Land-Based Air versus Carrier-Borne Air

#1
Land-Based Air versus Carrier-Borne Air – Real Costs and Achievements over 40 Years
Authors: Admiral Sandy Woodward, Commodore Steve Jermy, “Sharkey” Ward

Some eye opening cost comparisons, especially for those who believe 5 billion for two QE class Aircraft Carriers is a huge amount: JP233 10 billion...

Land-Based Air versus Carrier-Borne Air
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
I seem to remember a figure of EIGHT billion pd up the wall on the Nimrod AWACS before Arnie Wienstock's bluff was called and the cost-plus contract cancelled.
 
#3
Were the development costs of JP 233 really £10bn? Seems a bit on the high side to me. Anyway, it isn't around any more:
Hansard 3 Mar 2009 said:
Tornado Aircraft: Weapons

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the JP233 runway denial munition carried by RAF Tornado aircraft is a cluster munition within the meaning of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. [260222]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The UK withdrew the JP233 from service in 1998 in order to meet its obligations under the Ottawa Convention. JP233 would also have been rendered prohibited under the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
 
#4
So JP233 was an even bigger waste of money then...
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#5
Seaweed's potted timeline for the post-war FAA (some dates a bit rough because I can't remember them):

1950s Illustrious etc scrapped (hangars too small) XMT Vic which was razeed down to the hangar deck (3 deck) and completely rebuilt

1953 ASW Whirlwinds stripped out and sent to Malaya as Junglies, sub for Crabs to help out Percy

1955ish Eagle & Ark join fleet

Mid 50s Light Fleets sold off or scrapped. Replaced by Improved Light Fleets (A B C & Hermes)

1959/1960s Tiger class cruisers join fleet. Useful for re-run of Pacific war but only if guns work, which to start with they very much don't.

Mid 60s 1 Fleet Carrier (Vic, Ark, Eagle) virtually permanently deployed to FES (along with almost all the rest of the RN) to help cow Sukarno

1960s 3-D (big dustbin) radar developed also CDS (Carrier Display System) to present its picture

1963 1st Buccaneer sqn forms

1960s Albion & Bulwark converted as Commando carriers, prove their worth off Borneo during confrontation.

1970 ish Tiger and Blake converted as ASW helo platforms

1970 ish Crabs adopt Harrier developed from RR Flying Bedstead via Hawker P1127, allows Crabs to operate from jungle clearings in Germany etc., outwits WW3 Spetznaz raids on their huge fixed airfields.

1963 Eagle takes Poseidon computer to sea (wardrobe-sized cabinets) - first ever RN digital computer to go to sea

1969 ish Polaris patrols commence, carriers lose nuke role in N Norwegian sea

1970 Wilson cancels CVA01 as costs pass £50m mark

1970s Ark converted for Phantoms, no 3-D radar, no digital computers as pusser isn't allowed the money.

1970s 'Through Deck Cruisers' dreamed up as ASW helo platform, Tiger becomes heritage feature in Fountain Lake

1978 Labour, possibly on orders from Moscow, bins Ark in order to screw incoming Conservatives.

1970s Through Deck Cruisers acquire air defence role via enormously successful adaptation of Crabs' Harriers.

1982 RN loses ships and men because Crab promise to deliver AEW is now PROVEN to be bogus
Last V bombers (Vulcans) got rid of, Crabs lose last vestige of strategic role

1980s, 90s etc RN loses all experience in operating pukka carriers, senior officers & FAA officers come through who are stuck in STOVL mindset

1988 Portillo promises our alleged allies in Europe that we will build two carriers as contribution to Euro Navy.

1989 Blair realises carriers are key to power projection (= his own self-aggrandisement)

1990s Blair realises carriers might be useful dowry to get himself follow-on job as Pres of Europe

1999 ish Frogs produce CdeG. too slow, flight deck too short, but delivers Gloire which is the main point and upstages perfidious Albion

21st century US & France demonstrate how real carriers can contribute to Afghan etc wars
Lockheed Martin try & out-Harrier the Harrier but with technology which is doomed not to work and which imposes totally unacceptable payload penalty. SHAR binned so Fleet loses all air defence capability.

2010 etc QE & PoW saved as commitment to Europe. Idiot STOVL idea binned. Money needed for given away to x-subsidise Indian nuclear weapons & space programes & to buy Mercs & private planes for African dictators and their chums. Through Deck Cruisers come to end of life and FAA loses all F/W capability.

It's now the 1930s again.
 

