The Royal Navy ‘is back in the premier division’ of the globe’s military elite says Vice-Admiral Bob Cooling.

HMS Queen Elizabeth has just arrived in Portsmouth. Now a Captain of one of the UK’s last aircraft carriers, the former HMS Illustrious, has told of his delight at the future flagship’s milestone.

Vice-Admiral Bob Cooling:

“All the maritime community are absolutely delighted to see this magnificent ship becoming a reality. She puts us back in to the first division of major military nations. And it is right and proper her home port should be Portsmouth, which has been the home of the navy’s capital ships and air power ships for decades.”

Former First Sea Lord George Zambellas said:

“When the first of our new carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, deploys on her first mission in a few years, with fifth generation fighters and drones embarked, she will scotch at a stroke any talk of Britain’s retreat from the world.”

What will the vessels carry?

The term now used for the carriers embarked squadrons is ‘Carrier Air Wing’ (CVW). The vessels are capable of deploying a variety of aircraft in large numbers, up to a maximum in the upper fifties in surge conditions.

Captain Jerry Kyd, commander of HMS Queen Elizabeth, commented on the initial deployment and the gradual increase in air wing numbers:

“We are constrained by the F-35 buy rate even though that was accelerated in SDSR in 2015, so initial operating capability numbers in 2020 are going to be very modest indeed.

We will flesh it out with helicopters, and a lot depends on how many USMC F-35s come on our first deployment in 2021. But by 2023, we are committed to 24 UK jets onboard, and after that it’s too far away to say.”

In addition to the joint force of Royal Air Force and Royal Navy F-35Bs and their pilots, the air wing is expected to be composed of a ‘Maritime Force Protection’ package of nine anti-submarine Merlin HM2 and four or five Merlin for airborne early warning; alternatively a ‘Littoral Manoeuvre’ package could include a mix of RAF Chinooks, Army Apaches, Merlin HC4 and Wildcat HM2. We understand that vessel would still carry at least one F-35 squadron aboard in such circumstances to offer air defence as well as support to the helicopter assault activities.

The Crowsnest AEW&C aircraft will come from a number of the embarked Merlins (any of which can be fitted with the sensor package), the number again scaling with requirements.

Around the time the first carrier deploys operationally, the UK will have 42 F-35 aircraft, with 24 being front-line fighters and the remaining 18 will be used for training (at least 5 on the OCU), be in reserve or in maintenance.

Recently, the Ministry of Defence confirmed plans for the deployment of American F-35 aircraft alongside British jets aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth. It is understood that the US aircraft will augment British jets on coalition operations.

We understand that the composition of the CVW is a balance between ship capacity and squadron availability. Squadrons assigned or ‘programmed’ to sail on deployment will mostly in the case of the aircraft carrier be unique to it, for example the airborne early warning helicopters that have no other purpose but to serve the carrier force. We discussed this with retired Air Marshal Greg Bagwell, referring to the idea of set numbers being assigned so far in advance he said:

“There is absolutely no need to fix a flexible capability so far in advance – it hems politicians in unnecessarily.”

Another source we spoke to explained to us that the vessels will deploy with the number and type of aircraft required for a specific deployments:

“Where F-35B is based is entirely down to the most suitable basing option for the tasks/missions is being sent to do. If that’s a well-founded host nation base, great; if it’s the Carrier, great; if it’s an austere location, fine. Range, logistics and other ‘enablers’ such as AAR and connectivity will determine what’s the best option.”

The Queen Elizabeth class mark a change from expressing carrier power in terms of number of aircraft carried, to the number of sortie’s that can be generated from the deck. The class are not the largest class of carrier in the world but they are most likely the smallest and least expensive carrier the Royal Navy could build which still have the advantages that large carriers offer.


  1. “The Royal Navy ‘is back in the premier division’ of the globe’s military elite says Vice-Admiral Bob Cooling.”

    More like the Championship
    Our offensive capability is less than the likes of Iran, Pakistan and Eygpt (Who all have effective and modern ASM)
    Our defensive capability wouldn’t even stop Argentina from using the old hand of god again.

    As for those two carriers, 3 CIWS for protection. Even the Japanese Helicopter carrier to the right at a third of the weight is better protected.

