Page 1 of 1

A bit of a reality check for the RN

Posted: 10 May 2018 10:10
by rritchie71
Mark Sedwill (UK national security advisor) seems to have delivered a reality check in his speech to the house of commons defense committee on 1st May. Stating that if one of the new carriers was used in a contested conflict such as a "falklands islands" scenario, that the RN would not be able to protect it alone.

"With an escort fleet reduced to just 19 frigates and destroyers, the Royal Navy will be reliant on surface combatants provided by the U.S. Navy and other foreign partners to help protect the carriers from technologically advanced adversaries."

In addition, it has long been known that the U.K. would require U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters to bolster its small number of jets on the 70,000-ton carriers, particularly during their early deployments.

Of the present 138 F35's on order by the UK, only 40 are of the VSTOL config, which if you take into account some will be in maintenance, training etc, then that does not leave enough to create an entire airwing for a single carrier, let alone ever run both carriers at once in time of conflict.

The UK is determined to stay in the super power club with SSBN's and carrier battle groups to display, but they clearly do not have the budget to do this. They are paying for and trying to run 20 odd Mercs on a budget to run a dozen Holden's, something has to give somewhere.



Re: A bit of a reality check for the RN

Posted: 10 May 2018 12:33
by glenhowells
Royal navy in a sad state Nelson would be mortified. When the Falklands was going on the Royal navy was still a force that could pack a punch and had enough units to rotate in a protracted war Bristol group was one such example. Not a snow balls chance in hell of doing that now with 19 destroyers and frigates. at the end of the Falklands Royal navy surface fleet was 3 carriers 1 in build. More than 12 destroyers and around 50 frigates 26 of them Leanders 7 more than the total number today. The slow and more recent rapid decline of the royal navy in fleet units as well as capability will i feel never recover to the glory days of before. It will take decades to rebuild to a respectable fighting force. All 4 UK forces have had the axe fall on them as well with the navy hardest hit and the marines lost about 25% of its force. Defence spending and politics hey.

Cheers Glen

Re: A bit of a reality check for the RN

Posted: 11 May 2018 13:33
by MikeJames
The UK Government likes to kid itself about 'punching above its weight' and such drivel.

They are only a US Security council permanent member by dint of their SSBN force.

It's that force plus their two carriers and the SSN program that has beggared the RN's budget.

In ten years the RAN will be operating three destroyers and nine frigates.
The RN will be operating five destroyers and 14 frigates
Our amphibious capability will be about the same

Its the big ticket items that have drained the Navy's budget.

The difference is we don't pretend to be global power intervening all over the world.

Re: A bit of a reality check for the RN

Posted: 11 May 2018 21:03
by littoralcombat
Unfortunately Mike, the need for a Nuclear Deterrent in Europe was/is very real. With Putin looking like he is going to be in the Kremlin box-seat for the foreseeable future, and him having shown he is willing to carry out belligerent actions (absorbing Crimea, shooting down Commercial Airliners etc), despite most developed Nations condemning him in the strongest terms. Now the Russians are developing new low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, and steadily rejuvenating their own SSBN fleet. Is that because they have money to waste, is it part of a grand job creation scheme, or is it because they are all-round good Guys who want nothing more than to spread love, prosperity and cuddly toys throughout the world?
I spent my childhood, and a large chunk of my adult life living through the ever present Cold War in the UK. That same 'War' provided the primary reason for my twenty years of employment, and I can assure you it was very real! I didn't just view it from afar on the TV or in the Newspapers.......thankfully it didn't kick-off and turn Hot (officially at least).
Does France see it necessary to have Nuclear weapons to maintain it's permanent seat on the UNSC? No, it has them for the reasons above, the same reasons the UK has them. To maintain an independant deterrent, and not rely on somebody else to pay for their Nuclear umbrella. An umbrella that Nations without the Bomb just have to hope is up when the weather is looking like it is going to turn nasty.
We can count the numbers of Aircraft Carriers, Destroyers, Frigates and other conventional forces a Nation has, but if the balloon ever went up, numbers will count for nothing.
Assured mutual destruction is small comfort, but it is more likely to make a Nuclear armed foe hesitate before committing the unthinkable act of aggression first, or even make them reconsider annexing anothers territory.
So, as far as the UK SSBN fleet goes, it isn't a case of trying to punch above ones weight.......more a case of pulling ones weight and not expecting somebody else to provide your defence with their tax dollars.
Just remind me how many SSBNs China has in service?............................ :gu:

Re: A bit of a reality check for the RN

Posted: 12 May 2018 11:54
by MikeJames
Sorry Nige but Russia isn't the threat it once was.

The total Russian GDP is about the same size as Australia's, and we do it with about one sixth of the population and around one third the land mass.

Russia talks a big game but hasn't been able to complete much more than corvettes and frigates in the last decade, their nuke sub program takes over a decade to complete a sub and their much-vaunted stealth fighter program is barely making progress. They talk about refitting their cruisers and carriers but that's about all it is, talk. When you look behind Putin's announcements there's not a lot of substance.

The real threat is China, which is already surpassing Russia in capabilties and more importantly the economy and industrial might to back it up.

The UK needs to either decide it wants to be a global power with the costs that decision entails, or decide to match its claims to its budget and scale back their ambitions. At the moment it's trying to do both, with the results we can see, a shrinking defence force and politcians who keep signing the UK up for even more operations.

As for sub comparisons, the Russians have 11 SSBNs in service with several of the oldest not considered active anymore, probably leaving eight in active operational service conducting deterrance patrols with three building. The Chinese have five in service conducting active deterrence patrols with three building.

The Chinese are building carriers, something Russia no longer has the capacity, funding or willingness to do.


Re: A bit of a reality check for the RN

Posted: 12 May 2018 18:58
by rritchie71
Interesting conversation guys, but what the speech was really about is not if the UK needs SSBN’s or carriers, but about a point that is now so visible to everyone it can no longer be ignored. The RN is no longer capable of fulling the missions the government expects it to do.

The RN has been gutted to such a degree and shrunk to such a small size now, that after spending billions of pounds to design and build these high value assets that are the pride of the UK, they can no longer protect them or even fit them out with enough equipment to use them effectively.
So to borrow your quote Nige, The RN can no longer pull its own weight in combat against a foe with multiple ships and missiles (that is a lot of countries now a days) it needs someone else with some ships to spare to help them.

As Mike pointed out, the UK government still makes big statements though, like when they told China they would send both carriers through the south china sea when they wanted (July 2017), but the reality is they can only do this if China allows them to. They do not have the fleet to match the words now and this speech effectively laid out this reality to the UK government.

I think Glen is right,sadly they are beyond the point of return to project power like they did in the Falklands.


Re: A bit of a reality check for the RN

Posted: 13 May 2018 17:14
by MikeJames
The RN is in such a financial bind that having sold HMS Ocean to the Brazilians, the Treasury is suggesting to the RN / RM that both Albion and Bulwark are 'surplus to needs' as the Royal Marines, what's left of them, can be loaded on one of the carriers (as there aren't enough VSTOL F35Bs) to equip both air wings and use it as an amphib instead.

Oh how the once-great Royal Navy has fallen, so far and so fast.

Incidentally, I understand that if we wished to acquire a second RN Bay class to supplement Choules and carry Mexefloats and additional vehicles for amphibious ops, the RN would be willing to consider selling us it, using the funds to keep either Albion and Bulwark in service.

It's a good deal for us, not so good for the RN, they are forced to resort to selling the plates to keep the silverware.