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Here Are All The Things the British Military Can't Do Anymore

Discussion in 'The Americas' started by layman, Oct 15, 2013.

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  1. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    [​IMG]

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    In late September, the Royal Navy unveiled its latest nuclear-powered Astute-class submarine, HMS Artful, and also "christened" the hefty but sleek Daring-class destroyer HMS Duncan -- the sixth and last of its class. Aside from the United Kingdom's aircraft carrier program, these represent the two most significant naval shipbuilding programs happening in Britain at the moment. And two of the most controversial.

    The vessels are impressive on the surface, but each ship originates from troubled development programs which -- although coming with creature comforts and advanced technology -- turned out to be less than impressive when put to the test.

    New submarines running aground, older subs breaking down and destroyers put into service without adequate defenses against enemy submarines. It's not completely surprising. The Ministry of Defence's budget is half that of 30 years ago.

    Perhaps more troubling for the Royal Navy: the vessels tasked with carrying Britain's military into the 21st century have sacrificed key systems needed to defend against attacks, while suffering limitations in their ability to strike back at enemy planes and missiles.

    Meanwhile, Royal Air Force ocean patrol planes that once buzzed the ocean scooping every signal they could detect have been cut altogether, meaning the surface ships are sailing blind -- and Britain's nuclear-missile force is sailing without escorts.

    Here's what Britain's military can't do. Or if it does do it, it doesn't do it well.

    Absent frigates and troubled destroyers

    This is the Daring-class destroyer. It is one of the most embarrassing military programs in the British armed forces.

    It wasn't meant to be this way. Intended to replace the Type 42 destroyer which first entered service in the 1970s, the Daring class was envisioned as an 8,000-ton, 152-meter-long vessel with anti-air and anti-submarine capabilities par excellence. The centerpiece: an anti-aircraft system called Sea Viper with a Sampson dual-band radar capable of tracking 1,000 objects the size of a tennis ball as far away as 400 kilometers.

    The system also has two different types of anti-aircraft missiles: the Aster 15 medium-range missile and its long-range cousin, the Aster 30, which can travel up to an impressive 75 miles. There's also a 4.5-inch main gun for surface targets.

    The Royal Navy is acutely aware of its need for robust destroyers with advanced anti-aircraft systems, principally owing to the Falklands War. Two Type 42 destroyers, the HMS Sheffield and Coventry, were sunk during the war by low-flying Argentinian aircraft. The Sea Viper system is also a big improvement over the Type 42's radar.

    But the Royal Navy built a ship with major weaknesses where it should be strong. For one, Sea Viper's planned inter-ship communication system was to be added later, meaning one destroyer can't share information via a satellite network with other ships. The complexity of all the new electronic systems and shoddy oversight also led to repeated delays and ballooning costs.

    And there's a problem with the missiles. The Aster 15s are fine for a lone incoming anti-ship missile -- the Aster 15 is highly maneuverable and functions as a both short- and medium-range defense weapon. But the missiles take up a lot of space and can't be "quad-packed" into a missile tube.

    This reduces the number of available Aster 15s to a mere 20 missiles compared to the 96 missiles carried by the U.S. Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. The number is even fewer than the advanced (but much smaller) Sachsen-class frigates of the German navy, which carry 32 missiles -- and that was already on the low-end. In the event of an enemy saturation attack -- like a blitz but with anti-ship missiles instead of linebackers -- the air-defense-focused Daring class could be in serious trouble.

    Radar-guided Phalanx guns, which throw up a wall of 20-millimeter rounds as a last resort against incoming missiles, were not installed on the lead ship of the class until this year. Oh, and unlike the Type 42, the destroyer has no torpedo tubes to defend against attacking submarines. This job is left for the destroyer's helicopters and -- either a single Merlin or a pair of Lynx choppers -- and a torpedo decoy system. The ship has no missiles for attacking land targets.

    The Royal Navy has also built fewer Darings than it ever did for the now-retired Type 42. Cost-cutting measures forced a trim to the number of planned destroyers from 12 to eight ships, and then to a final number of only six ships. (The Royal Navy built 14 Type 42s.) So the Daring class is an anti-aircraft ship that's fewer in number than its predecessor, with several major anti-air weaknesses and the ship has a major weakness against submarines.

    The total price for the ships is now $10.35 billion?-?$2.4 billion more than anticipated -- and was enough for one U.S. Naval War College report to describe the Daring class as "a symbol in the United Kingdom for mismanagement of procurement."

    That's not all. The Royal Navy has retired the anti-submarine Type 22 frigate and doesn't have the money to replace it. Also first dating to the 1970s, none of the 14 Type 22s are still in service -- the last four of the line were sold for scrap in 2011. Thirteen Type 23 frigates are still in service, though.

    But the Type 22 was Britain's primary anti-submarine warfare ship. The Type 22 also doubled as the Royal Navy's ship-based signals intelligence force. The ships contained the "only combination of systems enabling wide ranging monitoring of the frequencies and wavelengths of the Electromagnetic Spectrum of the sea," Parliament's Defense Committee noted in 2012. Now that's gone.

