The RN, FAA and RAF: Yesterday, Today and Tommorrow. (Part1)

RN Flying started, with airships, back in 1909, with the first fixed wing RN pilot qualifying in 1911. By the outbreak of WWI the RN had the Royal Naval Air Service, as its, specialised, version of the British Army's Royal Flying Corps. By 1918 the RNAS had helped pioneer the first Aircraft Carriers in the world and had a strength of over 3,000 aircraft and about 67,000 men.

Then the Royal Air Force was formed, with the Royal Naval Air Service merged with, and subjugated to, the RAF. The inter-war period 1918-1939 were years in which British Naval aviation suffered in terms of both funding and innovation, it is no coincidence that these were the years when the RAF controlled British Naval aviation.

From the start the primary mission of the RAF was independent, long range, offensive bombing. This remained true during WWII and after and indeed, if we look at the retention of Tornado, after the SDSR, one could be forgiven for thinking it still remains true today. (and yes I know the RAF has a whole 10 Tornado's in Afghanistan).

From the start just about the lowest -indeed hardly there at all- item on the RAF agenda was British Naval Aviation. So, in an era when the Royal Navy remained, just, the largest in the world, and while the USN and Imperial Japanese Navy were developing higher performance Carrier Aircraft and Carrier operation doctrine, largely through neglect, British Naval Aviation was stagnating. Some of this was due to RN 'Battleship Admirals' certainly, but the USN and IJN had their own 'Battleship Admirals', but overcame the problems, the RN did not, and that was largely caused by the lack of control of their own Naval Air Arm, which, during the whole inter-war period rested with the RAF.

Only in 1939 was the RN given back control of its own Naval aviation, and the RAF legacy to the Fleet Air Arm was only 232 aircraft, in total all of them obsolete or, at best, obsolescent. We have all seen the iconic images of gallant FAA air crew in their 'Stringbag' biplane Swordfish Torpedo Bombers in WWII. Why were British Carrier aircraft so out of date for much of WWII? Mostly due to RAF control right up until the start of WWII, only by 1945 were good British designs for Carrier aircraft starting to come through. Despite this, under RN control, the FAA was once again an innovative force, pioneering the attack on an enemy battle fleet at anchor (Taranto) before the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor and the use of Torpedo Aircraft at night (although, in part, that was to counter the British Torpedo aircraft's woeful lack of performance). With the honourable exception of RAF Coastal Command, in general the RN's experience of land based air cover for the Fleet during WWII was much the same as every other Navy: Non-existent to dire.

The period after WWII saw the FAA equipped with excellent aircraft like the Sea Fury, that proved capable of shooting down Mig 15 jets in Korea, while providing vital CAS to UN Forces, from RN (and RAN) Aircraft Carriers. The FAA moved on to jets and, as in the period before RAF control, was again an innovative Naval Air Arm, as the RN and FAA came up with Steam catapults, angled Flight Decks and the Mirror landing sight for Aircraft Carriers, all features rapidly adopted by the worlds leading Carrier operator, the USN.

By the early 1960's the RN was, easily, the second Navy in the world in terms of Aircraft Carriers, with seven in Commission (although two were shortly converted to Helicopter Carriers). The RN knew they would have to eventually replace these ships and came up with the CVA design to do so. Finance, politics, and the RAF, soon took a hand.

With the British economy in trouble (some things never seem to change) and the Labour party anxious to save money, the RAF was quick to say that the UK did not need expensive Aircraft Carriers, since land based, RAF aircraft, could cover everything for less money (does this argument sound recently familiar to anyone else)? To do so they drew maps for UK political types, one of which -allegedly- had Australia moved by 200 miles to 'improve' RAF aircraft range. The then Government fell for this line of nonsense; end of the new RN Carriers (and then proceeded to ditch the RAF's aircraft too, as they rapidly retired from 'East of Suez').

