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back to article The truth on the Navy carrier debacle? Industry got away with murder

The Ministry of Defence is in the pillory again today, being corporately pelted for the recent unedifying sequence of events in which the Coalition government decided in 2010 to fit the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers with catapults - and then abruptly changed its mind in 2012, reverting to the former plan which will see them …

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Chocolate Teapot

Good grief. It's a good thing no one actually wants to start a war with the UK, isn't it? The only actual military activity we've had this century has been offensive actions against middle-eastern countries who couldn't retaliate if they tried. If someone with an actual modern military had designs on these isles, there's not a lot we could do about it, if this debacle is any indication.

I count myself fortunate to live in a place and time where this is not actually a realistic problem, and the money really is the only issue.

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

Well... except Argentina, of course.

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

HMS Dauntless could "take out all of South America's fighter aircraft let alone Argentina's".

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

The Argentinian foreign minister said yesterday that the Falklands would be under their control "within 20 years".

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

Re. Dauntless. It could only fire if fired upon. And by then it may well be too late. Remember the Sheffield? They thought they'd be able to spot the launch of the aircraft that fired the weapon that hit that ship.

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Anonymous Coward

Possible missions:

Bombing Argentina

Bombing North Korea

F18's should be ok with that stuff.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Chocolate Teapot

The main reason that Sheffield didn't spot the aircraft was, IIRC, that the appropriate radar was turned off at the time as it was interfering with vital comms taking place at the time.

One can but hope that there are no such EMC issues with Dauntless and other new vessels.....

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

exactly, lack of AWACS during the falklands was one of the biggest contributors to ship loss, they simply could not see the attack planes until they were too close. Even the old fairy gannets could of saved many lifes (mind you if the old ark royal was there even in 1970's spec the conflict would of been very different).

Fast forward 30 years and now we have aircraft carriers with no AWACS again. what could possibly go wrong?

I wouldn't worry too much about argentina/falklands they are just being bolshy as they know there is no milatary response and so are trying to get oil rights through bully boy tactics. Don't see why Cameron and co don't send a UN election team in with 3 options 1:same as now 2: fully Falklands independence and 3: Argentine ownership, watch the results for 3 be miniscule.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Chocolate Teapot

Lucky then that we have the good old US of A to defend us!! lol

For those people living on the other side of the Atlantic and who are perhaps not overly familiar with it - this is an example of what we in the UK know as sarcasm!

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

As long as we don't insist Facebook delete our preferences.

It's going to be tricky to have a trade war with America if they own all our weapons.

Or possbly much simpler if they are selling us billion $$ aircraft which we can then refuse to buy?

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

Good job then that Argentina found a way round all these millitary procurement mistakes as they have made no major investment in the armed forces since the Falklands War, hve not replaced lost aircraft, most their navy (including the CV) is now effectively scrap, and their armed forces makes ours large while also being positioned for the potential restart of a number of border wars.

Phew.

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

PEACE ... through mutually inadequate firepower!!

okay.jpg

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

No doubt, like the American Aegis cruisers, HMS Dauntless could also "take out" any scheduled airline flights that passed nearby.

Seriously, though, Dauntless doesn't look much like a warship. What if the Argentines were to send out a ship with some old-fashioned guns and just blow her to pieces? HMS Sheffield was sunk by an Exocet missile that didn't even detonate. Just imagine what would happen to those seagoing porcelain curios if they got hit by a shell or bomb that actually exploded?

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Paris Hilton

Re: Chocolate Teapot

"PEACE ... through mutually inadequate firepower!!"

Mutually Inadequate and Low Firepower.

Yeah.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Chocolate Teapot

A carrier would have been damn useful for Libya, and may well yet be for Algeria.

Helicopter, because, y'know

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/wtf_32.png Come on chaps the bloody model we built worked just fine , no one, including his Lordship, said it would work in the real world. That's what you get for using Argentinian subs ( my pun ) No wonder Hornblower took a powder with his teapot

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Chocolate Teapot

With their 30 year old military technology?

The Argies don't have the money now, they're still using the same kit that they were in 82.

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Pirate

Re: Chocolate Teapot

Well at least they've still got it.

Why on earth did we ever get rid of the Sea Harriers? Or the "through-deck cruisers"? No wonder the Argies are rattling their castanets.