Bouillabaisse

LE
Book Reviewer
#6
Sharkey, (I may call you that, I hope?)

are you posting about this on other places or just Arrse? I just ask because its taken 5 years and a failed experiment with Rumration to get an RN forum here. I was rather hoping it would be a place we could spin dits about legendary runs ashore and the best place to get replacement ipods but instead suddenly half the threads seem to be you going on about Harrier, carriers and those enemies of democracy, the RAF. Any thought that perhaps an army forum is not the best place to win an arguement with the government to convince them to do a u-turn on a recent decision at a time when they're trying to show steely determination in the face of massive pressure in all sorts of areas?
Yours aye,

Bully
 
#7
When you earnestly believe grossly inaccurate tosh like that being churned out by that 'think tank', I worry. It's another case of the RN - just as with CVA01 - showing itself up with crap staff work.

First - 'Tornado F1'. This high-powered think tank can't even get the basics right. Good start.

In the early 80s, a retired Chief of the Air Staff then working for Marconi admitted on television that the aircraft “might as well have cement inside the radar dome because it didn’t work at all” – hence it became known as the ‘Blue circle’ radar.
Source? For a comment made before the aircraft was in service...

urther, its lack of a working weapon system left the United Kingdom completely vulnerable to Soviet air attack up until the end of the Cold War
Totally untrue. Furthermore, the Phantom - surprised Sharkey doesn't remember that, since he flew it - was useful with AWG10/12/AIM-7 & later SkyFlash, plus AIM-9. This is why the Phantom stayed in service until 1992, and why the RAF 'toom squadrons flew the Phantom up until the F3 was ready for service entry. A bit of basic research - shows that while Foxhunter didn't work to the standard specified, Phantom navs generally thought it at least comparable in terms of quality to the radar on the Phantom, which was perfectly OK (at least the USN & USMC thought it was...).

When deployed to the Arabian Gulf during the Iraq war operations, it flew nugatory combat air patrol missions over the sea and well away from the theatre of active operations
Nice twisting of the facts. It lacked NCTR kit, which meant that the chances of fratricide were enhanced; F3s were hauled off the contact which led to the RSAF F-15 shooting down two Mirage F1 (bodging the attack so that when cleared for a BVR shot against a formation, the RSAF pair managed to get the combat down to a singleton WVR with AIM-9). There was also another incident where F3s were sent to prosecute a low-level target outbound from Kuwait; the F3 driver 'got a feeling in his water', declined the BVR clearance and WVR - which stopped him from killing an F-4G with IFF failure.

It was then good enough to do the NFZs over Iraq and former Yugoslavia and was on operations for 20 years.

In Iraq, eight aircraft were lost but informed sources tell us that only one of these was due to enemy action. The remainder of the losses reportedly resulted from unfamiliarity with the JP 233 delivery profile (three aircraft) as well as ‘finger trouble’ and a basic lack of air warfare munitions expertise.
Six, not eight. And the sources might be informed, but certainly not about Tornado.

One was shot down at medium level by an SA-3 (Rupert Clark [POW] and Steve Hicks [KIA]) on an LGB trip

One went in after a JP233 attack (Nige Elsdon and Max Collier [both KIA]), almost certainly CFIT

John Peters and John Nichol were probably bagged by a SAM - while carrying 1000lb bombs, although one of their formation reckons they may have fragged themselves when jet was damaged and they released their ordnance.

Dave Waddington and Bob Stewart were shot down on a loft attack with 1000lb bombs by a SAM. Both were taken POW, but only because Stewart managed to command eject them just in time after Waddington was knocked unconcious by the SAM going off next to his cockpit. It's no wonder Dave went bald...

Simon Burgess and Bob Ankerson were brought down on a medium level attack with 1000lb bombs when one of the bombs prematurely detonated after leaving the aircraft; both survived.

Gary Lennox and Kev Weeks were both killed after delivering 1000lb bombs in a night attack on an AAA site.

The bit about lack of munitions expertise is an insult and a falsehood - there was a lack of practice with live JP233, but not 1000lb bombs, which had been rearranging Garvey Island and various other range targets for a decade.

Over Kosovo, it was engaged in ground support operations but when prevented from taking off from its Italian base through bad weather, these operations were successfully conducted by the Sea Harrier FA2 operating from our carrier.
Bollocks. First, they flew their first ops (not ground support ops, either) from Germany. SHARs did not fly any bombing missions during ALLIED FORCE. None. Not one. Ask Dave Baddams, who gave a very useful insight into what they did when he was on ACSC4 at Shriv. They provided a useful DCA capability, but no air-to-ground. Or did the ever-accurate paper actually mean 'former Yugoslavia' when the SHAR did some air-ground work (as did the RAF's Jaguars, but let's not mention that land based crab air did something useful, eh?)