'Aircraft Carrier' became dirty words in British Defence and the RN was reduced to designing relatively small 'Through Deck Cruisers' that eventually became the Invincible class ships we are rapidly scrapping today. In those days the RN was designed primarily as an anti-Submarine force to fight the Soviets. The Invincible's were to head anti-Submarine Task Groups with ASW Helicopters.

Meanwhile the RAF knew their airfields in Germany would not last long in the face of a Soviet attack and the result was the STOVL Harrier that could be based away from major airfields. The RN was quick to see that these aircraft could operate from Invincible class ships against Soviet maritime recce aircraft, etc. The fixed wing FAA was, by the skin of its teeth, saved. Again the RN and FAA was innovative with the simple, yet effective 'Ski Jump'.

The story of the Falklands War is too well known to be retold here, but it should be noted the operation was only possible, at all, because the RN had fixed wing FAA and two Carriers, the new HMS Invincible and, more importantly, the last of the larger old RN Carriers HMS Hermes. Against the odds, the FAA performed as well as they invariably have and overcame the, much larger, Argentine Air Force. But it was a close run thing: Simple lack of numbers of aircraft and, above all, lack of any Airborne Early Warning aircraft, led to sunken RN ships and many dead Servicemen. The RN took these lessons to heart.
The RN, FAA and RAF: Yesterday, Today and Tommorrow. (Part2)

After the Falklands War the RN modified the Invincible design to carry more aircraft and had Helicopter borne AEW -not anywhere near as good as a real, fixed wing, AEW aircraft, but very much better than nothing. The Sea Harrier was also improved with better radar and the ability to carry more weapons. RN fixed wing and the FAA, was not in too bad a condition.

In the late 1990's work began to design new Carriers for the Royal Navy, to eventually replace the now aging Invincible class. Since larger Aircraft Carriers are much more efficient than smaller Carriers, they would be much larger than the Invincible Class, 65,000 tons, rather than 22,000 tons. Ships of 30-40,000 tons were rejected as being only slightly cheaper and very much less efficient.

At this point, around 1998, the RAF stepped in again and with much spin about how their GR 'mud mover' Harriers, sometimes, operated aboard RN Carriers and, of course, saving money, persuaded the Government to amalgamate the FAA Sea Harrier Fighters with the RAF GR bomb trucks to form, RAF dominated, 'Join Force Harrier' appropriately enough on 1 April, 2000. All the lessons of the inter-war years and early WWII seemingly forgotten.

As everyone knows the UK then went off with the US (and Australia) to play in the sand. The RN and the RN Carriers played their part in both the Iraq and Afghan campaigns (as well as assorted other British operations around the world, including West Africa, etc). In 2006, again with some RAF urging in the background, it was decided to prematurely retire the radar equipped Sea Harrier, leaving the RN with no Fleet Defence Fighter.

Meanwhile with the New Labour Government fighting two wars with a peacetime budget, work on the new RN Carrier proceed very slowly. The RAF dominated 'JFH' gave the RAF much more say than they otherwise would have had in the Air wing for the CVF. The choice fell on what turned out to be the very complex and extremely expensive STOVL F35B.

With a 65,000 ton Carrier with a four acre flight deck, as someone aptly said, STOVL is a solution looking for a problem, a ship that size can, easily, handle conventional aircraft designed to operate from Carriers with catapults and arrestor gear.In addition STOVL F35B would have much less range and carry considerably less weapons than the CATOBAR F35C, plus with its reduced internal fire fighting system, STOVL F35B would be a more vulnerable aircraft. As if all that was not enough, STOVL F35B would be more expensive too!

No matter, said RAF, and RAF supporters, it means our pilots, with much less training than for CATOBAR, can also use the RN Carriers, and look forward austere basing is very important, after all we have used it operationally recently (once in 25 years plus). Anyone who does not support STOVL F35B is a moron, etc.

Just about the only thing that made any sense about STOVL F35B as the aircraft for the RN's new Carriers was that it would follow on from the STOVL Harrier then due to operate until 2016. People ignored the fact that STOVL F35B was -and is- proving difficult to get right and they largely ignored the problems it had with bringing back weapons, that would require a rolling, not a verticle landing. Common sense on this issue only started with a new Government, but, unfortunately, coincided with a world financial crises and the British economy going downhill, again, for a bit.