I was lucky enough to be on the Invincible from her commissioning until September 1981 - what a wonderful ship she was, and the Harriers were jaw-dropping. The pilots were the best of the best, and surprisingly friendly to this pimply, useless, star-struck midshipman.

A few months after I left they were off to the Falklands, some not to return. Very brave and able people, and kit we should never have sold off in a million years.

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

The story I remember is that the computer on the Sheffield did a reboot as the attack was getting under way, and then another ship came along and got in the way of Sheffield doing anything at a vital moment.

Computers probably continue with that annoying habit today.

Depending on missiles for defence was the in thing at the time , but the crews very soon set up machine guns anchored to the railings to give adequate close in fire power.

PS . The Americans had the same philosophy in Vietnam , while the MIGs had cannon.

The American pilots were at a disadvantage from my memory of events at that time.

I will make a prediction-(a safe one) That the next shootout will not go as any of the planners have planned it .

Like all wars, it won't get faught the way the planners/stratigists etc stated it would.

Icon - for the tears that will flow.

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Van

Re: Chocolate Teapot

Apparently the 4 ? "not very good" Typhoons based in the Falklands, could take out the whole air force of the Spanish colony trying to claim islands as theirs.

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

"Apparently the 4 ? "not very good" Typhoons based in the Falklands, could take out the whole air force of the Spanish colony trying to claim islands as theirs."

The antipathy towards the Typhoon is not that it isn't a good fighter. It is simply that it is incredibly expensive, arrived donkeys years after the mission it was designed for disappeared, and notwithstanding British attempts to fit it for strike roles, was designed from the very beginninng purely as an air superiority fighter. In this role on the Falklands I'd expect it to work a treat, but equally expect that the Argentines would never chance any of their small and antique air force against them.

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

"What if the Argentines were to send out a ship with some old-fashioned guns and just blow her to pieces?"

The RN's most effective anti-ship weapon is a submarine; we miraculously actually have some quite capable of dealing with the kind of gunboat you describe.

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Unhappy

Re: Chocolate Teapot

"we miraculously actually have some "

What you meant was "miraculously we still actually have some, but our government are working to fix that"

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It's this bit that worries me the most:

General Atomics tacked on still more, Mr Gray tells us:

"Additional aircraft launch and recovery equipment was required, on top of the cats and traps, which had not been included in the original estimate. The cost of going through the FMS [Foreign Military Sales] purchasing route and some inflation adjustments were further components."

Wait... what?

You're telling me that some absolute f**king CRETIN in the MoD put together a quote for adding cats'n'traps to our "adaptable" carriers, and didn't include all the aircraft launch and recovery kit? Do these things not get reviewed before going out? Or is there just some YTS, work-experience kid pulling these reports together?

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Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

It'll be more like a builders estimate: "Build bathroom with all fixtures and fittings: £5k" sounds reasonable so you sign. Turns out walls, ceiling floor, sink,toilet and plumbing weren't explicitly mentioned so extra £15k needed.

The poor sod at the MOD who signed for this was probably under the illusion that all the bits were included in the contract but not having thirty years writing contracts with invisible gaping holes in didn't know. If he had known he would have been paid to move to the other side of the contract. If his contract with the MOD states he cant work for the opposition for x years he will get gardening leave in Eden to get him out of the way.

This, to a large degree, is how government IT has worked since PFI etc has been around and I doubt its any different elsewhere.

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Rob
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Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

I would love to rip your post to pieces Tom 7, but instead I'm crying into my coffee as it is so unbelievably true, it's heart breaking that these sort of people are in charge of spending our tax money. Incompetent isn't a word they are familiar with.

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Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

I disagree. They're not incompetent, on the contrary they're very competent, they simply do not have the taxpayers' best interests at heart and are effectively playing for the other side. When called out for it, they feign incompetence because the average voter is more likely to forgive (or at any rate ignore) that than deliberate betrayal.

Or at least, that's what every bit of evidence seems to suggest.

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Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

The folks in the MoD are all planning their move to BAE, so it's in their interests to send work BAE's way and to fatten them up nicely.

Remember the carrier contract when the government next says we have to lay off thousands of soldiers, police, NHS workers and the like - for 'austerity'.

