Blighty's top general - hotly tipped as the next head of the armed forces - has hinted strongly that the British defence industry can no longer expect to rely on sweetheart deals from the Ministry of Defence (MoD). He adds that modern warfare has now left the tank behind as surely as it has the horse. General Sir David Richards …
He might want to watch what happened to the US General...
Before saying anything. Politicians do not tend to like honest and outspoken generals!
Cart and horse is my immediate response. People can bleat about the arms biz (with plenty of justifcation), but the truth is that defence projects are stupidly complicated and this problem is getting worse. The US suffers from it as much as anyone else, the only difference is that they are able to throw stupid amounts of money at fixing those problems. Don't believe everything you read about UK defence procurement in the papers, newspapers did away with dedicated defence correspondents years ago and the quality of the journalism since then reflects this.
However, the good general is right, UK defence as a whole needs a fundamental re-think. First things first though, define the mission - what do you want the UK armed forces to do? Is it to still fight two big conflicts on land, sea and air plus a little peacekeeping mission? If so, I can tell you now you need to pay a lot of money for that and you will need more tanks, planes and ships than we actually have. (On paper, the UK is still meant to be able to do this mission statement!) If however, you want the military to do peace keeping, counter-insurgency and disaster relief, then a lot of this kit can either go or be changed.
My money says the politicians are going to write the mission statement, the military will tell them how expensive that is and then the requirement will be revised downwards. As for beating up the arms biz, what about the oil biz or the rail companies or the dodgy health companies? They all rip off the UK tax payer quite happily and politicians are encouraged to ignore this. The UK Government is going to have to generally figure out what it wants and what is the best way of paying for this. Buying everything overseas has its own quite significant problems.
Simple rule of government - no decision is black and white, there are always un-desired consequences. Despite what journalists say, very few decisions are clear cut.
Hey! Sir Dave!
Why not do a *real* Thatcher and get the Polish to do for us what the British Army do at a quarter of the price?
One could even sell off existing defence infrastructure to tax-avoiding cronies and foreign asset-strippers, like the traitorous cow did to everything else. Pimms all round!
Not the "tank is obselete" canard again...
1) Tanks are essential; still. Read up on Basra, Al-Amara, or even the Danish contribution in Helmand today, let alone their primary purpose in high intensity combat. The British Army prefers to avoid such vulgar brawn, but it's still required
2) Mastiff's are already half the wieght of a Challenger 2. Since they are wheeled, they will be largely restricted to roads. Still finding it hard to see why tanks are "obselete". Please look into the actual
3) Absolutely agree we cannot afford a UK-first attitude to armoured vehicles. If it exists already, buy it off the shelf. The same could be said about the Type 45 (should have bought Aegis like the Spanish, Japanese, Australians etc), A400 (massive disaster, C17/C130).
...tells me that
1.) The Russians and the Chinese still have a formidable Air Force, Navy and an Army. Have fun to take out a T-80 divison with your "unmounted", cheapo SAS. Also, look at the SU-34. Only the American F-22 can deal with that, if you don't have a "joker" like broken crypto.
2.) Europe currently has 3 MBTs under development (EuroLeopard, Leclerc, Challenger). WASTE. Rationalize towards a EuroMBT.
3.) Europe currently has at least 3 fighters under development (Eurofighter, Rafale, Gripen). WASTE. Rationalize towards Euroifgter 2.
4.) Europe currently has at least 3 frigate programs in France, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands going on. Probably also Greece, Spain, Portugal. Waste. Rationalize towards EuroFrigate.
5.) In General, don't expect Defence to be possible on the cheap. The Americans spend at least 100% more on defence as a portion of GDP. We actually rely on them to save our bacon, whenever something serious happens. And the stupid politicos don't even realize that. The truth is that we must reign in the giant social/health benefits expenditure. The biggest part of the German budget is now pensions subsidies at 80Billion Euros. For defence we spend about 30B.
The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.
the problem with rationlising into one big euro project is the specs will be drawn up and a prototype made and then the french will say "we need it to do X" then the UK will say "if it does X it must do Y as well" then the germans will say etc.....
With each change will come the consultants, remodelling, ergonomics designers etc etc and before you know it the cost is 3 times more then the seperate project you were working on to begin with.
The americans do and always will spend a whole load on defense with only Russia and China able to keep up, europe should really focus on being great at a few key area's then trying to build whole aircraft/boats/MBT's
A rationalised tank
"2.) Europe currently has 3 MBTs under development (EuroLeopard, Leclerc, Challenger). WASTE. Rationalize towards a EuroMBT."
They try to do this on an occasional basis, sometimes involving the Septics too, but it never quite works out thanks to conflicting needs (or at least political machinations in the guise of conflicting needs) tending to drag a workable specification all over the place until it breaks. Even when they just try to adopt certain common standards, such as the "need" for a multi-fuel engine, look what happened: the Chieftain ended up with the export-crippling (albeit technically quite interesting) L60 at the 11th hour while the Germans stuck with their much more workable diesel and the Americans with petrol.