RAF had meantime spent 20 billion plus on Typhoon, and over three billion on a difficult upgrade of Nimrod and are looking at a 10 billion future tanker aircraft project. Spending all this money -not to mention other waste like FRES and Lynx Wildcat- while fighting -and not exactly winning- two wars left an underfunded MOD with a large 'black hole' of projects with not much cash to pay for them.

Common sense would suggest that the RN is at about as low a level as it can be and still, just, do what the Government wants. The British Army, is fighting in Afghanistan. Obvious place to make cuts is the RAF. You cannot cut the RAF Transport, helicopter or tanker force aiding the Afghan war, and 20 billion Typhoon is too new to cut, but the RAF has a large legacy fleet of Typhoon, only ten -very recently up from six- of which are serving in Afghanistan. Why not cut most of them, big saving to be made there and, other than the handful in Afghanistan they are not actually contributing very much to UK Defence.

The RAF can see this coming a mile off, and, in addition to dragging up all the old anti-Carrier arguments, offer up the 'Joint Harrier Force' (that had, until recently, done sterling work in Afghanistan). Very suddenly, STOVL and forward austere basing are not important at all and, to the RAF, aircraft to fly from RN Aircraft Carriers never have been at all important, so it matters not a jot to the RAF that this leaves the RN with no fixed wing air cover at all (and after all the RN has had no real fighter since the SHAR) and a huge problem in maintaining fixed wing skills, in fact, to the RAF it is a positive advantage, since it aids them in their quest to destroy the FAA. The RN would be extremely unwise, to say the least, to put any faith at all in the RAF when it comes to Carrier aircraft.

Now the RN has to battle hard to keep those fixed wing aircraft skills, and the RN has to pull out all the stops to convince the political types that the only way the UK will ever have a viable Carrier Air Arm is via the RN's Fleet Air Arm, the British specialists at operating aircraft from Aircraft Carriers in support of British interests and forces anywhere around the world, independent of overseas bases, etc. With CATOBAR Carriers the FAA becomes even more vital.

If the RN fails to save the Fixed wing FAA, then don't be at all confident that you will see British Aircraft Carriers under the RN's White Ensign. The FAA is vital to the Royal Navy and vital to the UK. Without them the RN will, inevitably, slide further down the scale of world naval powers, and with the RN will go real British power and influence in the world.

With apologies that this is so long.

So, in an era when the Royal Navy remained, just, the largest in the world, and while the USN and Imperial Japanese Navy were developing higher performance Carrier Aircraft and Carrier operation doctrine, largely through neglect, British Naval Aviation was stagnating. Some of this was due to RN 'Battleship Admirals' certainly, but the USN and IJN had their own 'Battleship Admirals', but overcame the problems, the RN did not, and that was largely caused by the lack of control of their own Naval Air Arm, which, during the whole inter-war period rested with the RAF.

I do not agree. Despite being equally lacking in modern planes, Unlike the Royal Navy, through its 'Fleet Problem' Exercises in the 1920's and into the 1930's, the US Navy would create a sound strategic model for the use of carrier aviation. This model put carrier aviation directly at the centre of the United States plans for warfare at sea in a forthcoming war with a peer.

While the US Navy was exploring such innovative concepts as using a carrier strike force to defeat a mainland airforce and attack strategic targets, the Royal Navy was happy to regard it's aircraft carriers prime role as scouting with some torpedo attacks on opposition ships as a sideline and showed no such innovative thinking.

This is the reason why carrier aviation has always been the bastard orphan child of the Royal Navy, they never really 'got it' and spent decades trying to develop carrier aviation by building ships and going, 'Oh, that doesn't work, lets design another one', effectively trying to design by accident a carrier force that actually was of some use.