    • What is the point in you commenting when you evidently do not know anything on naval technology, policy, battle group formations, escorts etc. ?

      • Frank, Farouk is what we like to call an armchair admiral. He has absolutely no idea what he is talking about and and likes to talk alot of shit.

      • Frank wrote:
        “What is the point in you commenting when you evidently do not know anything on naval technology, policy, battle group formations, escorts etc. ?”

        Its a message board, Its where you air your views. The last I looked I am allowed to pass comment in the Uk, or are you saying that nobody is allowed to question and criticise the above statement.

        On that note the Pak Navy navy uses the 802, Iran the Khalij Fars and Egypt uses the Harpoon block 2 all are superior to the Harpoon Block 1 as used by the UK.

        Funny enough our leaders have no problem sending aid to all of the above, in fact Pakistan is our biggest recipient of foreign aid. Yet fund our own armed forces, why you’re having a giraffe.

        My point, I’m all for a most capable armed forces and I fully understand that its the man and not the machine that makes the difference. But I am sick to death of so called leaders telling me that the British military has the best when it comes to the tools of the trade. Utter tosh.
        We lost the Sheffield and AC to ASM, The Glamorgan was hit by an ASM, despite the so called wonderful Sea Dart we still lost 4 ships to Iron bombs. This is within recent memory, The US Stark and the Israeli Navy ship Hanit have been hit even more recently. The evidence is there that we can’t take air defence for granted, yet not only haven’t we learnt the lessons from the Falklands it appears we aren’t learning them from even more recent times. If we want our Lads and lasses to defend our country and our friends , then we have to arm them with a little more than platitudes.

          • “Did you miss the announcement of the upgrade and retention of Harpoon?”
            Nope, but that upgrade has still to transpire and it will only keep the Block 1C missiles in service for another 2 years.

        • To be fair Dart did ok then and in latter years. It was a system thought up and conceived with 1950s/60s tech. Dart took down ASMs inbound to a US battle ship in the gulf.
          Down south Shef was acting as a radar picket on its own . The EW set that would have given warnings of the Etendard and eocet radar was blanked out by SATCOM transmissions, something that was corrected very quickly on other vessels.
          Ships hit by bombs where for the most part sat fat dumb and happy in San Carlos. The exception was Cov who sailed in front of her goalkeeping T22 and broke the lock on the Seawolf that was about to engage and take the planes .
          Gloucester had sea cat and sea slug . Slug was used as shore bombardment it was that useless.
          Anyway carriers with missiles have plus’s and minus’s personally the minus outweighs the plus’s.

          By the way Stanley looks nothing like that now….

          • To be fair, Dart and Cat were mitigated by the Argies having them, knowing its capabilities and thus they amended their attack patterns to their advantage. However the fact remains the Dart was promoted as 100% effective as was the Rapier .

            As for Stanley, yes I know, I was there in 82, then again in 83 and then again in 84 (perks of being a Sapper). ( I have to laugh as so many of us were doing repeat tours the Government handed out a bounty for those who did 2 tours in under 2 years) When I tried to claim mine, I was informed that I didn’t qualify as I undertook my tours before the bounty started. And then they wondered why so many people transferred (I did) or PVRd.

            I was offered a seat on a Battlefield field tour 4 years ago. Cost me a a couple of lectures and this time I flew all the way. Couldn’t get over how many coffee shops are in Stanley.

    • Would any of those nations assets with those ASM equipped ever get within range to threaten the QE? I don’t pretend to know what they have armed with them but, operating the carrier battlegroup I can’t see an aircraft (Type 45), sub, (Astute, ASW Frigate) or ship (Astute) getting within range. Shore batteries are the only unknown and let’s be honest, the QE isn’t going to be anywhere close in a conflict.

      So yes, the ship itself is actually pretty poorly protected with only Phalanx but, they will operate in the CBG and so not find themselves in the position to be threatened, at least that’s what we all hope.

        • F35b is at best a bomb truck and a short ranged one at that. Any defensive weapons are having to be modified to fit its weapons bay or slung externally thus rendering it no better that a 4th gen aircraft

          • Rubbish. F-35B’s will be armed with meteor & ASRAAM, the two finest air to air missiles in service today.