JP233 - £10bn cost? Source? Flight International had the programme cost as £130 million in its 17th Jan 1981 edition. So the programme costs went up to £10bn between 1981 and 1991 did they? My Arrse did they.


On Nimrod:
This land-based aircraft has been significant by its absence from the effective support of Operation Corporate in the Falklands, 1982 and from all other conflicts engaged in since that time.
14 blokes diedon a ops in a Nimrod - XV230, google it, you ill-informed charlatan - in Afghanistan, FFS.

The OC of 206 Sqn got an AFC in 1982 for doing some interesting things which included being off the Argentine coast as dawn rose. It provided MRR for the TF, which is why it got the AAR probe. It did rather more than patrolling the seas around Ascension Island as the paper later suggests.

It was heavily involved in Granby as well - cueing targets for 815 with Sea Skua amongst other things.

This section is, of course, then followed by the usual and entirely predictable bullshit & blah about Typhoon - single role (it wasn't, read the AST which has it to replace Jaguar in the air-ground role) and having to be modified at great expense for air-ground (it isn't - the aircraft was to enter in the air-air role first and then the air-ground role; this is also a matter of public record for those who can be bothered to look), etc, etc. Yawn.

The FA2 distinguished itself with its versatility and reliability:

* Policing the no-fly zone over Iraq alongside our American allies;
* Policing the no-fly zone over Kosovo and conducting air to ground missions when land-based aircraft were prevented from flying;
* Flying armed reconnaissance missions over Sierra Leone in support of ground forces.
Indeed - but the NFZ patrolling over Iraq was done largely by the RAF using the TGR1 & TGR4 and F3, Harrier and Jaguar, from land bases.

The same applies to Kosovo, and the FA2, as noted flew no air-ground sorties during that operation (although I suspect that this is another inaccuracy where Kosovo and Op Deny Flight are getting mixed up).


Its early withdrawal from service was an appalling example of professional misjudgement and deception[7] that was engineered by the Royal Air Force – sadly with the hopefully unwitting agreement of the then First Sea Lord. It removed the fleet’s long range air defence capability, was operationally illogical and paid no regard whatsoever to its excellent service and its recognised capability for the defence and support of task force operations off and onshore.
So Scotty Lidbitter and Iain Henderson were crabs? They were under duress when they told various well-informed audiences that the move to an all GR7 (as was) force made sense, and gave clear reasons for it which didn't include being led up the garden path by evil crustaceans because they (Lidbitter and Henderson) were foolish, naive dupes who clearly needed watering twice daily.

The removal of the SHAR was not - no matter how hard you want it to be true, and repeating the lie won't make it true either - down to the crabs alone. The decision had be-starred support from within the RN and from naval aviators.

Between the Falklands in 1982 and Deny Flight, the SHAR did not fly in an operational zone. The RAF's Tornados (both GR and F variants), Jaguars and Harriers did - constantly, and from land.

And even the footnotes - mostly to other Phoenix Think Tank papers are tendentious -

It is now understood that the unit procurement cost for the Typhoon is £200 million rather than the initial DPA figure of £92 million.
The NAO will be interested to hear that, since they have consistently given a figure below even the £92 million, and continue to do so.

That paper is a shocking pastiche of assertion, bluster, facts apparently plucked out of the author's rear end, or from 'informed sources' who are clearly not informed at all, poor research, schoolboy factual errors, half-truths and distorted history wrapped up in a tissue of anti-crab bias with a smidge of libel and a cheeky helping of disrespect for the fallen to top it off.

I apologise to other arrsers for the length of this post, but that piece is so grossly inaccurate it can't go without challenge. Land and maritime based air are complementary and have shown that time after time after time; puffing up the RN's case by attempting to do down the crabs with a pile of bullshit as egregious as that paper is, frankly, both a disgrace and an embarassment to the RN.

D- Show Again.
 
#8
'Sharkey' Ward replies...


"The Silent service has been silent for far too long and as a result has been taken to the cleaners in the aviation Department.

This paper is neither vitriolic nor bitter. It simply demonstrates the extraordinary imbalance in defence expenditure between land-based and carrier borne aviation over the last 40 years and, at the same time, records the operational effectiveness (or otherwise) of such expenditure.

