HMS Dragon met Indian destroyer Kolkata for Exercise Konkan, say the Royal Navy.

Dragon and Kolkata are designed to provide protection against air attack but unlike HMS Dragon, the Indian vessel can also strike at land targets with cruise missiles.

According to a news release:

“Both ship’s crews gave the other an insight into what they and their ships are capable of, before the Indians demonstrated their prowess at basketball and their hospitality as the Brits enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of Goa.                     

When the two ships knuckled down to Konkan 18, they found planners had laid on some serious challenges: real threats in the air from the Indian Naval Air Force, real threats beneath the waves posed by Indian submarines, with the test facing the two destroyers growing ever more demanding.”

Dragon’s Commanding Officer, Commander Michael Carter Quinn, said:

“With a rich heritage of shared endeavour, having the opportunity to bring HMS Dragon as the first Type 45 destroyer to visit India and work alongside the INS Kolkota, has been a huge honour.

Our time alongside allowed my Dragons some time to ‘reset’ following their significant efforts in the successes so far on deployment and provided the foundations with INS Kolkota to make a success of what has been a varied and beneficial exercise.

The time, effort and resources the Indian Navy have committed to this exercise shows their investment and desire to forge stronger ties with the Royal Navy and we sail from here having forged genuine friendships with our contemporaries aboard INS Kolkata.”

The Royal Navy say that HMS Dragon has now resumed her Gulf/Indian Ocean security patrol and will return home early next year.

58 COMMENTS

  1. Hopefully at some point the T45s, as well as the T26s, will be given some kind of land attack and anti ship capability.

    From what I understand it, our frigates and destroyers are purely defensive in nature and offensive power against land and sea comes from the Astute subs and F35s.

    Which would be fine in a fleet, if we had 10+ Astutes and enough F35s for 5-6 frontline squadrons. I have a feeling that any fleet we scrape together on paper would have only a single Astute and, at best, 12-18 F35s. No good if we’re up against an enemy with an actual navy or air force.

      • If we had enough assets to put together a fleet consisting of QE, 2 T45 destroyers, 2 T26s, 2 T31s and at least 2 Astutes, plus 30 F35s on the carrier, then yeah there’d be little need for offensive capabilities on them, but considering they’re a billion each and only 6 of them us only 8 T26s costing only slightly less, I’d expect them to be be able to have some.

        It’s like having a football team consisting of 10 goalkeepers supporting a single striker.

      • Exactly! 2% is a joke! What about the other 98% and the funny thing is we don’t even spend 2% on actual defence, clever accounting makes it look like we do. We should spend 3/4% minimum and cut our foreign Aid budget in half!. 6 billion per year for foreign aid is enough right? Lol… And the government have been saving money right left and centre on everything like RFA, RN repair ship, cutting mine hunters, cutting our destroyers in half (not literally), cutting our escort fleet to 19 ships, scrapping Nimrod fleet, taking Merlins of RAF and handing them to navy making RAF smaller, And the 19 escort fleet don’t even have land atack capabilitys!! I could go in for ages.., The only good thing is that we have a defence minister that cares now, but no doubt he will be having his wings cut!…

      • Answer is to increase GDP, grow the economy. Trouble is the UK for too long has relied on growing the economy by increasing the number of people, so GDP per person stays the same. What you want to do is increase GDP per person and keep the population the same or reduce it. All departments get more money but have less people to deal with so we all get better services, 2% for defence will be higher is cash terms. That’s why the low productivity we’ve have suffered is critical to resolve along with having an appropriate immigration strategy.

        • The problem is we let in just as many people from outside Europe and that won’t stop! And there’s already millions of Europeans and non europeans that get to stay after Brexit, so I can’t see anything changing for years or ever! but we have to stop the million every other year coming into the uk it’s a dam joke

          • And imagine tech is going to make many jobs redundant over the next 30 years. Some will be replaced but the argument for immigration is not very robust.

          • Spot on Cam.