For example; The US Navy quickly realised by empirical testing in the 20's, that the best defence of a Fleet and the carrier was a large air group, the bigger the better. This would lead to US carriers having air wings some three times the size of Royal Navy carriers of comparable displacement. The Royal Navy, after actually developing the 'right' design with the 1937 HMS Ark Royal, not much armour, but twin hanger decks allowing a huge air wing of some 72 aircraft, would then head down the blind alley of fitting it's carriers with massively heavy armoured box hangers.

The net result of this was that the Illustrious Class carriers would be have an air group of a mere 36 aircraft at a time comparable sized US carriers such as the USS Enterprise were taking aboard air groups of 90 aircraft. Such tiny air groups meant that the the carrier design that would form the mainstay of the Royal Navy during WWII, would not have enough fighters to mount an effective fleet defence, nor carry enough aircraft to be able to deliver a decisive blow against enemy ships or land targets.

The upstick of this design blind alley was carriers that were too small to deliver a telling strategic effect and would prove to be unable to adapt to the needs of postwar aviation in the jet age. While the US Navy was able to use it's fleet or wartime Fleet Carriers right through to the 1970's with modernisation, with the exception of HMS Victorious that was converted at huge cost, the wartime Fleet Carriers were rapidly scrapped and the RN had to effectively start again. Unfortunately, 'starting again' was with a legacy of carriers such as the light fleets and Audacious Class Fleet carriers that were basically too small for what was needed.

And this in a nutshell is why the Navy is in the situation it finds itself now, it effectively designed itself out of the carrier warfare game.
While we were titing about showing the flag and polishing lots of brass while basking in the glory of Jutland and Trafalgar during the 1920's, the US Navy was inventing the future.

‘The culmination of the year’s operations arrives when the carriers with their squadrons participate in the annual cruise of the Fleets. On these cruises, the year's efforts to perfect the detail of aircraft operations are given the test of simulated major campaigns against possible enemies. Our efforts in the past have been crowned with a certain amount of success, but every success has only indicated new possibilities of the employment of aircraft in fleet operations and has emphasized the vital importance of continuously operating with the Fleet the maximum number of aircraft that can be carried on our surface vessels.’—RAdm. J. M. Reeves, USN, Commander, Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, 1929

Fleet Problem I
Fleet Problem I was held in February and March 1923 and was staged off the coast of Panama. The attacking Black force, using battleships to represent aircraft carriers, tested the defenses of the Panama Canal. A single plane launched from Oklahoma — representing a carrier air group — dropped 10 miniature bombs and theoretically "destroyed" the spillway of the Gatun Dam.

Fleet Problems II, III, and IV were held concurrently in January and February 1924 took place in the Caribbean and simulated actions that might occur in the Pacific.

Fleet Problem II
Fleet Problem II simulated the first leg of a westward advance across the Pacific.

Fleet Problem III
This exercise focused on a defense of the Panama Canal from the Caribbean side. The Blue force was defending the canal from an attack from the Caribbean by the Black force, operating from an advance base in the Azores. It was to practice amphibious landing techniques and the rapidity of transiting a fleet through the canal from the Pacific side.
In the exercise, a Black force special operations action resulted in the "sinking" of Blue force battleship New York in the Culebra Cut which would have blocked the canal.

Fleet Problem IV
This problem simulated the movement from a main base in the western Pacific to the Japanese home islands—represented in that case by islands, cities, and countries surrounding the Caribbean.

Fleet Problem V
Fleet Problem V was held in March and April 1925 and simulated an attack on Hawaii.The Black force, the aggressor, was given aircraft carrier Langley along with two seaplane tenders and other ships outfitted with aircraft, while the defending Blue force had no carriers. In addition, aircraft aboard battleship Wyoming could not be launched for lack of a working catapult. Langley's positive performance helped speed the completion of aircraft carriers Lexington and Saratoga.
One aspect of Fleet Problem V was conducted near Guadalupe Island off Baja California and involved attacking a lightly held position and refueling at sea.

Fleet Problem VI
Held off the west coast of Central America in early 1926.