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    Maritime reconnaissance planes turned to scrap

    Let this sink in for a second. The United Kingdom has no dedicated maritime patrol planes.

    That's a pretty big deal. Patrol planes are more or less a requirement for a navy worth its sea-faring salt, and many coastal countries without sizable navies have at least some planes for ocean patrol missions. Even Denmark and Peru have maritime patrol planes.

    They're the eyes and ears of a fleet, and use a combination of radar, sonar buoys and other sensors to detect enemy ships or conduct search and rescue missions. The U.K. has also long used maritime surveillance aircraft to track Russian submarines navigating north of Scotland, peeking on naval maneuvers in the Arctic Sea and escorting the Royal Navy's own ballistic missile subs.

    For much of the Cold War, the Royal Air Force tasked this mission to the Nimrod MR1 and MR2 planes, which first entered service in 1969. An advanced aircraft for its time, the older Nimrods were eventually retired in 2011 to be replaced by the modern Nimrod MRA4.

    The new Nimrod was supposed to be a major upgrade, and entailed rebuilding the plane from the inside out. There was going to be new engines and larger wings. New sensor systems would let the MRA4 see from longer distances, and the design enabled it to travel up to 2,500 miles further than its predecessor.

    Upgrading the Nimrods proved to be an impossible task for an absurd reason. The planes are based on the de Havilland Comet, a 1950s-era commercial airliner which had been transformed over several generations during military service. But the Comet was never built to a standard -- they were custom made. This means each plane is slightly different than the others, and thus exorbitant to upgrade when installing millions of dollars worth of advanced electronics.

    Only one MRA4 was ever built. "The single MRA4 aircraft that had been delivered to the RAF was so riddled with flaws it could not pass its flight tests, it was simply unsafe to fly," Liam Fox, the former British Secretary of Defence, wrote in the The Telegraph in 2011.

    Fox was attempting to justify the complete scrapping of the program?-?it wasn't easy. Twelve under-construction MRA4s were disassembled, and more than $6.3 billion went down the drain. The U.K. is now considering buying P-3 Orion patrol planes from the United States to fill the gap.

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    Rusty and broken submarines

    In theory, the Astute-class nuclear-powered attack submarine is the most advanced British submarine ever built. In reality it's underpowered, prone to numerous technical problems and is far behind schedule.

    A replacement for Britain's Trafalgar-class submarines, the 7,000-ton Astute class uses a Thales sonar -- touted by the Royal Navy as the world's best (which it might be) -- while packing a combination of 38 Spearfish torpedoes and/or Tomahawk missiles. The sub also does not have a conventional periscope but a photonics mast, like a digital camera capable of seeing in infrared. There have been two Astute-class subs commissioned, the HMS Astute and Ambush. Four more are under construction, and a seventh is planned.

    But neither Astute nor Ambush have become operational, owing to a number of problems and delays leaving the Royal Navy with only five aging Trafalgar-class subs in service. These older subs will be gradually decommissioned over the decade, and there's rarely a time when a single Trafalgar-class sub is operational at any given time due to maintenance issues. HMS Tireless was put out of action earlier this year after a reactor coolant leak.

    But what's the problem with the Astute class? The main problem -- and most serious -- is that it's achingly slow.

    Designed to travel faster than 30 knots, the sub tops out below that (though how far below hasn't been revealed). This means it can't keep up with the ships like the under-construction Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers it's meant to protect. In battle, that's a potentially fatal flaw for the submarine and the carrier.

    The reason for the trouble is believed to be incompatibility between the sub's steam turbines which were built for the Trafalgar-class, and its nuclear reactor which was built for the giant Vanguard-class ballistic missile subs, according to The Guardian. Among other problems include corrosion, faulty monitoring instruments for the submarine's reactor and even flooding during a dive. Astute also quite literally ran aground in Scotland in 2010 and had to be rescued.

    Left out of this, of course, is the Harrier force. The Royal Navy's carrier-launched jump jets were retired in late 2010, meaning the U.K. no longer has fixed-wing jets capable of operating from Britain's one remaining ski-jump carrier, the Illustrious. However, the Royal Navy has pledged to buy F-35s for the Queen Elizabeth class. It may want to reconsider before more problems arise.

    More Info
     
  2. lookieloo

    lookieloo 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    Ah hipsters...

    First off, deck-launched torpedoes are a last-ditch weapon. By the time you're close enough to use them, you're probably already sinking. I don't think the newer Burkes carry them either (too lazy to check). As for the missiles, he's trying way too hard to come up with a losing scenario. What if a giant, green space-dog comes out of the sky and shoots the Type-45 with its laser-eyes?:rolleyes2:

    Second, in case the author hasn't noticed, the new British carriers aren't so fast themselves; and someone needs to phucking grow-up about teething problems endemic to any new system.

    Third, Russian submarines don't get out so much these days; I think they'll be ok without Nimrods for the time being.
     
  3. safriz

    safriz BANNED BANNED

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    The subs were built about 2 hour drive from my home.
    You will be surprised the general age group that built the subs..Most were early-mid twenties youngsters.
    The old hands who used to work in submarine building trade have long left and found other jobs.The few who are left were asked to Guide an army of inexperienced apprentices to Build a nuclear submarine,and there were many cock-ups.
     
