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Budget Review

Postby jollytiddlywink on Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:58 pm

Its the biggest political news since the election, and not a peep about it on the Sinner?

So, let's lob a few metaphorical grenades and see if we can kick something off!

Average cuts of 19% across departments, except the Cabinet Office, which got a 28% increase! Any thoughts on that?

Two new carriers but no aircraft to fly from them!

Cuts to police and cuts to defense when we are at risk of terrorist attacks and when we are fighting a war.

Very little spending on infrastructure, and cuts to higher education, and possible repercussions in schools, too. How will the private sector manage to sort the whole thing out without new roads, better rail links and an uneducated workforce?

Anyone want to slam the cuts/defend them/suggest other ways of doing it?
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Re: Budget Review

Postby mm3442 on Sat Oct 23, 2010 9:53 pm

Hi, glad to see someone has been paying attention to the major political story of the week.

On your first point regarding the cabinet office, a 28% increase sounds very big, but I believe it is only amount to £0.1 billion. yes, I know £100 million is a lot, but the cabinet office will be responsible for carrying out 'big society' initiatives such as the 16 year old community services. Furthermore, there is a restructuring in Royal Household funding effective in 2013 and money is needed to plan this. Finally, the cabinet office staff will be moving into the treasury - a short term cost for long term cost savings.

The air carriers things is a bit annoying - but Britain is fighting a war in Afghanistan right? Last time I checked, there's no sea front on Afghanistan.

The reason why cuts to departments are so big (they are - not doubt trying to hide from it) is because the biggest department, Health, will see a 1.1% increase by 2015-16. but more importantly, total spending can be divided into two main areas:
Annual Managed Expenditure (AME)
and
Departmental Expenditure Limits (DELs).

The second one, DEL, the government can control easily. They can set a budget. Limit money.
The first one, AME, the government has little control. This is because it includes stuff which is automatic so to speak. Such as previously agreeable, legal binding pension and social security agreements, debt interest payments (which is rising in real terms by over 40%).

So, if AME only took up say 10% of total government, then departmental cuts would be smaller as a %, as the proportion of DELs to Total Govt spending would be high. Alas, the situation is not like this, at the moment a ratio of DELs : AME is something like 55:45. In a few years, AME will actually be bigger.

As the government cannot cut AME which is a HUGE part of total government spending, it has to cut DELs by a hue amount.

On your point regarding large cuts to investment spending (capital), well, possibly, and I'm not blaming them after how the last government acted, its a political ploy. If they cut capital spending, users of the public system or welfare state will find the impact of cuts small. If they put it on current spending (ie - spending on today for hospital stuff, benefits), they would be affected more. And this brings me onto the whole question on votes....which is easy if you put 2 and 2 together.

Look forward to hearing what you think about my analysis.

Thanks
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Re: Budget Review

Postby RedCelt69 on Sun Oct 24, 2010 2:24 am

I'll be better able to give my opinion once the talking turns into actions. It is easy to say what you intend doing; take a look at the manifesto documents of the Conservatives and Lib Dems. Let's see what they actually do.

mm3442 wrote:]The air carriers things is a bit annoying - but Britain is fighting a war in Afghanistan right? Last time I checked, there's no sea front on Afghanistan.

In what way, shape or form is that even remotely relevant?
1) Cameron has said that Britain's troops will be removed from Afghanistan within this parliament.
2) A country's defences are based upon the plausible threats, not (solely) the immediate threats.

mm3442 wrote:the biggest department, Health, will see a 1.1% increase by 2015-16.

Base, or above inflation? If inflation is, for example, at 4% a 1.1% increase isn't actually an increase.
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Re: Budget Review

Postby Super Jock on Sun Oct 24, 2010 11:31 am

As far as I could tell, the aircraft carriers continuation had very little to do with defence. I believe a lot of lively hoods depended on them, perhaps if the initial sunk costs had went else where then those lively hoods wood be else where. But to cut them half way through construction would be mad. Especially since there are countries that they could be sold to if they aren't useful to us. My point, and though I hate to defend anything conservative, is that these aircraft carriers are not relevant to the cuts blame game, or at least the blame shouldn't be directed at the blues. Also, who said that they both wouldn't have aeroplanes,? I have only heard on the radio that one might not, and that wasn't even the news. I have a feeling that might be typical political BS.

I recently had a presentation from a salesman for Macdonald Douglas, his job was to sell a billion dollar contract to the Israelis. He went through the details of the multimillion dollar sales pitch, which lasted two decades and was in fact successful in the end. But the main thing I grasped, is that countries buying defence contracts has very little to do with need, *cough* nuclear weapons *cough* and more about the amount of pressure the sales people can impose. One of his final points was that now in Europe, the winning contract is always the one that comes with the most jobs.

On everything else to do with cuts... honestly I don't know. Particularly now Cleggs been set up in shinning armour to rescind the unlimited fees proposal. The only other proposal I was venomously against. I like the big society idea, but I'm still not sure what it is, so I might not... :S
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Re: Budget Review

Postby jollytiddlywink on Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:09 pm

Super Jock, I'm going to have to disagree, and say that the carriers have a great deal to do with defence. While the decision to keep them may have been made on political (jobs) and fiscal (high cost to cancel) points, carriers are (along with nuclear subs) the capital ships of today. If a country possesses carriers and subs, then it has a navy. Otherwise, it has a coastal defence force. A carrier is essential to being able to project force world-wide, both with its own aircraft and as the essential air-cover for landing troops. That's why the decision to retire the Harriers early (when they are still widely reckoned to be one of the most capable carrier aircraft in the world), and not to have aircraft to operate from the carriers for several years, is so ridiculous.
While mm3442 correctly points out that Afghanistan is landlocked, carriers are still useful there. Most of the country is within range of carrier aircraft operating from the Arabian Sea: that is largely how the opening air attacks on the country back at the very beginning of the war were launched. Secondly, carriers are important not for what they can do today in a fixed location, but what they could do tomorrow almost anywhere. Possessing a carrier taskforce would put Britain into a mere handful of countries that would be able to intervene world-wide if the situation called for it. They are an enormously useful asset.

I have mixed thoughts about the departmental cuts. Being a bit of a Keynesian, I'm not entirely sure that we have to be cutting the deficit right now, or at least that we have to cut everything... by which I mean that I'd rather see some serious investment in infrastructure, broadly defined. Government spending on social housing, roads, rails, electrical projects, and education would provide jobs and stimulus now, and pay dividends later. Some of the cost of this could be borne, as is being done now, by cutting departmental budgets. The rest could be borrowed (more on that later).

Regarding the NHS, while I'm glad that the Tories haven't gutted it, I cannot help but feel that saving even 1 or 2% from what is the single largest call on expenditure would have made life a lot easier elsewhere. Small efficiencies (or firing a few managers) in the NHS would have saved higher education, or the police (or both) from severe cuts.
It seems to me that the spending review is partly Tory dogma, and partly politics. The politics bit is keeping the NHS funding untouched to avoid looking like Thatcher Rides Again and a convenient 'looking out for the little people' talking-point, and the dogma bit is cutting the deficit now and cutting the government now. This is not to dispute that spending must be cut, but rather to acknowledge that not everyone thinks it must be done now.

As for the Cabinet Office budget, needing money to plan how to restructure Royal Household costs? All the other departments are being asked to plan their own cuts without getting a hefty increase to pay for the planning. Alright, so they're moving to the Treasury... does that really need an extra 100 million? I know its not much money for a government, but its nearly 30% more than they got last year! Something about this strikes me as fishy.

All the arguments about how high the debt is, how high the deficit is, etc, strike me as rather shrill. Having spent a good deal of time living in the 1930s (historically, I should say), I'm familiar with arguments between government departments and the Treasury, with the RAF, for example, insisting on more money to defend London from bombers, and the Treasury insisting that there wasn't any money, and that borrowing was bad. But the government found the money, with remarkably little fuss, and from 1935 to 1939 the Air Ministry budget increased by 900%.
Britain has an enviable record of borrowing colossal sums and then paying them back again. In 1783, when the debt stood at 242 million, interest costs took up 56% of the government's budget. The debt then tripled to 745 million by 1815.
Similarly, massive borrowing in WWI and WWII did not cause British finances to collapse. They were strained, of course. But they did not collapse. Basically, I think that the dire need to cut spending this instant has been considerably over-sold by this government, and worse, the way they have allocated the cuts and failed to make sensible investments for the future has exacerbated this.
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Re: Budget Review

Postby munchingfoo on Mon Oct 25, 2010 8:34 pm

Super Jock wrote:I recently had a presentation from a salesman for Macdonald Douglas, his job was to sell a billion dollar contract to the Israelis. He went through the details of the multimillion dollar sales pitch, which lasted two decades and was in fact successful in the end. But the main thing I grasped, is that countries buying defence contracts has very little to do with need, *cough* nuclear weapons *cough* and more about the amount of pressure the sales people can impose. One of his final points was that now in Europe, the winning contract is always the one that comes with the most jobs.


I think you confuse two issues here. One is the need for a new piece of hardware, the other is where to source that hardware from.