          • Whoa! Radius of action in stealth mode circa 450 miles. Will be armed with Paveway and Asraam from the get go. Weapons bay sized for Meteor and Spear 3, 8 off.

          • F35Bs have a range of 500 miles + the range of the missiles. I’d be interested to know how you class short/medium/long range in the context of military.

      • Well, why are we the only (soon-to-be) carrier operating nation that DOESN’T see the need to fit self defence missiles? Example-in-kind: we all know the US Navy fields a much stronger carrier battle group than we (will) yet still fits a layered defence (Phalanx, RAM, missiles) to its carriers – why? – because there is a need. Crap happens in the fog of war – better prepared than sorry! Colossal shortsightedness on the part of HMG to fit only Phalanx – and even then, only 3!

        • Christ, there have been dozens of threads and forums, including on this site, that have already covered it.

          In short: they’re a nice to have when you’ve got the budget for them, but they interrupt flight ops, take up storage space, increase the danger of an explosion if the ship is hit, and, most decisively, take up funding that is better spent elsewhere.

          • …. seriously – we spend 3Bn/carrier and we can’t afford to properly arm them? Please…. height of stupidity that is! No one is denying there are ‘penalties’ to fitting them but you STILL haven’t answered the fundamental question – if literally everyone else feels they are a necessity and sees the need to fit them, what makes us think we’re any different? Waiting…..

        • QEC doesn’t need any high end self-defence because it will always be escorted by a Type 45/23/26. It will have the aggregate defence capabilities of all the ships which are supporting her.

          Are you suggesting it should embark by itself and without any support?

      • The longest range soviet anti ship missiles have a greater range than the combined ranges of F35b and spear 3.,… Over 1000km. Living in dreamland if you think one or 2 astute can effectively cover a 1000 radius from a carrier

        • QEC will have Type 45/23/26 as escorts – they can counter incoming missiles. You just made up the 1000km range of Soviet missiles – that’s complete nonsense and doesn’t matter anyway as Type 45/23/26 will be standing by.

        • I gaurentee that if you aim a homing missile from 1000km away it will miss the target.
          You will need mid course guidance …so you kill the guidance relay be that a ship or aircraft. Even then with mid course guidance there is still a lot to do before the missile can get in range to home in.

      • In war you can never rely on what you thought you could always rely on. That’s how HMS Glorious was lost in 1940. We should be equipping the QEs with the same 2 or 3 tier AA/anti-missile defences that the USN has on its CVAs & LPHs, such as Sea Ceptor-OTO 76mm-Phalanx, as well as anti ship missiles.

    • I think you’ll find QEC will have the Type 45/23/26 for protection – it will never be by itself. Aircraft carriers never operate in isolation.

      As for ASM, what do you call Storm Shadow and the up and coming Spear 3? I can’t find any information on Pakistani, Egyptian, and Iranian air to surface missiles – perhaps you can inform on these capabilities?

      Argentina doesn’t have any offensive capability, so the defence requirement is irrelevant for any country.

  2. You can only sustain your position in the premier league if you have a full squad of quality players, the UK is some way from that position.

    No good having a couple of star strikers if the defence leaks goals like a sieve.

      • Ron5 if as you claim the T45 is the best air defence ship in the world why havent BAE secured any export orders for it?

        We tried to sell it to the Australians they said no, we tried to sell it to the Saudis they said no.

        The T45 is an over priced warship with limited capability and a long list of technical problems.

        • i would posit that the aus navy would rather go the us route even if our ships were better mainly because with the us budget upgrades and numbers are assured, where as with our history, it’ll all be cut and we wont have the money to spend on upgrading it. also, geo-politically aus i going to orient to the us purely because of china. however i cant deny that considering the cost, the t45 should clearly have the mk41 silos they are capable of. that’s the big issue really, we design world beating ships, but then cant afford to get them unless they’re fitted for but not with all the stuff they really should have by default.

          honestly i don’t quite know where we piss all the money away really…. considering we have one of the largest defense budgets in the world i really do wonder when other countries seem to get a lot more for a lot less cash

          • A lot of the budget is to sustain capability across the globe. The visible aspects of our military, the raw numbers of planes, ships, tanks, etc, may have shrunk massively, but unlike most countries (including India and China) we can sustain operations around the globe. That’s what makes the UK a (albeit limited) global power.

