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    Now we're no longer in Afghanistan or Iraq, what do the British Army, RAF and Navy actually do?

    Aside from disaster relief, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping.
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    Defend the country? The whole concept is Fleet in Being

    Still, it's ridiculous we still have an armoured division in Germany. We should be massively reducing the Army, investing in our nuclear hunter-killer submarines, drones, cyber-warfare, biological/nanotechnology toxins, special forces and the nuclear deterrent.

    We could have an awesome armed forces if we weren't ludicrously obsessed with aircraft carriers and bomber command.
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    (Original post by young_guns)
    Defend the country? The whole concept is Fleet in Being

    Still, it's ridiculous we still have an armoured division in Germany. We should be massively reducing the Army, investing in our nuclear hunter-killer submarines, drones, cyber-warfare, biological/nanotechnology toxins, special forces and the nuclear deterrent.

    We could have an awesome armed forces if we weren't ludicrously obsessed with aircraft carriers and bomber command.
    I don't think anyone in the Raf worries about bombers these days. Plus the carriers keep the Americans happy.

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    (Original post by Aj12)
    I don't think anyone in the Raf worries about bombers these days. Plus the carriers keep the Americans happy.

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    I realise there's no call for manned bombers (though there are sensible moves to develop an intercontinental stealth UCAV), it was more a quip at the obsolete, glory-seeking mentality that is common amongst air marshals, British Curtis LeMays, and admirals in an age where we have more admirals than ships. The kind of people who were clamoring for Skybolt as the "indispensable" capability when Polaris was just around the corner

    And I've never seen any suggestion the Americans are somehow demanding we buy carriers (though they would expect us to maintain our total F-35 buy whatever the mix of A and B models); there is an anti-carrier lobby in the US Navy that would be delighted if the Royal Navy focused its efforts on SSN hunter-killers, cyberwarfare, special forces, drones, electronic warfare, the nuclear deterrent etc.

    To the extent there are any enemies who must be fought with carriers, it's far more worthwhile leaving that to the Americans and focusing on highly-mobile, high-technology high impact capabilities that could contribute something unique to an American taskforce.

    The fact is that there were even questions about whether we would have two carriers indicates the degree to which it is a vanity project. The general rule of naval acquisition is if you can't afford two, then you can't afford one. I mean, to keep a single SSBN at sea continuously we need four subs and eight crews.

    Navy vessels are usually in maintenance or refit about 40% of the time (and that leaves aside training, weapons trials), so having one carrier would have been beyond idiotic. The fact the Navy would even consider it shows how dispensable it is, and that it appeals to the kind of people who would have been lobbying for more battleships in 1939

    What is far more worrying is that ten years from now we will only have seven Astute-class boats, compared to the thirty attack submarines we had at the height of the cold war. Carriers for the Royal Navy are today what Blue Streak was to the 1950s or battleships were to the 1930s
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    (Original post by JackCliff)
    Now we're no longer in Afghanistan or Iraq, what do the British Army, RAF and Navy actually do?

    Aside from disaster relief, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping.
    And training and Afghanistan and Iraq. And anti piracy, anti smuggling, continuous at sea deterrent, defence of UK airspace, garrison of Falklands.

    Something will no doubt pop up.

    The end of the. Cold War signalled the potential end of the need for the armed forces but the world is a more dangerous place than ever.
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    (Original post by young_guns)
    I realise there's no call for manned bombers (though there are sensible moves to develop an intercontinental stealth UCAV), it was more a quip at the obsolete, glory-seeking mentality that is common amongst air marshals, British Curtis LeMays, and admirals in an age where we have more admirals than ships. The kind of people who were clamoring for Skybolt as the "indispensable" capability when Polaris was just around the corner

    And I've never seen any suggestion the Americans are somehow demanding we buy carriers (though they would expect us to maintain our total F-35 buy whatever the mix of A and B models); there is an anti-carrier lobby in the US Navy that would be delighted if the Royal Navy focused its efforts on SSN hunter-killers, cyberwarfare, special forces, drones, electronic warfare, the nuclear deterrent etc.