A salesman isn't going to be able to sell you a fleet of MCVs, if what you're in the market for is an Aircraft Carrier. I'm not sure how other countries operate, and I believe we have seen cases of military procurement corruption in Israel, but in GB the MOD has its own policy makers that decide on operational capability before contacting manufacturers.

It irritates me that you posted the little *cough* nuclear weapons *cough* since it's irrelevant to your point. Nuclear weapons are not sold by salesmen, but nation states, America in our case. Furthermore, we have actively pursued their purchase, and were not coerced by sales talk. Also, actually making you see how unjustified stating that nuclear weapons are unnecessary in this petty way would take far too many posts in a thread about a completely different subject.
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Re: Budget Review

Postby rham on Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:19 am

The carriers are simply a waste of money. Those who ordered them should be fired, those who signed the contracts should be fired.

We can't afford the planes to protect them from submarine (NIMROD's job), we can't afford the planes to fly from them as intended (jump jet), the cost of retrofitting one carrier to fly the standard non-jump jet means we can only buy a handful of aircraft, the increased cost means we will have only operational ship ever (the "mothballed' one will never be used since it does not have a catapult and no planes will exist which can be flown from it) we cannot afford the ships (frigates) to protect the ship in a war zone, even as modified with the catapult the flight deck is close to too short to be used and may require further expense (further reducing the number of planes). Finally, the Chinese and Russians, the only military peers who such an advanced weapon might be used against have gone down the route of missiles. The latest chinese hypersonic missile is a single shot carrier kill. It has a range of 2000 km. The US navy admits it has no defence against such a weapon, nor do any of the current technologies look promising. The only practical defence which can be imagined is laser, and this is has been imminent for the last 30 years. In the same way as the battleship (Look up Repulse and Prince of Wales, japanese sinking of) In 10 years when these carriers are operation, they will be obsolete in any peer military conflict (missile attack will improve faster than defensive measures). The point about NIMROD, frigates, few jets is that even against non peer states, a single carrier may be too vulnerable to a chance accident (such things happen in war, an exocet sneaks through, a submarine torpedoes) to be risked. By any and all military analysis a large carrier without its supporting cast is worthless. Whats more missiles may mean even then, it may be worthless against any nation who can master or buy relatively cheap missiles (NB Iran, No Korea, India, Pakistan all have advanced missile programs).

About all the carrier will be good for is frightening Argentina (I make no moral case whether this is desirable), but the whole point is this job could be done for much less money with much less advanced expensive weapons. For those who argue about place in the world etc, if as we do we spend enough to be in the top 10 militarised states in the world (even under the 'cuts' we are 6th I think, possibly 5th). (In defence it is total amount that counts, not %), and this does not give us 'security", that somehow we need to spend more, I ask you against who? We spend each and every year 10 times what Argentina does, if the Falklands are a priority for defence, how come with 10 times more per year each year not enough?

All empires dies from within. Empires come into frequent conflict. The cost of winning all possible battles escalates beyond the states ability to pay and drains its productive capacity, lowering the standard of living of the populace. The populace complain, either the empire ends there or then, or some combination of debt-default, military coup follows before final collapse. The UK empire largely ended after WW2. What is needed is to end the last vestiges of the mindset. In our island we are largely secure against possible threats, if we think retaking the Falklands is hard how exactly are the Chinese or Russians or Iranians supposed to sail across the oceans and invade us?

If you think our desire to be a first rate military nation has been cost free, the full cost aircraft carriers and trident (lets include planes, repairs, operations etc) would have paid for higher education. Which in the end guarantees security? A better educated society with opportunity or a bunch of debt ladden or ill educated citizen with a big (but possibly broken) stick?
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Re: Budget Review

Postby jequirity on Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:14 pm

It's really hard to say at this point if the carriers are a waste of money to be honest. Who can predict with 100% certainty what the shape of the next conflict is going to take?

Carriers like it or not are still the measure of global power projection and mark the transition of a littoral navy to a respectable blue water navy. They are still relevent in modern warfare and have not gone the way of the battleship; indeed they're going to be around for many, many more years. Theres been a lot of hysteria regarding Dong Feng Chinese super missiles, however theres been no credible proof that they can actually target a moving carrier in the Pacific ocean. China's naval target aquisition network (Over horizon rader, recce craft, subs etc) lacks the necessary equipment to overcome this serious limitation. Furthermore in any sizable conflict with China, the USA will be targetting this infrastructure, severely degrading it. In any case with China itself building up carrier expertise it seems as if they don't think the carrier is obsolete by any means...

Thats not to say the carrier is invunerable, certaintly not. I'd say the biggest threat to carriers at the moment is the submarine and in a large conflict i'd wager that a few subs are definitely going to get through to their targets, however there is a very common misconception that if something can be destroyed then automatically it is obsolete. Carriers will remain useful, some will get sunk but the rest will carry out the prosecution of war provided good doctrine, training and morale is in evidence.

If we get back to the UK side of things it is necessary to build this type of carrier due to the fact that there was no future harrier equivalent that we could operate off invincible class carriers. Although the harrier has performed admirably in the past it is past it's best now unfortunately if you measure it up to modern opponents. It was basicly past it's best in the Falklands to be honest and although it's been useful in the role of CAS thanks to Sniper and Littening pods in afghanistan, it's survival against more well equipped foes has been diminishing. The harrier lost in Bosnia highlights the vunerablity to manpads due to the placement of the engine. I think it's still a useful plane but ultimately it was inevitable that the UK had to switch to something bigger and better. Although we now have no carrier capable planes at present we've been in this situation before in the 70's when we switched from fixed wing to Vstol. The falklands is more than secure at the moment with the Eurofighters there providing ample air superiority and the Argentinian armed forces being in a poor state. I don't think getting rid of the harriers at this point is going to kick as in the nuts too hard (fingers crossed).

One of the the other reasons why (that no one has mentioned yet) we've got to build these carriers sooner or later is the fact that it is very very difficult to build and operate these buggers let alone build and operate the required aircraft without good experience as the Vikramaditya/Admiral Gorshkov fiasco illustrates perfectly. As has been the case with other countries, if you don't use your military industry you'll eventually lose it and you're not going to get it back in a hurry, the same goes for training and experience. If we want to keep using carriers in the future to safeguard our interests we have to keep on building them unless we want to rely on another nation to build our carriers for us which can be risky. Indeed, since the 1970's we've lost the experience and know how to operate fixed wing off flat-tops so we're going to be getting US help to get us back on track. Going fixed wing presents other problems such as redesigning the carriers for fixed wing operations and I can bet it's going to delay their construction a fair bit but going fixed-wing is going to make interoperability between us, the French and the Americans quite interesting and this is possibly a step in the right direction (The interoperability aspect rather than just having a "spare" plane-less carrier lying about)

Our escorts at the moment, although getting cut a fair bit, are being replaced with newer, more effective ships such as the Type 45 Destroyer and eventually the Type 26 Frigate. Once we get past the whole "Fitted for but not with" mentality then the escorts will be in good shape but there will be fewer of them certaintly. In this regard it would have been more sensible to be able to ditch the spare carrier and go for the additional 6 Type 45's that were planned for and then dropped. Unfortunately the Mod were at home to Mr Cock up on the day they signed the contracts. If it softens the blow however just look at the Vikramaditya/Admiral Gorshkov fiasco and every other countries procurement process and you'll see lots of different examples of extreme idiocy. The Mod did introduce contacting for availablity however which has proved very effective and has been adopted by many other countries, and it's approach to the Type 26 looks promising for export orders.

Finally, ditching Nimrod was idiotic. We'll survive but we've thrown away a highly capable plane that has been rectified of it's many former faults. Way to go Conservatives and Liberals.

Are the carriers a waste of money? I'd say that if we ditched them completely we'd end up realing a few years down the road that we did in actual fact need them and we'll waste a shit load of money, time and blood rebuilding our capability just because we were penny wise and pound foolish. Ultimately I don't think anyone can confidently say one way or another.

Probably not if you compare it to the Vikramaditya/Admiral Gorshkov though ; )
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Re: Budget Review

Postby jollytiddlywink on Sat Oct 30, 2010 9:47 pm

rham wrote:The carriers are simply a waste of money. Those who ordered them should be fired, those who signed the contracts should be fired.


You might think that there are better uses for the money, but that doesn't make the carriers a waste. They were ordered in the middle of 2007, and to suggest that those who signed for them should have guessed that the bankers were going to knock the planet's economy into the toilet for a decade is silly. Even if a downturn was foreseen, the strategic utility of the carriers is not changed by economic cycles.

rham wrote:The latest chinese hypersonic missile is a single shot carrier kill. It has a range of 2000 km.

Got any sources you can show for that claim? I try to keep up with current defense news, and that came as news to me. I did a little searching, and still found nothing to support that suggestion. I haven't been able to find any current or planned hypersonic anti-ship missiles with ranges in excess of 250km, let alone 2000km. And how large a warhead is this thing going to carry if a single missile is going to kill 60 or 70,000 tons of carrier? Most anti-ship missiles carry warheads that make 1940s dive-bombers look like heavy lifters!