Anti-Fleet Air Arm/Royal Navy vitriol, acrimony and denigration has been the hallmark of the Royal Air Force for some time now; notably recently out of the mouths of Torp and Stirrup.
We are not in the game of generating a war of words concerning their ill-considered opinions but we have every right to respond in detail to them.

The paper is not a platform for detailed discussion on the justification for mobile rather than static bases or the pros and cons of different aircraft types that might be chosen for operation from our new carriers. These subjects and more have all been covered in great detail in preceding PTT papers and will be further addressed in future papers.

I note with some pleasure that the expenditure figures quoted in this paper are not being contested. I suspect that is because we have underestimated the total expenditure on land-based aircraft (Tornado, Typhoon come to mind in particular).

It is the wasteful Royal Air Force expenditure on immobile land-based fixed wing aircraft that is the key point of this paper. Should it continue it will deny more pressing equipment requirements for the other two Services.

A better balance in defence spending that recognises strategic operational effectiveness is necessary, is it not?

Sharkey."

Land-Based Air versus Carrier-Borne Air

Scroll down
My italics.
 
#9
Just to clarify, ID99, is that reply:

a.) An attempt to suggest that Cdr Ward has replied to my post, when his reply is directed to respondents on the PTT site?

b.) An attempt to ignore the fact that I've had the temerity to run up multiple bovine scatology flags on the litany of errors that run through that paper, in a manner which would run the risk of destroying its credibility when placed before someone making decisions who decided to check who'd got their facts right?

My point, which you appear to wish to ignore, is that you can make a damned good case for carrier aviation, with a robust analysis drawn from accurate interpretation of events. This may remove that satisfying sense of sticking the boot into the crabs as hard and as often as possible, but has the benefit that the analysis in the paper doesn't fall apart as the narrative is blown out of the water, taking the valid arguments to the bottom with it. Your response below Cdr Ward's rather suggests that a fog of light blue is clouding your judgement on this.
 
#10
Just who is the output of this think tank aimed at? Politicians? Defence policy wonks? Journalists? The military? The man on the Clapham omnibus? As one of the latter, who has spent quite a lot of time over the years working with the RN and was pretty well disposed to the senior service, the only effect of Cdr Ward’s fulminations is to erode that sympathy. So who is being converted to the cause by all this? Or is simply some form of therapy?

C_C
 
#11
Archimedes

Bloody brilliant post and thank you for taking the time to give such a detailed response to the steaming pile of tosh that was the original article.

One minor comment on their assertion about Nimrod:

"This land-based aircraft has been significant by its absence from the effective support of Operation Corporate in the Falklands, 1982 and from all other conflicts engaged in since that time."

Did these guys not know what the Nimrod fleet was doing in Iraq and Afghanistan? Perhaps I was imagining being woken up on a regular basis as the Nimdet went off again on another mission from the COB in Basra. Having seen first hand what the Nimrods could do in Iraq, I am in awe of their capabilities. More to the point, did the authors miss the fairly significant point that Nimrod has a SAR / ASW role which needed to be filled in the UK, and that without Nimrod doing ASW, the SSBN was at risk?

I mean, those nasty RAF aviators, how dare they build a plane to support the RN and then spend nearly 50 years doing just that with the plane type. Isn't it terrible that they kept Nimrods in Kinloss, flying in dire weather in risky sorties to support the Royal Navy and its nuclear deterrent.
 
#12
Just to clarify, ID99, is that reply:

a.) An attempt to suggest that Cdr Ward has replied to my post, when his reply is directed to respondents on the PTT site?

b.) An attempt to ignore the fact that I've had the temerity to run up multiple bovine scatology flags on the litany of errors that run through that paper, in a manner which would run the risk of destroying its credibility when placed before someone making decisions who decided to check who'd got their facts right?

My point, which you appear to wish to ignore, is that you can make a damned good case for carrier aviation, with a robust analysis drawn from accurate interpretation of events. This may remove that satisfying sense of sticking the boot into the crabs as hard and as often as possible, but has the benefit that the analysis in the paper doesn't fall apart as the narrative is blown out of the water, taking the valid arguments to the bottom with it. Your response below Cdr Ward's rather suggests that a fog of light blue is clouding your judgement on this.
No merely an attempt to put the other side of the coin on who has a 'pathological hatred' of who. RAF are not the lilly white innocents in this that RAF, and its supporters, would have people believe.
The RAF is very far from being strangers to both bias and vast amounts of spin. To pretend otherwise is dishonest.