            Elephant in the room. 1.2 MILLION every 4 years.

            Unsustainable.

            AND with an ageing population to boot.

            Not one politician will deal with it.

            Those who do suggest solutions, such as Brexit where we control our border and have a sensible immigration policy, are shouted down as “racist” by the PC hand wringing brigade.

            Thus the cancer in this country ( the politicians who are not listening ) continues to grow and one day it will pop.

      • @steve – 2% too low even more so after the government rejigged what constituted the budget. The figure is a farce at this point.

    • Of the 31 Sea Harriers we had in 1982, 28 saw service. 20 went with Vince and Hermes and another 8 turned up as attrition reserves.

      This was out of a planned 34 (reduced to 33) fleet.

      This is what we could “scrape together” when push came to shove.

      • And they did a fantastic job! The British armed forces have a proud history of punching far above their weight, but my point is they shouldn’t have to.

          • The Argentine Air Force never shot down a Harrier or Sea Harrier. One trick the Harriers used to get a Mirage off their tail was reverse thrusting, where they decelerated wildly and the Mirages just overshot the Harriers. The main limitation of Harriers/Sea Harriers was range.

      • Simon do not forget that there were also RAF harriers deployed to the Falklands GR1 or GR3s I think.
        They thickened out the harrier ranks and enabled the sea harriers to mostly stick to CAP whilst RAF harriers did ground attack, usefully with Laser guided bombs painted by SAS on specific targets. I think something like 14 RAF harriers went along with the task force. Thus the real harrier numbers were 50+ for the Falklands campaign.
        Hence why a mere 48 F35Bs in active service is not going to cut it. We need a follow on order of at least double that number

        • I think 5 squadrons totalling 60 frontline aircraft would do the trick; in times of war put 30 on QE or POW. That could be fielded from the 138 were purchasing, even if we don’t ever have all that number at once.

          With an extra 40 or so we could stand up 6-7 frontline squadrons, which would be perfect. Enough to fill both carriers. Note: I know we’ll never operate both carriers at once but we should have the assets to fill both. If one was sunk then we’d be shafted!

    • Steve, Dragon has Harpoon – for what it’s worth – for anti-ship warfare, as do three of her T45 peers along with all the T23 frigates. No surface launched land attack capability in the fleet.

    • The only reason our surface ships don’t have mk41 VLS and TLAM is the treasury does not want the RN popping off more million dollar missiles on the opening night of an operation. 5 or 6 from an SSN is enough to secure the headline “British and American warships fired 100 missiles” The UK MOD and HMG only views itself and a appendage of the US Foreign Policy an the Treasury seeks to do this as cheaply as possible. Expect to see T26 fitted for and not with just like T45.

  2. The T45s are fine AD ships but I just don’t understand the lack of missile attack capability. For ships that size (and few numbers wise) to not have installed the strike length VLS is unpardonable IMO. Yes, yes, money, funding etc… There’s just no decent excuse for it. Everytime one goes into longterm availability it should be retrofitted with them since the provisions are already there… Even if they aren’t filled. At least the capability would exist. I know I’m preaching to the choir.

    Cheers.

    • Well I’m probably singing out of tune in this choir but what missiles are you suggesting the RN should populate a Mk41 VLS with? T45 already has Aster 15/30 with the latter overlapping SM2. SM6 ABM functionality might be addressed by Aster 30 Block 1NT; all launched from existing Sylver VLS.

      Considering the other usual suspects. Harpoon is old and T45 can already support it with launchers anyway. TLAM is also old, and the UK will probably want to keep its stocks for submarine use, with or without the MkIV update. In any event it seems TLAM will be replaced by Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW)/Increment 2, i.e future LRASM (not the current one see my other post on this) or JSM but it is not scheduled to be available until 2024. Then there is the perennial favorite ASROC which is also old, with a short range and an old torpedo, when helicopter launched torpedoes would be more capable/flexible.