And Britain does possess sufficient frigates for the ASW role and sufficient type 45s (which are, by the way, good enough to make the USN with their Aegis cruisers a bit jealous) to form a carrier task force, which would likely be accompanied by a nuclear attack sub, also in a sub-hunter capacity. I'm saying that we ought, therefore, to possess aircraft to operate from these platforms! The decision to retire the Harrier now makes no sense because the rest of the taskforce is all ready, or will be the moment the carriers are built and completed sea trials.

rham wrote:About all the carrier will be good for is frightening Argentina, but the whole point is this job could be done for much less money with much less advanced expensive weapons. ... if the Falklands are a priority for defence, how come with 10 times more per year each year not enough?


No, as covered above, the carriers will be good for projecting force worldwide. Defending the Falklands could be done more cheaply, but there would be no multi-use capacity. A carrier can travel, whereas a few battalions based in the Falklands and an RAF base would do nothing but defend the Falklands. And in case you haven't noticed, the Falklands, by virtue of geography, are guaranteed to be more expensive for the UK to defend than for Argentina to attack.

rham wrote:If you think our desire to be a first rate military nation has been cost free, the full cost aircraft carriers and trident (lets include planes, repairs, operations etc) would have paid for higher education. Which in the end guarantees security? A better educated society with opportunity or a bunch of debt ladden or ill educated citizen with a big (but possibly broken) stick?


Who said Britain is trying to be a first-rate power? We were in 1945, but weren't thereafter, and anyone who wasn't a raving loony recognised it, or certainly did by the time Suez rolled around. We are, however, then and now, one of the most important second-rate powers in the world, which is no mean feat. Yes, this costs money, but it has cost less and less in whichever terms you care to use since 1990. We are now framing defense estimates in a fashion that would make Chamberlain, operating under the 10 Year Rule, jealous of our parsimony.
Yes, it would be lovely if we could spend all of the money on more hospitals, better universities (or rather, a more equitable funding system... I cannot understand how so many politicians, educated by state grants in the 60s and 70s, are now happy to ramp tuition costs into the stratosphere), better social services, etc. But the world is not a perfect place, and while its more peaceful in Europe than perhaps ever before, that doesn't mean that we don't need to defend ourselves. Provided that the balance between defense and social spending is gotten right, we can have both. But no amount of social spending will guarantee the freedom and security of the realm. Some questions are still settled by blood and iron.
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Re: Budget Review

Postby jequirity on Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:13 pm

jollytiddlywink wrote:
rham wrote:The carriers are simply a waste of money. Those who ordered them should be fired, those who signed the contracts should be fired.


You might think that there are better uses for the money, but that doesn't make the carriers a waste. They were ordered in the middle of 2007, and to suggest that those who signed for them should have guessed that the bankers were going to knock the planet's economy into the toilet for a decade is silly. Even if a downturn was foreseen, the strategic utility of the carriers is not changed by economic cycles.


Just found out that one of the main goals of building the two carriers is to retain and improve the industry from this article on the BBC - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11661151

Sir Jock said the reason the carriers had to be built was down to a "terms of business agreement" with the dockyards, which had been drawn up for "entirely sensible" reasons.

"We had too large a shipbuilding industry in this country for what we are able to sustain and we had to come down to one dockyard.

"To enable us to come down to one dockyard the industry had to invest in the necessary rationalisation. They were only going to do that if they had a commitment to a certain level of work for a certain number of years. Part of that work of course was the construction of these two carriers."


This explains why we couldn't cancel the carriers due to expense and i've got to say i'm quite impressed with the Mod at this.For once there is some sensible long term thinking going on! I did wonder why when the last Type 45 was launched there was a comment that this would be the last time a warship produced on the clyde would launched in such a fashion. This is due to the refurbishment of the shipyard and changes in shipbuilding technology. I actually think that all things considered that the carriers are not a waste of money afterall and actually represent a sensible investment for this country.

jollytiddlywink wrote:And Britain does possess sufficient frigates for the ASW role and sufficient type 45s (which are, by the way, good enough to make the USN with their Aegis cruisers a bit jealous)


Yes and no. The fact that the first succesful missile lanch only occured at the start of october indicates that there are still a few issues to iron out. Then I think the USN might be a wee bit jealous. Munchingfoo will probably know more on this subject then I can come across on the internet.
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/DDG-Type-45-Britains-Shrinking-Air-Defense-Fleet-04941/#more-4941
(If you haven't discovered this website before jollytiddlywink I think you'll find it very interesting.)

jollytiddlywink wrote:No, as covered above, the carriers will be good for projecting force worldwide. Defending the Falklands could be done more cheaply, but there would be no multi-use capacity. A carrier can travel, whereas a few battalions based in the Falklands and an RAF base would do nothing but defend the Falklands. And in case you haven't noticed, the Falklands, by virtue of geography, are guaranteed to be more expensive for the UK to defend than for Argentina to attack.


At this point in time, a succesful coup de main on Stanley's airport withstanding, it would cost Argentina much more to attack the Falklands then it would for Britain to defend it.

jollytiddlywink wrote:Who said Britain is trying to be a first-rate power? We were in 1945, but weren't thereafter,


I'd argue that the withdrawl of the Eastern fleet to Kenya and Monty's adoption in 1942 of whats come to be known as the "Collosal Cracks" (Check out Collossal Cracks by Stephen Hart, it's very enlightening - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Colossal-Cracks-Montgomerys-Northwest-Stackpole/dp/0811733831) doctrine really signalled the fact that Britain wasn't a first rate power anymore. Although the Eastern fleet eventually became the British Pacific Fleet, the largest fleet Britain had ever assembled we could only maintain it thanks to the help of our commonwealth manpower and US logistical supply. With regards to Monty's "Collosal Cracks" it showed a good appreciation of the strategical situation in an operational and tactical doctrine. It made use of what we had most of (i.e material) to overcome what we had least in (manpower) and allowed the British 2nd Army, along with the 21st Army group to achieve overall allied victory in the North of NW Europe even though we had to disband the 59th and 50th divisions, a couple of armoured and tank brigades and had to use the sole remaining combat-ready division (the 52nd Lowland Division) in Britain plus ship in the 5th Division from Italy. Alanbrooke made it clear to Monty that Britain needed to retain as much manpower as possible whilst being a major contributer to victory in NW Europe to maintain the illusion that we were a first rate power in the interests of Post-war discussions.This was indeed the case in the Mediterranean, Burma and the Pacific.

Offtopic: The campaign in India and Burma as conducted by Slim is fascinating and ran contray to the Collosal Cracks doctrine to a certain extent but established Slim as one of the greatest generals of WW2. As you expressed an interest in the WW1/WW2 in another thread jollytiddlywink i'd encourage you to do some reading on this area.
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Re: Budget Review

Postby jollytiddlywink on Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:13 am

jequirity wrote:This explains why we couldn't cancel the carriers due to expense and i've got to say i'm quite impressed with the Mod at this.For once there is some sensible long term thinking going on! I did wonder why when the last Type 45 was launched there was a comment that this would be the last time a warship produced on the clyde would launched in such a fashion. This is due to the refurbishment of the shipyard and changes in shipbuilding technology. I actually think that all things considered that the carriers are not a waste of money after all and actually represent a sensible investment for this country.


Well, there we go. As well as being useful in their own right, the carriers are part and parcel of the process of rationalising (which, depressingly, means downsizing) the British shipbuilding industry. A further reason to have the carriers, not that I suspect that will cut much ice with rham.

jequirity wrote:At this point in time, a succesful coup de main on Stanley's airport withstanding, it would cost Argentina much more to attack the Falklands then it would for Britain to defend it.

I'm curious about how you arrived at that conclusion.

jequirity wrote:I'd argue that the withdrawl of the Eastern fleet to Kenya and Monty's adoption in 1942 of whats come to be known as the "Collosal Cracks" doctrine really signalled the fact that Britain wasn't a first rate power anymore. Although the Eastern fleet eventually became the British Pacific Fleet, the largest fleet Britain had ever assembled we could only maintain it thanks to the help of our commonwealth manpower and US logistical supply. With regards to Monty's "Collosal Cracks" it showed a good appreciation of the strategical situation in an operational and tactical doctrine. It made use of what we had most of (i.e material) to overcome what we had least in (manpower) and allowed the British 2nd Army, along with the 21st Army group to achieve overall allied victory in the North of NW Europe even though we had to disband the 59th and 50th divisions, a couple of armoured and tank brigades and had to use the sole remaining combat-ready division (the 52nd Lowland Division) in Britain plus ship in the 5th Division from Italy. Alanbrooke made it clear to Monty that Britain needed to retain as much manpower as possible whilst being a major contributer to victory in NW Europe to maintain the illusion that we were a first rate power in the interests of Post-war discussions.This was indeed the case in the Mediterranean, Burma and the Pacific.


