CVF and Carrier Strike thread

Apart from a lack of ASW capability. France has fewer capable ASW frigates than us, and does not use the carrier as a platform for ASW helicopters.

I think they also have fewer SSNs as well.
Got more tanks than us though.

I'm actually really interested in how their new design pans out. Will it be an all singing all dancing CVN with cats/traps, energy weapons etc with a mahoosive price tag? Or will they cast their eye over the CVF design and decide to cut their cloth accordingly?
 
Apart from a lack of ASW capability. France has fewer capable ASW frigates than us, and does not use the carrier as a platform for ASW helicopters.

I think they also have fewer SSNs as well.
I’d agree that the RN enjoys an advantage in ASW capability although France has a fairly sizeable - if ageing - MPA fleet. In terms of SSNs, both the RN and MN are in the process of replacing an older generation; we’ll end up with 7 x Astutes and they’ll have 6 x Suffren idc.

France is hindered by only having a single CVN although it does have the 3 Mistrals.

The MN has a larger surface fleet of surface vessels which arguably allows greater flexibility, particularly given RN availability and manpower challenges. On the flip side, the MN is only getting 2 x Horizon DDGs, their only ‘high end’ AAW asset, and has a very eclectic mix of FFG and OPV classes which must complicate support and availability themselves. I assume that the Acquitaine Class will address that.

Out of interest, concern regarding RN balance is shared by an experienced RN Lynx mate; he’s expressed considerable frustration at the how the QECs are ‘pulling the RN out of shape.’ So it’s not just my view.

Regards,
MM
 
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The RN could always pay for a couple of extra cabs to assure availability.



I think some measures have been taken and our Chinooks have embarked on CVS and Ocean routinely in the past. As @Yokel states, the advantage the QEs were specifically designed to offer is that they can now be hangared out of the elements.



It’s been done but I don’t think there are any plans for us to follow suit.


However, we could save money by binning Albion and Bulwark and just using Chinooks as LPDs! ;)

Regards,
MM
I almost feel sorry for the Chinook all that sea water going in must not be good for it.
 
I’d agree that the RN enjoys an advantage in ASW capability although France has a fairly sizeable - if ageing - MPA fleet. In terms of SSNs, both the RN and MN are in the process of replacing an older generation; we’ll end up with 7 x Astutes and they’ll have 6 x Suffren idc.

France is hindered by only having a single CVN although it does have the 3 Mistrals.

The MN has a larger surface fleet of surface vessels which arguably allows greater flexibility, particularly given RN availability and manpower challenges. On the flip side, the MN is only getting 2 x Horizon DDGs, their only ‘high end’ AAW asset, and has a very eclectic mix of FFG and OPV classes which must complicate support and availability themselves.

Out of interest, concern regarding RN balance is shared by an experienced RN Lynx mate; he’s expressed considerable frustration at the how the QECs are ‘pulling the RN out of shape.’ So it’s not just my view.

Regards,
MM
Is the T31e program not meant to alleviate the problems with the (supposed) increase in hulls?

Edit to add: Is T31e going to be our version of the Le Fayette class?
 
Is the T31e program not meant to alleviate the problems with the (supposed) increase in hulls?...
That’s one perspective.

In my view, even if T26 and T31 proceeds as planned, the RN faces a situation where it lacks sufficient capability and mass.

...Is T31e going to be our version of the Le Fayette class?
I’ll defer to @Not a Boffin on this but the T31e design has not yet been selected.

Regards,
MM
 
Are we not still limited to 13 hulls, whatever the mix? It was supposed to 13 T26s, then it was decided that the T26 was too expensive. With the T31/31e, I thought we were still only getting 13?
 
@Magic_Mushroom Mushroom et al.....

T26 and T31 are in the future. QEC/T45/T23 are here now. Nobody should ever pretend that the Navy's big problem is not manpower. Largely this is due to politics - 5000 personnel axed as part of SDSR 10, with little thought given to maintaining skills or what would happen when the gapped carrier capability was regenerated. Then in 2015 Cameron opted to ignore the evidence offered by Their Lordships that the RN needed more people - we all expected an uplift of 1500 or so bods but he panicked about 'troop numbers' and refused to increase RN and RAF manpower totals.

