CVF and Carrier Strike thread

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).



Which I contend is what the RN have been doing for some years.



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
MM

I do not recall 'attacking' you - in fact we appear to be in agreement in some ways, and it does appear we are becoming more French. However my views on quantity versus quality - hull numbers versus platforms with decent survivabity/sensors/weapons - is heavily influenced by what happened in the South Atlantic in 1982. If we had perhaps had fewer frigates/destroyers in the task group, but more than two Sea Wolf armed frigates had been present, and if the Type 42 destroyer had not been fitted with an elderly radar (965 - the beamwidth was excessive contributing to clutter, this is mentioned in the BOI reports for both Sheffield and Coventry) then we would have been better off, perhaps with less losses. Moreover you have said you believe that if the task group had AEW, then we might not have lost a single ship.

I understand initial work on CVF started in the early to mid nineties. This was against a background of CVS operations in the Adriatic and the Gulf, and recent memories of the Falklands and Cold War activities. The limitations of the small carrier were apparent, and it was known the next generation STOVL aircraft would be larger than Sea Harrier. We also were trying to operate both Sea Harrier and Harrier GR7 from a small deck.

SDR 98 committed the UK to replacing three CVS with two CVF. It also committed us to a force of thirty two frigates and destroyers. The CVS continued to be busy in the Gulf and Adriatic throughout the late nineties and into the new century - Sierra Leone, Saif Sareea II, and the response to the 9/11 attacks.

The task group that went to Iraq in 2003 was centred around Ark Royal (in a LPH role) and Ocean. The first impressions report noted the utility of ship based aviation. Since then, every task group deployment has been CVS, LPH, or LPD centred. The Navy produced a booklet in late 2003 about Telic and it noted that half of all available frigates and destroyers were either attached to the task group or were providing force protection all the way from Gibraltar to the NAG. The commitment to a thirty two frigate/destroyer force had been quietly abandoned at pretty much the same time as the axing of the Sea Harrier was announced, and the RAF lost a Tornado F3 squadron.

In 2004 the three oldest Type 42s were scrapped (without replacement - no full class of twelve Type 45s) and three type 23s were retired and sold to Chile. Then later that decade the plans for the seventh and eighth Type 45 were abandoned, so another pair of T42s would not be replaced. Then SDSR 10 happened. I believe it was @jrwlynch that pointed out that if it was not for the carriers, Cameron would have cut frigate numbers even more. Maybe that is where they got the slash 'n burn manpower cuts from?

Do I think we would be better off with an extra pair of Type 45s and three extra T23s? Of course. But...

The commitment of a frigate or destroyer in the South Atlantic all year round was a major strain on reduced numbers, but sadly I fear no frigate or destroyer goes down South these days. Of course the Argentine threat is greatly reduced, but going from having one in the South Atlantic all year round to nothing is a step change. I do worry about this.

The APT(N) commitment in the Caribbean was also a strain, and was meant to be a possible reinforcement to APT(S) in a crisis. Half of the year an OPV does a showing the flag/counter drugs (but without a helicopter!) role and the other half the counter drugs/disaster relief role is is performed by an RFA (with Wildcat). I do not worry about this - but if the OPV could carry a Wildcat it would help.

Lets talk about AAW and ASW in the context of a task group. No AAW destroyer can provide the same level of defence as a fighter, indeed as @Not a Boffin pointed out elsewhere (okay it was the PPRuNe Harrier axed.... thread) you need fighters to visually identify bogeys and keep them at arm's length - a piss pot dictator might decide splashing ASW helicopters or Chinooks full of troops is a good way of fighting us).

For ASW a task group needs frigates with towed array sonar plus helicopters dipping. A PWO(U) explained that both have strengths and limitations, as does hull mounted sonar (and sonobouys dropped by MPAs). You need several frigate/destroyers/auxiliaries to provide eight or nine helicopters, and as @alfred_the_great pointed out on this thread, keeping them together makes sense in terms of command, control, logistics, and maintenance.

So I agree that more ships, and a greater global RN presence would be desirable, however:

1. The carriers cannot be blamed for frigate/destroyer numbers being cut - they are one of the reasons for having them.

2. The cut of 5000 people from the RN as part of SDSR 10 may have been based on more frigates being cut, which may have happened without the carriers.

