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First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones suggested that the Royal Navy may have to remove platforms to afford new technological capabilities in a speech at DSEI.

He warned that the Royal Navy might have to sacrifice platforms to pay for new technology while announcing his far-reaching technology blueprint:

“From autonomous systems operating in squads to artificial intelligence-assisted decision making, what we’ve glimpsed over the past two years has the potential to entirely change our approach to operations.

This requires big decisions with far reaching consequences. Are we, for instance, prepared to remove existing platforms from service in order to create the financial and manpower headroom to introduce new systems which, in time, could deliver truly transformative advances in capability?

Change on this scale can be disconcerting, but if we hesitate, then we risk falling further behind.”

He then detailed plans for unmanned equipment in the Royal Navy:

“So today I can announce the Royal Navy’s aim to accelerate the incremental delivery of our future mine countermeasures and hydrographic capability (MHC) programme.

Our intention is to deliver an unmanned capability for routine mine countermeasure tasks in UK waters in 2 years’ time.

Similarly, from what we’ve seen over the past 2 years, we know it should be perfectly possible for the Type 31e frigate to operate a vertical lift unmanned air system alongside or perhaps even in place of a manned helicopter from the moment the first ship enters service from 2023.

And as a precursor to this, we plan to work with our partners in the aerospace industry to demonstrate such a capability on a Type 23 frigate next year.

So, just as I challenge the Royal Navy to take the next step forward, there’s also a challenge for you, our partners in industry, to meet us half way with credible solutions that can fulfil our requirements.”

The Royal Navy is also looking to introduce open architecture into operational service far more widely to reduce integration costs for new systems. HMS Westminster will go to sea fitted with the open architecture ‘Shared Infrastructure’ operating system.

“If successful, we will roll this system out to the rest of the Type 23s by 2020, and the remainder of the fleet thereafter.”

The Type 31 frigate will be designed with open architecture from the outset.

87 COMMENTS

  1. You can have the best navy ship in the world, with all the gear, problem is, with such a small number of ships, these all singing all dancing ships can’t be in two places at the same time. Funny that.

    • And that is the root cause of the problem We are at a critically low volume of ships now, if we reduce the level any more we need to then make a big decision. Are we a blue water navy or a coastal defence force?

      As the present situation with Irma has shown, nothing beats ships and people onsite.

    • which can also apply to any other naval power we’re gettin lasers, so maybe a star trek transporter might not be far behind

      • the small looking compact system(dragonfire) might be ideal for the carriers, t 26 or 31’s i see the u.s is now fitting the combined anti air, and ciws raytheon rim 116 as a standard fit to all their ships plus something like 10 other nations, at just£880000 each, even the treasury might see the value how much would a 16 cell vls cost?

  2. As in anti ship missiles; how old fashioned to expect a warship to be able to sink another warship when a capability like a small unmanned helicopter can be procured instead.

      • The Israelis have just announced that capability or their Harpy drone, google
        IAI Introduces a Loitering Weapon Optimized for Maritime Attack

        • from who?
          happy drone? in time, i’d expect drone warships and aircraft to form the core of many armed services, imagine being able to turn out drone tanks etc a nations capability could be expanded at a lightning rate.

  3. Choices have to be made with the limited money available, no problem with that. Trouble is the UK MOD is incredibly bad at making the right decisions.

        • The MOD is guilty of plenty but the services themselves are their own worst enemies. They always use the most optimistic estimates of time to service and cost. The inevitable result is a mad panic to cut other programs that in the larger scheme of things are actually more important.

    • nothing new there, my old cheif used to say’ if you’re going to be rubbish, be consistantly rubbish, so people know what to expect.’

      • Bit late now, pity they didn’t go for cats’n traps…could’ve been flying Hornets etc egc off them next year and varieties of 35’s as time goes by…but no. Expensive replacemdnts for OCEAN.

  4. Moan, moan, moan here we go again. We are getting announcement after announcement at the moment and all you can do is MOAN. Why not quit this site and go off and read Noddy’s guide to misery or something similar.