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Rob
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Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

I think it's a 50:50 split, there are those that have the intelligence to play the game for when they move jobs but there are also those that simply are useless and out of their depth when they are given these tasks, the reality being is that they can't turn the task down because there is no-one else around that can do it either, generally a complete lack of skills across the whole department. I know of the latter as I have met and worked with some of them (most of the time you could've describe my state as despair).

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Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

What I find surprising is the way so many ordinary people take it for granted that politicians have their (the voters') best interests at heart. Why on earth should they? Why do we expect politicians to be the only honest, altruistic, selfless people in a world that has more and more been based on money, power, and self-interest?

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Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

Worked on MoD jobs, Basic ladybird book essentials being neglected in contract writing is not a surprise.

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Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

"The poor sod at the MOD who signed for this was probably under the illusion that all the bits were included in the contract but not having thirty years writing contracts with invisible gaping holes in didn't know. I"

Well that explains 1 of them.

What about the other 19999 who work in Bristol for MoD procurement?

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Devil

Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

But the cough, cough "defence" industry is a scam anyway.

The education dept smudges up the fact that the 3 biggest global industries are weapons, drugs and sex, and the kids ought to be coming out of that factory farming production line as junkies, pimps, prostitutes etc., dealing in drugs and guns.

But add in a few layers of remoteness - and this is what the banks and weapons dealers /manufacturers and the oil companies and the registered and unregistered drug companies are all doing.....

Their greed and desperation - and the lying and the scams.

And the taxpayers MUST now foot the bill...

Remembering the mantra of the last 20 US presidents.. "We do not want war..." + "Spreading peace and democracy to the middle east".... "by sharing the American way of life, and our values, our love of god and our fellow man with the rest of the world." - and only invading those countries with oil and minerals, or those that stand against us, or have democratically elected governments that refuse to toe our line - which we use the CIA to orchestrate fake uprisings against, so we can install our own puppet governments into.

The MOD, the government, the banks and the contractors are all in on the same scams...

And the taxpayer funds it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's this bit that worries me the most:

The contract for the carriers never included the option to convert to CATOBAR in future. That was a random politicians lie. The issue was brought up in Parliment and it was admitted that no such adaptability option in the contract and it would have been impractical to allow it.

Once the decision to produce a STOVL Carrier was made it was set in stone and was only changed because another politician wanted to appear smarter than the last lot.

The French confirmed the high cost of conversion when they rejected the option to buy one of the carriers.

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I wrote to my MP about all this.

Asking that it was about time that the relationship between the MOD and BAE was investigated by the serious fraud squad.

The reply from Peter Luff was most upset that I had raised the possibility of fraud and money wasting.

According to him 89% of BAe's programmes are on budget and 71% are on schedule.

Room for improvement I'd say.

My own MP when sending me the reply back mentioned that "you may be disappointed with it!"

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Re: I wrote to my MP about all this.

Interesting that he used the unit of "Programmes". So of ten arbitrary programmes, the nine that cost £1m each are OK and the one that cost £2b is over budget and delayed.

All in the interpretation of the lies statistics.

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MJI
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Re: Jason 7 - Confusing

Are you from Worcestershire (ie is he your MP)

How many MPs?

I thought Peter Luff was retiring. Was quite a good MP though. Better than the fox hunting obsessed, post office closer we used to have next door, even worse, some people I work with had Waquie Jaquie.

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Re: Jason 7 - Confusing

No I'm in Norwich, Simon Wright is my MP.

You write to your MP, they then pass it on to the MP/minister/dept responsible and then you get a response back.

I have to say the responses you get back do appear to have had some thought. Not just canned replies.

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BAE 89% on budget --- after being paid for features that are not delivered

It might be the case that 89% of BAE's programmes are on budget, but this may be a meaningless statistic if in reality the tax payer is paying massively inflated prices for features (such as "adaptability") that are not actually being delivered.

To some, the "89% on-budget" claim is not very surprising in a context where contracts and sign-off conditions are being negotiated and approved by a body and/or individuals that seem to align themselves more with the interests of the contract holder than those actually paying the bill.