3. The uplift in naval manpower of 1500 or so people we expected to be part of SDSR 15 was based on evidence the Admirals showed to the politicians, but did not happen for political reasons. This is causing huge problems.

4. War fighting means task group operations - centred on a carrier/LPD.

5. We need to be wary of putting inadequately equipped ships in harm's way.

I forgot to mention SSNs..... I am sure that SDR 98 said eight SSNs, which represent a cut of three as we had eleven. That number was achieved as older boats were pensioned off. You might remember that when the seventh Astute was ordered a few months ago, there was outrage expressed over what had been cut to pay for her. More SSNs sounds good, but apart from the problem of how do you sell the idea to the public and politicians:

a. Unlike previous submarine types, the Astutes have a reactor with a core than does not need replacing, negating the need for very lengthy refits (assuming they are not operated for longer than their design life). As such the number that can be put to sea at any one time will be higher.

b. Submarines are difficult to man - apart from the issue of volunteers, the medical standards are higher, and everyone needs DV.

c. Building extra SSNs now would mean no Successor.
 
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seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
It all comes down to money and in Cameron we had a PM who knew nothing and cared less about Defence. His pledge to ring fence foreign aid was the point where I ceased to vote Conservative.

His peremptory axing of Ark sent a clear message to junior fishheads that fast jet aviation had ceased to be a sane career choice. Statements to the effect that the RN could not sustain enough pilots for cat and trap seem to ignore this, leaving out of account that the arbitrary (and costly and pig-ignorant) shortening of QE/PoW physically foreclosed the cat and trap option.

So we are where we are and hope it doesn't come on to blow. The T31s could well end up in the same mess as the T21s, as there seems to be no redundancy in the T26 provision. Geoff Hoon's personally compromising the T45 machinery fit has paid out in terms of huge rectification expense and loss of service.

A Russian fleet restored to the Med via bases in a restored Assad's Syria will pose interesting problems for NATO. Trump or his successor will be distinctly iffy about a US 6th Fleet having to backfill for half-baked Mediterranean NATO navies.
 
It all comes down to money and in Cameron we had a PM who knew nothing and cared less about Defence. His pledge to ring fence foreign aid was the point where I ceased to vote Conservative.

His peremptory axing of Ark sent a clear message to junior fishheads that fast jet aviation had ceased to be a sane career choice. Statements to the effect that the RN could not sustain enough pilots for cat and trap seem to ignore this, leaving out of account that the arbitrary (and costly and pig-ignorant) shortening of QE/PoW physically foreclosed the cat and trap option.

So we are where we are and hope it doesn't come on to blow. The T31s could well end up in the same mess as the T21s, as there seems to be no redundancy in the T26 provision. Geoff Hoon's personally compromising the T45 machinery fit has paid out in terms of huge rectification expense and loss of service.

A Russian fleet restored to the Med via bases in a restored Assad's Syria will pose interesting problems for NATO. Trump or his successor will be distinctly iffy about a US 6th Fleet having to backfill for half-baked Mediterranean NATO navies.
With respect, the performance gap between CTOL and STOVL has been narrowed by F-35B, and things like SRVL. Cats and traps mean more people are neeeded to run them, training becomes a major burden, and the carrier is more effected by high sea states.

The problem was that Cameron and Fox thought they could switch from STOVL to CTOL without any complication, at the same time as cutting Harrier and claiming none of the skills involved in embarking Harrier would be relevant to embarking F-35C in the future. They chose to ignore all the advice from the First Sea Lord (a former CVS Captain), other senior Officers, DSTL, and others.

Fox did not do evidence, Cameron did not do details. A pox on both their houses.
 
When the carriers went through initial gate in 1998, defence spending was 3%GDP or thereabouts. Shortly after 2000, defence spending fell to 2.6% at the same time as we were beginning to engage in operations (soon to become concurrent) significantly in excess of the assumptions in either SDR98 or the subsequent SDR New Chapter. All presided over by a man who was avowedly against spending money on the military and who was being forced through gritted teeth to fund land ops and pay for Typhoon which remains the most expensive non-nuclear programme we've ever done.