    • Geoffrey,
      I served this country for 37 years (full time) I was informed when I joined in 1980, that the British military had the best kit in the world. Then I was sent to the Falklands wearing DMS boots. As a combat engineer I found that if I stepped in water deeper than 3 inches I got wet feet, The Argies, had solid leather boots which afforded much better protection. My webbing was made of cotton and when it got wet it shrank. Oh we got the job done, but we could have done so much better if the champagne swilling MPs had bothered to spend a little more for those who defend them.
      The British military is led by accountants, there is nothing wrong with that, yet they are pound foolish and penny shy. So they can spend billions on 2 super carriers but leave out catapults , its CIWS will consist of 3 phalanx (really?) a short range weapon. The Mounts Bay RFA belongs to the Bay class (4 of them) . They are based on a Spanish and Dutch design, yet where the Rotterdam-class and Galicia-class have a hanger the Bay class don’t. Really a RFA without a dedicated hanger? Then in 2011 after 4 years service we sold off RFA Largs Bay So now we have 3. This week we have found out we are getting rid of a number of Mine sweepers, Then there is the replacement for the Type 23s, initially we were going to have a one for one, then the Tories went for 8 and 5 of the much less capable type 31. Nothing wrong with the Type 31s, but replacing a major ship with such a dinky ship. Instead of 5 type 31s, we should be building 10.

      As of next year the RN will have no anti-ship missiles and won’t have fo 10 years. (saving money)

      When the Typhoon came out, Labour decided that it didn’t need a cannon (could hurt somebody in a fight) and spent millions trying to get rid of it. Then they realised it was integral to the craft and so they kept it and just didn’t issue any rounds for it.

      We no longer build tanks, yet the Chally 2 is a world beater.

      Unlike others, I have given the best years of my life in defending this country, I fully care for my country and I want to see that those who defend it are given the best equipment in which to do so. Instead our MPs would rather hand over billions to countries such as Pakistan and India both of whom have nukes and bigger militarys.

      Please feel free to respond after you’ve put down your Enid Blyton book.

      • Steady on farouk, reality and the truth will upset some on here.

        I remember being told the British army has the best kit in the world as part of the recruit training process (I am an ex gunner), of course experience and service leads to a different point of view.

        However German (or as it was then West German) soldiers highly our woolly pully jumpers and corned beef were almost prepared to swap any their kit for those items. So not all bad news.

        I am afraid the UK procurement process is deeply flawed and I see very little hope that it will change in the future.

        When I make a critical comment it is because I wish to see our current service personnel have the very best equipment that we can afford as a country.

        • Thanks, Dave.

          One of my kids is currently serving, I believe the current state of the armed forces in terms of combat efficiency is far worse than 30 years ago.

          That’s nothing to do with quality of rank and file, it’s the procurement of equipment that badly lets them down.

      • Farouk,
        Thank you for serving your country, as have I. I appreciate what you say about your early experience. A colleague was badly hurt in the Falklands. However then was then, and now is now. If we look to the past, we stay in the past. I may be letting my irritation get the better of me but but as I look through DJUK pages I see more negativity than hope.
        I see few politicians swilling champagne. The ones I know and have worked with, many of whom have seen action, are more likely to have a few pints or kill a bottle of scotch.
        To answer your specific comments….
        The CIWS and soft kill systems on the carriers are in line with thier US equivalents and the ships we be capable of embarking canister “ceptor” units.
        Bay class. No argument but it has gone the Aussies.
        The mine hunters are in for engine refit, not disposal. The crews have been switched to River class opv,s.
        The Type 23,s are being replaced and it is quite possible that 10 could be exceeded. If the RN gets Venator or Arrowhed or similar I don’t think we should be talking teeny ship. They seem very capable to me.
        As I understand it there is a discussion already underway about a “filler” S to S system. One possibility is the Standard SM6 which can be launched from mk 41 silo,s.
        The Labour idea about no cannon for the Typhoon (daft) was reversed.
        As for foreign aid I agree with you. I think it should be capped at ,say £10 billion, and the surplus committed to the defence budget.
        Af for my reading habits I gave up Enid Blyton a while back. I’m more a Chris Ryan man myself…

        • Apologies, didn’t come back, Noticed your other post. So hitting you from both angles, so you get a reply:
          Answers to your post:
          1)The CIWS and soft kill systems on the carriers are in line with thier US equivalents and the ships we be capable of embarking canister “ceptor” units.