  4. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    I don't think Brits are lacking technical expertise to defend themselves or in manufacturing of weapons systems. It is jus that their need of the hour is not that much so shows the reluctance in amassing the numbers. And mostly it is not the number game that matters in a typical war scenario. And there no such war looming around the corner too. Issue is when the need arises are they able to up their ante and not lose their tech capabilities. And yet they still have their advantage but future remains to be seen.
     
  5. safriz

    safriz BANNED BANNED

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    They no more has the workforce to do that any more...
    Only some old hands with practical experience survive,the rest have gone elsewhere.
    They can design a War machine and a very complex and advanced one,but they don't have the man power with expertise to build it...And hiring foreigners like me isn't an option here.
    The shipyard in Barrow-in-Furnace has a very large shed where they build these nuclear subs and you only see white Brits going in and out and that too of very young ages.
     
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  6. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    That is a serious concern if there is manpower shortage. And it is jus a starting point in loosing the grip in tech advancements. Thanks for the insights though... :tup:
     
  7. Gessler

    Gessler BANNED BANNED

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    Why don't they buy P-8A Poseidon MPAs instead of the old P-3 Orion?

    In a few years P-3 will be replaced in US service with the P-8A and Indian Navy will replace it's
    old Tu-142 'Bear' with P-8I Neptune version.
     
  8. safriz

    safriz BANNED BANNED

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    No money....

    Coffers are empty here...
     
  9. Gessler

    Gessler BANNED BANNED

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    But they can still have some on lease for say, 10 years... and then decide whether they wish to buy them off
    or renew the lease agreement.
     
  10. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    Half of what 30 years ago
    add to that Inflationary pressures and its a nightmare
     
  11. BMD

    BMD Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    I'll be the first to admit that there have been problems but where to start with this one.

    4 MRA4 prototypes were built not 1. There were a lot of problems during development for the reasons mentioned, however, in the end the aircraft was damn near perfect. I was on the project and the only change requests going through by the end of it related to daft small crap like seat headrests. The banks left the government short of money and that's the only reason it was cancelled.

    The Astute is underpowered? The same propulsion unit as a 16,000 ton Vanguard Class SLBM submarine (capable of 30 knots) in a 7,400 ton attack submarine. Yeah, it's real slow.

    Furthermore both the Astute and Ambush are in active service carrying Tomahawk Block IVs and what's probably the most lethal torpedo currently in service, with a range of 54km, a speed of ~100mph and a 300kg PBX warhead.

    The Type 45 is primarily an air defence destroyer but will be equipped with anti-submarine and land attack capabilities in block upgrades. At present there are 13 Type 23 frigates fulfilling the anti-submarine role, which works far better because they can be in more places at once and there are 11 submarines capable of launching cruise missile strikes with far less chance of detection than a huge destroyer. A smaller SAM is needed, hence the forthcoming CAMM.

    As soon as the QE carriers are finished, the build of 16 Type 26 Frigates will commence, which by 2020, will leave us with the best Navy in Western Europe, as has been the case for the last 400 years or so.


    Just to emphasize this completely valid point, consider going up against somebody with a sniper rifle using a pistol in the middle of a desert starting from 1 mile range. That's roughly the range discrepancy between heavyweight and lightweight torpedoes.

    Yeah.:rolleyes: You can only carry 20 Aster 15s (ready to launch), if you have 28 Aster 30s (ready to launch), in which case you probably won't use the Aster 15s. Ignoring the missiles stored but not presently ready to launch in the actual VLS.

    And when they do they occasionally catch fire and we have to rescue them.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  12. Gessler

    Gessler BANNED BANNED

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    [MENTION=9331]BMD[/MENTION] why isn't UK building a nuclear carrier?
     
  13. BMD

    BMD Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Because the technology exists to propel them half-way around the world without refuelling using conventional power, which is a lot cheaper, and unlike with a submarine, hiding themselves for long periods isn't part of the job description. At cruising speed, it will take over a month to run out of fuel, by which time the large non-nuclear powered crew will also have ran out of fuel (aka food) and need re-supplying anyway.

    Surely young workers are a good sign? If they were all 50-60 years old, then one would surely be concerned about what resources would look like after 10 years. As it stands, the guys in their early-mid-20s are getting experience that they will carry forward over the next 40 years.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
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  14. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    yaar, they are already having problems with the 2 conventional carriers under constructions
    maybe India can buy one if up for sale ?
     
  15. jonas

    jonas Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    As far as the upgrades to the T45,discussions have been going on ever since they were built as to what may be upgraded in the future. These discussions continue to this day with no decision even in sight,so any talk of these upgrades are pure speculation. This is one of the possible outcomes,in an article from 'Thinkdefence'

    Type 45 Destroyer, Time to Fit The Strike Launchers? | Think Defence


    As far as the T26 frigate is concerned,although design work seems to be progressing well, the main gate decision is not until 2015. The number to be built has alway been 13 and not 16 and even this number will not be confirmed until main gate. The first T26 hopefully being commissioned in 2020 but frankly even that is optimistic.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
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