POLITICIANS/MEDIA PLEASE NOTE: THE ROYAL NAVY NEEDS MORE PEOPLE! Yes - if you are serious about 'Global Britain' then we need more sailors to show it.

The RN is trying new things, such as permanently basing a frigate in the Gulf. I am sure this was tried many years ago when two Type 42s did a crew swap, but it caused problems.

HMS Montrose to become first forward-deployed frigate in the Middle East | Royal Navy

Meanwhile, two other Type 23s are demonstrating their wartime role of providing ASW defence (and (extended point defence) AAW with Sea Wolf/Sea Ceptor) for high value units.

HMS Westminster heads to Norway | Royal Navy

Joined by her sister HMS Northumberland, the two British ships are at the forefront of anti-submarine warfare shield around the flagship/assault ship/’high value unit’ USS Iwo Jima which, aside from US Marines, is carrying X-Ray Company, 45 Commando, into action.

Providing a task group capability (either carrier or amphibious based - possibly both) is a key task for the RN, along with CASD, Kipion, and UK/NATO things such as Fleet Ready Escort, Towed Array Patrol Ship, and so on.

As for France, I understand they have opted to have less high end warfighting units and more less capable vessels for things such as patrolling overseas territories.

Despite problems, the RN achieves a lot:

 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
France and UK are in different strategic situations, ergo they are differently equipped.


MM. your Lynx mate misses the point that without the carriers the T45 & T26 have no role. Without carriers there can be no sub-nuclear offensive capability to speak of (the odd SSN-based Tomahawk), only defensive.
 
...T26 and T31 are in the future. QEC/T45/T23 are here now. Nobody should ever pretend that the Navy's big problem is not manpower...
As I’ve said a great many times here, manpower is certainly the chief problem for the RN (and RAF) and we should not focus on merely chasing shiny new hardware. However, the decisions on FFG numbers are being taken today and directly threaten the credibility of our Maritime capabilities, including that of the carriers.

...your Lynx mate misses the point that without the carriers the T45 & T26 have no role. Without carriers there can be no sub-nuclear offensive capability to speak of (the odd SSN-based Tomahawk), only defensive.
With respect @seaweed, I find that a very surprising comment for an RN veteran.

Firstly, DDGs and FFGs have a great many combat roles (current or projected) other than protecting a carrier: MIOps, ISR, AAW, BMD to name but a simplistic few. Indeed, I believe even Nelson considered frigates as his most important assets...even if he didn’t have flat-tops off the Nile or Malta!

However, I suspect that the VERY experienced Lynx pilot in question would simply offer that you are missing the point concerning the ratio of surface combatants to carriers.

In the early 80s, the RN had 3 carriers supported by 13 x DDGs, over 45 x FFGs and 11 x SSNs. I make that a ratio of roughly. 1:4:15:4; we also had over 30 MPAs. Today, we are heading for a situation where we have 2 carriers, 6 DDGs, a maximum of 18 FFGs, and 7 SSNs. That represents a ratio of 1:3:9:3 with 9 MPAs.

Yes, some of the ships in 1982 were realistically non-combat ready. However, the same could be said of a T31 when facing a peer threat at a time when our technological edge has never been smaller.

Contrary to the assertions by some, I have never doubted that the RN is now unable to deploy a UK only CBG. What I do worry about however is that the lack of surface combatants and SSNs means that that’s pretty much all it will be able to do soon.

Regards,
MM
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
In Nelson's day, frigates were an accessory to the battle fleet and his requirement was to send them hither and yon searching for the enemy, and for that, numbers were essential. That role has now passed to air and Sigint. He did NOT consider FFs his 'most important asset', that was still the battle fleet, but he had a sufficiency there as the Fr found out at the Nile.


IMHO T31 is a joke and we would do better spending our money on more T26, albeit ending up with fewer hulls, because the T31 is planned from the outset not to be fit for proper war-fighting, a sort of overgrown OPV.
 