The current situation of technology-sharing is probably the least worst solution, even if it does leave something to be desired, and even then there's the risk it might go in the wrong direction such as suggesting that the Challenger II should use the Rheinmetall gun because of its "increased lethality"; which may be true, but it's something where the cynic in me wonders if it's just because the Americans and Germans use it - though admittedly in part because to my untrained eye it looks a bit of a one-trick pony and, well, the traditionalist in me says it should have rifling, dammit!
It isn't helped in that countries often tend to be rather parochial about this sort of thing, and in the case of the UK the random application of the rationale "it's the best because it's the most expensive" seems to factor in, too. That said, I genuinely quite like the Challenger II. Just a shame it doesn't get more international sales...
But in contradiction to everything I've just written, the British Army historically have certainly not been averse to importing some of their best weapons: looking at small arms, for example, some of the best examples were foreign designs, such as the Bren, the Vickers (even if Sir Maxim did much of the design here), the Lewis, pretty much anything made by FN... though there does seem to be a certain national pride regarding the tank. Nearly as much as subsequently moaning about our own designs! (And "guilty as charged, m'lud").
If it is possible to get the Eurofighter in their air and make it quite competitive, the same should be possible with MBTs.
Krauss-Maffei's Leopard 2 is already a kind of EuroLeopard, if you look at how many have been produced (more than 3000) and are in use in Europe, Latin America, Turkey and even Singapore now.
But certainly, there should be no Leo 3 and neither a new Leclerc nor a new Challenger.
Indeed joint european procurement is difficult, but I don't feel it is too difficult to make something that is on par with M1A2. The MTU engine is way much better than the merkin gas turbine in terms of economics (= fuel logistics), for example.
But there must be the political will to standardize and empower a pan-european purchasing comittee of experts (appointed by euro governments) rather than "vetoers" in the various MODs.
Whatever LP says, Airbus has been a huge success, including the A400M and you can not replace it with C17 nor with a C130. On the civilian side, Airbus is on par (50 % marketshare) with Boeing. Time to be a little bit more proud and self-conscious I venture to say.
1. Definitely true but the Russians and the Chinese have their own problems. China's emerging air industry is having serious "quality control" issues with its new home developed fighters like the J-10. And the SU-34? Just a shell with engines. Theres no indication or proof that the Russians have actually gotten any farther than just making the thing fly and haven't developed any of its stealth capability or electronic systems yet.
2. Sadly NOT waste. Challenger is now legacy as the production line has ended and the export version was canned. LeClerc is also legacy after a short but successful export life which leaves Leopard as the only European MBT on the market right now. Bit of a non-point this.
3. Again not waste and if it is, don't blame Eurofighter for it. Who left Eurofighter in a huff? The French. Don't whinge at Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain if they can't compel the French to come back in. What are you going to do? Threaten the French with war if they don't drop the Rafale? Grippen is a completely private venture and I don't think the Swedes actually support Saab as much as everyone else supports EADS.
4. Debatable that having seven countries in a continent that can barely agree on whether the A400 should have green or grey paint can efficiently design build and deploy a Frigate program that can not only satisfy seven differing naval visions but also be on budget and on time. Hasn't Eurofighter or the A400 program taught us anything?
5. Agree wholeheartedly on that one.
Defense business accounting does not help
In *most* industries a new product is priced roughly by taking the startup costs and production costs and working out what price customers will *likely* pay for the goods. In reality it's likely in several price points will be worked out and from those a "break even" number of sales worked out. *If* product sales > break even -> Profit on *any* further sales (and the element in the costing to cover start-up is now *also* profit). If not tough.
There is typically *one* customer. (Pop quiz. How much of UK designed stuff, mostly from BAe, found *other* foreign customers *outside* the original customer or partnership?)
When you've *finally* got a workable design (AFAIK still a pretty profitable process as I suspect Cost+ is still pretty common in the UK defense biz, although *perhaps* not quite as common as it was).
Tot up *all* the start-up, mfg costs and divide by the number of unit the MoD is asking for.
*That* is the price they pay. It also the reason why the next (if there *is* a next) batch ordered in a reasonable time frame (IE before they lay off the workforce and break up the tooling) is substantially cheaper.
It's a subtle difference but quite an important one. It makes the defense biz about a^&e backwards to just about *every* other product in the world.
Mine will be the one with some spare Ferranti f100L's in the pocket. The world's first (and only) bipolar single chip microprocessor sold AFAIK to 1 customer.
Care to guess who?
Control the Space where Words are Shared to be made Real, ...