At that point, the RN faced a choice. Maintain a navy capable of global operations (which is not the same as maintaining singleton DD/FF on "presence" stations) or collapse into a home defence role. There is no logic to maintaining a large fleet of DD/FF simply to maintain hull numbers or to be "on station". Someone, somewhere has to do the heavy lifting with HVU and the list of those nations is VERY short, unitary in fact and pivoting towards the Pacific. Where then does one look for the HVU to deliver naval power in the Atlantic / Med and beyond? France? Spain? Germany? Italy? Limited track record tbh.

There is no "give" in the requirement for a carrier. Those who think a CVS-a-like would be cheaper and somehow free up more money to spend on DD/FF, need to understand that a CVS-a-like would not pass scrutiny as it doesn't really bring capability to the party. It just eats money and manpower without delivering the sort of capability that justifies the expense.

During the period, the RN (and HMAF as a whole) has also been beset by cost-overruns (some self-inflicted) in procurement further reducing money available, just as the budget contracts ever-further to its current 2%. The only slack has been DD/FF numbers and while far from desirable - and bringing other knock-on issues - it's the only option available. Unless one decides that a capital ship navy is too expensive, in which case you don't end up spending money on more DD/FF as the case for them on their own is far from secure. You end up with a smaller navy full stop.

The basic issue is that HMG has said we want this capability but has reneged on funding it for a sustained period (something applicable across HMAF for that matter). It also remains the case that the carrier project gets blamed as a big ticket item, when in fact the real spend issues are elsewhere across defence.

Carrier Strike is on the cusp of delivering, thanks to sustained efforts by a large number of people over twenty years. Hopefully once CSG21 has completed and the lessons and benefits are digested, we can look forward instead of looking back.
 
If the total construction cost is indeed £6.4bn as used in Wiki, then annually that's roughly 1.5% of the defence budget.
It strikes me as being value for money for such a capability if overall operating costs are kept to a similar amount (say £650million PA).
 
Old Smokey’s refit has been delayed.
Massive Floating Dock Sinks, Damaging Russia’s Only Aircraft Carrier

A contract between the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) for the modernization and overhaul of the flagship of the Russian Navy, the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was supposed to be signed by the end of last April.

Due to budget cuts, the carrier’s electronic warfare, communication, intelligence, navigation, and combat control systems were not likely not be undergoing modernization. Instead concentration was to be Kuznetsov’s flight deck, propulsion systems including replacing four out of the carrier’s eight turbo-pressurized boilers while refitting the remaining four.

Never deployed for longer than six months it had a history of breaking down. MiG-29K/MiG-29KUBs, were part of the Kuznetsov’s three-month deployment to the Mediterranean in October 2016, to support Russian combat operations in Syria.

There were various technical issues during the deployment with one MiG-29K lost and an Su-33 air went overboard when an arresting cable snapped during landing.

The Russian Navy’s entire Mig-29K/JUB fleet was grounded for a number of months pending investigation. The Navy had ordered 20 Mig-29K and four Mig-29KUB to replace the Su-33 air superiority fighters as the Admiral Kuznetsov’s air wing.

Apologies if this is inappropriate here, see Jim’s mention this in Intelligence.
 
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Following on from the post by @Not a Boffin, you might find this interesting:


Maybe we are not doing so badly after all? This does not include SSN/SSBN operations. Just as sortie generation rate (and launching tooled up aircraft) is a better measure of carrier effectiveness than simple the maximum number of aircraft you can squeeze on deck, being able to put capable ships on tasks is a better measure of a navy than hull numbers?

Talking of launching and recovering aircraft:


F-35B completes initial testing aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth

The two F-35Bs involved were vertically landed aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time Sept. 25, piloted by Royal Navy Commander Nathan Gray and Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Andy Edgell, both test pilots with the Pax River ITF. By Oct. 8, the ITF had collected enough data to support operational test.

“It has been a superb effort by everyone across the ITF and HMS Queen Elizabeth so far in the UK’s F-35B sea trials,” said Royal Navy Capt. Jerry Kyd, the ship’s Commanding Officer. “I could not be more pleased with the team spirit and dynamism from all that has delivered a volume of quality data which has put us well ahead of where we expected to be at this stage. I am very grateful to all the ITF folk who have been focused, professional and willing to go the extra mile—more to come!”