Fleet Problem VII
This fleet problem was held March 1927 and involved defense of the Panama Canal. The highlight of the exercise was Langley’s successful air raid on the Panama Canal.

Fleet Problem VIII
Held in April 1928 between California and Hawaii and pitted Orange, a cruiser force from Pearl Harbor, versus Blue, the Battle Force.It also involved a convoy search and anti-submarine operations.

Fleet Problem IX
This scenario in January 1929 studied the effects of an attack upon the Panama Canal and conducted the operations necessary to carry out such an eventuality, and pitted the Battle Fleet (less submarines and Lexington) against a combination of forces including the Scouting Force (augmented by Lexington), the Control Forces, Train Squadron 1, and 15th Naval District and local Army defense forces. In a daring move, Saratoga was detached from the fleet with only a single cruiser as escort to make a wide sweep to the south and "attack" the Panama Canal, which was defended by the Scouting Fleet and Saratoga's sister ship, Lexington. She successfully launched her strike on 26 January and, despite being "sunk" three times later in the day, proved the versatility of a carrier-based fast task force.

Fleet Problem X
Held in 1930 in Caribbean waters. This time, however, Saratoga and Langley were "disabled" by a surprise attack from Lexington, showing how quickly air power could swing the balance in a naval action.

Fleet Problem XI
Held in 1931 in the Caribbean.

Fleet Problem XII
Held in 1930 in Hawaiian waters.

Fleet Problem XIII
Held in 1932. The Pearl Harbor fleet was destroyed in a mock attack by 150 planes in 1932. In spite of the great success of the air attack, the umpires concluded such an attack would be too dangerous to carry out safely. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor nine years later was almost identical to this Problem.

Fleet Problem XIV
Held in 1933.

Fleet Problem XV
Held in May 1934 in Hawaii, this was a three-phase exercise which encompassed an attack upon and defense of the Panama Canal, the capture of advanced bases, and a major fleet engagement.

Fleet Problem XVI
Held in May 1935 in the northern Pacific off the coast of Alaska and in waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, this operation was divided into five distinct phases which were thought to be aspects of some real naval campaign of the future in which the United States would take the strategic offensive.

Fleet Problem XVII
This problem took place off the west coast of the United States, Central America, and the Panama Canal Zone in the spring of 1936. It was a five-phase exercise devoted to preparing the fleet for anti-submarine operations, testing communications systems, and training of aircraft patrol squadrons for extended fleet operations, and pitted the Battle Force against the submarine-augmented Scouting Force

Fleet Problem XVIII
This exercise was held in May 1937 in Alaskan waters and in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands and Midway, practicing the tactics of seizing advanced base sites - a technique later to be polished to a high degree into close support and amphibious warfare doctrines.

Fleet Problem XIX
This operation in April and May 1938 gave the Navy added experience in search tactics; in the use of submarines, destroyers, and aircraft in scouting and attack, in the dispositions of the Fleet and the conduct of a major fleet battle. In addition, the exercise again dealt with the matter of seizing advanced fleet bases and defending them against minor opposition. Fleet Problem XIX also tested the capabilities of the Hawaiian Defense Force, augmenting it with fleet units to help to defend the islands against the United States Fleet as a whole. The last phase of the exercise exercised the Fleet in operations against a defended coastline.

Fleet Problem XX
Took place in February 1939 in the Caribbean and Atlantic, and observed in person by President Franklin Roosevelt.The exercise simulated the defense of the East Coast of the United States and Latin America by the Black team from the invading White team.Participating in the maneuvers were 134 ships, 600 planes, and over 52,000 officers and men.

Fleet Problem XXI
An eight-phase operation for the defense of the Hawaiian area in April 1940.
Ironduke - give it a rest, please? It's all very terrible, we know but posting all that won't make the blindest bit of difference unless its a coping mechanism.
And onwards to aircraft.

While it can be argued that the Air Ministry did the Royal Navy no favours with the aircraft it furnished it, the aircraft were by and large designed to the Royal Navy's requirements, requirements that by the mid 30's were hopelessly outdated. We cannot blame the RAF for this one.