.... and Other Words Create Other Virtual Realities
Hearts and Minds are where Wars are Won before they have even been Waged and that is why Special Intelligence Services always Commandeer Cloud and Communications Networks for Master Pilot Control from Secured and Stealthy Virtual Points of Intellectual Presence.
And that will be tirelessly ongoing work of which you will probably have practically zero knowledge being as it is tailor made for others better suited to spectacularly wield and seed novel special information.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away...
... but the proliferation of orchards hasn't managed to kill off the medical profession.
And as long as that stays the case, pacifism is a luxury for those with large armies to protect them. Yes, secret services are useful for what they do. So are diplomatic services. And so would be, ideally, the British military.
Is the MoD really as big as the Army, Navy & Air Force?
If so that is a rather a lot of civil servants.
Note an awful lot of people in the military are *not* actually front line soldiers are are also armed admin staff.
Certainly not a Dropshort.
In the Punch cartoon, it was a Yeomanry officer who, when asked to explain the role of the cavalry by an inspecting officer, made the oft quoted reply.
Yeomanry regiments were the mounted version of the old Volunteers and formed the cavalry element in the 1908 Territorial Force. After the Kaiser war, most Yeomanry units were mechanised some became Armoured Recce, and some Gunners, in the Territorial Army.
In 1939 the remaining mounted Yeomanry were the only part of the British Army still mounted on horses * they were sent to what was then called Palestine. The last British mounted engagement was by the Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons in 1941in French Lebanon/Syria - they were mechanised on 1 March 1942.
*Compare to the Germans -The standard German infantry division (1939 pattern) required anything from 4077 to 6033 horses to move.
Fighting the last war
The British Military is constantly accused of "fighting the last war". We are now in the process of doing the same again. The last war was counter insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war before that was one where we had absolute air superiority. I don't think we have a guarantee of air superiority in the next war, nor do we have a definite chance of fighting another counter insurgency war. What happens if the next war is against an India or China with a huge modern capability (think China in 20 years time) - or someone else entirely.
We should definitely not be planning to refight Iraq or Afghanistan.
Fighting India or China?!
With conventional forces?!
Don't they both have nukes...
Roll on the defense review
According to the report linked to below, the UK has over 85,000 civil servants in the MOD. What on earth are they all doing?
Having said that, the Royal Navy apparently had more admirals than fighting ships as of September 2008.
I rather suspect that the wastage in bloated government departments and top brass is vastly out of proportion to the size of the UK's armed services which is probably not doing those on the front line any good. Let's hope the forthcoming defense review looks strongly at the cost effectiveness of the defense strategy.
I have no post
I just want to say "Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup" again.
Seriously though, you should really look harder at the US defense industry. It's just lost the uber-expensive F-22 contract, there's no current next-gen fighter program that I know of, it's fighting for the next-gen air refueling fleet contract, the manned space program has been shelved (which employs most of the same people and uses a lot of the same technology) and jobs are disappearing faster than Florida snowball.
The local LockMart division just merged all its IT departments then fired 2/3rds of them, and everyone's being given early retirement. There's no more overtime, pager-pay, or telecommuting, as they try to get people to quit.
The people and the government around here has gotten tired of $50 hammers, and it recently came out that the entire SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket cost less than the launch tower for the NASA Constellation project, and had a flawless first flight. Suddenly Obama's commercial space program has gone from being wishful-thinking paper rockets to more of a reality than anything NASA has to offer.
You think BAE needs a beating... it should take a look at what's happening to Boeing and Lockheed-Martin and get itself in order.
"I just want to say "Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup" again."
Yes unfortunate names are something the UK does especially well
"the manned space program has been shelved (which employs most of the same people and uses a lot of the same technology) "
Well the NASA bit is certainly being run down. BTW it was my understanding that most of the people working on Shuttle are dedicated solely to it. I'd strongly doubt *most* of the computers and data acquisition hardware is used any place but ISS. Some of the TPS has turned up the AF spaceplane but I can't believe anyone in their right mind is going to install hydrazine APUs as original equipment.
"and it recently came out that the entire SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket cost less than the launch tower for the NASA Constellation project,
Sounds apocryphal. However Federal Procurement Regulations * Cost+ contract *Schedule slippage = *massive* bill.
AFAIK the SpaceX bill so far is c$250m which has gotten them a rocket and rocket engine mfg plant and 5 launches.
"and had a flawless first flight. "
Handy that their 2nd launcher uses the same engines clustered together with the same tank bulkheads and the same zero defect friction stir welding approach as their first. They learned a *lot* from those first launches and it was tranferable. It's amazing what happens when a company is set up to get stuff *done* rather than just get government contracts *regardless* of weather or not anything actually *results* from them.
Suddenly Obama's commercial space program has gone from being wishful-thinking paper rockets to more of a reality than anything NASA has to offer.
To be fair COTS was set up under Bush Jnr (as was Constellation). It was the Augustine commission (well technically Augustine II as he did something rather similar 20 years earlier) that said it *never* had the funding to do the job and Congress should put up or shut up.