          A) No they are not, The US carriers , The America and Wasp class amphibious assault ships not only have the above but they are fitted with Rolling Airframe Missiles and sea sparrow which gives them the ability to actually defend themselves and not rely on another ship.

          B)The mine hunters are in for engine refit, not disposal. The crews have been switched to River class opv,s.

          A) Taken from the 20150118-SDSR_PDF: Page 13 par 3
          Mine-Countermeasures Vessels (MCMVs). By 2025, three of the oldest Sandown Class ships will be decommissioned, leaving 12 MCMVs in the fleet. MY quote was from the times (07/09/17) under the headline:
          Warships and battlefield training to be axed in defence cuts
          Two Royal Navy ships and battlefield training for thousands of troops will be cut to save money from the defence budget,

          3)The Type 23,s are being replaced and it is quite possible that 10 could be exceeded. If the RN gets Venator or Arrowhed or similar I don’t think we should be talking teeny ship. They seem very capable to me.

          A) We are getting 8 type 26s not 10 and there are 13 type 23 ships to be replaced. The shortfall will be made up of a less capable class of ships costing not more than £250M, the Type 31 (class replacing 23) comes in at £500M.

          4) As I understand it there is a discussion already underway about a “filler” S to S system. One possibility is the Standard SM6 which can be launched from mk 41 silo,s.

          A) Discussion, would that also be the same one looking at LRASM or the Naval Strike Missile. The Government has laid all its eggs in the Perseus missile. I quote Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin on the Perseus missile in jan 1^

          “This innovative project further strengthens the UK-French defence relationship and supports innovative research on both sides of the Channel. In an uncertain world, working with international partners and allies is more important than ever and I am delighted that our teams, working with British and French industry partners, are making good progress on these ambitious bilateral programmes.” While this news is welcome, it does not address the significant gap the retirement of Harpoon will cause. The Royal Navy will lose its anti-ship missile capability in 2018 when the Harpoon missile is withdrawn. While the fleet will still have an anti-ship capability via the submarine fleet and embarked helicopters, this will still be a significant capability gap. Harpoon missiles are unlikely to be replaced for up to a decade.

          5)The Labour idea about no cannon for the Typhoon (daft) was reversed.
          A) And I wrote:”Then they realised it was integral to the craft and so they kept it and just didn’t issue any rounds for it.”

      • i agree with all you say in the falklands i wasexpectedt o wear synthetic numer’8’s which melted to the skin of those injured in fire i wonder what price they put on a life when they make their decisions

    • good point. am i in number you refer to? although i do believe that things will improve.life extending refits will become more effective. ships will be built to last longer. its a shame the t42’s didn’t get the modern t45 like upgrades then we’d have a fleet big enough to close down grumpy sites like this.

  5. I am encouraged by the FSL’s comments as an advocate of replacing the 15 MCM hulls with T31’s operating the MCM autonomous systems in the long term (or even the River b2 can do this).

    A T31 fleet capable of MCM and ASW duties would be a game changer for the RN and release the T26’s even more.

    The RN needs these big decisions to move to a carrier and escort led fleet and I think we can do more with fleet of 75 major vessels complemented by a fleet of smaller “enabling” vessels and systems than we can with todays mishmash of platforms.

    Safeboats Mk6, CB90’s, Atlas Arcims MCM, Ship to Shore connectors and the Pacific RHIB’s all need to be considered as part of this balanced fleet and built in large volumes as appropriate. These smaller vessels will become our way of doing more with less people.

    The main fleet can be built on 8-10 hull types and by standardising on hull types and M&E major cost savings will come on stream.

    I really do think Sir Phil Jones is providing the sort of leadership our forces require, he will take on a god like status if he can squeeze in a couple more astutes out of HMG, but doing well for me.