In Nelson's day, frigates were an accessory to the battle fleet and his requirement was to send them hither and yon searching for the enemy, and for that, numbers were essential. That role has now passed to air and Sigint. He did NOT consider FFs his 'most important asset', that was still the battle fleet, but he had a sufficiency there as the Fr found out at the Nile...
I don’t think the historic role of frigates has passed to Air and especially SIGINT.

Indeed, I’d draw direct parallels in your description of how they were used in Nelson’s RN to their wide utility today: ASW screens, ISR, MIOps and showing ‘presence’ around the World.

The RN needs more manpower but in my humble, Crustacean view, frigates (closely followed by SSN in our case) continue to form the foundation of any navy’s capabilities. If you have a shallow foundation, the whole structure becomes tenuous.

...IMHO T31 is a joke and we would do better spending our money on more T26, albeit ending up with fewer hulls, because the T31 is planned from the outset not to be fit for proper war-fighting, a sort of overgrown OPV.
I would agree entirely with you here.

The T31 appears to be well suited to tasks in permissive maritime environments, such as the Caribbean guard ship, Counter Piracy and for photo opportunities when escorting a Russian vessel through the Channel.

However, they will be of negligible value when facing a peer threat, particularly in terms of defending a TG or location against a ASW and AAW threats.

I just hope the T31 can free up sufficient of our 8 x T26s for the grown up stuff because 8 (which realistically means an absolute maximum of 6 when servicing and training is accounted for) does not sound anything like sufficient for our needs.

Regards,
MM
 
I am no naval person but from my outside perspective the RN seems to be veering towards very high end type limited force with not much going on in the bread and butter type variety. You know, not enough medium spec work horses which can chug away in various roles around the world. You have very good shiny toys, but not enough of them or enough of mid spec toys to make up for the numbers.
 
I am no naval person but from my outside perspective the RN seems to be veering towards very high end type limited force with not much going on in the bread and butter type variety. You know, not enough medium spec work horses which can chug away in various roles around the world. You have very good shiny toys, but not enough of them or enough of mid spec toys to make up for the numbers.
Or, as one of my old 3*s described it, "Fur coat and no Knickers".
 
I don’t think the historic role of frigates has passed to Air and especially SIGINT.

Indeed, I’d draw direct parallels in your description of how they were used in Nelson’s RN to their wide utility today: ASW screens, ISR, MIOps and showing ‘presence’ around the World.

The RN needs more manpower but in my humble, Crustacean view, frigates (closely followed by SSN in our case) continue to form the foundation of any navy’s capabilities. If you have a shallow foundation, the whole structure becomes tenuous.



I would agree entirely with you here.

The T31 appears to be well suited to tasks in permissive maritime environments, such as the Caribbean guard ship, Counter Piracy and for photo opportunities when escorting a Russian vessel through the Channel.

However, they will be of negligible value when facing a peer threat, particularly in terms of defending a TG or location against a ASW and AAW threats.

I just hope the T31 can free up sufficient of our 8 x T26s for the grown up stuff because 8 (which realistically means an absolute maximum of 6 when servicing and training is accounted for) does not sound anything like sufficient for our needs.

Regards,
MM
You did say the Marine Nationale is more balanced than the RN, but then conceded they have fewer ASW frigates (and a lack of ASW helicopters aboard CDG - no 24/7 dipping) than us, and far fewer AAW destroyers. This does not sound very balanced to me, unless you mean farming out constabulary roles to second rate frigates and OPVs.

In a NATO context - virtually any NATO member can operate frigates. Not many can operate carriers (noting Italy and Spain have CVS sized ones), so they can add escorts to a NATO task group.

