Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach warned that overall British anti-submarine capability has been serious neglected due to under funding.

Peach told the Royal United Services Institute:

“We can do some things about it, but not enough because our anti-submarine warfare capability has been seriously neglected. The anti-submarine warfare package has been underfunded and has not been looked after well enough.

In response to the threat posed by the modernisation of the Russian navy – both nuclear and conventional submarines and ships – the UK and other Atlantic Nato allies have had to prioritise missions and tasks in order to protect the sea lines of communication. In addition to new ships and submarines, Russia continues to perfect unconventional capabilities and information warfare.

Therefore, we must continue to develop our maritime forces with our allies to match Russian fleet modernisation.”

The UK has not operated maritime patrol aircraft since 2010 though is introducing P-8 aircraft over the coming years, while frigate and submarine numbers have dropped by a great deal since the end of the Cold War.

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Harry bulpit

All of Britians war fighting capacity has been neglected. Where world leaders in humanitrian support, world policing and counter insurgency. But can barely pot together a resonble war fighting force.

Mike Saul

Two reasons for this, not enough money spent on defence and secondly the money that was available was spent very badly over the past two decades.

It’s all well good throwing lots of money at big shiny expensive projects so that you can boast about being in the premier league, but if you neglect you priority core capabilities the military is just a hollow shell unfit and unable for war fighting


Agreed Mike, Lack of governance and we also seem to have lost the ability to do things economically (why create a £1m pen for space when a pencil will do). Things are so bad that actually there is a really good opportunity for British industry to step in and for the armed forces to re-organise. Asymmetric warfare is what we need to be getting into with smaller more flexible asssets in larger volumes, that way we can lose some but still achieve our objectives and overcome. Fortunately this is relatively cheap to do and whilst we will still need the… Read more »

Evan P

Out of curiosity, do you know why astronauts use pens and not pencils? Also, the “that’ll do” approach is what killed off the British automobile industry, and would kill off export possibilities. We need to strike a balance between the current high cost of practically everything British industry makes, and the wished for high quality.

Stuart Willard

Interesting on that theme the British Motorbike Industry operated precisely on that principle going from something like a 60% market share and even destroyed the US industry but within about 10 years was it self destroyed by the Japanese Industry. Worse still the Royal Enfield as an example long lost in the UK is now from its former subsidiary one of the biggest motorbike producers in the World a workhorse in that market and a status symbol elsewhere. Meanwhile BSA once the largest world producer as a brand has been taken up in India is being resurrected with big ambitions… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach

No Please tell

andy reeves,

this is what you get when your retire boats before you need to. the tralgars are good for years if the political will was there. the whole swiftsure class are mothballed in devonport and rosyth, they were good enough to operate in the libyan conflict, they should be surveyed and where able return to the fleet

Ian Malone

There is a very good reason no one operates Nuclear Boats that are 40 years Old unless they have very expensive refits. The hulls May be fine but the PWR metal components have a finite life. Build some more Astutes but uprate the Turbines.
In fact if you really want to boost anti sub capability at a reduced cost and boost British Industry justo for economies of scale. Have a look at RR and their idea of Modular Nuclear Power Stations.

Paul Hopkins

Mike I think you are spot on. I’m still struggling to come to terms with the fact that the carriers can only operate the F35B. One must remember that since 2003, the 2nd Iraq war and Afghanistan have been major distractions, taking a lot of the defence budget. Also, was it not Geoff Hoon who said we would not enter into another conflict by ourselves? This must have a bearing on treasury thinking.


Reassuring to see this come from a non-RN source. Hopefully this will give what has been said a little extra clout. Possible speeding up of P-9 deliveries in forthcoming review?


Meanwhile, with appropriated defence funds, DFID launches international safe cycling program


Am I too cynical/ paranoid? This sounds like posturing to justify losing the LPDs in favour of protecting frigate numbers.

Geoffrey Roach

A foreign policy that for ever demands more from the forces and forces that can’t cope. If we intend to be a leading power in the post Brexit world for own benefit and that of our allies and potential free trading partners there is only one answer. The Defence budget has to rise. For the Royal navy I think we have to accept two tiers. Firstly we commit to two carrier/amphibious battle groups with all combatants fully equipped and fully maintained. Four Type 45 and four Type 26. Now we decide what money we have for everything else, escorts. mine… Read more »


Agreed but I really think a CBG needs to be 4 T26 and 2 T45. As we have all been saying over the past few months Subs are very hard to find (even old diesel ones) and for me the screen of 4 escorts is not enough for what is a £6-10bn floating airport. I see the escort group as having the T45’s close in screening and providing air cover with the 4 T26’s deployed north, south, east and west and an astute in hunter killer mode operating in a wider radius. I really do get uncomfortable and as was… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach

With you Pacman


As I understand it the best weapon to use against a submarine is another submarine. Its a pity we will only have 7 Astutes, we really could do with a couple more as a minimum. However at £1.5bn+ they are not cheap.


Hi Paul

They are indeed not cheap but they are worth it, I think a major issue these days is recruitment and retention of crews. 2 more would be good which would give us 4 x 1on/1off + 1 in maintenance.

