Libya: "axed Harriers could have saved lives"

#1
From Channel 4 News' website:

Libya: axed Harriers 'could have saved lives'

A former senior Harrier commander tells Channel 4 News the US Navy's use of the jets against Colonel Gaddafi shows the British Government was wrong to scrap Britain's sea-based air power.

The Government is facing renewed calls from former senior military personnel to rethink its programme of defence cuts as operations in Libya threaten to expose Britain's weaknesses.

The decision to scrap the UK's last aircraft carrier, the Ark Royal, along with the Harrier jump jet - the last plane capable of flying from the decks of ships - has been strongly criticised by ex-RAF and Navy commanders.

The lack of a sea-based strike option initially left the RAF with no choice but to fly sorties from bases in the UK, sending Tornado jets on 3,000-mile round trips at a cost of £200,000 per aircraft, according to estimates from analysts.

The RAF bombing raid from RAF Marham in Norfolk on Saturday night is thought to be the longest single sortie since the Falklands War, entailing an eight-hour round trip.

David Cameron has told the House of Commons that two Typhoon jets have now been sent to a military base in southern Italy, 25 minutes flying time from the Libyan coast.

Commodore Steven Jermy, who flew Harriers from HMS Invincible during the Falklands war and was later Strategy Director in the British Embassy in Kabul, said the 600-mile trip from Italy to eastern Libya will make it impossible for the fighters to respond quickly enough to the changing situation.

He told Channel 4 News: "You can't do it like that. It's a ridiculous idea. Speaking as a naval aviator, it is a technical triumph, because it is such a long way.

"But what they are calling a tactical triumph is a reflection of a strategic shortfall.

"The advantage of being 40 miles off the coast is that the aircraft will be on deck alert in ten minutes."

"What we are seeing is that the Americans have got what is essentially an aircraft carrier off the coast. The French will have one in a short time. The best we can do is operate 600 miles away.

"You just can't do it. You can't manage a combat air patrol from that distance. We struggled in the Falklands when we were 150 miles off the coast."

More/continues: Libya: axed Harriers 'could have saved lives' - Channel 4 News
 
#2
Nice to see someone other than Sharkey countering the Crab spin-merchants for a change but I'm sure WC and sunoficarus will be along to 'correct' things soon.

A handful of aircraft with tanker support fly a 3,000 mile round trip from RAF Marham to Libya at enormous cost and effort only to have their mission aborted as they approach the target. Good airmanship but to continue calling such an uneconomic use of resources a triumph? Really!

"The advantage of being 40 miles off the coast is that the aircraft will be on deck alert in ten minutes."
 
#3
I wondered how long it would be before the 'lets changes SDSR and keep the carriers crew' started on this one. Not that I am necessarily in disagreement, but didn't we ditch the Harrier Air Defence variant a couple of years back? And doesn't operating off a carrier limit the amount of ammo and fuel you can carry?

Not in total disagreement, but I am not entirely sure the facts stack up on this one as much as certain retired Andrew types would have us believe.
 
#4
where is our nearist carrier? being as arks being measured for razor blades, illustrious is the only carrier we have left and unless shes ready to sale straight away then the only option would be to send in the RAF as how long would it take to arrange supplies, personel and planes, escorts and then sail to the med a week? although if we had em it would be nice without the number os ships available to the USA the RAF were the only way to respond to the crisis immediantly
 
#5
Would a Harrier 'in theory' be able to carry a couple of storm shadows and take off from a ship?

I could understand the argument more if we lost a Nimitz size carrier in the cuts with F15/18's on it?
 
#6
I'm sure the Commodore is correct, 40 nm is far better but CVS with GR9's is NOT the answer, and never WILL be the answer - the sun dodging pasty faced boat crews have this more than covered frankly.

But getting our GR9's back won't solve a damn thing, and they couldn't solve anything. What we need to do is take this hit on the chin - we****ed up as a country when we let the OLD Ark go without a replacement. What needs to happen now is a slow and steady build up, using safe proven designs to enable us to get our full fat carrier capability back as, I still firmly believe, the capability it provides is exactly in line with the kind of actions/conflicts we need to be able to engage in - ie limited interventions just like this one. However, we need to accept that it takes time and effort to regenerate this capability, and CVF isn't the right way of going about it.
 
#7
Of course, that build up would be easier if we were operating jets from the deck.... Perhaps jets we already have from an existing deck. Hmmm!