  3. with only 19 escorts now and with our aaw capability per ship so low our battlegroup would be mincemeat in no time at all . Every government since 1945 has destroyed the navy’s capabilities and given them less for more taxpayers hard earned money. Shame our admirals only think of themselves when serving and only speak out when they have their pensions . we are no longer a big league player

    • Even more rubbish, T45 with PAAMS and T23 and future T26 with CAMM have very modern and robust air defence systems

      • all claimed nothing yet proven. Falklands taught us that computor aided defences are fallable and we still only equip for but never fit with full weapons capacity. t45 48 missles wow, how many missles would be aimed at a battle group? t45 would have to leave to replenish after 24hrs at best.

        • During the entire Falklands campaign we only fired about 48 SAMs. Also who outside Russia or China (who we won’t be fighting alone) can launch dozens of ASMs at the battle group? A battle group protected by F-35B on CAP and containing at least 2 Type 45s not 1. Unless you believe we will send the fleet to war in the most half arsed manner possible. Oh yeah we will also have Merlin AEW aloft in a dangerous situation adding to the already very good radar picture generated from 2 Sampson, 3 S1850M and multiple Artisan sets.

        • You’re forgetting two things; firstly, quad packed Sea Ceptors are replacing marginally better Aster 15s, increasing missile numbers significantly while not really losing any capability. Secondly, we also learnt several other lessons from the Falklands: the importance of CIWS, for example, or the importance of building ships from more robust materials. These lessons are all incorporated into the current generation of ships.

          • Haven’t heard quad packed Sea Ceptors are replacing Aster 15 only that Type 45 Aster silos are capable of accepting quad-packs – source???

          • I believe Callum is talking about the Mk41 VLS, which the T45 was fitted for but not with, so they could fire land attack missiles, anti ballistic, anti submarine, more anti ship missiles on top of the aster tubes, they can fit them when they fully fix the engines!!!

          • CAMM is not replacing Aster 15. The Type 45 is for high end adversaries and the Aster is the right missile for counter these.

        • Wrong, the Falklands proved that taking the man out of the loop improves engagements. Seawolf in full auto/auto mode was by far the best system in the world for point defence.
          Sea dart upgrades ensured engagements became more automated post Falklands .
          Phalanx is computer controlled and all mounts talk to each other to decide which mount has the best kill probability .
          You Let the computers decide and the operators have veto …people are to slow to when in the loop for engagements

    • “with only 19 escorts now and with our aaw capability per ship so low our battlegroup would be mincemeat in no time at all .”


      The RN’s escort fleet is actually far more capable in the air defence role than the Marine Nationale eg

      6 x Type 45s compared to just 2 Horizon-class ships, so for an operational deployment the CdG CSG would probably only include one modern AAW destroyer, a QEC CSG could include 2-3.

      The Type 26 will have a very substanial defensive armament (for an ASW frigate), the 48 Sea Ceptor missiles in two 24-cell VLS canisters and two Phalanx CIWS compares very well with ASW FREMM variants 16 x Aster 15s and no CIWS. The Type 26 could also carry additional quad-packed Sea Ceptors in the 24 Mk 41 strike length cells, if just 8 of the cells were used, that would obviously add 32 SAMs, so a total of 80 Sea Ceptors. And there would still be 16 cells left for TLAMs, ASROC etc.

      The FREMM could also carry additional SAMs in it’s strike launcher, but it’s only fitted with 16 Sylver A70 cells, and the Aster fitted can’t be quad-packed. So even if all the cells were used it would not increase the numbers that dramatically, and that would rather defeat the objective of having strike capable launcher.

      Even the Type 23s, which are being upgraded with 32 Sea Ceptor VLS canisters, will carry more SAMs than the 6 ASW FREMMs. The MN are also getting two FREDA AAW FREMM variants, they will be more capable in the air defence role, but not in the same league as a Type 45 or Horizon.

      The RN still operates more high-end escorts than the MN, and the advantage in air defence capability will only widen once the 8,000 t (full load) Type 26s start entering service.

      A QEC CSG, when fully assembled, will be the most powerful surface group after a US CVN battle group to even put to sea, that fact seems lost on several commentors, perhaps a bit of google fuing is in order before posting.