I am no naval person but from my outside perspective the RN seems to be veering towards very high end type limited force with not much going on in the bread and butter type variety. You know, not enough medium spec work horses which can chug away in various roles around the world. You have very good shiny toys, but not enough of them or enough of mid spec toys to make up for the numbers.
The trouble with medium spec is that the politicians and media will demand that the expensive high end warships are made cheaper and then an engagement happens. The problem is that Western navies have to do two things:

1. Face peer level opponents, or those with peer type weapons. Third World nations have fighter aircraft, air launched missiles, and submarines. Terrorist groups such has Hezbollah have used anti ship missiles. Why did INS Hanit survive being hit by a missile in 2006, when her radar, SAM, and CIWS were all turned off? Because she was built to have a reduced radar cross section, and the missile hit the crane (non stealthy) and not the hull. Reduced RCS, like acoustic quietening, costs money.

2. Provide sufficient mass for things other than full on combat. A less stealthy frigate without the same weapon systems will cost significantly less, but will have similar running costs, and perform less well in combat - think of the Type 21s in the Falklands.

Or, as one of my old 3*s described it, "Fur coat and no Knickers".
...and not enough people to wear the knickers.

Perhaps most of all we need to change the way the media, politicians, and the public see defence. Deploying (or not being able to) a battalion of infantry somewhere is big news - a frigate or a detachment of Typhoons (or Chinooks, or.....) less so. Why?
 
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...and not enough people to wear the knickers.

Perhaps most of all we need to change the way the media, politicians, and the public see defence. Deploying (or not being able to) a battalion of infantry somewhere is big news - a frigate or a detachment of Typhoons (or Chinooks, or.....) less so. Why?
Societally people are less aware of, and less exposed to, the military. It's a fact of life, and if you think it's bad in the UK have a look at any of the continental Euro nations. It's a consequence of ever-shrinking militaries, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the repeated failures in hot & dusty places, etc etc etc. 60 or so years ago, it used to be the case that the way a young man or woman got to see the world was joining up and being paid to do so:


Nowadays, you can go on a lads' week long holiday to Prague, or take your Mrs to the Maldives, for a fortnight's wages. Combine that with the ever-eroding T&Cs of the military, and current Op Tempo, and the recruitment / retention crisis will continue ad infinitum (IMHO).

I'm not entirely sure that there is any media-conspiracy-against-the-RN-&-RAF that you allude to; compare & contrast the coverage given to HMS QNLZ on her port visit to the Big Apple, vs the 4-fig numbers of blokes we've currently got in the Baltics, on the ground or in the air, trying to face down an increasingly belligerent Russian Bear.

My own humble view is that the only way Defence will become a front-running issue for the X-Factor loving, Jordan-worshipping, NHS-fetishising British public is the day that our own territory and security are threatened.
 
Getting away from the platform numbers vs capabilities type arguments for a moment...

Societally people are less aware of, and less exposed to, the military. It's a fact of life, and if you think it's bad in the UK have a look at any of the continental Euro nations. It's a consequence of ever-shrinking militaries, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the repeated failures in hot & dusty places, etc etc etc. 60 or so years ago, it used to be the case that the way a young man or woman got to see the world was joining up and being paid to do so:


Nowadays, you can go on a lads' week long holiday to Prague, or take your Mrs to the Maldives, for a fortnight's wages. Combine that with the ever-eroding T&Cs of the military, and current Op Tempo, and the recruitment / retention crisis will continue ad infinitum (IMHO).

I'm not entirely sure that there is any media-conspiracy-against-the-RN-&-RAF that you allude to; compare & contrast the coverage given to HMS QNLZ on her port visit to the Big Apple, vs the 4-fig numbers of blokes we've currently got in the Baltics, on the ground or in the air, trying to face down an increasingly belligerent Russian Bear.

My own humble view is that the only way Defence will become a front-running issue for the X-Factor loving, Jordan-worshipping, NHS-fetishising British public is the day that our own territory and security are threatened.
Both the RN and RAF expected manpower uplifts prior to SDSR 15, allegedly an extra 1500 people for each service. Yet the only promise made in parliament was about by our media crazed PM was about 'troop' numbers. Now we are regenerating things like carriers and MPA, and people wonder why we are short of people.

As for your last point - sadly I agree. Does Joe Public understand that threats against oil and other shipping, or Bears disrupting UK airspace have a very real threat to impact our interests directly?