Note NASA's budget has gone *up* not down. The question is how NASA will use this money and the funds released from winding up the Shuttle programme. I *hope* it will run lots of "small* projects which lead to capabilities that US industry can use (or perhaps anyone who pays the license fees) and actually *fly* stuff to find out what happens. TVC *only* using differential throttling (already tried in aircraft) for rockets, *permanently* waterproof TPS, low catalycity metal TPS, sub-cooled propellants in zero boil off tanks, flush mount M0-M23 data systems, no coating blanket TPS, the FDL5 spaceplane design and GNC which does not need *every* move pre-planned and handles engine out on the fly have *all* been looked out but *need* flight testing.
Staff *are* being hired, business is being done, but not so much in your neck of the woods, although Florida remains the hub of US launch sites.
"You think BAE needs a beating... it should take a look at what's happening to Boeing and Lockheed-Martin and get itself in order."
IIRC LockMart is BAe's favorite partner. Historically Lockheed might not have one the design competition but it seemed to end up being the one that got made. Like drug addicts sharing the same taste in drugs and needles, it's inevitable each will pick up the others nastier habits.
You might have noticed the author has a fairly strong buy American bias. You may not be aware that unlike the US the UK govt cannot cancel contracts unilaterally without compensation.
Bringing it all home
"We should definitely not be planning to refight Iraq or Afghanistan"
State actors are what threaten what must be defended.
Continue to organise and accumulate the forces to prosecute a high-intensity war. And don't sweat harassing carpet-weavers and goat-herds with Pashtun phrase books and death-blossom munitions. War is a ruthless business. We didn't beat Dreadnoughts into broadswords because we ran into the Zulus. Strategy is the business of knowing the difference between an enemy and a mortal threat.
One major reason why the MoD's spending plans are so out of control...
would be incompetent managers at the MOD.
the right track
Over the last few years both Richards and the guy before him are both on record as saying that the nature of warfare is changing, and all forms of war will increasingly have 'unconventional' characteristics. Both men recognised the need for a limited capability to ensure against asymmetry from heavy forces against lighter ones. Hence the need for a residual 'heavy metal' capability. FRES and moble light forces are actually the sort of forces predominalty required.
However, the need for firepower is not going to go away and precision indirect fire reduces the need for heavy direct fire, things like anti-armour sensor fuzed munitions delivered by 155mm shells against tanks and precision HE against other targets eliminate most of the need for things like main battle tanks. Guided MLRS (227mm rockets out to some 70km) is very popular in Afghanistan. For many tasks smart rockets fired from trucks are a lot more cost effective than smart rockets fired from hugely expensive aircraft (or even somewhat less expensive unmanned ones).
Being a fair minded and not totally ignoant person, perhaps I should point out that not all 85,000 civilians employed by MoD are 'in MoD'. I think MoD has less that 10,000 staff of all types, uniformed and not. There are lots of civil servants in training schools doing clerking, routine driving, and other admin stuff, and teaching (the defence driving school near Hull is an awesome place and almost all the instructors are civvies (even if a lot are ex-military). Then there's logistics, unless its a field deployable capability storage, supply, transport and maintenance engineering is almost entirely by civilians, either contractors or defence civilians. Oh, and we mustn't forget the defence scientists either, also all civilian.
Sorry if the facts destroy the illusions of some of you ranters from the anal aperture.
A) EuroSLBM: Currently France develops one, while Britain copies/buys the American Trident
B) EuroNuke: Currently France and Britain have duplicate nuke development/maintenance programs. WASTE.
C) EuroSub Ltd: Currently, there are three major submarine companies each developing their own stuff. At least the British and French programs are expensive duplicates. Thyssen Krupp Marine systems is somewhat complementary to that as these subs are much smaller and conventionally powered. The Americans only have the GD Electric Boat division.
D) EuroCarrier: France is struggling to finance two proper carriers while Britain has three toy carriers and develops a new version of them. Here is huge scope for efficiency and better performance of the resulting systems.
Also, the carrier groups should be operated in a joint european organisation, as nuclear deterrence should be. Huge savings in logistics and maintenance possible.
The key is to understand that the Americans have better and cheaper weaponry because they have a single program for all of America, while Europe typically runs three programs for each major system.
Oh dear not again...
More non-points and sillyness I'm afraid.
A) Again, don't argue with the British if the French refuse to buy Trident. The French chose to develop their own system because they wanted something truly independent. And to be honest, what exactly is the point in a "EuroSLBM" if nobody can agree to use it? You may as well should get rid of nukes completely and re-allocate the £40 Billion odd elsewhere.
B) See above. Not waste at all as Britain and America's nuclear development programs are closely linked.
D) Once again, missed the facts, you've ignored the fact that actually the British and French are co-operating closely to develop carriers. The two new British carriers are the design that the French will be using for their 2nd carrier.