As for the contention that Britain was out of the first-rate Powers by 1942, I'm not convinced, especially if 1942 is given as the date. If you'd said 1941, I think you'd be in with a shout.
To suggest that Britain wasn't a great power because it had to be careful with its manpower, and had to use industrial plenty instead, would peg the US as lacking great power status at the same time. It would have been the height of lunacy for Britain in 1940, outnumbered by residents of the Greater Reich (let alone occupied territory) by some 40 million, to refuse to use superior British industrial output to off-set the population imbalance. The US army, particularly once it was committed in Northern Europe, was perennially short of infantry (some of the blame for this lies with US policy-makers, who concluded from 1940 that a profusion of tanks was all important, failing to recognise that infantry were still essential). Britain in the First World War increasingly used superior industrial resources to win the materielschlacht and in order to conserve manpower. So I feel that an argument equating Great Power status with a plentiful supply of manpower to be a severe simplification and a non sequitur in terms of what is actually at issue.
A J P Taylor defined a great power as being able to fight a great war, and Britain managed to prosecute a great war through until September 1945. The strain was enormous, but Britain lasted. By that measure, I think its fair to peg Britain as a Great Power until the war ended, at least.
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Re: Budget Review

Postby rham on Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:16 am

Er try google "Chinese carrier missile"

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/03 ... er-killer/

http://blog.usni.org/2009/03/30/risk-av ... end-focus/

(USNI is United States Naval Institute)

http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2009/04/ ... to-attack/

Want any more? I am not trying to sarcastic, but the warhead is not the issue it is the speed. Energy is 1/2mv2. At mach 8, the energy of impact will destroy any ship. You can see U-tube of the Australian navy hitting a ship with with an antiship missile with almost no explosive, it is the impact at high speed that does it.

If rationalizing the ship yards was the priority why not build something we need. I would agree the skill set for subs or frigates may need to preserved (one can see their use into the far future). These can serve as defensive weapons, the carriers are offensive weapons but with very limited use. It easy for you to say we could lose one, but we only have one. Capable the new frigates are but they can't be everywhere at once. This makes them vulnerable to a swarming attack.

If you want to rationalise the ship yards, get them to build things people want (tankers, ferries, etc). Better yet, invest in education. These carriers are a waste of money, bankers not withstanding.

Super well trained and in comparison well equipped, UK soldiers were too few in number to fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Numbers matter in war. If we could afford two carriers with catapults, a full complement of planes, NIMROD sub spotters, additional frigates and hunter killers subs, then like the US navy the carriers could full fill their function (forceful entry to theatre, control of battle space). However, my point is we chose not to and building carrier without this support is a waste of money.

The History of warfare shows that when you have one irreplaceable "super" weapon it is not risked (Tirpitz, The Home fleet).

You don't say how building one carrier which WILL NEVER fly jets because it lacks a catapult (this cannot be retrofitted) is an investment.

Finally you don't say who we would use the carrier against? (Not France any more signed a 50 year treaty). Lets remember they can't be used for 10 years.

I pointed out against military peers (China, Russia) advanced missile attack may (and I only need to say may) will rule out their use. Missiles are a whole lot cheaper and easier to develop than a carrier. Missile technology being computer controlled is going to develop faster than a carrier. Since once can build a 100's of missiles per carrier, if you wished to defend your shore against carriers how would you invest your money? Counter measures evolve after missiles, as I said only lasers present as yet a possible solution to the new hypersonic missile. Even without the postulated missile, the conventional forces of these nations would overwhelm our defences and sink the carrier. Our carrier could only be used as part of a US task force against such countries (if the missiles are in use, as the US itself will not use carriers).

I said against lower but credible military powers (Argentina, North Korea, Iran, Turkey, Greece etc, they all spend MUCH less than us) they simply need to present a realistic threat they could sink the ONE carrier (either by sub, aircraft with conventional missiles or torpedoes). The small force of protection we have bought and the limited number of fighters embarked by the carrier, mean such countries could expect a chance of sinking. Thus we would only risk such a loss in a matter of national survival. I don't see the any likely conflict where carriers would be used (outside Europe) falling into that category. In a war of choice, we would not risk our such a prize asset. (In home waters around the UK the carrier is redundant). Thus we get to carriers only being useful against Somali pirates or Afghanistan or a disarmed Iraq. The role they provide in these conflicts can be provided by smaller ships using unmanned drones and helicopters.

Ok so lets assume the UK continued in its prosperity, we bought two, NIMROD, updated the army, etc etc. We had the whole tamale, for what purpose would your investment be used? The thing about insurance for just in case is it it is limitless.

(http://www.informationdissemination.net/) provides some analysis of the issues facing the US navy but if you dig you will find the problems of the UK discussed.

Would it be nice to see someone change their mind by reading? I did, I was mildly skeptical about them because I could not see the conflict but when I learned how useless IT (the one) is, I became totally opposed.
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Re: Budget Review

Postby Guest on Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:01 am

rham wrote:
You don't say how building one carrier which WILL NEVER fly jets because it lacks a catapult (this cannot be retrofitted) is an investment.


I read this and said to myself 'but it that's true all the stuff e.g. Liam Fox has been saying about the carriers being compatible in the future with French and American planes is nonsense. Which leads me to think either the Defense Minister or, y'know, some guy on the Sinner is better informed about the carrier project. Place your bets folks.

Wikipedia, never the best source but it will do. wrote:On 30 September 2002 the MoD announced that the Royal Navy and RAF will operate the STOVL F-35B variant. At the same time it was announced that the carriers would take the form of large, conventional carriers, initially adapted for STOVL operations. The carriers, expected to remain in service for 50 years, are designed for but not with catapults and arrestor wires. The carrier is thus said to be "future proof", allowing it to operate a generation of CATOBAR aircraft beyond the F-35.


rham wrote:...it lacks a catapult (this cannot be retrofitted)...


You never explain why this is, in general. I have to imaging that if you've build a carrier from scratch you have the capability to change the design without destroying the whole thing, even in quite fundamental ways. I mean, someone with the right skills, tools and material could turn my car into a boat. As it turns out they deliberately designed the carriers so that they can be retrofitted, and presumably they'll go down this route if, as Fox says, the 'lack of planes' issue isn't an issue because they're thinking in terms of joint-operation capability with major allies (the US and France).

As for the whole 'either it can beat the Chinese or it's only useful against Somalis' claim I think it's a nice example of a false dichotomy. Carriers have always been highly expensive but have nevertheless been used (in the Falklands, in the Gulf War, in the Iraq War (Gulf War II: This Time It's Personal)), there's no reason to think we won't continue to use them as a base from which to conduct airborne operations away from home. That's the whole point of building them - I believe it's called 'force projection' but it's a safe general rule that modern armies are built to be used. The reason for not making full use of the Home Fleet/the Tirpiz was the (correct) view that a loss would be psychologically damaging to both the civilians and the military. It's unlikely we'd be engaging with any country who could pose much of a threat to the carriers (we lose a war with China? Fine. Best not start one. P.S. - I imagine that's what those Trident submarines are for) and in the unlikely event something did happen I doubt it would traumatize the populus. "The Prince of Wales has been sunk!" "Good idea! A spot of waterboarding might shut him up."
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Re: Budget Review

Postby jequirity on Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:08 pm

jollytiddlywink wrote:
jequirity wrote:At this point in time, a succesful coup de main on Stanley's airport withstanding, it would cost Argentina much more to attack the Falklands then it would for Britain to defend it.

I'm curious about how you arrived at that conclusion.


I'd agree that if Argentina were in a position to seriously threaten a successful invasion of the Falklands then due to the logistical distances involved then it would be cheaper for Argentina to maintain it's forces rather than ours, this goes pretty much without saying. My point is, is that for Argentina to obtain the required overmatch against the UK forces in the Falklands, their armed forces would need to be seriously upgraded with new kit and abilities to the point where it is prohibitively expensive. Their current armed forces are a shadow of what they were back in 1982. Until the Argentinians can successfully track and sink our nuclear attack subs, can establish air superiority and can successfully mount dislodge the UK brigade stationed there, the Falklands is cheaper to defend then it is to attack.

jollytiddlywink wrote:As for the contention that Britain was out of the first-rate Powers by 1942, I'm not convinced, especially if 1942 is given as the date. If you'd said 1941, I think you'd be in with a shout.
To suggest that Britain wasn't a great power because it had to be careful with its manpower, and had to use industrial plenty instead, would peg the US as lacking great power status at the same time. It would have been the height of lunacy for Britain in 1940, outnumbered by residents of the Greater Reich (let alone occupied territory) by some 40 million, to refuse to use superior British industrial output to off-set the population imbalance. The US army, particularly once it was committed in Northern Europe, was perennially short of infantry (some of the blame for this lies with US policy-makers, who concluded from 1940 that a profusion of tanks was all important, failing to recognise that infantry were still essential). Britain in the First World War increasingly used superior industrial resources to win the materielschlacht and in order to conserve manpower. So I feel that an argument equating Great Power status with a plentiful supply of manpower to be a severe simplification and a non sequitur in terms of what is actually at issue.
A J P Taylor defined a great power as being able to fight a great war, and Britain managed to prosecute a great war through until September 1945. The strain was enormous, but Britain lasted. By that measure, I think its fair to peg Britain as a Great Power until the war ended, at least.