While the RN was happy to buy the worthless Blackburn Skua and the equally lamentable Fairy Fulmar, they could if they had wanted to in 1939 have ordered an outstanding naval fighter, the Grumman Wildcat. Let us not forget, the first Wildcats the FAA did receive in 1940 were not the result of an insightful and forward thinking Navy Board ordering what was then just about the best naval fighter in the world, it was because we inherited an order for Wildcats for the French Navy that needed a home with the fall of France.
Ironduke - give it a rest, please? It's all very terrible, we know but posting all that won't make the blindest bit of difference unless its a coping mechanism.
If the Leadership of the RN do not buck their ideas up the RN may not get either of those Carriers.

Writing to your MP is probably a better option than writing on here....
If the Leadership of the RN do not buck their ideas up the RN may not get either of those Carriers.

CVF proves my point about the Royal Navy and carrier aviation. After more than half a century, we will have arrived at the answer the US Navy arrived at in 1950 with the Forrestal Class Carriers, a ship with a 4 acre fight deck, a displacement of some 65,000 tons, but thanks to an undersized hanger, (Have we been here before?), it will only be able to carry half the Air Group of the Forrestal Class although that point is rather moot as it seems we cannot afford more than 40 aircraft.
"Ironduke - give it a rest, please? It's all very terrible, we know but posting all that won't make the blindest bit of difference unless its a coping mechanism. "

Sweet jesus, this iron duke loon is worse than Yokel when it comes to stuff. At least Yokel tries balance, whereas Ironduke just uses his prodding stick to ram home angry words without bothering to acquire an understanding of strategy, policy, budgets or any of the other wider considerations that planners contend with.

Given his utter hatred of the RAF, can we open a book on the odds of why Ironduke hates the RAF so

3/1 - Lost his **** virginity to nasty RAF man

2/1 - Is bastard love child of former CAS who has since disowned hi,

5/1 - Failed OASC and now feels even more inferior that he's not allowed to wear plastic shoes and burtons suits for a living.

Any other odds?
I was rather hoping he would come back to argue my point that while the RAF may be a convenient scapegoat, in large part, the Navy Board have been the agents of their own demise thanks to a lack of vision.

If I may put another point on the subject of the poor aircraft the Royal Navy fought the majority of WWII with.

The Royal Navy's primary strike aircraft for a large part of the war was the Fairy Swordfish, already obsolete when it entered service. OK, it can be argued it was developed and procured under the RAF's tenure, but can he explain why when the Royal Navy was once more master of it's own aviation destiny, it showed no real interest in procuring and would ultimately, (when it finally and belatedly took some for trials), reject the Douglass Dauntless dive bomber as unfit for combat?
This would be the dive bomber that would put some 300,000 tons of the Japanese Navy on the bottom of the sea and was actually able to operate with confidence with a loss rate of about parity when opposed by fearsome opponents like the A6M Zero and had one of the lowest loss rates of any combat aircraft in WWII. The Royal Navy's failure to adopt such a deadly naval strike plane can in no way, shape or form be laid at the feet of the RAF.
No no no SunofIcarus, you've got it all wrong. Its not those fine chaps at the Admiraltys fault - of course its not. Its all a cunning RAF plan to put secret RAF agents into the RN, and then spend their careers there so that in time they can sabotage the efforts of the RN to get aircraft carriers. Damn those cunning RAF people and their wily ways, if only the Navy wasnt such a wonderful faultless and perfect organisation, then it too could compete.

Alternatively, and leaving poor old Irondukes universe for a moment, I happen to agree entirely with you that most of the RNs woes can be landed on the lamentably poor leadership and direction they've had for the last 40 years, and their obession with 'fast air' to the detriment of remembering that the Navys primary modus operandi is to operate on or in the water and not above it...
The basic problem with the Royal Navy and aircraft carriers, is that they have never actually proven a strategic case for owning them. When the newly formed USAF tried to argue that US Navy carrier aviation should be suppressed in the immediate years post war, the US Navy was able to show that its carrier force had been a key means of projecting strategic power during WWII, attacking Japanese held islands and ultimately taking the war directly to the Japanese mainland. Thus, the case for a strong naval air service was made. By comparison, the Royal Navy's carriers, thanks to their innately poor design and tiny air wings, had spent the war doing little more than acting as occasional fleet escorts and provided no significant materiel effect on the war in Europe.