    To the extent there are any enemies who must be fought with carriers, it's far more worthwhile leaving that to the Americans and focusing on highly-mobile, high-technology high impact capabilities that could contribute something unique to an American taskforce.

    The fact is that there were even questions about whether we would have two carriers indicates the degree to which it is a vanity project. The general rule of naval acquisition is if you can't afford two, then you can't afford one. I mean, to keep a single SSBN at sea continuously we need four subs and eight crews.

    Navy vessels are usually in maintenance or refit about 40% of the time (and that leaves aside training, weapons trials), so having one carrier would have been beyond idiotic. The fact the Navy would even consider it shows how dispensable it is, and that it appeals to the kind of people who would have been lobbying for more battleships in 1939

    What is far more worrying is that ten years from now we will only have seven Astute-class boats, compared to the thirty attack submarines we had at the height of the cold war. Carriers for the Royal Navy are today what Blue Streak was to the 1950s or battleships were to the 1930s
    The 30 attack subs weren't 30 SSNs. They were a mix of SSN and SSKs.

    We don't need as many hulls now are the ones we have are more capable.
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    Hopefully they'll be back out there murdering a few ISIS nutters before too long.
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    (Original post by young_guns)
    I realise there's no call for manned bombers (though there are sensible moves to develop an intercontinental stealth UCAV), it was more a quip at the obsolete, glory-seeking mentality that is common amongst air marshals, British Curtis LeMays, and admirals in an age where we have more admirals than ships. The kind of people who were clamoring for Skybolt as the "indispensable" capability when Polaris was just around the corner

    And I've never seen any suggestion the Americans are somehow demanding we buy carriers (though they would expect us to maintain our total F-35 buy whatever the mix of A and B models); there is an anti-carrier lobby in the US Navy that would be delighted if the Royal Navy focused its efforts on SSN hunter-killers, cyberwarfare, special forces, drones, electronic warfare, the nuclear deterrent etc.

    To the extent there are any enemies who must be fought with carriers, it's far more worthwhile leaving that to the Americans and focusing on highly-mobile, high-technology high impact capabilities that could contribute something unique to an American taskforce.

    The fact is that there were even questions about whether we would have two carriers indicates the degree to which it is a vanity project. The general rule of naval acquisition is if you can't afford two, then you can't afford one. I mean, to keep a single SSBN at sea continuously we need four subs and eight crews.

    Navy vessels are usually in maintenance or refit about 40% of the time (and that leaves aside training, weapons trials), so having one carrier would have been beyond idiotic. The fact the Navy would even consider it shows how dispensable it is, and that it appeals to the kind of people who would have been lobbying for more battleships in 1939

    What is far more worrying is that ten years from now we will only have seven Astute-class boats, compared to the thirty attack submarines we had at the height of the cold war. Carriers for the Royal Navy are today what Blue Streak was to the 1950s or battleships were to the 1930s
    The Americans certainly did not demand we build them, but they are designed to fit in with American doctrine. Having the capacity to work with them was a factor in the design of the carriers. Personally I think they are a good thing to have. Our government clearly wants to keep with an interventionist foreign policy, or at least have the option to do so. That requires weapons that can do such a mission, Libya would have been far easier with carriers. Your issue should be with the foreign policy aims of the government, the military is just a symptom of that not a cause.

    Yes you are right one would have been an idiotic idea, but I think the logic is that Britain won't be fighting wars again on its own. We will always be working with Allies in small scale wars, we won't see another war on the size of ww2. How strong this logic is however is more the issue. I'm not sure there is much we could provide that could be that unique for the Americans. Although some of are subs seem to be better.