  6. Good Day,
    Well noted all comments! Thank you.
    If a Government was really concerned about the
    growing uncertaincy in this world (forget the Cold War) but call it something else because it’s real and actual! The Government (Uk) would immediately move its priorities and carry out its responsibilities to
    Increase significantly it’s Defence spending just as other European countries are doing!
    Mrs May please do it before it’s to late!
    Nick Hamburg

    • I think you’ll find Nick that the UK was the first to match 2 per cent. Actually, maybe the second, and the budget is increasing.

        • Given that we once spent 4 to 4.5 per cent you’ll get no argument from me Harry, but that was before we started spending billions on overseas aid, at least some of which could be better spent on defence.

    • tell me people what a river o.p.v can do that a squadron of well trained, well crewed archers, armed with the ‘not fitted 20mm cannon, they were designed to carry. all i can think of is the ability to operate in poor sea states,make them remote controlle, paint them grey and call them corvettes?

  7. Why do people feel obliged to insult people on here in a way they would not dare do if face to face. The vast majority of commentators on here are obviously pro defence but all have a different perspectives and most a healthy scepticism of our political leaders. If you have been in the military then great add some real life experience as it helps but the knowledge of those in the civilian world also brings another type of reality to what should be a lively but respectful debate.

    • Agreed SJB and I for one will try to reign in my irritation. There is ,as you say, no problem with debate but I wish there was not so much negativity. I have also found that to lead and influence people you have to be constructive. There are good politicians and bad ones but lumping altogether because they are Labour or Tory is not what we should be about, nor should Michael Fallon be insulted on a regular basis as if he’s responsible for everything that has happened in the last twenty years. If we are to campaign for better armed forces we have to be positive and do what we can to create an agenda that registers with even the most dis interested politicians.

    • I’ve been saying that for ever. I’ve probably posted the idea in about 10 different places in comments on various articles here. Suffice it to say that I agree with you 100%.

      River B2 has spaces port and starboard of the crane, just aft of the RIBs, each of which can hold a single 20′ container without encroaching on the flight deck and of course with the containers conveniently oriented so the doors open directly onto the flight deck. An S-100 is really quite small and I did some calculations based on the internal dimensions of a standard ISO 20′ container. There should be space not only to load an S-100 but also enough working space around it for the container to act as it’s hangar to allow sheltered maintenance and some spares storage. At a push it might even be possible to include the control station in there but that would probably not be necessary since River B2 has plenty of spare space inside.

      With S-100’s 34kg payload for > 6 hour endurance that is enough to carry something like a 30kg Thales i-Master (https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/worldwide/defence/i-master) which would give superb surveillance capabilities and transform the surveillance reach of River B2 even at night and in adverse weather conditions. It doesn’t include an optical system but perhaps that might just squeeze in with the additional 4kg or by compromising endurance, the brochure specifies payload up to 50kg but doesn’t say what that drops the endurance down to. i-Master has already been integrated with S-100 I believe.

      Ideally however I would like to see a version 2 of the S-100 or similar to increase payload/endurance characteristics somewhat (probably not a huge improvement is needed). An ISO container has space to house something a bit bigger than S-100 so size could increase and maybe a folding 4-blade rotor could give more lift (I know nothing about helicopter design so would be interested to know if it could). The whole thing is little over 1m off the ground so a folding mechanism could be manual and not require the sort of expensive technology needed on Merlin etc.

      A slightly bigger payload at required endurance could allow it to potentially also carry a laser designator and a couple of 13kg LMM (or even 4 FFLMM since they are 5.8kg each). LMM has been integrated with S-100 as well but right now, due to payload limitations, it looks as if a really comprehensive sensor package and LMM are mutually exclusive. Having both would give River B2 the ability to take out a RIB or other small craft or even a machine gun or similar position at over-horizon range if required. It’s not going to fight a war but that’s one heck of a useful extra capability to have.