With the Royal Navy, aircraft carriers have become a 'we must have them' totem but they have never made a compelling case for owning them. As I have shown above, the US Navy with it's visionary 'Fleet Problems' in the 1920's and 30's, developed carrier aviation as an essential and integral part of a balanced fleet able to project power against land based adversaries and prevail, the Royal Navy however, still hasn't even properly asked the question.
Irondike your paranoid dribbling ramblings are very tedious to the extreme. All the defence chiefs must have been fighting their own corners, it just so happens that 2nd and 3rd order effects may disadvantage fixed wing flying fishheads.

Well Harrier versus Tornado - the toms on the ground calling danger close know the Tornado has around twice the crusing speed, twice the combat radius, and more importantly twice the take-off payload of Harrier. Carrier based harrier, parked far enough off the land (this littoral balls the RN sings about to try and contribute to land based COIN ops) to protect it, is even less useful than something coming off an airfield with organic RAF FP allowing the toms to be out at FEBA doing what they are supposed to.

Quite simply the RN justifications made our elected leaders, not necessarily unable to grasp various concepts, decide on which way to chop. The CrabAir did not engineer this SDSR to get rid of fixed wing flying fisheads.

My old man was CrabAir, one Grandad was RA, and the other a fishhead 2 and a 1/2 with a DSC. I sympathize with RN cuts but the bile fired in the way of the light blue by amoebas like yourself is much vexatious.
Well thanks so much for the reasoned argument Jim, and the post you put in another place:

"Ironduke posted this ill informed, puerile, childish and, frankly pathethic, piece of bilge over on ARRSE. As a result there is now a serious discussion being had among the Naval members of the board (of which he emphatically is not) that he should be awarded an 'Oxygen Thief' tag, on the grounds that posting this sort of crap gives those of us who've actually served in the armed forces a bad name. I should note that I have strongly supported this award on the grounds that posting this sort of thing, which adds nothing to the debate, is incredibly misinformed and deliberately misleading in places adds nothing to the debate."

I used to think you one of the best pro RN posters here. No longer.
sdsr screwed the rn over and let the crabs win much to the detrimunt of all serving in ghaners. SDSR made the WRONG decison. the RAF is a dead duck and their should be a rethink. lets face facts here:

1) the FAA is better at flying
2) The FAA work weekends and after 1630
3) The Inf would rather have FAA fighting with us than the crabs ANY day of the week
4) Crabs like little boys.

Give us SH, give merlin to the fAA, give jets to the FAA, give AT to the army, disband the RAF...NOW!!!!! before the crabs make us lose in ghaners
"I used to think you one of the best pro RN posters here. No longer."

To quote my favourite t-shirt - 'your approval fills me with shame'.

I only bother with reasoned argument when its clear that the poster is open to actual debate. Your style of 'debate' has consistently involved screaming RN CARRIERS RULE RAF ARE SCUM, as loudly as possible, while ignoring the many valid arguments against CVF and the wider strategic context in which we operate. As such, I now regard you as the object of derision (bordering on sympathy), rather than a someone worthy of my time to engage in meaningful debate with.
"I used to think you one of the best pro RN posters here. No longer."

To quote my favourite t-shirt - 'your approval fills me with shame'.

I only bother with reasoned argument when its clear that the poster is open to actual debate. Your style of 'debate' has consistently involved screaming RN CARRIERS RULE RAF ARE SCUM, as loudly as possible, while ignoring the many valid arguments against CVF and the wider strategic context in which we operate. As such, I now regard you as the object of derision (bordering on sympathy), rather than a someone worthy of my time to engage in meaningful debate with.
It really worries me if you actually think I think RAF is in any way near 'scum' rather than totally unable to admit that there are things the RN FAA, can do better than RAF, which is all I've ever argued. Are you p...d perhaps? (Been there and done that, way too often).
Sadly I'm not pissed - I wish I was. Instead I'm stuck in a hot operational theatre, on a quiet day with internet access.