Within days of the first landing, Gray, Edgell and two other ITF test pilots on the FOCFT(FW)—Marine Corps Maj. Michael Lippert and Peter Wilson—qualified for daytime flight operations aboard the carrier. Nighttime flight operations began the next day and Edgell and Wilson soon became qualified for nighttime operations.

On Oct. 2, with winds over the deck exceeding 40 knots, the test team worked on wind envelope expansion conducting short takeoffs from the carrier’s ski jump along with vertical landings on the deck, which comprises a tower for the Bridge and a second tower for FLYCO (Flight Control). The team conducted the same maneuvers nine days later, but with winds on deck above 50 knots.
 
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Testament to the professional conduct of all involved, and... to the design of both carrier and aircraft.

It’s a proud legacy, carried forward.
 
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And a deserved kick in the 'nads for the doom & gloom merchants.

Things can only get better...
Erm wouldn’t use that, blair loved that tune.
 
[DRIFT]


[/DRIFT]
 
Back to HMS Queen Elizabeth: HMS Queen Elizabeth begins second phase of F-35 trials

Beyond the completed DT-1 test requirements—which were performed within the same flight envelope as will be used in the first operational test phase—the ITF also conducted about half of the testing that falls under the DT-2 threshold, or the flight envelope needed to reach initial operational capability (maritime).

The ITF returned to the ship in late October for DT-2, which will concentrate on external stores testing, minimum performance short-takeoffs and SRVLs, and night operations.

It sounds like progress has been good. A huge amount of effort got us to this point, over a number of years, and with life made difficult by politicians.

Talking of frigates and ASW: HMS Westminster and Northumberland make most of NATO’s biggest exercise of 2018 | Royal Navy

The 1,000-mile passage has been used by the numerous ships in the group – British, American, Danish, Canadian and French – to hone their ability to work together, but especially to collectively find, track and, if necessary attack, a submarine (in this case a friendly one).

Both British frigates carry the RN’s leading sub-hunter, Merlin Mk2 helicopters from 814 Naval Air Squadron at Culdrose. And both ships have a tail: Sonar 2087, the towed array or ‘low frequency active sonar’.

Obviously more ASW helicopters mean more capability, which is why a carrier can carry a squadron of them.

A RAS is bread-and-butter to the British ships, but otherwise the Norwegian Sea crossing has been a bit of an eye-opener for Northumberland and Westminster. The frigates typically operate as lone wolves, rather than in a task group. Protecting a ‘high value unit’ – namely the Iwo Jima – has been useful practice for protecting new carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales.

“The Iwo Jima is essential for the task force to conduct an Amphibious Assault,” explained Lieutenant Commander David Howe, Westminster’s Weapon Engineer Officer.

“Working as a task group is a complex business – even more so with multiple nations involved as part of a NATO group. In the Queen Elizabeth-class era, working as a task force will continue to increase in importance, so Trident Juncture 18 provides a great opportunity for the Royal Navy to rehearse these operations.

The carrier herself is not the only high value unit that needs to be defended by her aircraft and/or escorting warships - cf USS Iwo Jima.

The frigates do other things as well as protecting the High Value Units:

HMS Northumberland lays down some lead at NATO war games | Royal Navy
 
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I wonder whether the Royal Navy is really prepared for a future World War. Such a war would most likely be fought with Russia. And Russia has nuclear weapons. These weapons would easily destroy any RN ship floating on the surface of the sea.

Such as the carrier HMS "Queen Elizabeth". That big juicy target would get smitten into nuclear dust on the first day of the war. By Russian nuclear torpedo or MIRV warhead. And the big carrier wouldn't be saved by a dozen or so F-35's parked on deck. They'd have no chance to even get into action, before they were obliterated.

In fact no surface ship would be any use at all in a future war. They'd all get sunk very quickly. Too easily spotted by Russian ocean-surveillance satellites, then picked off. The only RN vessels which could survive would be submarines. They'd be under the surface of the sea, where Russian satellites couldn't detect them.

Given these blatantly obvious facts, why doesn't the Royal Navy convert, as soon as possible, to being an all-submarine force.

Is there some tradition-based objection - like the Army was allegedly against converting from horse cavalry to tanks?
 
