see the same type of fashionable anti-war frothing and sniping at our forces as you and your ilk indulge in today. But If it happened today I'm sure you'd be down in Parliament Square with the other wannabe Swampies, slating and slandering our soldiers just so you could feel better in your little bubble worlds.
Burma is a stupid example - the one thing the junta does there is keep everything internal, there is no exporting of terror or similar cross-border problems that we see from the Norks or Iran. With China's backing the junta, there is zero chance of a UN mandate to sort out Burma, and the same UK reluctance to be seen going back to one of our Imperial haunts. The US? Too terrified of the endlessly regurgitated and hyped failures of Viet Nam to want to go anywhere in South-East Asia. And whilst the rest of your fellow handwringers may find time between cappuccinos to feel bad, the rest of the World simply couldn't put a cohesive force together to do the job, even if the UN could get of it's useless backside long enough to forge a consensus. Without US muscle, the UN is not just a toothless tiger, it's one with a self-interest in not having strong Western forces sorting out the World's nasties. As long as the Burmese junta keeps the repression internal there will be zero political will to put a more responsible government in power. Thanks to voters like you.
And would you be prepared to face the costs of fighting China? Our politicians definately aren't. We're talking a Third World War, China has too many friends around the World for anything less. You would have zero chance of getting the UN onside seeing as China has paid off the majority of the petty dictators chumming it up there. A wise man once said you should pick your fights carefully, and the first George Bush was very careful to get the majority of the Arab nations and the UN onside when he went to kick the Iraqis out of Kuwait (oh, did you forget we had a UN mandate to protect the people of Kuwait and return it to the rightful government?). Your example just shows you are not a wise man.
In fact, all you did was perfectly illustrate that it is people like you that ensures the dictators of the World can sleep easy because it is people like you that squeal, wring your hands and endlessly criticise our own when we do get up enough will to smack some dictator down. So the next time you feel the need to whine about the treatment of Liu Xiaobo or other Chinese dissidents, or Myanmar, or just grumble of how the pan-Africa nationalist dream seems to have brought nothing but misery to most Africans, I suggest you stop and look in the mirror - you are the problem.
False impression of war
You've a false and overly simplistic take on war and its consequences. I suggestion you look deeper into the suffering caused by human conflict - the misery, pain and bitter division it causes.
Resolution of conflict and the defeat of tryanny and repression arise through diplomatic negotiation, cultivation of trust, compassionate understanding and tolerance of each other as fellow human beings and the development of strong and binding relationships between the international community.
Warmongering leads to little other than catastrophe and an utter failure of humanity.
RE: False impression of war
I'm trying really hard to credit you with a sense of humour and a sarcastic wit, but I'm sorry to say the reality is you're probably just rediculously naive. I'm assuming your momma kept the apron strings so tight you never went to a school and met a gang of playground bullies? Saddam was simply a massive bully, it's just his gang had MiGs and T-72 tanks.
I suggest you look deeper into the suffering meted out without the slightest hint of compassion by Saddam or the Taleban. Saddam didn't give a damn about compassion, he welded a power-base in Iraq by scaring his own people so badly they wouldn't dare lift a finger against him. To ensure his own success Saddam simply liquidated any opposition in his own Baath party, this was not a man to be impressed with diplomatic negotiation, he simply saw it as weakness. And the Taleban thought (and still think) they have the god-given right to rule. Compassion for them is for other Muslims that match up to their standards - anyone else is simply unimportant. Try reading a little history in between the kumbayah sessions.
Agreeing with Lewis, theres a first for me.
Getting rid of Harrier whilst retaining the Tornado makes no sense whatsoever but you can see why the RAF would want to hold onto them.
Tornado has a crew of 2, Harrier 1. What would the RAF do with all those redundant navigators?
Getting rid of the Ark Royal now, no sense whatsoever.
JSF-C a sensible decision, they should never have hamstrung the carriers without the catapult.
Not convinced the decision to get rid of escorts makes sense, they defend the carrier even if only by taking the hit.
And killing the C-130 and buying the A-400 instead, utterly barmy.
You missed another sensible cut - ASTOR, which never worked in the first place.
Just what is Tornado for ?
Are the RAF going to start bombing Germany again? Are the ghosts of Trenchard, Portal & Harris haunting the MOD? Or is it simply just the fact that the PM is an easily manipulated Muppet?
Answers on a postcard to............
Did you really *need* to ask that question ;)
Tornado's an immensely better plane
If cruise missiles are the answer, Tornados can drop four of the things at a time, potentially delivering them to drop-point at Mach 2 after mid-air refueling (all things, the Harrier can't do).
Alternatively, they can carry 6 Maverick's (which most soldiers would probably much rather have, falling around their ears, in close support, than the unguided iron bombs the Harriers drop. When all you have is an iron bomb, everything starts to look like collateral.)
Paveways, HOPEs, all manner of all all-weather, anti-radar, and runway destroying ordinance drop from this jet, that the Harrier hasn't even the lifting capacity to take airborne. In short, Port Stanley was attacked by GR3 Harriers carrying iron bombs: Saddam Hussain's air force was attacked by Tornados dropping smart ordinance. The results more or less speak for themselves.