Also see: Decision to axe Harrier is "bonkers". - PPRuNe Forums

Edit (December 2012): Why can't we just lease a few (a couple of AV8Bs to attach to NFSF(FW), to give us something to embark to train the deck crews (and others), and give UK based RN jet jocks something to fly?
 
#8
I wondered how long it would be before the 'lets changes SDSR and keep the carriers crew' started on this one. Not that I am necessarily in disagreement, but didn't we ditch the Harrier Air Defence variant a couple of years back? And doesn't operating off a carrier limit the amount of ammo and fuel you can carry?

Not in total disagreement, but I am not entirely sure the facts stack up on this one as much as certain retired Andrew types would have us believe.
He might be a "certain retired Andrew type" but I wonder how his detractors' track records stack up against his:
...His commands included HM Ships Tiger Bay, Upton, Arrow, Cardiff, the 5th Destroyer Squadron and the Fleet Air Arm and senior staff appointments were in the MoD Directorate of Policy Planning, as Principal Staff Officer to the Chief of Defence Staff, and working with the RAF at the Air HQ in High Wycombe. He saw active service flying from HMS Invincible in the Falklands War, and his last operational service was as Strategy Director in the British Embassy in Kabul in Afghanistan 2007-8. He gained an MPhil in International Relations from Pembroke College Cambridge in 1992, and graduated from the Royal College of Defence Studies in 2008...
 
#9
Bring back the Vulcan we could bomb all their assets in one sortie!!!

If we had the SLR we could shoot them from Cyprus!!!

If we still had a Cavalry we could ride over the desert and...

YAWN! :)
 
#10
It is worth noting, of course, that the emotive 'save lives' cry came from one Cdr (rtd) Nigel Ward... Evidence? Ah, yes...

Leveller - no, the GR9s couldn't have used Storm Shadow. Weapon not cleared - first, you have to take part of the undercarriage off to load the weapon, and second, you can't bring it back unused. There are other issues which would've been a bit of a challenge to resolve to clear the weapon, AIUI (from a former OC of a Harrier sqn) So if last night's aborted op (because of info arriving en route which revised the CDE to unacceptable levels), the Harriers would've returned to the Ark Royal and unloaded a couple of million quid's worth of weapons into the sea to be able to get back aboard. That'd have buggered up Cdr Ward's calculations about the cost...
 
#11
Lusty is in refit at the moment.



The main message though is, He who spins loudest, wins.

The RAF have got that down to a fine art..........






Here's a point to consider,

Have the Army and the Navy been naïve in the last 20 odd years and allowed it all to happen?
 
#12
Nice to see someone other than Sharkey countering the Crab spin-merchants for a change but I'm sure WC and sunoficarus will be along to 'correct' things soon.

A handful of aircraft with tanker support fly a 3,000 mile round trip from RAF Marham to Libya at enormous cost and effort only to have their mission aborted as they approach the target. Good airmanship but to continue calling such an uneconomic use of resources a triumph? Really!
Except that when you follow the link guess who is also holding forth - and indeed is the source of the 'saving lives' claim. He also claims

"In terms of attacking tanks and army units the Harrier is just as capable as the Tornado, and the Harrier has indeed got a better capability for ensuring no casualties for civilians, because is system is more accurate for the delivery of precision guided bombs.
Is this really the case?

C_C
 
#13
I'm sure the Commodore is correct, 40 nm is far better but CVS with GR9's is NOT the answer, and never WILL be the answer - the sun dodging pasty faced boat crews have this more than covered frankly.

But getting our GR9's back won't solve a damn thing, and they couldn't solve anything. What we need to do is take this hit on the chin - we****ed up as a country when we let the OLD Ark go without a replacement. What needs to happen now is a slow and steady build up, using safe proven designs to enable us to get our full fat carrier capability back as, I still firmly believe, the capability it provides is exactly in line with the kind of actions/conflicts we need to be able to engage in - ie limited interventions just like this one. However, we need to accept that it takes time and effort to regenerate this capability, and CVF isn't the right way of going about it.
Maybe you are right about a 'full fat carrier' as you put it, but wouldnt it be better and certainly far more flexible if we still had a deck and Harriers to fly off it in the meantime? What the Government/MOD has done is akin to me deciding that I need a new car and selling my current one now before buying the new one in two years time... what am I going to do in the meantime walk?
 