      In short I don’t see compelling munitions available today to populate a T45’s Mk41 cells but perhaps I’m missing something? Five to ten years from now and there will be modern, much more relevant and capable offerings in time to populate T26 and possibly T31 cells. Also a number of those solutions will be capable of launch from air, submarine torpedo tube as well as Mk41/Sylver VLS with commonality across all platforms.

      • Good Morning,

        You make some very valid points, in answer to your question please scroll down to see my post about LRASMs below.

        Cheers!

  3. Kolkata class are perhaps the closet thing to a ‘modern destroyer’ at sea at the moment. Adequate systems in all the domains, true heavy anti-ship armament, and the ability to house two large helicopters with good AShM armament as well.

    I wonder how much the Indians got to see of SeaViper’s true capabilities?

    • Aren’t Arleigh Burkes really good in all domains? They do air defense, anti-sub, anti-ship, land attack and have a couple of MH-60R helos.

      I’m also surprised the T-45s weren’t built more similar to that model. When having enough crew to adequately man all the ships is an issue, why not spend some extra money making a ship that can do multiple roles? Much more efficient all around.

    • Kolkata’s are good but Arleigh Burke, Atago, Sejong the Great class are better and more balanced and more powerfully armed destroyers. They cost a fair bit more than the Kolkata class mind

  4. Dragon would have been found wanting if up against submarines or major surface threats, with nothing to combat them with. With only 48 missiles she’d have her work cut out against a determined and persistent air threat.

  5. The Kolkata with its 16 Brahmos missiles could probably take out all 6 type 45’s in one go. It would certainly do it when the Brahmos 11 is introduced. The capabilties of the Kolkata class utterly expose the inadequacies of RN vessels. A comparsion really serves as ” The Emperor has no clothes” moment. The Type 45 can’t even defend itself from a couple of Iran speedboats attacking from the aft quarters. If hostilities did break out I would crew RN vessels with the politicians and MOD accountants who are responsible for putting underarmed vessels potentially into harms way.

    • Just a query John but has the Brahmos actually been tested and proven yet ? I’d be Interested to see the results.

    • I wouldn’t be so cocky if I were you Sanjay. You face the double challenge of not flooding your ship’s propulsion system, potentially sinking it, and what is almost certainly the world’s best naval air defence system in PAAMS, which has successfully shot down a drone with the same target profile as Brahmos.

      • My understanding is Brahmos 1 is operational. It is recorded as having a speed of Mach 3. Brahmos 11 is reported to have a speed of Mach 7 and testing is due to start in 2020. Ratlines, the drone may have had the same profile but I am unaware of a drone capable of Mach 3. Both the 45 and 26 would have to get lucky with a single Brahmos but would be probably be unable to defend against a 4 missle attack. Kolkata and their Russian equivalents carry 16 Brahmos( Zircon). An attack from a sub at close range would be unstoppable. A single Phalanx may only get 50 rounds off. It seems me a vessel would require as many guns, 35mm, 57mm and 76 mm, as possible firing airburst shells detonating at say 1500 to 1000 m.

    • Jonny boy my gran always used to say “better to say nothing and have folk think your a fool rather than open your mouth and prove beyond doubt that you are one” when you attend the next naval chiefs meeting from your armchair you can report back to everyone on matters regarding missile capabilities.

  6. Hampson is spot on – Dragon would struggle against a decent warship or submarine whilst with only 48 missiles a sustained air attack would exhaust its protective capabilities.. I agree too brass and politicians should crew her

  7. The cost of adding TLAM’s to the T45 is so low relative to the cost of the T45 it just doesn’t make sense to me unless they where dropped for some other political reason. But is Russia, India and China are all now equipping their navy vessels with cruise missiles then it’s time to get the finger out.

    • We should have built T45 with at least one strike length Mk41 and built enough to have one stationed in the Med and one in the North Indian Ocean / Gulf as standing tasks. We could do with our own recce constellation to so we can see what we are shooting at………

  8. You have all just seen the state of our so called politicians in Westminster, and you wonder why our Armed forces are the way they are.