    • It’s much bigger than something like ScanEagle or Schiebel S-100 though. I’m not saying that it might not have a role but, with the RN having quite a few assets without hangers (Rivers and to some extent Bay), having something useful that is also capable of being deployed in a standard 20′ ISO container would be very useful. Clearly we’re going to need multiple options for multiple uses just like manned helicopters.

      • i’ve always thought with all the disquiet of ocean being lost, that a bay class with its superstructure removed an a full length deck fitted, would make a good replacement, the specs of ocean and a bay are not too far apart

      • No question horses for courses. A River 2 with S-100 and as Andy suggests containerised RIM 116 is a very useful asset for constabulary work. Used as a picket lily pad for SW-4 Solo equipped with Selex Osprey radar it could transform how a task force does AEW. We live in interesting times.

  8. What politicians can not appreciate is that oceans are a very big area and you not only need quality but quantity to cover this area. It does not matter how good your systems are they can only go as far as the horizon. Politicians being sea blind will reduce the RN into a brown water navy thinking that technology can take up the slack. How wrong they will be. Hopefully British forces will not have to go to war for the foreseeable future. They will need to stock up on body bags.

    • I think you will find Dan that this paper is from the FSL, and not a politician, who should be trusted to put forward ideas on behalf of the RN. Also, please look at my reply to SJB about politicians .

  9. “Just as I Challenge the Royal Navy to meet these challenges ” Jones says. He is the boss of the Navy and to stand aloof and pass on the Challenge to others is beyond the Pale What a crass and stupid statement. So we are being prepared for further reduction in the fleet. Its unacceptable

  10. My son serves in the Royal Navy. I have written this before and I’ll write it again. Expect a 12 ship escort fleet. The two carriers have absorbed everything else. The MCM fleet is already down to 13 and set to reduce more. As for Argus replacement, go whistle!

  11. My son serves in the Royal Navy. I have written this before and I’ll write it again. Expect a 12 ship escort fleet. The two carriers have absorbed everything else. The MCM fleet is down to 13 and reducing. As for Argus replacement, go whistle. He’s set to retire in 5 years and can’t wait.

    • Peter, Alan. Have either of you read the article because it seems to me that your just picking out the words that suit your own bias, which appears to be to attack any and all hierarchy

  12. Just telling it the way it is in the RN. The 31s will be built but notice that little e word which has crept in. They’ll be flogged off. My son is on a 23 which is held together with string and tape. Another myth that they’ll last til the 2030s. They won’t.

      • i hope the design has made it away from the bag of a fag packet by then a repeat of the t26 fiasco is the last thing the navy needs.

      • Yes, but with the new regulations about unbranded plain cigarette packaging there’s now more space on the back to do more detailed designs. There’s also less chance of someone misreading the design spec and accidentally including a camel on board each frigate 🙂

  13. “unmanned air system alongside or perhaps even in place of a manned helicopter”

    This just gives me the image of this geey nerd sitting there, with an app on his phone contolling a worldwide zombied network of 2 billion computers and mobile devices, with 125 million of them in the UK alone. connected to the world’s mobile and radio and TV masts, capable of taking over all unmanned drones including ready to go on deck with the analogue switch into the “ON” position, saying:

    “Now, boss?”

  14. Some very pointent comments above. It is clear that not only is the UK government fudging the 2%, even a full 2% is grossly inadequate to defend British interests in an increasingly dangerous world. Not that long ago we were spending 4-5% and had a Royal Navy three times its current size. Quality is important but quantity has a quality all of its own. As several contributors have noted, a ship, aircraft or tank can’t be in two places at once however capable it is. Brexit means that we have returned to the world stage as an independent sovereign nation once again and our global future (as the world’s 5th largest economy) demands a military capability that can support our global trading ambitions.