I think the UK and the West in general has a larger and deeper problem, one that will influence whether people consider investing in defence to be worthwhile or not, or if they should consider a career in uniform, or study a STEM subject, or pay attention to political candidates.

I originally posted this on the Arctic Theatre thread - hard to know where the right place or thread is really:

I think a problem is that the last eighteen years have convinced the public that state on state warfare and capabilities are a thing of the past, and everything will be like post Saddam Iraq or Afghanistan. Perhaps more significantly, the politically left will either sympathise with Moscow or view any attempt to deter as 'gunboat diplomacy', and the right will see it as some sort of anti Trump/pro EU plot.

One of my reasons for being less than keen on the EU and its encroachment into defence and security was the way it competed with and threatened NATO.

Perhaps we need to start by defining Western values? I would suggest the following:

Representative Democracy
The rule of law
Free speech
Free media
Limits on Government powers over the individual
Etc etc etc

When LGBT student groups loudly proclaim that Gulags were good places (I thought the Communists persecuted gays etc?) I think we can safely say that the West is in trouble.

This week I attended attended an upsetting and disturbing talk on the Holocaust, given from an Information Operations perspective. Apart from the way ordinary Germans were persuaded to cease viewing Jews and other groups as non human and to either take part in deportation and murder or to turn a blind eye, there was then even more upsetting talk on how the Jews were made passive. Apart from the fact that in Germany and Western Europe they frequently held non physical jobs and were less used to the idea of fighting, they were taught to be helpless.

If Little Johnny gets punished for hitting a bully back, or if someone responds to KFC being shut by phoning the Police or tweeting that they are unable to feed their kids, then you have to wonder....
 
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You did say the Marine Nationale is more balanced than the RN, but then conceded they have fewer ASW frigates (and a lack of ASW helicopters aboard CDG - no 24/7 dipping) than us, and far fewer AAW destroyers. This does not sound very balanced to me...
The MN appear to be addressing their shortage of AAW with suitably configured FREMM; I’ll leave the AAW experts to muse on the relative benefits of that.

In terms of ASW, I think we have a slight advantage overall albeit one which the French are addressing via modernisation which will presumably also rationalise the types in service. However, I did not suggest that they can’t do 24/7 dipping just because they don’t always base ASW helps on the CdG; this appears to be your latest hang-up but can be done by ways other than a great big carrier.

Once more, it’s mass that I said the French arguably (key word) hold an advantage (just as they do with fast air over the RAF).

...unless you mean farming out constabulary roles to second rate frigates and OPVs...
Which I contend is what the RN have been doing for some years.

...In a NATO context - virtually any NATO member can operate frigates. Not many can operate carriers (noting Italy and Spain have CVS sized ones), so they can add escorts to a NATO task group...
Yes, most NATO nations have ‘frigates’ just as many have ‘MPA.’ However, far fewer are high-end ASW FFGs capable of protecting a CAG, just as most NATO ‘MPAs’ are little mor than coastguard types.

I find it slightly surprising that I’m being attacked by RN types for pointing out what to many is the bleeding obvious: that the RN increasingly lacks depth due to a limited manpower, ships and submarines.

It appears to me that the Senior Service made a decision in the late 90s to focus on what was then CVF almost at the expense of all else. However, the knock-on effect on FFG numbers in particular worries me given the resurgence of the ASW threat. It would only take a coupe of a ASW FFGs to be lost or disabled to make the HVU they are protecting (whether it be a carrier, SSBN or something else) VERY vulnerable indeed.

Meanwhile, the RN’s global presence also continues to shrink. If you don’t see that as a problem, crack on. Personally however, I do.

Regards,
MM
 
I almost feel sorry for the Chinook all that sea water going in must not be good for it.
US Army Aviation typically does water training on freshwater lakes for precisely that reason.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
I think it was the Govt chiselling on the money, not the RN, that cut the build numbers of Astutes, T45, and T26 and also the RN manpower 'liabiity' as it seems to be termed nowadays.
 

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