I also read somewhere that a deal around the £850m mark for an eight boat was offered and rejected by HMG, but not sure how accurate this is.

Certainly 2 more would make a difference to the overall price of the fleet and give greater force depth.

Geoffrey Roach

Best bet is probably the German 212a at £300 million (?) for six. With Germany, Italy and Norway already building it wouldn’t hurt us (once) to build under license.

Geoffrey Roach

Should be each of course.


There are also the ongoing crewing costs – training, salaries, pensions etc.

T martin

Defence should be at the top of our shopping list in these dangerous times. Unfortunately it hardly gets mentioned in budgets and takes a back seat compared to schools and hospitals. Let s face it if the government carry on as they have been, totally neglecting defence, we will struggle to defend our homeland let alone be able to police certain parts of the world. It s time the government started looking ahead long term. Verdict: too little, too late.


Appalled that so many on BBCs HYS on this think it’s just another general posturing for more money. Hollowed out is right. When will any government say the armed forces can take no more cuts? 8 ASW frigates. No MPA until 2020. 7 Astutes. Italy, Japan, S Korea, India, France, Turkey all have more escorts than the RN has. If we can’t afford more Astutes, build some AIP conventional subs like other countries do. Don’t cut the marines or amphibians, they’re one of the best assets we have for expeditionary projection. For goodness sake build more frigates (so we have… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach

This is what I was trying to get across Frank. I won’t repeat other than to say we need to decide first what it is we want to do and then build accordingly. f we can’t afford more Astutes we build six AIP conventional boats. The Russians are developing big time in the Artic so cover for the GIUK gap would be ideal. If we can only run to six type 26 to provide for the carriers then so be it buy then we build 10/12/14 of the best equipped type 31 we can afford. Maybe we need 12 P9’s… Read more »


I can only agree with sentiment but would add that we have forgotten that we are an island so the maritime environment must take first priority in defence spending. That should mean more P8s, ASW escorts along with Merlins, 4-6 diesel electric subs, mine war fare vessels and possibly re-rolling some RMs. At the same level of priority should be U.K. air defence. I am sure that the technology has changed but the UKs vulnerability at sea never will. What we then do with the rest of the defence budget is more open to discussion but to me I would… Read more »

Stuart Willard

What ever happened to the DE subs that were planned even some built I believe, all those years back, who were they sold to and are they still operative? Amazing that it was decided that non nuclear subs were pointless back then when such subs seem to be doing stirling service around the world and now suggested on here as an option.

Stuart Willard

Aah yes the Upholder class still operating with Canada to answer my own question.

Geoffrey Roach

I didn’t carry on onto the army and air force Sbj but I think your thoughts and mine are very similar. We have to start with the navy and home air defence and go from there. The carrier groups are a major commitment world wide along with the Astutes and the deterrent boats. Other Royal Navy assets to be assigned as required. The Royal Air Force, given the right kit, can intervene almost anywhere and generally I would think they are reasonably happy with their lot. As you say, air and seaborne by commando and para forces Balance of the… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Been arguing for this for years!

RN and RAF should be the priorities.

Army at 1 war fighting division, rapid reaction units like paras marines and UKSF. Rest home defence.


We all want more money spent on defence. The best way to do this is through a more successfull economy. Every single one of us could contribute to this by altering our buying habits slightly. If we shifted 10% of our spending to British made goods and services the trade deficit would disappear, the government deficit would disappear, productivity would improve, wages would go up and we could spend more. (Cambridge university study, not me, although it can surely only be a good thing.) Now No doubt some will say it’s just not possible, we don’t make enough and it’s… Read more »


Mike Agreed – but where is the Govt in all this, there is no education to the masses either on how to manage their own money (and spiralling debts) or how they can help themselves by being more pro British. During Brexit I was shocked that the area where the Nissan factory is based voted for Brexit – believing they are too big to be dumped by the Govt and that they would get a bailout. This is where we are nowadays, people live in cloud cuckoo land…and do not understand the implications of their actions. Buy British and keep… Read more »


I don’t get the whole obsession with the export market. We pay full cost and carry the risk and then other nations max on our investment. In addition they will build the design locally, meaning almost no extra jobs in the UK, and very little extra tax revenue. then we look at every war we have fought in the last few decades and every time the other side brought arms from us.


The emphasis on exports is just an economic imperative for a nation that cannot feed itself and which since North Sea oil tailed off imports a significant amount of its energy needs.
But there are smart ways to tackle the issue without exporting jobs. Skoda cars are typically VW designs one cersion back. Ditto Turkish Bekos are older Bosch designs I think. Dacia cars are obsolete Renaults. But to adopt these strategies you have to have a strong home market to start with.