Also, I think you got your facts muddled up. The British are struggling to finance two proper carriers while the French struggle to operate on their single one (they only have one by the way)
The problem with all your points is one thing: Europe. Yes, of course it'd be nice for there to be one single European program for everything and in a perfect world a single European defence force/navy/air force would operate perfectly but this is the real world.
Like I said, have Eurofighter, Eurocopter and the A400 taught you anything? Europe can barely even agree on the EXACT wording of any eventual European Defence Force and its last big foray into the outside world (to Chad) wasn't exactly its finest hour as rather timid Irish special forces clashed with cavalier and gung ho French Foreign Legionaires.
Also how can you save money when all of these big pan-european defence programs are coming in way over budget and late. Eurofighter has ended up way over budget (although an export success) and the A400 will end up even worse. God knows what a 20 nation Frigate program or Submarine program would end up like.
I know you mean well but your suggestions would end up WASTING even more money than the existing problems you're trying to solve!
"Same as striking coal miners"
Honest Gov'nor. Never struck a coal miner on my life (they might strike back).
Old Maggie the mass murderer
The losses from Belgrano totalled just over half of the Argentine deaths in the Falklands conflict.
And Churchill was responsible for the death of Jews because his resistance made Adolf Moron even more angry ? That would be as reasonable as this post.
The Argentinians occupied territory in the full knowledge that this could/would result in a war. A war with Uncle Sam's favourite lapdog. So Uncle Sam would duly supply all the lapdog needed to bite like a bulldog (read: SIGINT, HUMINT; IMGINT, Sidewinders etc, etc)
Maggie had international law completely on her side and it was the right thing to do. Falklands was a very, very close call anyway. If the Argies had 40 instead of 4 Exocets, chances would have been that they had sunk both carriers.
They can speak of luck Maggie hadn't nuked their airbases. That she would have done, if the a/c carriers had been sunk.
Speaking of "Mass Murder"
Have a look at what the Argentine Junta did with their Internal Opponents: Thousands "disappeared" w/o a trace whatsoever. A favourite method was to load them in a plane, fly over the atlantic and simply drop them out of the door.
Maggie's HMS concqueror attacked a warship in an armed conflict which was properly declared. Britain gave them a few days to realize their mistake and retreat, which they did not. This was all proper.
History, try it some time
The ship was 150 miles outside the exclusion zone....
Pol Pot meet Bloody Maggs!
Was a vessel that could out gun any of our surface fleet. She was skipping in and out of exclusion zone looking for targets of opportunity. Both countries were at war.
Can you honestly say that they would have done any different given a reverse of the situation?
The ship was inside the exclusion zone (only just) but it was heading out. The controversy lies in the fact the Gelgrano was sunk even though she was leaving the exclusion zone.
However, it was a declared exclusion zone and she was an enemy vessel inside it and not waving a white flag or red cross. Therefore she was legimately if controversially sunk.
Law Of War
..does not know "Exclusion Zones". An enemy warship is a legit target you can take out at any time and any place.
Think twice before you start a f**king war, I suggest. And don't whine if you loose relatives. Argentina started this, they are wholly responsible.
Flag flown on Concqueror when coming home.
And how long does it take to turn a ship like the Belgrano? Two or three minutes at worst, and just because it's guns were old does not mean they couldn't kill you or thousands of your shipmates.
Something the leftish whingers forget is that if a ship is heading in a particular direction, it doesn't make it obiligotory to stay on the same heading, otherwise a lot of ships would run out of sea when the sharp end gets bent.
The argument that it was heading out of the exclusion zone is ridiculous, and anybody who uses it is just showing how devoid of real arguments they are.
These Bastards Got What They Deserved
"Ramón Camps told Clarín, in 1984, that he had used torture as a method of interrogation and orchestrated 5,000 forced disappearances, and justified the appropriation of newborns from their imprisoned mothers "because subversive parents will raise subversive children". Many of the "disappeared" were pushed out of planes and into the Río de la Plata or the Atlantic Ocean to drown. This form of disappearance, theorized by Luis Maria Mendia, former chief of naval operations in 1976-77 who is today before the court for his role in the ESMA case, was termed vuelos de la muerte ("death flights"). These individuals which suddenly vanished are called los desaparecidos meaning "the missing ones" or "vanishing ones."
I guess not all Belgrano Sailors were exactly innocents.
Get over it ...
The Belgrano was a swimming museum that could indeed outgun any early 80ies british vessel that kept still for long enough. Very likely.
Camps: did I miss sth.? I found no mention of him serving on the Belgrano.
However, all's fair in war and love.
May I remind you that after the valiant defense of 40k sheep from a 3rd rate military power there was not even a whimper - much less a bang - when red china took over Hong Kong? I'm still wondering why that might have been ...