Let me be clear - I live in a world where I've seen the spending profiles, I'm all to familiar with defence strategic guidance and planning assumptions. I know all too well what the costs are of the UK adopting various procurement plans and more importantly the range of options taken which have reduced our influence globally - mainly to pay for CVF. I've seen first hand the damage that CVF has done to the RN of today, as it pursues its desire for a carrier, while sacrificing everything that the fleet needs to be balanced.

I love carriers, I love carrier aviation and I adore my service. I am though a realist, and having seen what its costing us to buy CVF and push into service, believe that it is not in the UKs national interest to buy it at present. The sole post war case (arguably sole case ever) where a UK carrier made a strategic difference to a UK solo campaign was the Falklands war. That is very much the exception and not the rule. In reality, we are clear where we see ourselves operating, and we are clear that this will be in range of airbases and we are clear it will be in joint operations (if in doubt, read the national security strategy). CVF brings little to the party that our allies dont have, but will denude our own sovereign ability to do those things that NSS feels is vital.

There is no clear rational reason why CVF is in our sovereign interests - its a nice to have for sure, but it brings little that cant be duplicated elsewhere. My exceptionally strong concerns at present are that the 5 Bn in the EP allocated to CVF could have been used to far greater effect - I showed elsewhere that we could have nearly doubled the surface flottilla, brought in a lot of new tankers and plenty of OPVs for the same money. This would have meant we could have sustained a truly global presence doing defence diplomacy properly (slow, over time training and presence, not a once in a lifetime port visit), protected our offshore interests to best effect and sustained this worldwide. Instead we're getting the ability to put 1 ship to sea, which may not actually have a full airwing, and which needs protecting. To do this we've sacrificed our presence (when was the last time an RN deployment went to the far east), we've lost our influence (FPDA is now a hollow shell, because we dont have the hulls to participate, which in turn increases instability in the far east) and we've lost capability (the hollowing out of the amphib fleet is proof of that). We've done all this to have the ability to say that for 60% of the year, we could put 12 aircraft to sea.

I think the RAF can do all of what the FAA can do now - it would take a few years to sort out, but it would save billions, and make logical sense. They are supremely professional, incredibly good people with excellent kit such as the Typhoon. Far better to spend our limited cash on ensuring that our full on A2G assets are properly funded, than buying JSF so we can put 12 to sea and ensure the generation of 4task lines at any one time.


Book Reviewer
Iron Duke is to my mind 100% spot on. The only thing I would add is that the reason the RN was dominated by 'battleship admirals' between the wars and at the start of WW2 is that it had been raped by the RAF in 1914 of all the FAA officer talent that could have produced an alternative strain of flag officers. From then on any RN officer who volunteered for flying was told it was career death which hardly ameliorated the problem. Not just a flag but also at carrier command level the RN had to use officers who simply didn't understand what their ship could and should be doing - the losses of Courageous and Glorious (the latter's CO had been a very brave submariner in WW1) point this up (and these carrier losses also took with them what should have been up and coming FAA officer talent, leave alone losses through totally duff aircraft). Even later in the war when Vian was appointed to command the carrier force of the BPF he openly admitted - when querying his own appointment - that he didn't know anything about aircraft carriers. So with this level of ignorance at all levels of senior leadership it's surprising that the FAA got anything done at all. One name does shine through, however, and that is Lumley Lister, arguably the father of the Taranto raid in spite of being a gunnery officer.

There was an element of luck in Carmichael's Sea Fury Mig kill - with its lower wing loading the Sea Fury could turn inside the MiG and then drop out of the turn onto it, kaboom. Good aircraft though, one of its pilots told me a couple of years ago that it was 'very steady in the dive'.

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