I think we can both discuss all day the point at which the UK ceased to be a first rate power and perhaps not come to the same conclusion :) . Regarding the rest of the paragraph, I'm not arguing that the fact that Britain was using industry to offset numbers was an indication that they were no longer a 1st rate power but rather if you study the conduct of the operational technique used in the various theatres of war you'll see that by 1942 the General Staff had realised that the forces available to them will start waning to the extent whereby the UK will longer be as significant to the war effort as say the US. Collosal Cracks was this realisation distilled into doctrine. In WW1, the British were still a significant contributer to the war effort around the globe right to the end in 1918 but come 1942 after three years of war Britain realised it could no longer be said to be a major contributor in the Pacific and Far East and would need significant help from America to open up a NW European front. From this point the main goal was to try and maintain the appearance of a 1st rate power by accomplishing it's strategical goals without suffering any major defeats or attrition that would affect it's status.

With regard to NW Europe, The high point of the contribution of British forces was in Normandy were for a few months the forces under British command outnumbered and then matched those of the Americans. Off the top of my head after Falaise thereabouts the Americans contributed 2 army groups whilst the British/Canadians/Polish made up 1 army group. Britain definitely made a large contribution but I'm confident that the Americans could have planned for a third army group if Britain could no longer maintain the 21st army group. Generally there was a shortage of infantry for all nations, in the case of America it was due to the decisions made by their General Staff and not down to the fact that at a push their country couldn't sustain more. The point is is that they could raise the number of infantry divisions had they wanted to but Britain recognized that it would be extremely pushed to sustain what it already fielded.

Getting more offtopic now...
Regarding the tanks, the American didn't really believe that they would be the war winner over infantry, Britain could be accused of being in this mentality with regards to the early armour-heavy compositions of their Armoured Divisons where they didn't appreciate the idea of the battlegroup as much the Germans did. Indeed, even in operation Goodwood where the first and only British Corps comprised entirely of armoured divisions was launched east of Caen , the over reliance on armour proved to be that operation's downfall. If they had commited more infantry (and followed O Connor's suggestion of converting spare vehicles into apcs as Simmonds was to do in Totalize) they might have had better results but again this comes down to the shortage of infantry due to the manpower problem and the reluctance to deviate from the Collosal Cracks doctrine.

Indeed America for all it's material superiority actually had a shortage of tanks at various points in the European campaign due to it's lack of experience in number replenishment affecting industrial planning unlike the British who planned for tank replacement accordingly thanks to their previous experiences in the desert. Unlike the British (up until Operation Bluecoat), the US got the hang of what they called "Combat Commands" where co-operation between the infantry and the armour was impressive. Although they had a failed tank destroyer doctrine I don't believe that it was the US who placed an emphasis on armour above infantry although they too had a shortage of infantry. It was just inadequete planning on their part.
Last edited by jequirity on Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Budget Review

Postby rham on Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:59 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Eliz ... ft_carrier
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstop ... -jets.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstop ... eview.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... w-strategy
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11570276

I am all up for a debate on ideas but the facts are clear. One carrier will not fly jet planes.

Liam Fox said one carrier would be operational with jets. Did you read what he said or do you just think its clever to say you believe him not me? I believe him too, one would be fitted with a catapult so it could be interoperable (one therefore will not). This is because a catapult is needed for take and off landing of off the shelf planes used by USA and France. The original concept now abandoned was to use a JSF variant which like the Harriers would take off and land with a shorter runway without the catapult. The UK pulled out of the JSF STOVAL, no jet is being designed that CAN EVER fly from the first UK carrier ie it is not interoperable. We have no plans EVER to design a new STOVAL plane for a single non-catapult carrier. This is why this first carrier is being mothballed after a few years (as soon as the second carrier is ready) and will not have jets. Liam Fox announced the extra cost of the catapult for the second ship and made clear no planes at all for first carrier. (Without the catapult it can't fly anything but harrier jets and these were retired last month). Even if the US builds a SOTVAL it may be a land not sea variant, it may not work on our ship etc.

The catapult system requires extensive modification to the ship (its not a piece of elastic) and flight deck. Obviously we either could not afford to fit both with catapults now or it was too late in the contract to change the flight deck of the first carrier. This to me would imply that retrofitting will be too expensive.

So in theory, at some point one can either design a new plane (good luck with that, we are moving to drones) or you can modify the mothball carrier for a few billion (plus years of work) or you just admire the job creation scheme of building a useless hunk of metal.
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Re: Budget Review

Postby jequirity on Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:13 pm

rham wrote:Want any more? I am not trying to sarcastic, but the warhead is not the issue it is the speed. Energy is 1/2mv2. At mach 8, the energy of impact will destroy any ship. You can see U-tube of the Australian navy hitting a ship with with an antiship missile with almost no explosive, it is the impact at high speed that does it.


Warhead and speed are factors but it's the targetting that is the main issue. The links you've provided don't at any point suggest the obsolescence of the carrier but they do point out that there are still contentions about the capability of the missiles, none of which have been actually demonstrated to do what they say on the tin. In fact the best sources that is linked to by one of your links above (http://andrewserickson.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/erickson-article_erickson-yang_china-asbm_nwcr_2009-autumn-aspx.pdf) acknowledges that there is much speculation and scepticism surrounding the capabilities of these missiles and the paper really only offers speculation of abilities rather than hard facts. The rest of the links seem less informed and more geared towards scare-mongering to get more views.

What is clear is that there is a general understanding that there will have to be a doctrinal shift within the USN in the future and increased anti-missile ability but this has already been the case. This does not suggest at all that suddenly carriers are obselete in any way. It does not suggest that the new carriers we are building are suddenly going to become obselete in the sameway that most other battleships became obselete after the launching of HMS Dreadnought. There are a few problems within the USN, namely the gold-plating style projects such as the Zumwalt, the misplaced increased interest in Littoral ships (similar to the Armies goal for a C130 deployable MBT) and the diminishing quality of certain US shipyards.

rham wrote:If rationalizing the ship yards was the priority why not build something we need. I would agree the skill set for subs or frigates may need to preserved (one can see their use into the far future). These can serve as defensive weapons, the carriers are offensive weapons but with very limited use. It easy for you to say we could lose one, but we only have one. Capable the new frigates are but they can't be everywhere at once. This makes them vulnerable to a swarming attack.

If you want to rationalise the ship yards, get them to build things people want (tankers, ferries, etc). Better yet, invest in education. These carriers are a waste of money, bankers not withstanding.

Super well trained and in comparison well equipped, UK soldiers were too few in number to fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Numbers matter in war. If we could afford two carriers with catapults, a full complement of planes, NIMROD sub spotters, additional frigates and hunter killers subs, then like the US navy the carriers could full fill their function (forceful entry to theatre, control of battle space). However, my point is we chose not to and building carrier without this support is a waste of money.


Quite simply, the for proper rationalization of the shipyard it needs to have the capability to build more carrier-sized ships in the future, by just building subs or frigates you lose the skills and ability to succesfully build carriers with as few problems as possible. The carriers do not have "limited" offensive use, they are a very flexible component to any Navy, a cursory glance through the history books will tell you that. Besides, for a flexible defense you need offensive weaponary. We might only be operating one initially but we can outfit the other without too much hassle if needs be, it's certaintly useful having a back up there to be used in case the first carrier gets sunk, or for training purposes etc. Again these carriers are not a waste of money. If you rationalise the shipsyards for building ferries and tankers it'll close down as soon as it opens due to the fact there are many countries that build these things more cheaply. There are very, very, very few countries that build large aircraft carriers and this is why the shipyards are getting rationlized, for the purpose of building large warships.

We don't have new "Frigates" we have new Destroyers that are geared towards air-defence, when we do build new frigates down the road they will focus on a multirole approach. These Destroyers that we do have built are geared towards defending against swarm attacks but I imagine theres always going to be one or two that get through. But that's war isn't it?

We will still be able to operate one carrier group which will never be as good as the American ones but then we can't afford it. As I said before I agree that ditching Nimrod was silly but as we're going to operate with the US against a high tier enemy then the increased interoperability aspect alleviates some of the capability lost, allowing us to proceed with protecting the UK's interests.

rham wrote:The History of warfare shows that when you have one irreplaceable "super" weapon it is not risked (Tirpitz, The Home fleet).

You don't say how building one carrier which WILL NEVER fly jets because it lacks a catapult (this cannot be retrofitted) is an investment.

Finally you don't say who we would use the carrier against? (Not France any more signed a 50 year treaty). Lets remember they can't be used for 10 years.


As mentioned previously there is no indication that the cats cannot be retrofitted and your statement is incorrect. The cats will add cost but they're not impossible to fit. It adds about 500 million quid overall taking into account other delays. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-11648429) As you said only one will be outfitted but the other can be too if and when required allowing planes to be flown. Not quite a useless hunk of metal. A good quote from the bbc article:

"There are estimates of the cost, ranging upwards from £500m. There are a lot of studies going on, which will determine exactly what system, what costs and where.