    There is no real threat to motivate people for larger defence spending though. A large fleet seem justified when we were supposed to be hunting the North Sea and Arctic for Soviet subs but the Russian Navy is a complete state right now. Defence is an easy punching bag for politicians. From the Crimean war to Afghanistan British governments have always been more willing to send in ill prepared forces and fix the problem later than spend the money and be better prepared.
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    They'll be back bulking up crowd control at protest marches, tagging along with armed police or giving them sight seeing tours piloting their helicopters.
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    (Original post by MatureStudent36)
    The 30 attack subs weren't 30 SSNs. They were a mix of SSN and SSKs.
    I agree, but I don't see how that's relevant? It merely underlines that we had a gradation of capability from the (then) brand spanking new Swiftsure class boats to the older diesel electric Oberons, and overall a very large and capable fleet.

    Having seven now is, in my opinion, insufficient. I mean, the Australians are planning a fleet of twelve submarines ffs. And while they're planned to be diesel / AIP, they will be in the 4000 tonne class and similarly armed and equipped like an SSN.

    The fact a country a third our size will have a submarine fleet larger than ours is demonstrative of how far we have allowed our fleet to shrink,.

    We don't need as many hulls now are the ones we have are more capable
    I agree they're more capable; it's astounding what a single Astute class boat can do. If you were to transport it back to 1982, it would be able to blockade the island, sink Argentine warships like the Belgrano, while also peppering the Argentine forces with Tomahawk strikes and SBS amphibious landings.

    That in itself underlines my point about what splendid platforms they are and how good an investment they are.

    Why do you think 7 boats is the right number? Many serious submariners have put their case in the media that we are dipping below the critical mass needed

    It is very easy to picture a scenario where we don't have enough boats; out of a fleet of 7, you would typically have 3 available at any one time. If you have one on a long-range recce in the Pacific (like the search for MH370), one conducting intelligence gathering missions in the Straits of Hormuz or off Murmansk, and another that is, say, tracking a Russian cruiser that is plodding around menacingly off the coast of Scotland, that uses up your entire fleet and you have to pull one of the subs from an important mission if there is suddenly a taskforce requiring RN subs.

    The Astute class confers an exceptionally versatile capability, whether it is sea denial, commerce raiding, land attack with cruise missiles, mining a water way, landing special forces, gathering intelligence. I don't think you waste anything, and you gain a lot, by growing the fleet to 12 boats.

    http://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/atta...critical-mass/
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    (Original post by Aj12)
    I'm not sure there is much we could provide that could be that unique for the Americans. Although some of are subs seem to be better
    We could absolutely contribute unique, high tech capabilities if we forced on offensive cyberwarfare, electronic warfare, stealth drones, special forces, nanotechnology and so on. Our niche could be that kind of high tech unconventional warfare.

    There is no real threat to motivate people for larger defence spending though. A large fleet seem justified when we were supposed to be hunting the North Sea and Arctic for Soviet subs but the Russian Navy is a complete state right now. Defence is an easy punching bag for politicians. From the Crimean war to Afghanistan British governments have always been more willing to send in ill prepared forces and fix the problem later than spend the money and be better prepared.
    I take your points, and I agree. I think we are focusing limited defence pounds on platforms that we won't use and which won't be particularly useful in the kind of wars we will be fighting in the future, and are more oriented towards a general cold war conflagration.

    20 years from now, an engagement will probably be more along the lines of a special forces team driving a pickup truck over a border at night, and releasing a swarm of spider-sized drones that can "sniff" DNA and track down a human target we picked up through cyber capabilities, and then swarming/killing that target. Or an intercontinental stealth drone flying over a hostile country and jamming its air defence radars while a helicopter flies in an SAS team to kill a terrorist leader (like Abbottabad). We could have an awesome niche capability in those areas, rather than duplicating capabilities the Americans already possess in spades

    If we focused on those things, they would be areas that would have spin-offs for British industry in useful areas. I think that kind of defence policy also doesn't bind us to the kind of defence thinking that would push us towards large-scale conventional confrontations (when all you possess is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail etc) or conventional interventionism.
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    (Original post by young_guns)
    I agree, but I don't see how that's relevant? It merely underlines that we had a gradation of capability from the (then) brand spanking new Swiftsure class boats to the older diesel electric Oberons, and overall a very large and capable fleet.