    • This hits the nail on the head. Our Politicians with a few not notable exceptions know nothing about warfare, defence or indeed anything much of any practical use. Few have served in the armed forces.

  9. I’m embarrassed! The Indian navy should never ever have better capabilitys than the Royal Navy!. We still give India hundreds of millions every year in foreign aid!… And our economy is bigger than Indias so we should have a better equipped and bigger NAVY!…. It’s a total joke! We need a proper Navy once again!… it’s also embarrassing how Indian Navy Ships still fly the British RN Flag but replaced the Union Jack with Indian flag!….

    • Their wages are nothing compared to ours. They see they have clearly identifiable existential threats. The construction cost of the bear hull will be cheaper too.

      The Kiolcata’s AAW system is probably no better than SeaCeptor (bigger punch and slightly better range, area not PDMS), it isn’t in anyway comparable to SeaViiper. It’s ASW capability will outstrip T45’s but that isn’t a surprise. (Don’t be a bore and cotnradict me on that one MFS7000 isn’t a 2050 substitute.) It is probably quieter than say T42 but not nowhere as quite as T23; I bet it won’t be far off a Burke. Certainly a good match for anything they will face in the Indian Ocean, be it Pakistani or Chinese. And heavy anti-surface armament following Russian doctrine. Lastly the ability to field the ultimate ‘module’ the large helicopter; meaning the Indians will have a cheap upgrade route beyond the hull as it were. They are a proper destroyer. Certainly brings it relief the problems with calling T45 a destroyer. They are a very specialised AAW / aerospace control ship / HVU and certainly not escorts. I do wonder how if anybody has had a look see at squeezing SeaViper into T26 hull……Probably a better spend for the T31 to build a one off…….

    • I think India’s economy is just about the size of the UKs now. GNP per capita is a lot lower, but they have as many people as China. There is no rationale for one 3 trillion dollar economy to give another 3 trillion dollar economy foreign aid. The government should start weaning India off UK teat.

  10. as a ticonderoga class crewman once said when talking capabilities we knew there was a “D” in Destroyer but your navy proved there’s a “D” in embarrassing

    • There is a story that goes something like this……. A USN commander was shown around a T42. He was given a comprehensive tour of all the systems. Even the holly of hollies in an RN escort, the EW capability. At the end of the tour he commented about the lack of hard kill and said, ‘Gee, you guys no everything, even when you are going to die…….”

  11. I would be interested to know how the anti-sub warfare part went, not having a decent sonar seems the biggest weakness of the t45. Land attack is a bonus and realistically not required, as better done from a sub as a surprise attack.

    In a realistic war situation against a near peer opposition, i can’t see ground attack being fired from surface ships being a realistic option, as they would be too easy to track. The initial attack would come from subs, to ensure the launch point was unknown and then once the initial sites are taken out, the jets from the carriers can take over.

    Sub warfare however will be a major problem and requires lots of depth and multiple defensive circles.

    • The LRASM is being fielded by the USN starting this year on F18s (already carried by the USAF on the Bone) and it’s being modified to fire from the VLS of every Destroyer and Sub in the fleet ex LCS which will carry the bolt on Kongsberg NSM which is much shorter ranged ~ 100 NM I think.

      It’s stealth, the Chinese and Russians will have a heck of a time detecting it – especially in mass launches and it’s rebalancing the current disadvantage in the type the USN has vs the PLAN and Russian Navy. Since it’s fired from the common launcher already on most NATO vessels it would be a very good addition to RN attack capabilities. T45s and T31s armed with the missile would have a serious punch without much modding as long as they have the VLS to fire it.

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2018/12/03/lockheed-martin-stealthy-anti-ship-missile-fills-gap-in-u-s-navys-china-strategy/#4ec9df5551e0

      There’s just no excuse not to add it to the RN inventory IMO outside of the feeblest usual offal… Especially with the RN TLAMs going out of date…

      Cheers!