"But for me, the important thing was that we made this change to give ourselves a greater range in terms of the aircraft we could operate, a bigger payload for the aircraft, and greater inter-operability with our major allies.

"And if we're going to have this for something that's going to last us 40 or 50 years, we should take the time to get it right".


The Tirpitz scenario fits for the case when the theatre has already been dominated by the other power, nevertheless the Tirpitz still tied up a lot of our resources, resources which could have been used in other theatres. As our future carrier will most likely be used in conjunction with the USN and we've effectively got a backup carrier, the risk factor is reduced and the likelyhood of a "Tirpitz" scenario is likewise reduced. The homefleet itself was risked against the german homefleet but most people reconized the fleets as deterrants anyway. As for suitable opponents, as said earlier it's very difficult to predict who we will be facing next, the flexibility of the carrier is very useful in this regard.

rham wrote:I pointed out against military peers (China, Russia) advanced missile attack may (and I only need to say may) will rule out their use. Missiles are a whole lot cheaper and easier to develop than a carrier. Missile technology being computer controlled is going to develop faster than a carrier. Since once can build a 100's of missiles per carrier, if you wished to defend your shore against carriers how would you invest your money? Counter measures evolve after missiles, as I said only lasers present as yet a possible solution to the new hypersonic missile. Even without the postulated missile, the conventional forces of these nations would overwhelm our defences and sink the carrier. Our carrier could only be used as part of a US task force against such countries (if the missiles are in use, as the US itself will not use carriers).

I said against lower but credible military powers (Argentina, North Korea, Iran, Turkey, Greece etc, they all spend MUCH less than us) they simply need to present a realistic threat they could sink the ONE carrier (either by sub, aircraft with conventional missiles or torpedoes). The small force of protection we have bought and the limited number of fighters embarked by the carrier, mean such countries could expect a chance of sinking. Thus we would only risk such a loss in a matter of national survival. I don't see the any likely conflict where carriers would be used (outside Europe) falling into that category. In a war of choice, we would not risk our such a prize asset. (In home waters around the UK the carrier is redundant). Thus we get to carriers only being useful against Somali pirates or Afghanistan or a disarmed Iraq. The role they provide in these conflicts can be provided by smaller ships using unmanned drones and helicopters.


Again it's clear that missile technology is debateable and the carrier group is not obsolete, again it's already assumed that against high tier opponents we'll be operating with the US anyway. The conventional navy of China is rather small compared to the size of the USN so it's unlikey that they'll be overwhlemed. Asymmettic warfare will go some way to counter this numerical superiority but I don't think it'll be enough (my opinion). We don't know exactly who we'll be facing in the next 30 years but the carrier will give us a good degree of flexibilty to meet the challenges ahead. The rationalization of the shipyard will allow us to build better ships in the future more efficiently.

rham wrote:Would it be nice to see someone change their mind by reading?


It would be but then we'd never have any fun banter now eh? :)
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Re: Budget Review

Postby rham on Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:32 pm

I enjoy the banter too, no hard feelings here. At least the level of debate is better than in politics.

The problem is in the next 30 years who knows?
We could justify any weapon system on this basis. All weapons can have a theoretical justification. Just in case, we should have standing army of 200 000, equipped with tanks, transports, helicopters etc. Just in case we should satellite based weapons. Just in case we should design missile defences etc etc. Just in case, we need more drones, body armour, spying, cyber defence. The USA spends more than everyone else combined but remains fearful because of the need to fight all possible wars in the next 30 years. I would not choose carriers.

The links I posted on these missiles are 2010. I do not think it is unreasonable stretch that these missiles will be in operation by 2020. (The Russian Sunburn missile already exists). The drive in China to develop more capable missiles to deny the USN entrance to the Taiwan straight is very strong. (As you say its in China's interest to hype up the missile)

The swarming attack is the one the USN games in the gulf, it is a mass attack by planes and missiles to overwhelm defences (the Aegis class is designed to cope but no one knows). Disabling a carrier is worth a whole lot of missiles and quite a few planes.

As you say, no one knows what will happen in a real war. Unless the chinese fight a war using these missiles, then the only time we will have real insight into their capability (unless we steal one) is when it hurtles down at us at mach 8. It might not work, but would you risk the lives of all on board, your blue water fleet? I suspect for national survival yes (and in the case of the Falklands for national prestige / territory). For much else, I think no.

For example the much quoted Falklands, had Argentina had more working exocets, they could have sunk a carrier, they did not and this is speculation. The point is we underestimated the power of missiles before (so did almost all navies) and in a real shooting war there are chance events. At the time of the Falklands, the UK was the third naval power in the world and Argentina was a military midget. Yet those exocets made it a close run thing, our defensive measures turned out to be ineffective in a real war, whereas exocets turned out to be better than expected (although they had problems too). The whole point about defending against a single large offensive weapon like the carrier is you just need to knock it out to win. The defenders strategic drive to negate the carrier advantage in a war of national survival / prestige (invasion of Iran or in China's case Taiwan) is very strong. If they do not care about invading your territory they can focus their energy on defence and if they are willing to risk significant casualties to keep their regime / island possession, then they have a much easier job.

Argentina could never have occupied the Isle of White or the Scilly isles, they did not have the capability to operate beyond the fighter range of mainland. Nor on land were their soldiers a match for UK forces. The Falklands lesson to me is that defending your shore or near shore (Falklands was within fighter cover of the Argentinian mainland) is a whole lost easier than attacking someone else's. Further weak countries can defend against stronger ones by use of cheap missiles. The attacker as with the USN, needs to have very significant strength in depth, particularly against surface skimming anti ship missiles. The more advanced the foe the harder this becomes then either you change your doctrine or you build a more robust fleet. (The USN is now contemplating this)

Carriers came into their own in WW2. Before that we had battleships, we only realised they were doomed after Repulse and PoW were sunk as well at Pearl Harbour. The tank was once seen the dominant weapon, yet now the helicopter is probably supreme on land. History suggest that no weapon remains strategic for very long. It become tactical and therefore subject to tactical counter measures. I don't know if the Chinese missile will work, but given that we know cruise missiles have targeting good enough to fly through streets then by 2020 being able to hit a slow moving mass of metal is not impossible a priori. If carriers have had their day and the future is smaller expendable stealthy ships, fat lot of good a rationalised ship yard aimed at building last years behemoth is.

As mentioned previously there is no indication that the cats cannot be retrofitted and your statement is incorrect. The cats will add cost but they're not impossible to fit. It adds about 500 million quid overall taking into account other delays. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-11648429) As you said only one will be outfitted but the other can be too if and when required allowing planes to be flown. Not quite a useless hunk of metal. A good quote from the bbc article:

The 500M + (and given the history of cost overruns want to bet it stays at this level) is for the one ship that is in early stages of construction, presumably easier to change. The cost of altering the completely build carrier is not known but can be safely assumed to be much much higher. Retrofitting catapults has never even been discussed nor if you read Liam Fox is it anywhere contemplated for the first carrier. The clue is design changes necessary to put it in the second, my understanding (but I don't know for sure) is that the actual deck needs to be lengthened which means the hull has to be altered, also the lift for the planes needs adjusted. These are not trivial retrofits to do to an existing carrier. My case stands, carrier one is a waste of metal.

If I was worried about fighting a long way from home, how would I do it? Use submarines with cruise missiles to cripple air defences, command and control, missile and air defence frigates to cover landing area and for force protection. (However, we could never invade China in essence we would be fighting to save Taiwan or for access to a third countries resources, neither case is likely to pass the existential threat to the nation test). Using large numbers of such ships, so that losses can be absorbed. It might not be work but the ability to devastate command and control from submarines and destroyers beyond fighter range (and these small fast targets are harder to hit with missiles) might act as a powerful deterrent.

However, I more focus my energy on education of our population, decreasing invasive government, increasing prosperity, decreasing pollution and defending the home island against threats to our way of life. Its my opinion that much of woe has come from neglecting our own people because of dreams of being a first rate important power. Even saying all that I strongly believe the carriers even on their own pretext are a waste of money. Whats more I believe in time this will be admitted by authority (Cameron came pretty close), the only reason they were built is, it would have costed as much to cancel. Politically, spending the money with absolutely nothing to show was judged worse than building something and trying to pretend it might be useful and distracting people with flag waving. Military judgement did not come into it.
Never trust a camel or anything else that can go for a week without a drink
rham
 
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Re: Budget Review

Postby rham on Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:33 pm

I enjoy the banter too, no hard feelings here. At least the level of debate is better than in politics.

The problem is in the next 30 years who knows?
We could justify any weapon system on this basis. All weapons can have a theoretical justification. Just in case, we should have standing army of 200 000, equipped with tanks, transports, helicopters etc. Just in case we should satellite based weapons. Just in case we should design missile defences etc etc. Just in case, we need more drones, body armour, spying, cyber defence. The USA spends more than everyone else combined but remains fearful because of the need to fight all possible wars in the next 30 years. I would not choose carriers.