Churchill Vs Mad Maggie
Not a valid comparison, Churchill, to a certain extent inherited the war, Maggie had a chance to talk her way out of the war, UN sanctions, etc. but chose to go to war to bolster popular support for her government in order to help win the 1983 general election, just as the Argentinean junta invaded the Falklands to bolster their own popularity having destroyed their own economy. Funny how the UK didn’t start fighting then Argentina invaded Corbeta Uruguay in 1976.
And there’s the question of whether the Argentineans were invading or simply re-occupying the islands.
Re “These bastards got what they deserved” and others, if that is truly a criteria for war can you tell me when/if Burma, Indonesia, North Korea, Iran are going to get “what they deserve”? How about Turkey? I don’t remember the UK or the USA rushing off to invade Turkey and trying to liberate Crete when Turkey invaded.
Whatever about the pros and cons of the sinking of the Belgrano, the battle of Leyte Gulf and other in 1942 and 1943 showed what the likely result of any battleship versus aircraft engagement was going to be. One of the propaganda stories about the Falklands was the Argentineans were using old WWII bonds that failed to detonate, in reality that they were dropping modern Mk81 & Mk82 low drag bombs that didn’t have enough time to fuse fully or else they passed straight through the soft aluminum parts of the destroyers. If all the bombs that struck British destroyers had detonated then the outcome may have been different.
It’s also interesting to note the effort required to bomb Stanley airport with the “we don’t need a conventional bomber” Vulcan, were these Vulcan not on the edge of retirement at that point, I think some of them were mothballed and had to be stripped for parts to fly the Vulcan missions. That I think says more about procurement policy and perceived enemies than anything else.
The wrong track
"However, the need for firepower is not going to go away and precision indirect fire reduces the need for heavy direct fire, things like anti-armour sensor fuzed munitions delivered by 155mm shells against tanks and precision HE against other targets eliminate most of the need for things like main battle tanks"
In war, you're not the only one doing the shooting. If the enemy doesn't have to tear up main battle tanks because you've already done it back on the parade ground, what might the enemy do with its spare time and munitions? To whom will it turn its attentions, my boy?
You're not always going to be tasked with reducing schoolhouses and being allowed six months to trail up into a region by foot and truck.
"For many tasks smart rockets fired from trucks are a lot more cost effective than smart rockets fired from hugely expensive aircraft (or even somewhat less expensive unmanned ones)."
How fast can a truck run? Whatever the enemy created to tear up a "main battle tank" and pull down a supersonic screecher flashing past mountain tops and swamps could have a lot of fun with your little tarpaulin-clad buddies trundling along at 40 mph and juddering to a halt at Taliban checkpoints.
I think you may be over-optimistic of Britain's armoured brigade taking on a Russian or Chinese armoured division! I likewise think you may be over-optimistic about our chances of taking on either Russia or China in any kind of conventional warfare.
I'm aware of only one kind of deterrent that could cause either of these impending super-powers to reconsider the bloody nose (and nothing more) that we might give them.
"as nuclear deterrence should be. Huge savings in logistics and maintenance possible."
If there is one thing in life on which you do not shave **maintenance money**, it is nuclear armaments.
"a joint european organisation" for "nuclear deterrence":
A European decision making process. To initiate a nuclear exchange. Yes, convince the Russians that you have a two-minute reponse time to nuclear attack, and have your finger hovering over the button. Once you shake off Carl Bildt, head-butt Merkel, and run down the line past the Belgians to the Big Red Button with the operating instructions in Dutch.
Son, which do you think made the Russians back off faster? Americans experimenting with their graduated response theories and terrified of escalation (Kind of nuclear cowards with an ironically lower nuke threshold)? Or an independent French nuclear deterrent that could be fired right into German territory on top of advancing Soviet forces? I'd say the Russians were more impressed with the dependable solidity of the French response to a Soviet advance into Western Europe than a US-led NATO debate on how to respond to said Soviet advance.
And deeply worried about where the h*ll the Americans would actually land us in the middle of their notions about limited proportionate nuclear exchanges. A man who works with the assumption that in-theatre nuclear exchange wouldn't necessarily conclude with global thermonuclear warfare would scare the c**p out of me.
Consolidating uniformly around single-system EURO-whatsits really takes the whip out of your hand. For goodness sake, that's how we lost the ability to smack a dysfunctional defence industry back into line in the first place. Too much domestic consolidation, let alone Euro-level crapopoly. And make the opposition work for their filched blueprints and their trojaned micro-controllers. And I wouldn't really spend a lot of time smearing your nuclear launch protocol tech around a Bulgarian-Czech-Dutch-Estonian-etc International House of Pancakes jamboree committee. I'd rather flash the Queen. It would be more discreet.
Carrier design isn't really the centre of gravity for costs. It's carrier construction. And you're either building three of them or you're not. And I think that key components already leverage expertise where it exists: missiles, radar, etc.