    Having seven now is, in my opinion, insufficient. I mean, the Australians are planning a fleet of twelve submarines ffs. And while they're planned to be diesel / AIP, they will be in the 4000 tonne class and similarly armed and equipped like an SSN.

    The fact a country a third our size will have a submarine fleet larger than ours is demonstrative of how far we have allowed our fleet to shrink,.



    I agree they're more capable; it's astounding what a single Astute class boat can do. If you were to transport it back to 1982, it would be able to blockade the island, sink Argentine warships like the Belgrano, while also peppering the Argentine forces with Tomahawk strikes and SBS amphibious landings.

    That in itself underlines my point about what splendid platforms they are and how good an investment they are.

    Why do you think 7 boats is the right number? Many serious submariners have put their case in the media that we are dipping below the critical mass needed

    It is very easy to picture a scenario where we don't have enough boats; out of a fleet of 7, you would typically have 3 available at any one time. If you have one on a long-range recce in the Pacific (like the search for MH370), one conducting intelligence gathering missions in the Straits of Hormuz or off Murmansk, and another that is, say, tracking a Russian cruiser that is plodding around menacingly off the coast of Scotland, that uses up your entire fleet and you have to pull one of the subs from an important mission if there is suddenly a taskforce requiring RN subs.

    The Astute class confers an exceptionally versatile capability, whether it is sea denial, commerce raiding, land attack with cruise missiles, mining a water way, landing special forces, gathering intelligence. I don't think you waste anything, and you gain a lot, by growing the fleet to 12 boats.

    http://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/atta...critical-mass/
    You're right that seven hulls probably isn't enough. But the cheap but is buying the new subs. The expensive part is manning them. The largest part of the MoDs budget by far is the wage bill. We could afford twenty astutes, but wouldn't be able to man them.

    The navy is struggling with recruitment as it is now. Nobody wants to join even in this depressed economic environment.

    Australia may be going for twelve replacements for the Collins class but procurement very rarely works out that way. UK PLC went for 12 type 45s and got six.

    Australia has to take a heavy hit on defence spending for two main reasons. Lack of allies in the region unlike NATO waters, huge area to cover and a need to contain china.

    They've gone for AIP, but like SSKs they still can't compete with SSNs. Towed sonar, sensor fits and fire control systems require huge amounts of power that only SSNs can power up simultaneously. AIP propulsion is still a brown water option instead of blue water, but Australia has made it clear it doesn't want nuclear for political reasons.

    But Australia's going to have the same problem. Recruitment, retention and wage bill.
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    (Original post by MatureStudent36)
    You're right that seven hulls probably isn't enough. But the cheap but is buying the new subs. The expensive part is manning them. The largest part of the MoDs budget by far is the wage bill. We could afford twenty astutes, but wouldn't be able to man them.

    The navy is struggling with recruitment as it is now. Nobody wants to join even in this depressed economic environment.
    You are absolutely right to point that out. To keep one SSBN at sea permanently, we need four boats and eight crews. I absolutely take the point about manning them being an issue of primary importance; however, if we were to rebalance away from the surface fleet, and implement the right incentives, I do believe we could manage it. After all, our Navy is much smaller in terms of manpower than it used to be while we have a larger population.

    Australia may be going for twelve replacements for the Collins class but procurement very rarely works out that way. UK PLC went for 12 type 45s and got six.
    Point taken. I personally think twelve boats is actually probably beyond what Australia needs or could seriously maintain

    Australia has to take a heavy hit on defence spending for two main reasons. Lack of allies in the region unlike NATO waters, huge area to cover and a need to contain china.
    I am with you on that; it is in a unique position and has unique defence requirements that mean it has to be well armed compared to comparably sized western countries.