The links I posted on these missiles are 2010. I do not think it is unreasonable stretch that these missiles will be in operation by 2020. (The Russian Sunburn missile already exists). The drive in China to develop more capable missiles to deny the USN entrance to the Taiwan straight is very strong. (As you say its in China's interest to hype up the missile)

The swarming attack is the one the USN games in the gulf, it is a mass attack by planes and missiles to overwhelm defences (the Aegis class is designed to cope but no one knows). Disabling a carrier is worth a whole lot of missiles and quite a few planes.

As you say, no one knows what will happen in a real war. Unless the chinese fight a war using these missiles, then the only time we will have real insight into their capability (unless we steal one) is when it hurtles down at us at mach 8. It might not work, but would you risk the lives of all on board, your blue water fleet? I suspect for national survival yes (and in the case of the Falklands for national prestige / territory). For much else, I think no.

For example the much quoted Falklands, had Argentina had more working exocets, they could have sunk a carrier, they did not and this is speculation. The point is we underestimated the power of missiles before (so did almost all navies) and in a real shooting war there are chance events. At the time of the Falklands, the UK was the third naval power in the world and Argentina was a military midget. Yet those exocets made it a close run thing, our defensive measures turned out to be ineffective in a real war, whereas exocets turned out to be better than expected (although they had problems too). The whole point about defending against a single large offensive weapon like the carrier is you just need to knock it out to win. The defenders strategic drive to negate the carrier advantage in a war of national survival / prestige (invasion of Iran or in China's case Taiwan) is very strong. If they do not care about invading your territory they can focus their energy on defence and if they are willing to risk significant casualties to keep their regime / island possession, then they have a much easier job.

Argentina could never have occupied the Isle of White or the Scilly isles, they did not have the capability to operate beyond the fighter range of mainland. Nor on land were their soldiers a match for UK forces. The Falklands lesson to me is that defending your shore or near shore (Falklands was within fighter cover of the Argentinian mainland) is a whole lost easier than attacking someone else's. Further weak countries can defend against stronger ones by use of cheap missiles. The attacker as with the USN, needs to have very significant strength in depth, particularly against surface skimming anti ship missiles. The more advanced the foe the harder this becomes then either you change your doctrine or you build a more robust fleet. (The USN is now contemplating this)

Carriers came into their own in WW2. Before that we had battleships, we only realised they were doomed after Repulse and PoW were sunk as well at Pearl Harbour. The tank was once seen the dominant weapon, yet now the helicopter is probably supreme on land. History suggest that no weapon remains strategic for very long. It become tactical and therefore subject to tactical counter measures. I don't know if the Chinese missile will work, but given that we know cruise missiles have targeting good enough to fly through streets then by 2020 being able to hit a slow moving mass of metal is not impossible a priori. If carriers have had their day and the future is smaller expendable stealthy ships, fat lot of good a rationalised ship yard aimed at building last years behemoth is.

As mentioned previously there is no indication that the cats cannot be retrofitted and your statement is incorrect. The cats will add cost but they're not impossible to fit. It adds about 500 million quid overall taking into account other delays. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-11648429) As you said only one will be outfitted but the other can be too if and when required allowing planes to be flown. Not quite a useless hunk of metal. A good quote from the bbc article:

The 500M + (and given the history of cost overruns want to bet it stays at this level) is for the one ship that is in early stages of construction, presumably easier to change. The cost of altering the completely build carrier is not known but can be safely assumed to be much much higher. Retrofitting catapults has never even been discussed nor if you read Liam Fox is it anywhere contemplated for the first carrier. The clue is design changes necessary to put it in the second, my understanding (but I don't know for sure) is that the actual deck needs to be lengthened which means the hull has to be altered, also the lift for the planes needs adjusted. These are not trivial retrofits to do to an existing carrier. My case stands, carrier one is a waste of metal.

If I was worried about fighting a long way from home, how would I do it? Use submarines with cruise missiles to cripple air defences, command and control, missile and air defence frigates to cover landing area and for force protection. (However, we could never invade China in essence we would be fighting to save Taiwan or for access to a third countries resources, neither case is likely to pass the existential threat to the nation test). Using large numbers of such ships, so that losses can be absorbed. It might not be work but the ability to devastate command and control from submarines and destroyers beyond fighter range (and these small fast targets are harder to hit with missiles) might act as a powerful deterrent.

However, I more focus my energy on education of our population, decreasing invasive government, increasing prosperity, decreasing pollution and defending the home island against threats to our way of life. Its my opinion that much of woe has come from neglecting our own people because of dreams of being a first rate important power. Even saying all that I strongly believe the carriers even on their own pretext are a waste of money. Whats more I believe in time this will be admitted by authority (Cameron came pretty close), the only reason they were built is, it would have costed as much to cancel. Politically, spending the money with absolutely nothing to show was judged worse than building something and trying to pretend it might be useful and distracting people with flag waving. Military judgement did not come into it.
Never trust a camel or anything else that can go for a week without a drink
rham
 
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2007 9:45 am

Re: Budget Review

Postby jequirity on Tue Nov 02, 2010 8:43 pm

rham wrote:I enjoy the banter too, no hard feelings here. At least the level of debate is better than in politics.
The problem is in the next 30 years who knows?
We could justify any weapon system on this basis. All weapons can have a theoretical justification. Just in case, we should have standing army of 200 000, equipped with tanks, transports, helicopters etc. Just in case we should satellite based weapons. Just in case we should design missile defences etc etc. Just in case, we need more drones, body armour, spying, cyber defence. The USA spends more than everyone else combined but remains fearful because of the need to fight all possible wars in the next 30 years. I would not choose carriers.


Aye at the end of the day no-one really knows as you say, we can only predict and ultimately guess. Preparation for the next conflict is absolutely vital but ultimately difficult because it's hard to predict what we need and how much we need. In this regard and in my opinion carriers are handy but I think your reasoning is valid too. I imagine in say 30 years time, with hindsight one of us will get to say "See, I told you so didn't I!". I hope that neither of us will have to say that mind.

rham wrote:The links I posted on these missiles are 2010. I do not think it is unreasonable stretch that these missiles will be in operation by 2020. (The Russian Sunburn missile already exists). The drive in China to develop more capable missiles to deny the USN entrance to the Taiwan straight is very strong. (As you say its in China's interest to hype up the missile)

The swarming attack is the one the USN games in the gulf, it is a mass attack by planes and missiles to overwhelm defences (the Aegis class is designed to cope but no one knows). Disabling a carrier is worth a whole lot of missiles and quite a few planes.


I definitely don't deny that the Chinese amongst others are seeking to develop these missiles and I'd say that a carrier group operating in the straights of Taiwan will be seriously mauled/destroyed even with the missiles that China has in it's arsenal today. This is why it's doctrine that will be key for the carriers success (i.e operating the carrier groups at the optimal range at all times and devolping optimal missile defence systems etc.) as with all systems. I agree that the swarming attack is deadly for the carrier but systems today are being designed with swarming in mind. Whether they work or not though is something to find out in the future...

rham wrote:As you say, no one knows what will happen in a real war. Unless the chinese fight a war using these missiles, then the only time we will have real insight into their capability (unless we steal one) is when it hurtles down at us at mach 8. It might not work, but would you risk the lives of all on board, your blue water fleet? I suspect for national survival yes (and in the case of the Falklands for national prestige / territory). For much else, I think no.

For example the much quoted Falklands, had Argentina had more working exocets, they could have sunk a carrier, they did not and this is speculation. The point is we underestimated the power of missiles before (so did almost all navies) and in a real shooting war there are chance events. At the time of the Falklands, the UK was the third naval power in the world and Argentina was a military midget. Yet those exocets made it a close run thing, our defensive measures turned out to be ineffective in a real war, whereas exocets turned out to be better than expected (although they had problems too). The whole point about defending against a single large offensive weapon like the carrier is you just need to knock it out to win. The defenders strategic drive to negate the carrier advantage in a war of national survival / prestige (invasion of Iran or in China's case Taiwan) is very strong. If they do not care about invading your territory they can focus their energy on defence and if they are willing to risk significant casualties to keep their regime / island possession, then they have a much easier job.