Tornado may be an old plane, but the Harrier is twice as old, and the fact that the latter is operated, in standard guise, by a vanishingly small number of other air powers means that it would probably be much harder to keep Harriers operational, over the same time period that the Tornado is probably going to be kept flying. My guess is that the Tornado will outlast that other great, obsolete, but strategically vital, old Cold War bomber, the B52 (and current plans put the B52 as being likely phased-out around 2040).
It may be a better plane, but the Typhoon can do much the same thing these days.
Also the Harrier can carry much of the weapons the Tornado can
( I very much doubt the Tornado can carry 4 Storm Shadows operationally - cruise missile strike is still better done from a sub anyway! I don't think they carry Maverick in RAF service, but the Harrier is also capable of carrying it as well, it can also carry the same Brimstone anti armour missiles, and laser guided bombs that the Tornado carries albeit in slightly less numbers)
But saving Tornados, for a marginally better bombing capability is ludicrous compared to ditching all air cover for the Navy and Expeditionary capability that they offer
Lewis's argument is that we don't need deep interdiction, when the last government we fought, was largely beaten using various kinds of deep interdiction. If you can deliver your slow cruise missiles inside the enemy's anti-aircraft envelope via a supersonic jet, you don't need to spend a fortnight obliterating the anti-aircraft cover, as you would using subs (assuming there is a coastline within sub-launched cruise missile range of your target, that is).
In any case, the squadrons which are currently Tornado are the squadrons that will be Typhoon, so the fact that Typhoon can do what Tornado can do is something of a non-argument.
I'm not saying that having no naval air power isn't unforgivable: it is. If we could have used Tornados over the Falkland Islands we simply wouldn't have taken any casualties or missed any targets: period. However, the fact that we couldn't, and and still wouldn't be able to, shows why we need naval air power.
Gambling that the baddies are always going to be in range of friendly airbases is a bit like gambling he'll always be in range of a sub-friendly coast. However (like the sub) a dedicated bomber that can take off from a friendly airbase, is always going to wipe the floor with anything that any ageing, sub-sonic, low payload forty year old light-medium jet could offer as an alternative.
Harrier can meet our current bombing needs in Afghanistan, the way a Hercules with it's back door open, could meet our current bombing needs in Afghanistan. However, that rather misses the point. Harrier can, indeed, carry a fair number of the less specialised ordinance that Tornado can - only in much lower quantities, to much lower ranges, and with much less on-board electronics, to use with it, when it arrives, that's all.
RE: "Typhoon can do much the same thing"
Looking at this specific comment, let's turn it on its head, and state that "Tornado can already do much of the things Typhoon can do", and - old as it is - we already have the Tornados, the trained crews, the ground-staff, and supplies, to keep the Tornados flying.
Or is your argument "keep the Harriers and buy even more Typhoons"?
Port Stanley was attacked by laser spot seeking bombs, dropped by Harriers. The laser was operated by squaddies on an overlooking hill.
I think that was the first angry use of effective guidance. I never discovered if the laser was ground based for technical or strategic reasons. Probably both.
".....but the Typhoon can do much the same thing these days......" Yes, Typhoon could do the same if we spent more money on making them up to Tranche 3 capability, whereas Tornados can do the job now without needing any additional kit.
".....cruise missile strike is still better done from a sub anyway....." Yes, but we don't have enough subs capable of launching even Tomahawks, which would mean we would have to spend more instead of cutting costs.
Whilst I'm generally a Harrier supporter, I'd rather have the deep capability of Tornado for hitting Iran, which is looking likelier by the day. And if we do go and smack Iran then we'll need tanks too. Right before we paid out to buy Challenger2 we had a similar "there'll never be a need for tanks" outcry that was equally short-sighted. And when we bought the original Challengers. And Chieftains. Centurions, which preceded the Chieftains, were a direct result of the penny-pinching and short-sighted buying of tanks between WW1 and WW2.
As for Lewis's frankly idiotic idea that we can replace the RAF with drones, he might like to consider that drones would have been even less use than Harriers in the Falklands campaign.
Yes, we should trim the Navy's escorts back a lot, or simply scrap Trident TNG and give all the current subs the ability to launch nuke Tomahawks. But then we could also cancel all the RAF F-35s and simply re-purpose some Tranche 3 Typhoons to do the job from the number we've ordered already, but then that might put the RN F-35Cs at risk too. As a very smart man once said, it's hard to please all the people all of the time.
No need for squaddies to do this
The squaddies snuck in from far off and did this from the ground because there were no other options. Someone has to get reasonably close (a few km max ) and keep shining the laser at the target so that the bomb can see it. That's damn hard to do from 10k ft with a fast plane or from a hovering helicopter, especially since you might get noticed and shot at.
There has been quite a change in technology since the Falklands and it no longer makes a useful benchmark. Remember that the early 1980s had no real drones, no GPS or any of that.
GPS and/or video guidance will do the job just as well without endangering squaddies and with no need to make them get wet/cold.
trebuchets or tornados
"Port Stanley was attacked by GR3 Harriers carrying iron bombs: Saddam Hussain's air force was attacked by Tornados dropping smart ordinance. The results more or less speak for themselves.
Yup. The runway at Port Stanley wasn't seriously damaged by bombing. Besides the Harriers were needed for more important things: shooting down Argentinian fighters and ground support for the troops. And anyway, that escapade was over 25 years ago. Weapons development and technology has moved on since the days before mobile phones and the Internet.
The Tornados took the heaviest US-UK losses in the Iraqi turkey-shoot. That can't be called a war because the other side weren't really fighting.
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