#14
Would the knackered tornado be the same one that first flew in 1974 some 7 years after the first harrier flight?
Gr9 was never cleared for stormshadow so how could it have done the mission? How much fuel would ark and her escorts have used pooling round the med? I suspect it is a lot more than the transit costs of the tornado
 
#15
Who is saying anything about Harriers carrying Stormshadow, obviously he means it could have done the jobs that other US Harriers have been doing. Incidently all this display about flying 3,000 miles from Marham seems more to be about showboating how important the Tornados are when Submarines are just off the coast doing the same job, I wonder if the sqaudrons flying these sorties are the same squadrons inked to be scrapped under the SDSR? Having said that the tomahawks fired by the Royal Navy probably wouldn't have been aborted at the last minute in sight of civilians and given the MoD a PR boost, so good on the RAF.
 
#16
Who is saying anything about Harriers carrying Stormshadow, obviously he means it could have done the jobs that other US Harriers have been doing. Incidently all this display about flying 3,000 miles from Marham seems more to be about showboating how important the Tornados are when Submarines are just off the coast doing the same job, I wonder if the sqaudrons flying these sorties are the same squadrons inked to be scrapped under the SDSR? Having said that the tomahawks fired by the Royal Navy probably wouldn't have been aborted at the last minute in sight of civilians and given the MoD a PR boost, so good on the RAF.
If you don't understand the difference between TLAM and Storm Shadow (and you obviously don't) then you're not really qualified to comment.

C_C
 
#17
I'd have thought as part of a multi-national force if we lack something specific one of the other participants will have it.
I'm not saying this justifies the apparently lashed-up defence review but it does get a bit tedious when everyone with an axe to grind jumps on the latest news story as an illustration of why their pet bit of kit should have been saved. And when words as emotive as 'could have saved lives' are used it becomes a bit cringe-making. Anyway, even if true, they're not British lives, I'd rather spend money on stuff that taxpayers here need than on saving people who'll probably be wishing us harm in a couple of years anyway.
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
#18
stormshadow isnt that great and just a poor mans cruise to replace jp233 (if I remember right) the damn thing is prop driven for f's sake. it has a use here because the tornadoes would probably fall apart jinking between hot zones. its a low level bomber not a ground attack fighter like the harrier was designed to be.

and why send tornado and stormshadow when you have cruise? whats the betting they wont be replacing them once fired.

I do agree with the tornado mafia concept otherwise we would have kept the more versatile kit and ground attack birds once the USSR collapsed. typhoon has shown itself to be as useless in concept and application as tornado was. anything designed by commitee usually is which is why the french planes work properly as does the older bits of kit like harrier, jaguar, hawk, provost etc... because they use one design team not 12.

they should have admitted that tornado was a balls up back in the 80's when it flew with a concrete nose cone and was mission incapable - one reason why the canberras were kept going right up until gw1 along with the lightening. probably better to build new ones of those than buy typhoon.

if the raf were really bothered about capability then they would have a better choice of airframes to use than what we have, the army has little chance of proper close air support and the navy has been wrung out to dry.

the navy should mutiny and refuse to leave port as the raf seems to think it can do everything so let it try an show the union jack around the world and help out against the pirates, drug runners, fishery trespassers, hurricane victims etc.... bomber harris didnt win ww2 regardless of how they might want to word it.

at the end of the day the proof of harriers capability is in how many nations use it without plans for replacement as it remains unique and tough - just look at the attempts for a similar capability and the failure rate. tornado never got past 4 user countries and three of those had to because they built it. the fourth is replacing them as fast as it can with US kit.

its past it and they should bin it to get better. instead of telling everyone else what they can deliver the raf policy should be to listen and respond for a change. I put it down to penis envy as they has little to do in '82 and are trying to make sure they have no choice but to be the only option in future. which is doubt full as they do not have the tactical capacity to support the army anymore as shown every day in afghanistan where they rely on apache and the americans.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#19
stormshadow isnt that great and just a poor mans cruise to replace jp233 (if I remember right) the damn thing is prop driven for f's sake. it has a use here because the tornadoes would probably fall apart jinking between hot zones. its a low level bomber not a ground attack fighter like the harrier was designed to be.
????????? Seriously WTF ????????

Since when is the Turbomeca Microturbo TRI 60-30 turbojet, used to power props?
 

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