IMHO, it is high time the RN caught up on this, because if they do not RN will lose both the fixed wing FAA and the QE class Aircraft Carriers, and that will be a disaster for UK, whatever RAF may say.

Btw, your point A) was a bit unlikely, given I gave the link.
 
#13
No merely an attempt to put the other side of the coin on who has a 'pathological hatred' of who. RAF are not the lilly white innocents in this that RAF, and its supporters, would have people believe.
The RAF is very far from being strangers to both bias and vast amounts of spin. To pretend otherwise is dishonest.

IMHO, it is high time the RN caught up on this, because if they do not RN will lose both the fixed wing FAA and the QE class Aircraft Carriers, and that will be a disaster for UK, whatever RAF may say.

Btw, your point A) was a bit unlikely, given I gave the link.


If the RAF are such the scoundrels you say they are, can you answer me this?

Why are the RAF still putting so much interest and support into CVF? One presumes the fairly senior RAF types I saw on Tuesday looking around one of the CVF superblocks under construction was doing it for good professional reasons. Or maybe in your world they had decided to visit to gloat over the dying corpse and stick more pins in it?
 
#14
I do not say the RAF are in any way 'scoundrels', I have friends in the RAF, but the RAF leadership is anti FAA, and always has been. RAF want F35 as a Tornado 'replacement', if they get it -and I now have a few doubts about that- my guess is their interest in the QE class Aircraft Carriers will wane very quickly. But, I admit, I'm a cynic.
 

Guns

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#15
MOD Mode one.

Can we please stop with this RAF this and FAA that. Hard decisions are taken by senior officers because we have no money, over stretched and have to go with certain contracts because we are too broke to get out of them. The senior RAF do not sit around, stroking white cats, plotting to get rid of the FAA.

Remember the rule - post what you would say to someones face and we can all get along fine.

IronDuke99 - Discussion and argument is good but need to tone down your posts. Not everything you read from the think tank is the whole truth and is slewed by a certain mindset of the people writing. Don't slavishly follow their line, be critical and don't go on the defensive if others on here disagree.
 
#16
The senior RAF do not sit around, stroking white cats, plotting to get rid of the FAA.


Basking in the satisfaction of his Harrier coup, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen 'Blofeld' Dalton plotted the final downfall of the FAA.
 

Guns

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#17
Non MOD Mode on

:plotting:
 
#18
I will take note of what you say Guns, and I'm cross posting this as it puts my position as clearly as I'm able:

Basically whenever the question of Carrier Air and the Fleet Air Arm and the RAF comes up, it is easy enough to predict on what side of the argument some posters here -and elsewhere- will come down. The line is always the same while claiming to have every respect for the RN, anything actually written in support of the RN, and especially the FAA, is labeled with any insult from 'stupid' to 'sound bite'.

However, when push comes to shove, the same posters who are so quick to attack anti-RAF bias, etc, will also be the posters saying that the QE class Aircraft Carriers are 'too expensive' or a 'luxuary UK cannot afford', etc. Indeed some of them already have. That is a good indication of how unbiased many of these people actually are. The RAF have been claiming they could do all sorts of things, better done by the FAA, for many years. Phoenix is, at last, an attempt to redress the balance.

I do not hold everything the Phoenix Think Tank comes up with as 'gosple', except, you have to have dedicated Carrier Air to have viable Aircraft Carriers. And in the UK's case that means FAA. Without fixed wing FAA the RN, and UK, will certainly not get even one viable Carrier. Of course this does not preclude volunteer RAF pilots -ie, those who actually want to do it- serving with the FAA, as they always did. The argument is about who commands Carrier Aviation: The Navy and FAA who understands it and have many years of experience in it, or the RAF who don't understand it and don't much like what they do understand.

I have not, myself seen or heard many RN officers attacking the Phoenix Think Tank, although, I have heard many praising its robust defence of the Fleet Air Arm and British Carrier Aviation. For those who keep pushing 'jointery' as the way forward for UK fixed wing Carrier Aviation look where fixed wing British Carrier Aviation is now: Non existent but for some FAA pilots in the USA. In terms of Carrier Aviation 'jointery' has not, and will not, work.
 
#19
In fairness to The Phoenix Think Tank, and Commander Ward, could I point out that 'Sharkey' has actually fully joined in the discussion at the bottom of this article and answered many of the points raised against it, as well as raising several other good points. (Scroll down). Personally I respect an author who responds constructively and politely to adverse comment.

Land-Based Air versus Carrier-Borne Air
 

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