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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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Paris Hilton

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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Re: Chocolate Teapot

Re. Dauntless. It could only fire if fired upon.

Why?

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

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

I wouldn't worry too much about this because, you see, it's going to tricky for the US to have a trade war with China if they own all of the electronic components that go into our weapons....

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

Someone clever once said "I don't know what technology the next war will use, but the one after that will be fought with sticks and stones".

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

This reminds me strongly of the lamentable story of tank procurement during WW2. Britain began the war with the excellent Matilda II infantry tank, which - in 1940 - was immune to German tank cannon and normal anti-tank guns. The only thing that could stop a Matilda II was the 88 mm dual role AA gun, which weighed tons and was extremely vulnerable. It is no exaggeration to say that the Matilda II was the Tiger of 1940.

Naturally, tank development went into overdrive as soon as the fighting began, and soon the Germans were finding that their Panzer III and IV tanks were outclassed by the hitherto secret Russian T34 and KV1. Accordingly, the Germans created the Tiger and Panther series, which dominated battlefields for the rest of the war. (The Tiger was essentially a mobile 88 mm with armour thick enough to defeat almost any anti-tank weapon).

Meanwhile, Britain messed around, designing and building dozens of different new tanks - none of which was adequate. Either they were too slow, or too vulnerable, or undergunned, or prone to break down - quite often all four.

Then, in 1945, just in time for the victory parades, British industry and the War Office produced the Comet - more or less as good as the best German and Russian tanks - shortly followed by the even better Centurion. Pity they couldn't have done so in less than five years, as an awful lot of lives would have been saved.

It looks as if these wonderful new carriers will be a similar tale of delay, incompetence and inadequacy. Thank God we don't actually need them for anything... except to boost sales, maintain jobs, and above all make certain politicians look good. (All of which they are doing quite satisfactorily).

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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."

A secondary issue was the missiles homing radar was programmed into the radar warning system (under "factory settings") as "friendly."

Which turned out to be incorrect.

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T34, IS2 vs Tiger any Panter any

"Accordingly, the Germans created the Tiger and Panther series, which dominated battlefields for the rest of the war"

Not so. On paper maybe, but in the mud and dust of Belarus and the east German plain they looked good in the German cinemas but failed consistently. Mechanical breakdowns, way to expensive to make and almost impossible to repair in the field.

As Clausewitz said 'fog of war' albeit about something else - the Germans designed something to fit their mad ideals not the real stuff on the ground.

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Re: Chocolate Teapot

"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."

Only of use if they're in the area at the right time.

Sinking the gunboat AFTER it managed to sink a Type45 might make you feel good but it doesn't get the Type45 back above the waterline.

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Re: T34, IS2 vs Tiger any Panter any

"but in the mud and dust of Belarus and the east German plain they looked good in the German cinemas but failed consistently. Mechanical breakdowns, way to expensive to make and almost impossible to repair in the field."

What stopped most Tigers wasn't direct enemy action, but their prodgious fuel consumption.

Tankers are seldom armoured, but if they don't make it to the heavy armour, the heavy armour isn't going to travel far.

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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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Unhappy

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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Anonymous Coward

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

@Tom 7 - No different from working with Ericsson or NSN, except people who work with Ericsson or NSN eventually learn*.

* It's actually quite easy, you ask them to quote you for a turnkey solution, and then you sting them when they add in all the little extras.

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

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

And the taxpayer funds it."

That you got even a single thumb down is unbelievable, let alone 3.

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Facepalm

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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