Anyhoo, who wants to go dibs on marrying a Brazilian supermodel? I'm prepared to fracture the chain-of-command.
It's going to happen anyway. Britain and France are to transfer their UN security council seats to the EU. Ultimately, there will be EU defence and foreign ministers who will call the shots (literally). Why do you think NATO HQ moved to Brussels? Napoleon would be so chuffed.
Mad Richard Using B52 To Scare Russia
When the tough get going
"Tough. It is going to happen anyway". Uh huh.
Does it occur to anyone that you can add a Security Council seat to accommodate the newbies? And not just re-allocate the P5 between the senile old duffers?
Does it occur to anyone that the French, British and American seats together give you three against Russia and China (yeah, yeah, vetoes) rather than two (US and EU) against Russia, China and Brazil/South Africa/etc.
If you want to stick with a "magic five" but make those kind of changes and hope that some numerological psychological barrier will fend off problems, let me tell you that it will never wash with the up-and-comers.
Two out of five is only one from a dead heat, whereas three in six is an automatic dead heat. And three in seven is only one from a dead heat.
Or is arithmetic unpopular with the arts graduates teeming with shiny European-mindedness?
NATO HQ *moved* to Brussels? NATO was allocated a building in Brussels right out of the gate. In the 1940s. As part of a plan to transfer a nuclear deterrent which neither Britain nor France had yet developed at the time? Do you mean SHAPE? In 1967? Consolidation was the opposite of what happened there. France went solo. Solo. Not loco.
It is kind of obvious when you think about it. Being in Brussels just says "Take away my nuclear p***s, I want to be known as Francie from now on".
The Brussels location was how the Americans indicated their commitment to holding Western Europe. Proximity to the battlefield. Some people make rational decisions that relate to the task at hand and leave symbolism to modern-art urinals.
NATO is an American creature. And the EU is no more taking over NATO than Ecofin is taking over the Marshall Fund.
"Napoleon would be so chuffed." Napoleon's dead. After being defeated. Twice. And we got a close male relation of his to serve and die as a redcoat fighting for the British Empire in Africa. Sums up Nappy, don't you think? He too thought that a broad, brittle alliance would allow him to throw his weight around. But it made him dependent on a faithless Russian ally, on unstable Mediterranean countries, encouraged overly bold moves which cost him dearly, and he fatally tried to run a logistic network by cannibalising local national resources without a flippin' clue what to do other than stick "Mine" labels on it. But you'll be different.
If there was an EU-oriented plan, it wouldn't involve running down the Navy (which they need to harvest, not degrade, because they're mostly a landlocked continental power) and shutting down the exact type of force that's well adapted to the broad European plains. If the EU plan is to get rid of the single patrolling nuke boat the UK has (as per "take 'em down a peg" Clegg) and which the EU hasn't got, the EU isn't planning on having any nuclear deterrent at all. Unless it's going to be France's one, which just got kicked back under the US-led NATO umbrella by President Sarkozy. Oopsies. Don't worry, you can practice this geopolitics stuff a few times before getting it right. It's not like getting it right is a big deal.
I'm getting excited by trucks. I think I'm Jeremy Clarkson.
"eliminate most of the need for things like main battle tanks"
Um, no. See last post. Natural conclusion. Point made. But now I'm really bouncing someone off a car bonnet like Gene Hunt on meth.
You need armour or you need speed. A plane goes for speed. A tank has a go at both. A truck is a petrol bomb with volunteer burns victims.
What do you imagine the operating range of a bread-van is? Are you planning a cockroach approach of running around in anonymous swarms? Have you heard of helicopters? Have you heard of opponents that actually have ba***rd-good versions? They'll just detect you at range and time an approach, and use terrain to cover their approach. Good God, man, you'll die
shouting "Use the SAM". For you, they can stick to machine guns. Less missile use. Longer operating time for their HKs.
If I could use an analogy, imagine U-Boat versus lifeboat.
A plane can cross the Atlantic in hours. A truck mightn't be able to make it across Berlin. This isn't bl***y Top Gear goes to War in a VW camper van with some fizzle sticks and Chinese fireworks.
Plentiful, cheap troop transport, sure. Soup it up if you want with mini-artillery. But it should be an upgrade, not a replacement.
And I'm really kicking you. But this is essential. An M1 Abrams has got a fire-control system that can out-aim Annie Oakley. In your little trucky-wucky, how quickly do think you can set up and fire, set up and fire, set up and fire? You won't even have the targeting and sensor set-up. You couldn't tell if Big Bird was mating with Elmo six foot above your heads. You have no ABC protection. No smokescreen generator. Limited terrain options. Low speed. And a driver that's less covered than Jordan's chest.