Mr Bell

The entire British armed forces are starved of money. The past 20 years of sheer wastage and incompetence in procurement have contributed to the current high expenditure, low force numbers we currently have. Cutting the type 26 order to just 8 ships and only ordering 9 Poseidon MPAs will not have significantly improved our anti submarine capability. we need a further 4 type 26s and a follow on order for 6 more Poseidon aircraft. The type 45s need a mk41 vl system. The best anti submarine defence however is the Astute class hunter killers. They are easily able to track… Read more »

Mike Saul

We live in a global free economy, whilst protectionism and tariffs may have short term benefit in the medium long they are highly destructive. UK companies need to masters of high technology and market driven. This will generate high quality jobs and wages, plus tax revenue to pay for the public services we need. I would only buy British where it offers value to myself and the wider economy, in terms of quality and price. I suggest that the MOD spend it’s budget using the same principle. Regards brexit, I hope the UK secures a Canada type deal (forget about… Read more »


I think we need a minimum of Canada plus financial services, and given the EU’s export trade surplus in manufactures with the UK I think we can negotiate that on a quid pro quo basis.


Mike your global free economy is a fantasy. The public sector and many in business in Europe and the US support their own. We buy trains, cars, vans and many other items from abroad based on single market rules that other nations in the EU get around pure and simple. A good example is our Police buying BMWs instead of British made vehicles from companies such as JLR. The price and quality difference is marginal but the impact long term of this policy is a gradual eating away of making things here. We even have shampoo advertised as being of… Read more »


We do not have the capacity to build anymore astutes or ssk’s it would delay the Dreadnoughts by years just to build an extra one, but we definitely need ssk for home waters so buy them off Germany or Japan. More than any other vessel we need more subs. Cap f35b at 80 that’ll leave enough for the carrier and get 3 more p8. We don’t need to be able to do everything focus on asw leave the land to Europe


Chris has posted this on another thread
Barter deal, QE for some Japanese subs?


Guys we don’t buy them, we could build them by planning for their construction in the future. This takes time, patience and long term industrial development. Yes collaborate with the Germans or Japanese but we should build our own.


We don’t have the capacity full stop, plan for the future sure, but if you want a licence built foreign sub you will still need to wait for dreadnoughts to be built. Anything else I’d say build here, but the timeframe for getting extra boats in the water would be so far in the future that we’d have already filled capacity planning for the astute replacements. Unless there is huge expansion in submarine building in this country the only way for more is foreign built.


Capacity can be built. Skills can be acquired. But you have to want to do it. This is our problem; we don’t want to do it so we believe it’s not possible.


Paul you have hit the nail on the head. We nearly lost the ability to build attack submarines full stop because of no coherent long term planning and treating defence procurement like a supermarket buying groceries. Our great British Dreadnought subs have French steel for their outer hull because there was no bid for this material according to BAE from a UK supplier as we are continuing to reduce our industrial base. What about future classes? It is only a matter of time before building subs in the UK will go the same way as MBTs and in the medium… Read more »


J, Barrow is midway through a £300m expansion for Successor and currently has 3 astutes in various stages of build. I think we could fast track a further 2 without significant impact to the Successor programme and this would bring us to a number that would definitely help the RN. It will also de-risk Successor as I think Successor is likely to be a larger version of the astute class and by building an additional 2 (in record time I might add) the workforce would really lay a marker down and further build their expertise that they can the transfer… Read more »


How do Britain’s A/S escorts stop fast, deep-diving SSNs, armed with long range weapons, from attacking our surface fleet?

A couple of lightweight torpedoes on a fairweather helicopter?
Hang on a mo while we get the helicopter out, arm it, do the pre-flight checks ………

Why don’t we have an Asroc equivalent – 24/7 A/S capability?


Anti Air Warfare AAW is quick , gets the photo ops and the press coverage. Pretty pictures of missile launches and zoomies hammering in at low level against ships during sea training. All very exciting. Awfully Slow Warfare (ASW) as those who have practiced it will know it, is not a cheap or easy skill to practice or maintain. Its usually exercised during the night because it takes hours to accomplish and the rest of the ship cannot do anything else whilst its happening. Better to do practice at night when everyone is asleep and noise levels are low. A… Read more »


There has clearly been an appalling lack of joined up thinking in defence spending. Cost cutting deep into the flesh with no regard to operational implications or national security. All covered with a smokescreen of spin. The media has failed to spot the difference between reality & spin/cliche. We either pay for adequate forces now, or pay dearly with blood & possibly either defeat or nuking another nation after our pitifully inadequate conventional forces are neutralised.

Dave Branney

It seems everyone who has posted recognises that there is a problem with the defence policy as it stands. Yes, the “Brexit Effect” has added to the problems the MOD is facing, but the devaluation of the pound is not the major factor. The issues facing the MOD cannot be tied down to one or two things but is a combination of politics, profiteering and poor management. 1. Politics – Two words – culpability and delusion. Every Government life cycle, there is a defence review. Each successive Government has its own agenda and will therefore review with the aim of… Read more »


Dave Very good analysis – spot on. Possible solutions: 1. 25 year defence plan and budget that is ringfenced, approved and controlled by the commons defence select committee and subject to full annual audit that has implications for the heads of force. 2. Equally contracts with the defence industry need to be fixed cost – based on a set number of units and committed numbers maintained (ie: the price is fixed for 10 units – if the Govt buy less they pay the same). 3. Stop the gold plating of equipment in preference to replacing with new earlier. Moores law… Read more »