    They've gone for AIP, but like SSKs they still can't compete with SSNs. Towed sonar, sensor fits and fire control systems require huge amounts of power that only SSNs can power up simultaneously. AIP propulsion is still a brown water option instead of blue water, but Australia has made it clear it doesn't want nuclear for political reasons.
    It depends on what sense you mean compete. As you know, SSKs are very quiet, and the Royal Australian Navy has invested a large amount in fitting out its submarines for long-range operations given its geographical situation. The Collins Class replacement will be very large by SSK standards and a huge aspect of its design will be around making it effective at long ranges, allowing it to have a reasonable cruising speed and ability to sprint (it won't be the 30 knots you can get on an SSN, but AIP will break the old issue of the subs only being able to move quickly when snorkelling)

    Diesel subs are also well suited to the kind of littoral warfare and intelligence gathering functions that Australia would require of them

    I've never read any analysis that suggests that the Collins Class can't provide sufficient power for its sensors and fire control system. Propulsion is really the issue when it comes to power.

    And just re competing with SSNs, it has done precisely that in quite a few exercises. There was an exercise a few years ago where a Collins boat evaded a US taskforce with two destroyers, two frigates and a 688i to plant a simulated torpedo under the hull of the taskforce's flagship.

    I personally would prefer Australia to operate SSNs given they are almost perfectly suited in terms of persistence, speed and the ability to operate with the huge distances involved, but that doesn't mean to say the Collins subs (and particularly their succcessors) are useless by any means. They are pretty good at what they do.

    But Australia's going to have the same problem. Recruitment, retention and wage bill.
    I think it really depends on how they manage it, they have a rather good channel of recruitment from former Royal Navy personnel. And given the crew of a Collins class sub is about 50 (and despite being larger, the Collins replacement will probably be smaller still), I think the RAN can meet the challenge of manning.

    My point in making the comparison really is to draw attention to just how small the Royal Navy has become when you compare and see it's not that much larger than the Royal Australian Navy. The RAN has six submarines, sixteen frigates (the ANZAC class has become quite capable with its CEAFAR upgrades), two impressively equipped amphib LHDs (the Canberra class) and imminently three or four air warfare destroyers (the Hobart Class will be pretty impressive when it operates the SM-6 ERAM, which will permit it to engage targets without having to switch on its radars)

    At present, the Royal Navy has six submarines (leaving aside SSBNs), three amphibious assault ships / LPDs, six destroyers and thirteen frigates. Given Britain is three times Australia's population and has a very important global role, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect the RN to be at least twice the size of the RAN
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    (Original post by JackCliff)
    Now we're no longer in Afghanistan or Iraq, what do the British Army, RAF and Navy actually do?

    Aside from disaster relief, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping.
    Army: Train for contingency operations
    Navy: Continue what they've been doing the whole time
    RAF: Support the Army and continue the new Op in Iraq!

    Bear in mind that the UK Armed Forces had other stuff to do even when Iraq 2 and Afghanistan were in full swing!

    (Original post by young_guns)
    We could have an awesome armed forces if we weren't ludicrously obsessed with aircraft carriers and bomber command.
    I don't understand where you got Bomber Command from? It hasn't existed for decades and we only really have one type of 'Bomber' anyway which is being phased out for a multirole replacement.
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    (Original post by JackCliff)
    Now we're no longer in Afghanistan or Iraq, what do the British Army, RAF and Navy actually do?