A truck might have to worry about light anti-personnel mines in a way that a tank might brush off. If an M1 walks into the middle of a T-whatsit threesome, it can finish the three of them off single-handedly before they can finish sweeping their turrets around. What would you do?
The theory of the bazooka'd up infantry-man who can best heavy armour would get out of fantasy land pretty quickly if the target became builders' vans and Leyland scrap merchants.
You would be vulnerable to: Snipers. Grenades. Semi-automatics. Hand-pistols and rattlesnakes.
It goes on and on...
War of the kind that concerns this nation involves serious, dedicated opponents who won't be awarding you demolition contracts for mountain villages.
Sorry, Nigee, you had an interesting, informative post, and a good point about the defence scientists and instructors. We need them too.
Continuing the same line of thinking...
Aside from job losses, a big snag with buying stuff from the yanks is that they have a tendency to retain control over the kit we paid for. Trident is good example - we cannot fire those unless the yanks allow it. In this case, there is no point having our own kit - especially when we are just getting dragged into the USA's foreign adventures. Why not just let the yanks fight (and pay for) their own wars, with their own kit?
We should retain sufficient resources to defend our own interests and let the yanks continue the expensive business of bringing freedom and democracy to the rest of the world. Some of the newer NATO members seem keen on recent US foreign policy - why not let them takeover from the UK?
A) Buy Rafale and the French Carrier Designs. Junk F-35 jumpjet.
B) Buy the French SLBM.
C) Don't eat Burger. Makes you fat.
The only problem with this is...
Thatcher WAS in charge of the country when most of the current batch of white elephants lumbered off the drawing board. She was just as in love with BAe as her successors.
Perhaps now is the time to bring back the Sandys report and scrap all manned aircraft in favour of unmanned whooshy things.
ELINT anyone ?
Killing Ak-47 wielding islamists from safe altitude from a chair in Arizona is one thing, but please try that with the Russians or the Chinese.
You are going to find that their EW capabilities are sufficient to jam the satellite downlinks, jam HF, jam Microwave. Even Iran manages to jam communication satellites pretty effectively.
Also, they might launch one of these nasty S-300 missiles against your crappy little drone. Look at the youtube videos if you want to see what S-300 does. The acceleration alone is truely impressive. And don't forget it has a range of 200miles.
The easy way to work around that is to put the extremely powerful MK1 Neural Net Processor (MK1NNP) into the cockpit and let that Neural Net making autonomous decisions. No electronic emanations needed whatsoever. Just brief MK1NNP, load the targeting data into silicon computers and launch the stealthy fighter.
Basically the F-22.
Two Elephants Are Doing Quite Well
And even the Challenger was a huge success - the only total loss was due to another Challenger accidently shooting the first one. And this time it was not a merkin cowboy A10 driver. Only the British had Challengers in the Iraq conflict. Say what you want, but Maggie left Britain in a better state than Nulube. She won two wars in months (!) - now three consecutive PMs are having troops in Crackistan with defeat around the corner.
Maggie gave BAe/Vickers *personally* the rap on Challenger reliability. I guess she will be remembered in the same class as Chruchill in 100 years time. This woman had a real education (chemistry degree) as opposed to the MickeyMouse Business Apes (MBAs) of today.
First, it is patently untrue that the Russian Baddies were making fun of NATO. Rather, "Slimy Dick" Nixon was doing "dummy runs" with fully armed B52s towards the Soviet Union "in order to pressure them". The merkins were totally mad at that time, in my opinion.
Also, if you read my post, you will see that I call for joint design, procurement, maintenance and logistics. Operational control would still be in London and Paris.
But indeed, a European General Staff is the right thing on the long run. The EU parliament already has made it very clear they don't yield to arbitrary american demands. That's a very good start.
Also, with SLBMs, you *can* wait, see and play the grim revenge. No need to make a decision in five minutes. "You take out London, we will now evaporate Moscow".
But there is no need to have "british" SLBMs (which are in fact american). You can make them Airbus-style in a single factory and save a ton of money.
Want a proper a/c with proper fighters ? Fly to Paris and negotiate a little with Nicola and use their carriers and Rafale. All working. Now improve the Electronic Warfare systems instead of wasting money on fumbling with a jumpjet.
I bet the french would be willing to buy something from Britain. Maybe the reactors for their next generation subs.
Facts of nuclear deterrence
"First, it is patently untrue that the Russian Baddies were making fun of NATO"
Great, I'll never say any such thing then.
What I do say is that is not in question that a nuclear power would respond to a superior conventional force arriving at its border (which is what an incursion into West Germany would be treated as by France) with unconventional force.
What would the U.S. do if a conventional force arrived on a different continent separated by an ocean? Go nuclear? More doubtful. Possibly. Maybe. Maybe not. Not immediately. And it is doubt which kills.
And therein lies a problem for those intent on dissuading irresponsible powers from involving themselves in a situation which would end very badly for them, whether they realised it or not at the outset.