  4. I do find it highly amusing when talk about our world beating range of weaponry, most of which has not been tested in combat.

    If it ever is we will be in for a nasty surprise.

    • Ron5, f35b will only carry 2 meteors and not until 2024. so that makes a grand total of 48 meteors if our 24 f35 actually get them

      • That’s not strictly true, as it depends on what mission the F35 is configured for. I think you’re referring to the full load up of 4 Spear 3 and 1 Meteor in each bay. You can put multiple Meteor missiles in each bay if you need to. No one is getting any BVRAAM on F35 until that date as that is a software drop as part of a Block upgrade.

        F35 can also carry multiple ASRAAM outside the bays tucked up near the fuselage.

    • Mike most modern weapons are not truly tested. Ok Sea Viper has not been used in anger but why would it work any less than the ASMs fired by the enemy? Our kit is untested but so is everyone else’s. How many ships has Brahmos sunk?

      • Good point. It should be pointed out that despite all the affectation of the Aegis system, it has never countered an enemy missile in decades of operation. It’s made plenty of mistakes however – even very recently.

        As far as Type 45 and Sea Viper goes, any air adversarial would be taking a great risk by engaging in such a scenario. Theoretically it would be game over and this is how decisions are made to engage in the first place.

    • Because the American missiles like SM3 and SM6 have been tested in combat conditions? Some of you are very quick to put down our kit saying it’s never been tested…….but actually not much if anything has.

      There is some much nonsense and negativity posted on here.

      By mid 2020’s our carrier battlegroup will easily be a match for anyone out there, and since we’ll never go toe to toe with Russia or China and certainly not alone.

      More investment is needed for damn certain, in personnel and equipment. However there are very few militaries outside of the USA that can project Sea, Air or an Amphibious Power better than we can. What we lack in critical mass we more than make up for in experience, equipment and training.

      Get a grip people.

  5. So, comments on the comments;

    QE,s F-35s, Merlins, T-45s, T-23s (T-26s), Astutes & Tides as a battle group are bested only by the US. Even then, Merlins, Astutes & T-45s are likely better components than their peers and QEs are designed for F-35s. No doubt it will be a fearsome and powerful battle group.

    The issue most people on the forum agree with is lack of depth. If we have to deploy a full CVG on our own (I know there is NATO), there’s really not much left of the RN escort fleet. With one more SSN supporting CASD and based on a one in three rule there’s two T-26s and 1/3rd of an Astute left. The locker is well and truly empty.

    But a full UK CVW is still a worldy.

    • Literally the only situation I could even slightly see the UK been alone on is the Falklands, and there is a slim chance that will happen considering the state of the Argentine forces, as well as the force we have down there. For peacetime, it only needs 1-2 escorts, and if we ever went to war, it would be part of a NATO/US group.

      • The deployment the carrier takes in 2021 will most likely consist of a Type 23, a Type 45, a Tide and possibly an Astute. This will highly likely be joined by French, US and Australian ships at certain points in its journey around the Pacific.

      • Should be, I agree. Thing is Ben, world is a volatile place. Allies are notoriously unreliable in a time of crisis and the eternal interests are national interests. I hope you are right, but I wouldn’t trust to that.

  6. Today we are investing in the RN whereas in 1982 I don’t think anyone is suggesting that was the case. However today Argentina would not even consider invading as a remote possibility. This means that now the RN is an effective deterant. Clearly this is improving all the time with POW and more F35s. As for hostilities with a more agressive enemy I feel we need to look at UK foces as part of Nato and an increasingly effective role in containing the enemy at sea. Clearly we need more but in my opinion it is worth saying that we are heading in the right direction.

    • Mark have you been on the beer? The RN in 1982 had 60 escorts, 30 subs and an RFA with over 30 vessels. Manpower was over 60,000. We had two carriers in service, two in build and an old LPH laid up. The FAA was double its current size and had 20 twenty Sea Harriers with more in production. We had dozens of minor warfare vessels and were by any yardstick the worlds third largest and most powerful navy.
      I would certainly like a Navy today that was under invested in just like in 1982.