I wonder whether the Royal Navy is really prepared for a future World War. Such a war would most likely be fought with Russia. And Russia has nuclear weapons. These weapons would easily destroy any RN ship floating on the surface of the sea.

Such as the carrier HMS "Queen Elizabeth". That big juicy target would get smitten into nuclear dust on the first day of the war. By Russian nuclear torpedo or MIRV warhead. And the big carrier wouldn't be saved by a dozen or so F-35's parked on deck. They'd have no chance to even get into action, before they were obliterated.

In fact no surface ship would be any use at all in a future war. They'd all get sunk very quickly. Too easily spotted by Russian ocean-surveillance satellites, then picked off. The only RN vessels which could survive would be submarines. They'd be under the surface of the sea, where Russian satellites couldn't detect them.

Given these blatantly obvious facts, why doesn't the Royal Navy convert, as soon as possible, to being an all-submarine force.

Is there some tradition-based objection - like the Army was allegedly against converting from horse cavalry to tanks?
We should probably disband the entire armed forces immediately to avoid them becoming targets for Russian nuclear attack then. You spastic.
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
In fact no surface ship would be any use at all in a future war. They'd all get sunk very quickly. Too easily spotted by Russian ocean-surveillance satellites, then picked off. The only RN vessels which could survive would be submarines. They'd be under the surface of the sea, where Russian satellites couldn't detect them.
No, the submarines can also be tracked by the super duper secret Russian spy satellites and blasted with laser beams from outer space, so we can't use them either. There was a documentary about this by some "James Bond" chap.

In fact the Russians have already won, conquered the world, and we're actually all just living in the Matrix being power sources for Vladimir Putin's XBox. Apparently he's really enjoying "Red Dead Redemption 2".

Given these blatantly obvious facts, why doesn't the Royal Navy convert, as soon as possible, to being an all-submarine force.

Is there some tradition-based objection - like the Army was allegedly against converting from horse cavalry to tanks?
No, you're right, it's like the way the manned aircraft became completely obsolete in 1957, the tank was rendered useless and unusable in 1967, the ballistic missile's been irrelevant since 1972... unless you're Russian in which case none of this applies because reasons.

That's why our surface ships are all doomed deathtraps while theirs are all invincible dreadnoughts, because... er... anyway, we're idiots for still having ships because the Russian ships will sink our ships because they're really clever for having surface ships that nobody can find and sink, because we use surface ships that any fule kno will be instantly found and sunk because ships are obsolete except for Russian ships...
 
I wonder whether the Royal Navy is really prepared for a future World War. Such a war would most likely be fought with Russia. And Russia has nuclear weapons. These weapons would easily destroy any RN ship floating on the surface of the sea.

Such as the carrier HMS "Queen Elizabeth". That big juicy target would get smitten into nuclear dust on the first day of the war. By Russian nuclear torpedo or MIRV warhead. And the big carrier wouldn't be saved by a dozen or so F-35's parked on deck. They'd have no chance to even get into action, before they were obliterated.

In fact no surface ship would be any use at all in a future war. They'd all get sunk very quickly. Too easily spotted by Russian ocean-surveillance satellites, then picked off. The only RN vessels which could survive would be submarines. They'd be under the surface of the sea, where Russian satellites couldn't detect them.

Given these blatantly obvious facts, why doesn't the Royal Navy convert, as soon as possible, to being an all-submarine force.

Is there some tradition-based objection - like the Army was allegedly against converting from horse cavalry to tanks?
Yes I'm sure submarine aircraft carriers, submarine landing ships etc will be easy to develop and build and will in service shortly .
 
Given these blatantly obvious facts, why doesn't the Royal Navy convert, as soon as possible, to being an all-submarine force.
Possibly because they're not necessarily blatantly obvious facts, at least not in any form of warfighting where Mr Putin doesn't want to find a MIRV heading for Moscow because, sadly, we didn't realise that the Russians had creatively decided to use their strategic rocket forces in an anti-carrier role.

'Pilot to Nav. D'you think this'll work? Some chap on Arrse reckons submarines are a bit invulnerable these days'


'Oh. Seems to have done the job. Grab us a doughnut from the galley, will you?'
 

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