      • Do the Aster missiles have anti ship capability? An often overlooked feature of the SM-2 (and 6 to a larger degree) is that its secondary capability is anti ship. They were used against the Iranian navy with good success even back in the 80’s. Small warhead, but travelling mach 3+ they can render the target effectively dead in the water. SM-6 has a 130+ mile range and travels at mach 3.5+… If Aster’s get that capability it would give the Type 45’s a pretty potent anti ship capability without having to add a new weapon system. Though I will say its not in the same ballpark as the LRASM.

      • Well one excuse would be that the current LRASM is Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW)/Increment 1 and intended only for air launch use by the USN in F18s based on what has been published to date that I’ve seen. This missile was an urgent capability stop gap measure which is how it was justified without competition. The VLS tests are in preparation for the main program.

        The main LRASM program is to address Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW)/Increment 2 that adds ship launch and possibly submarine launch to air launch, but it is not scheduled to be available until 2024.

        Hence no reason for the UK to rush to field what may turn out to be just an interim solution. Also by 2024 JSM will be availabe and may even be the US long term choice for OASuW/Increment 2.

        • From what you wrote and reading the link and the Wikipedia articles LRASM v2 and JSM seem to be two strong 2024 contenders for OASuW but if the possibility of making LRASM also capable of land attack is implemented as discussed in the Wiki article then aren’t they quite different beasts?

          Even on basic specs, as Helions has already mentioned, NSM/JSM are talking about 100 mile-ish ranges whereas LRASM is talking about 300-ish in surface launch configuration with 1000lb warhead and even up to 1,000 miles if the warhead size is reduced.

          I can see the attraction of JSM for commonality with F-35 and also probably with P8A given the Norwegian stake there too but for ship-launched land attack isn’t the much greater potential range of LRASM v2 compelling?

          • I agree with Helions, that there’s not much point in fitting any out of date offensive strike missiles when the RN has such little budget to work with. I’ll ignore for now the unfortunate situation of having no suitable modern options. Obviously, we are depending on the MOD’s good intentions of purchasing a suitable system when it becomes available, which isn’t a given either.
            But you have a point about the benefits of long-range strike (LRASM V2) versus commonality (NSM/JSM). The problem I see is that none of these (not even LRASM V1) fit into the internal weapons bays of the F35B currently, only the -A and -C models for the JSM. So, part of your commonality equation is cut out straight away. Personally I think it is a major mistake for your only carrier aircraft to fly without a capable ship killing missile; to rely on Astute, a hypothetical future ASM mounted on escorts, and the Lynx helicopters of your escorts armed with relatively lightweight options, is not taking advantage of the assets at your disposal. It just makes sense to find an ASM that will fit both the F-35B, P-8 and potentially even Protector (maybe I’m going too far here), that preferably has a surface launched variant.
            On the flip side, we’ll be out of the long-range strike game completely if TLAM gets retired and we don’t have anything that can get launched from subs. I don’t think that’s a great idea either. So maybe we do need to sacrifice commonality for a short/long range mix of ASMs and strike missiles?

        • I’m going to make a prediction that the LRASM and follow-on is going to be fitted as the primary weapon on the Zumwalt class (3) given that their new role is that of a strike platform. Operating as a dot in the Pacific, with perhaps an SSN for company, while serving as a stealthy arsenal ship firing off missiles on directed targets of opportunity – e.g. high value PLAN units – I think the class will come into its own.

          https://news.usni.org/2018/12/10/second-zumwalt-destroyer-arrives-in-san-diego-third-launches-at-bath-iron-works

          Cheers!

  12. Wonder how long it will be before the Indian military and media is claiming they ‘beat’ the Royal Navy like they did when the RAF went over to do some training excersises?

  13. With all this talk about any future conflicts with Russia or China, one thing is for sure. The first big casualty of any country involved would be their stock markets! Even “sabre rattling” can have negative effects on the world financial markets. The Global economy does have its benefits! The Russians are the most venerable, Putin and his “Advisers” must be aware of this.

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