      • In 1982 I agree the numbers where greater but had been declining since the second world war to the point where countries doubted our committment to being a world power. Perhaps the Admiral is just pointing out that we are now just getting excellent equipment which should we have enough of it might just be putting us on the right path. I agree we need more but I feel we are certainly no longer in decline. Just a personal view.

  7. I believe the vice admiral is correct. F-35B has a radius of action and payload comparable with the
    F-18Fs on a US carrier. It is 5th generation stealth and I would guess has the electronic warfare capabilties of the F-18 Growler. QE class is big enough to carry sufficient F-35B and generate a sortie rate to deliver roughly the same ordnance on target as a US carrier over a day period. That was the whole point of building a 70k ton ship rather than smaller carriers.

  8. All we ever hear about is this white elephant. Meanwhile, the rest of the wee navy boats can’t even be fitted with guns. Pathetic UK navy.

  9. I agree with comments somewhere, that until there’s a full clutch of F35-B available, for both carriers perhaps even in surge mode, the A variant shouldn’t be bought. Stick to the B. And meanwhile look at that buddy to buddy refuelling capability to lengthen mission range.

    Meanwhile the UK will have one world class carrier available with modest ability by 2020, and by 2023 as the F35-B deliveries and training seem to be on schedule, full deployment capaibility by 2023, with POW coming up to speed as well. Adequate single nation escorts, and plenty in NATO or multi-partner mode. What’s not to like about that?

  10. Loads of really interesting chat. Ex gunner – I did serve on 42’s and 22’s and the one thing they all had in common was weapon systems that had stoppages or just failed full stop. No matter how many escorts I would still feel happier that this billion £ plus home to 900 people was able to better protect itself if in theater. Like we never had in the falklands a near peer threat would be all about the saturation strike. Spend the dough mod.

  11. The carriers will be well protected with the type 45’s and type 23’s and of course in the future the type 26. Plus as some of the more positive posts have been saying on here the F35’s with there excellent mix of weaponry. Superb multi-role carriers .. Look forward to seeing their first deployments in the coming years! I remember seeing a picture from one or two years back involving 5 NATO escorts protecting the French carrier, was a impressive picture.. That will also happen sometimes for our new carriers im sure.

  12. Wow, so much negativity including from a few people with whom I don’t normally associate it.

    I don’t think there is any point in looking back to the past except for when it can be used as a lesson on what can happen if our military is not sized appropriately. Apart from that we are where we are and should look forward. The first thing is to get currently announced stuff delivered and avoid any more cuts to numbers in critical assets (F-35B, Astute, amphibious, etc). We need to start seeing some signs of action on the new MARS SSS and get the frigates sorted out, either by reverting to plan A of more T26 or by getting something credible in the water for T31 even if that means relaxing the £250m per vessel budget. We also need to start firming up on a plan for minesweeper replacement. Finally, start getting serious about drones for the RN especially in the containerisable size bracket which could give a big uplift to the capabilities of River B2s, Bays and others.

    And talking of drones, did anyone else spot this bit in the FSL’s quote about QE…

    “with fifth generation fighters and drones embarked”

    I thought his explicit mention of drones was very interesting. We haven’t had any specific announcements on plans there have we? FSL’s comments might suggest that something more than vague aspirations is in the works and being in reference to the QECs I doubt he is talking about minehunting drones which is the only naval stuff I can think of that the RN is active in. I would love to see stuff such as the halted RN ScanEagle trials get back onto the funded projects list (it doesn’t have to literally be the restarting of that project, just something that is looking at that sort of capability and more).

  13. The QE carriers are superb ships, definetly the best designed and most cost effective conventionally powered carrier in the world to date.
    If we can get enough F35Bs to really maximise the ships potential and enough escorts to form a battleground we are then truely in the premier league again.
    So destroyer and frigate fleet needs to be rebuilt back upto at least 26 hulls
    Astute class could do with adding back on a few more boats as a follow on order say a further 3 built concurrently with the Dreadnought class. 7 attack subs is nowhere near enough to meet commitments.
    I am hopeful now Russia has revealed itself, in really undebatable terms, it’s malice and contempt towards the UK and NATO that we can start investing in defence and rebuilding our armed forces, starting with the utter mess Cameron and Osbourne made of the navy. Those 2 Eaton educated idiots will go down in history as the biggest bunglers ever to get into Downing Street.
    Oh and Peder please bugger off you are not even a UK citizen, stopping typing away from the basement of the Kremlin, save the electricity for your citizens to be able to have some heating instead, or allow them to be able to boil a kettle.