I agree that we'll never really find out the true capabilities of the missiles before they've seen at least some action but if we were operating against such a high tier opponent then it would probably be a matter of essentially national survival. I think that in this scenario we would be all out alongside our allies. Against smaller nations I think that as long as the doctrine is sound we'll risk the carrier but time might well prove me wrong. Regarding the exocets, I believe we hadn't underestimated the threat of the missile as every measure possible was taken to guard against them using the forces available and we already had a quite a few of them in service ourselves to gain an appreciation of their abilities. I do believe that our defences weren't as adequet as they should have been but the intelligence drive to limit the supply of the Exocets to Argentina proved to be potentially war-winning. We used our expertise gained in the falklands to good effect in the Gulf tanker war.

rham wrote:Argentina could never have occupied the Isle of White or the Scilly isles, they did not have the capability to operate beyond the fighter range of mainland. Nor on land were their soldiers a match for UK forces. The Falklands lesson to me is that defending your shore or near shore (Falklands was within fighter cover of the Argentinian mainland) is a whole lost easier than attacking someone else's. Further weak countries can defend against stronger ones by use of cheap missiles. The attacker as with the USN, needs to have very significant strength in depth, particularly against surface skimming anti ship missiles. The more advanced the foe the harder this becomes then either you change your doctrine or you build a more robust fleet. (The USN is now contemplating this)


Aye, being defensive is usually less expensive than being on the offensive and in amphibious operations the attacker has his work cut out for him. With regards to the Argentian land forces there were one or two battalions that were a match for the British and in terms of equipment, the Argentians often possessed better bits of kit (NVGs etc). One of the advantages of being a potential attacker however is that the deterance value of your amphibious forces your opponent to become defensive minded and delays him/her from becoming a power projecting enemy. Each comes with its advantages and disadvantages but I agree that today ships face a multitude of different threats at a time when the number of ships that can be sustained is dropping. Quite often quantity is indeed it's own quality.

rham wrote:Carriers came into their own in WW2. Before that we had battleships, we only realised they were doomed after Repulse and PoW were sunk as well at Pearl Harbour. The tank was once seen the dominant weapon, yet now the helicopter is probably supreme on land. History suggest that no weapon remains strategic for very long. It become tactical and therefore subject to tactical counter measures. I don't know if the Chinese missile will work, but given that we know cruise missiles have targeting good enough to fly through streets then by 2020 being able to hit a slow moving mass of metal is not impossible a priori. If carriers have had their day and the future is smaller expendable stealthy ships, fat lot of good a rationalised ship yard aimed at building last years behemoth is.


Battleships still had their role to play even after the destruction of Force Z. After the British attack on the Italian fleet based at Taranto in 1940 displayed the rise of naval aviation (The Japanese studied this attack before launching their equivalent on a much larger scale later on), Battleships were still useful in the ground bombardment role even up to the Gulf War (See the USS Missouri re-activated in 1984) but i'd say that it was in 1940 that the fate of the battleship as the prominent capital ship was sealed. With regard to land forces, recent experiences with the attack helicopter have suggested that it wouldn't be as dominant as once thought in a conflict. Infact there hasn't been a dominant land weapon for quite some time - combined arms has always been the key to success. The key to cruise missiles has been the required satellites in space providing the relevant guidance systems and I imagine that this would be the case with the Chinese missiles too. Some say that the chinese don't have enough in orbit to target carrier groups (http://www.defpro.com/news/details/17439/) but similary to the articles of the believers in the Dong Feng this is article is really just speculation with no hard facts. I think that whoever can control space will be in a lot better position to protect or destroy the carrier group. China has demonstrated an ability to destroy low orbit sattelites but has not expanded on those abilities. If the missiles do work as well as speculated then you are probably correct in saying that building a shipyard aimed at producing large warships is a waste of money. However it is also going to be producing smaller warships in the future and it may be the case that the missiles don't work as well as suggested in which case it is a sound investment.

rham wrote: The 500M + (and given the history of cost overruns want to bet it stays at this level) is for the one ship that is in early stages of construction, presumably easier to change. The cost of altering the completely build carrier is not known but can be safely assumed to be much much higher. Retrofitting catapults has never even been discussed nor if you read Liam Fox is it anywhere contemplated for the first carrier. The clue is design changes necessary to put it in the second, my understanding (but I don't know for sure) is that the actual deck needs to be lengthened which means the hull has to be altered, also the lift for the planes needs adjusted. These are not trivial retrofits to do to an existing carrier. My case stands, carrier one is a waste of metal.


I agree that the costs are going to overrun and we don't know exactly how much the final bill will be. The changes to the design will require more experience to be brought into the project and converting a carrier to cats is certaintly not trivial. However because the first carrier will be the one most likely to be mothballed, the second one will be of a better build quality, hopefully incorporating the lessons learned from building the first. If we were to have the active carrier sunk on operations then retrofitting the mothballed carrier and bringing it back to active duty will be less time consuming then building a completely new one. I think that the mothballed carrier will have it's uses, ideally it would be fully operational and it might well be in the future but it is dissapointing to see only one active carrier to be planned for in the immediate future. On the plus side if it encourages more interoperability with the US and French then this is a silver lining (not mentioning any sovereignty issues we might have the carrier ahem), coupled with the upgraded shipyard and I am still convinced that this project is not a total waste of money. We're still going to have one hell of an aircraft carrier once it's built and we've got the planes for it. As long as we don't get it run aground off Skye that is!

To be honest though, when it was first announced that we would have two large carriers instead of the three smaller carriers like we've had in the past I was a bit sceptical of the military thinking behind the decision and still am a tad. As you have mentioned before, quantity is an issue and a successful mission kill on your basket full of all your eggs should always be avoided. In the end it comes down to the type of plane to be flown. Harrier needed to be replaced a long time ago and the only plane to fufil the Vstol capability that would match up to 4th and 4.5th generation fighters would be the F-35b. This meant a new class of larger carrier had to be designed to accomodate this plane so we were always destined to move back to bigger ships in the absence of another suitable harrier replacement. Ideally three ships would be procured in terms of numbers but this would have been is far too expensive to maintain. Using two carriers would be the next step which would allow us to retain a degree of independence from the French but now we've got to depend on each another due to the fact we will only have once active one each. From the french experience of having only one carrier it is necessary to work with them due to the lack of carrier coverage when your sole carrier is in a dry dock getting it's refits done etc. I'm not happy with the way people have decided upon the carriers but I think the decision to rationalize the shipyards and the interoperability has made me a lot happier about things and has offset a few considerations that would be important otherwise.

rham wrote:If I was worried about fighting a long way from home, how would I do it? Use submarines with cruise missiles to cripple air defences, command and control, missile and air defence frigates to cover landing area and for force protection. (However, we could never invade China in essence we would be fighting to save Taiwan or for access to a third countries resources, neither case is likely to pass the existential threat to the nation test). Using large numbers of such ships, so that losses can be absorbed. It might not be work but the ability to devastate command and control from submarines and destroyers beyond fighter range (and these small fast targets are harder to hit with missiles) might act as a powerful deterrent.


I think in this scenario to adequately cover your ground troops you really do need air support whether it's launched from modern-day carriers or potentially future smaller carriers that operate combat UAV's but that's taking us into the whole manned vs unmanned fighter debate. I do agree though that large numbers of ships would be required which is why our reduction in the number of ships is disconcerting to say the least.

rham wrote:However, I more focus my energy on education of our population, decreasing invasive government, increasing prosperity, decreasing pollution and defending the home island against threats to our way of life. Its my opinion that much of woe has come from neglecting our own people because of dreams of being a first rate important power. Even saying all that I strongly believe the carriers even on their own pretext are a waste of money. Whats more I believe in time this will be admitted by authority (Cameron came pretty close), the only reason they were built is, it would have costed as much to cancel. Politically, spending the money with absolutely nothing to show was judged worse than building something and trying to pretend it might be useful and distracting people with flag waving. Military judgement did not come into it.


Going by your wishes then yes the aircraft carriers are a complete waste of money but I think ultimately they will be worth the effort in the long run, but again time will tell to be honest.
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Re: Budget Review

Postby munchingfoo on Wed Nov 03, 2010 6:16 pm

Type 45 was designed with multiple sea skimming target acquisition in mind. I am confident that now they have found the errors in the Asters that were made in Italy (lazy factory workers on multi-million pound missiles) that a 45 is more than capable of removing the Sunburn threat.

As for the Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile, it's a pretty dangerous device. In its terminal hypersonic stage we have nothing that can destroy it and a single projectile can destroy a 100000 tonne aircraft carrier. The Americans do however have a counter to the previous stage in the missile's attack. The RIM 161 SM 3 is capable of engaging and destroying a ballistic missile before it deploys its warhead. Now, this is pretty useless against a randomly targeted nuclear ICBM since you need the launch platform to be on the ICBM's course to engage it, however, a carrier will always have an AEGIS SM 3 launch platform with their carriers when there's a risk.

If we can find the money, in the future ASTER 45 will give us the same capability. SAMPSON can already track ICBMs and , again, 45 was designed with this capability in mind.

The biggest threat to Carriers is, and will remain for the foreseable future, the submarine, particularly small diesel electric submarines. Whilst the type 23 using the merlin is a world class submarine hunter, the submarine still remains the silent killer of the seas. The new type 26 which will replace the 23s is likely not to have such an amazing capability due to the need for versatility and international commercial attractiveness.

We used to have submarines beat, until a selfish American sold the Russians the secret that their noise control was crap. Now the Russian subs are almost as quiet as ours. Furthermore, countries like North Korea have developed very quiet midget submarines.

Still though, this doesn't mean that Carriers are obsolete. New developments in torpedo decoys, active and passive VDS and towed array sonar, and aerial detection methods will make the submarines job more and more difficult.
I'm not a large water-dwelling mammal Where did you get that preposterous hypothesis? Did Steve
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