    Aside from disaster relief, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping.
    Snap necks and cash cheques
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    (Original post by Schleigg)
    I don't understand where you got Bomber Command from? It hasn't existed for decades and we only really have one type of 'Bomber' anyway which is being phased out for a multirole replacement.
    I addressed that above. I realise bomber command hasn't existed for decades, it was an idiomatic quip viz the obsolete, glory-seeking mentality that exists amongst the higher ranks of the RAF, and the mentality that saw Air Marshals telling us in the early 1960s that Skybolt and V-bombers were indispensable when Polaris was just around the corner.

    In fact, the same people were telling us that Blue Streak was indispensable, the same kind of people were telling us in the late 1930s that battleships were indispensable. It is that "refighting the last war" mentality I was criticising
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    (Original post by Schleigg)
    RAF: Support the Army and continue the new Op in Iraq!
    The idea that the RAF's primary role should be supporting the army demonstrates precisely the kind of obsolete warfighting attitude at issue.

    The RAF should be pioneering innovative techniques and technologies for warfighting. We should be ploughing money into long-range stealth UCAVs like Taranis (and seeking to get it in service sometime sooner than the 2030s), into electronic warfare, cyberwarfare, long-range airlift and special forces insertion.

    Ground pounding is important, but if that is the limit of the RAF's ambitions, then one must question how well equipped they are to face the 21st century battlefield
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    (Original post by young_guns)
    The idea that the RAF's primary role should be supporting the army demonstrates precisely the kind of obsolete warfighting attitude at issue.

    The RAF should be pioneering innovative techniques and technologies for warfighting. We should be ploughing money into long-range stealth UCAVs like Taranis (and seeking to get it in service sometime sooner than the 2030s), into electronic warfare, cyberwarfare, long-range airlift and special forces insertion.

    Ground pounding is important, but if that is the limit of the RAF's ambitions, then one must question how well equipped they are to face the 21st century battlefield
    It's all part of jointery. The RAF supporting the Army is one of it's core activities. What else are the transport fleet going to haul around if not soldiers and their kit?

    Long-Range Airlift and SF Insertion is almost the very definition of supporting the Army...
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    (Original post by Schleigg)
    X
    Perhaps the relevant argument here is that I didn't say the RAF shouldn't support the army, merely that it shouldn't be its primary role. I believe its primary role should be providing an independent strike capability, and in the 21st century I don't think that would be manned aircraft (hence the bomber command comment).

    I would focus on long-range UCAVs, cyberwarfare, electronic warfare, SEAD and so on.

    In terms of long-range airlift and special forces insertion, again my comment there isn't a claim that it is not support of the army. I believe that is a vital role for the RAF, I was contrasting it implicitly to the close air support / tank-plinking kind of role that I don't think should be at the forefront of the RAF's thinking in the 21st century (to the extent it is doing some plinking, they would be independent air interdiction or in support of special forces rather than, if you can imagine, supporting armoured forces by firing Brimstone missiles at a Soviet tank division as it pushes through the Fulda Gap, if you take my meaning)
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    (Original post by young_guns)
    Perhaps the relevant argument here is that I didn't say the RAF shouldn't support the army, merely that it shouldn't be its primary role. I believe its primary role should be providing an independent strike capability, and in the 21st century I don't think that would be manned aircraft (hence the bomber command comment).

    I would focus on long-range UCAVs, cyberwarfare, electronic warfare, SEAD and so on.

    In terms of long-range airlift and special forces insertion, again my comment there isn't a claim that it is not support of the army. I believe that is a vital role for the RAF, I was contrasting it implicitly to the close air support / tank-plinking kind of role that I don't think should be at the forefront of the RAF's thinking in the 21st century (to the extent it is doing some plinking, they would be independent air interdiction or in support of special forces rather than, if you can imagine, supporting armoured forces by firing Brimstone missiles at a Soviet tank division as it pushes through the Fulda Gap, if you take my meaning)
    TBH that doesn't sound far off what the RAF does nowadays anyway (apart from the Taranis-type stealth UCAV part.) It just so happens that all the high-profile stuff has been Army related or popping vehicles.
 
 
 
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