This the problem with high-level complicity in corruption and fraud; it's just too easy to manipulate the official statistics etc. so that outwardly everything seems sufficient fine to rebuff casual enquiries, and divert attention (AKA "doing an Obi Wan").

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Re: BAE 89% on budget --- after being paid for features that are not delivered

Is the MoD/BAE definition of 'on budget' along the same lines as First Great Western's definition of 'on time'?

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Unhappy

Re: BAE 89% on budget --- after being paid for features that are not delivered

"Is the MoD/BAE definition of 'on budget' along the same lines as First Great Western's definition of 'on time'?"

Obviously not.

That is far too restrictive.

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Re: I wrote to my MP about all this.

I agree completely that this sounds like serious fraud. If the MP's won't refer the matter how about that online petition thing they set up...? I think we've got enough techies and net-addicts to get some grass roots support for signatures going...?

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FAIL

Hmm

What if all that money had been spent on actually useful civilian stuff like ..... Ooh, I don't know. Power plants (including various renewable technologies and a mix of different variations on nuclear, with an eye on what works and what doesn't); strategically-located recycling centres; high speed railways; repairs to our ageing water supply and sewage networks; social housing and the NHS?

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Re: Hmm@A J Stiles

"What if all that money had been spent on actually useful civilian stuff like.... "

You want government more spending than they already do? Maybe you haven't spotted that the budget deficit is running at £120bn a year, and that we are already pi55ing away billions on the bottomless pit of our shambolic health service and welfare programme, and (in the near future) on unrequired high speed rail programmes. The gigantic fail that is energy policy is already (likewise) pi55ing billions up the wall on crummy renewables, for which your energy bills are going up and will continue to do so, and the water companies are investing around £5bn a year in asset renewals - if you want more roads dug up then you'll have to see water bills start increasing significantly above inflation When this was done after privatisation (to fund investment) it wasn't at all popular.

Going back to government, take that £120bn that Gormless George is borrowing annually , and it equates to the government borrowing half a billion quid each and every working day to fritter on stuff that mostly doesn't benefit me, or gives me a very low benefit - you mileage may vary, of course. In that context the criminal incompetence on display in all defence procurement is small beer, I'm afraid.

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Re: Hmm

You don't get much High Spend Rail for even the massively over inflated cost of this crapulous carrier.

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Re: Hmm@A J Stiles

No, I'm saying: Spend the money on civilian projects instead of military willy-waving. In times of budget defecit, civilians must come first. Even if the entire army, navy and air force wind up on the dole, it'll still be cheaper that way.

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Re: Hmm@A J Stiles

That's what I thought you meant. My point was that even if you cancelled the entire defence budget of £40bn, the government would still be spending £80bn a year more than it gets in income (plus £10bn for welfare and foregone employment taxes currently recycled from the defence budget), and even that isn't sustainable.

I agree that we'd save a lot of money if we adopted a Swiss style approach to defence, of simply being able to defend our domestic territory in the British Isles by a very large armed reserve force. Whether that makes sense I'm not sure - we'd have to renounce territorial claims to the Falklands, Antarctica, and any territory that is remote from the UK. We'd have no part in well-intentioned international missions such as Kosovo, Sierra Leone or Libya. We'd have no transport or military skills to contribute to international disaster relief. We'd have no ability to contribute to international missions such as combating piracy off East Africa.

The "little britain" mob would probably like this a lot. On the other hand, is it right to go all pacifist for a country that is easily in the ten largest economies in the world, is hugely influential politically, and deeply involved in global trade? If France and the UK hadn't stuck their necks out over Libya, it would have been another Syria, there would be continued fighting even now, and probably 100,000 civilians dead (as Russia and China have allowed to happen in Syria). I don't anticipate any gratitude from the Libyan people, but surely as one of the world's largest and most advanced economies, there's a time when you have to do the right thing, and part of that is building the capability in advance of the need?

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Re: @Ledswinger Hmm@A J Stiles

After all, we are continually hearing about the "100,000 dead" in Syria. (Without any remotely credible sources, however).

But what about the million-plus dead in Iraq? (Plus at least as many wounded or crippled, and 4-5 times as many driven from their homes and, in many cases, their country).

At least ten times the butcher's bill. But because it was our peaceful, democratic, free-enterprise governments that did it, the subject is simply not mentioned in polite company.

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