  14. It’s all well and good saying we have the best equipment in peacetime, but the reality of war exposes this equipment to tests that cannot be fully replicated in peacetime.

    The UK is particularly guilty of developing equipment which looks great but fails in war.

    Some examples blowpipe SAM, t42 destroyer, t21 frigate, Cheiftain battle tank, SA80A1 rifle and more.

    Let’s take the Cheiftain tank, widely regarded by the British as best tank in the world in the 60 and 70s, although mechanically unreliable. In 1981 it saw its first taste of combat in Iran, the result was that over 100 Cheiftains were lost in one engagement when opposed by obsolete Iraqi t62s. Yes the Iranian forces were poorly led, but it was found that the turret armour on Cheiftain could be easily penetrated by a Soviet 125mm tank round. It was thought otherwise up until then and quickly led onthe introduction of stillbrew armour.

    What about blowpipe, in the Falklands over 100 missiles launched. Over 50% malfunctioned and only one kill was made.

    Now we have the added complication that our armed forces have been hollowed out by years of cuts.

    So forgive me if I am reluctant to believe we are military elite.

    • Yes some kit has been bad when tested in combat. I know I have used some of it. However the UK forces learn from the mistakes better than anyone else I know.
      It’s not just weapons and platforms but lots of the mundane kit that has improved. T42 shot down ASMs in the Gulf because Sea Dart and the sensors and weapon systems where modernised… T21 …we learnt dont build ships with aluminium structures although the USN has not taken that on board with the LCS, MK6 patrol craft or the Fast cats. Sa80 is now pretty good, Chieftain gone replaced by Challenger which proved in the gulf that it could take a kicking , still function and not run out of fuel…

      • We can go through each weapon system and argue the toss.

        That was not my not my intention, of course we have some fantastic equipment and in general the best military personnel.

        However we seem to fall into the trap of exaggerating our capability in peacetime and getting a nasty shock in wartime.

        I think we should be realistic about our capability rather than jingoistic.

        Of course our new carriers are great assets, but without sufficient F35s, crew, destroyers, frigates, submarines and support ships they are not will never achieve their potential.

        I consider the 1998 SDR was about right in terms of RN equipment but with the exception of the carriers quantities ordered have fallen dramatically, which in my mind negates the carrier strike force.

        Best way to preserve the peace is to prepare for war.

  15. Mike is right. You fight a war with the weapons and personnel you have to hand.
    There needs to be some extreme urgency on a few programmes to plug some gaps in our armed forces numbers.
    RN needs first 3 type 26s rushed into service by 2025 and no later, then one a year with a reversion back to 13 high end frigate (these are actually light cruiser sized vessels).
    Type 31 frigate first batch of 5 ditto need to be in service by 2025, then one a year for the foreseeable future.
    We have to get back critical mass and numbers into our armed forces
    Astute class, accelerate the programme and add a further 2-3 hulls back onto the programme, build final 2-3 hulls concurrently with the Dreadnought programme.
    7 SSNs is not enough. Russia is proliferating its submarine force and aiming to build dozens of new nuclear and super quiet conventionally powered submarines.
    We have to at least up our hull numbers to meet this threat.
    The type 45 destroyers need to have strike length mk41 vl systems fitted to make them true multi role warships, have them option.ised for fleet engagements with LRASM and Norwegian anti ship missile. The type 45 could then saturate an enemy surface warship group threatening our carriers and shot down any return fire using PAAMS.
    Just take a bit of political will and determination as well as realisation we have allowed ourselves to get into a perilous state and money of course. If we cannot afford to do this then cut foreign aid budget, put up taxes, whatever is needed.

  16. “Premier league” only if we had an escort fleet that wouldn’t be unable to meet commitments if a couple of ships were lost & if the carriers themselves were well armed, which they’re not. Carriers need a lot of escorts to operate & fleets need plenty to meet other needs. We’re playing a very foolish & dangerous game with so few. You can’t operate Premier league assets with non-league funding.


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