    Yet this so-called Conservative Government continues to cut our defence capability at the very time it should be investing in it, choosing instead to waste around £15bn per year through DfID subsidising corrupt overseas regimes and funding dubious projects in countries with their own space programmes. If this was re-allocated to defence it would increase the available budget by around a third (to over 2.5% of GDP), helping to fund dual use capabilities such as amphibious, heavy lift, helicopters and engineers that are providing vital aid in the wake of the recent hurricane. Instead the £15bn remains a Cameron-Osborn exercise in spin to (fail) to win over the chattering classes in Notting Hill. There is no such thing as a ‘capability holiday’, only gross neglect – and the anecdotes in this thread are testament to the dangers of cutting corners. Yet the government continues to demand more from less, fails to take responsibility for its bad decision making and takes ever more advantage of the sheer professionalism and can-do attitude of our armed forces.

    It is shameful and I am embarrassed to be a member of today’s Conservative Party which seems to have forgotten what the first duty of government is.

  15. Here is the truth, my son with just 5 years left to do in the RN said it would eventually leak out:

    Royal Navy a ‘laughing stock’ with three quarters of its warships out of action and ‘struggling to protect British citizens’

    Currently 13 of the Navy’s 19-strong fleet of Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers are unable to go to sea due to a lack of manpower, fuel and supplies, senior military sources have revealed.

    The cuts to defence spending have also severely hampered Britain’s response to Hurricane Irma.

    HMS Ocean, the amphibious assault ship that currently serves as the Royal Navy’s flagship, was sent to provide support to the British overseas territories in the Caribbean but suffered engine problems and has now been delayed by a week.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/14/royal-navy-laughing-stock-three-quarters-warships-action-struggling/

  16. I read that Telegraph article with great amusement. That’s the truth of the matter not the ‘Boys Own’ nonsense posted here. The laughter over the Russian carrier rings hollow now. 6 warships operational. Cuts are coming across the board. Why the hell are our hard earned taxes being spent on 13 ships tied up and languishing? Unsustainable madness!

    • they’ve been spent 3 times over in corbyn’s head.a growing royal navy? bolstered by a shedload of type 31’s? nevergoing to happen.what we’ve got is what we’ll get.

    • we’ve got the entire churchill and swiftsure submarine classes in mothballs a rosyth and devonport, plus the retired trafalgars. the swiftsures were converted to tomahawk at great expence, used as recently as the libya conflict. then retired, and we had to wait for the astutes to finally get built.

  17. Good Morning!

    Is it not time to come clear with the real facts about the state of our armed forces?

    Should we not have an open debate amongst Politicians and senior commanders about ensuring sufficient funding/equipment requirements before it’s to late ? (or have we reached that point?).

    An open letter/comment to the article in the Telegraph from the people responsible would be a start!

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/14/royal-navy-laughing-stock-three-quarters-warships-action-struggling/.

    Bring back funding to Cold War levels until the World order changes to a more peaceful reality.

    Nick Hamburg

  18. Ocean is OK according to the Royal Navy, only thee escorts are inactive out of nineteen and they are recruited up to 97 per cent so who do we want to believe. The RN or the Labour pier, Lord West, who might just be biased against the government.

  19. lord west is theonly person who knows what needs doing. another goog point he’s made is, that all training establishments should complete on the same friday allowing mass drafting to identified ships to be known in advance

  20. HMS IRON DUKE Active – UK waters

    HMS MONMOUTH On deployment – Gulf

    HMS PORTLAND On deployment – Gulf

    HMS LANCASTER Portsmouth

    HMS DRAGON Sea training

    HMS DEFENDER Portsmouth

    HMS DUNCAN At sea – maritime security

    HMS DIAMOND on deployment – Gulf

    HMS DARING Portsmouth

    HMS ARGYLL Devonport

    HMS SUTHERLAND Maintenance

    HMS DAUNTLESS Portsmouth

    HMS SOMERSET Training exercises

    HMS NORTHUMBERLAND Devonport

    HMS WESTMINSTER Maintenance and sea trials

    HMS MONTROSE Undergoing sea trials

    HMS RICHMOND Operational sea training

    HMS ST ALBANS Fleet Ready escort

    HMS KENT Maintenance and sea trials

    • Thanks for the list, I’d started but lost the will to live.

      Yes, the 1 in 3 rule, basically, normal for peactime operations.

      What the RN really needs to do is make it a 1 in 2.5 or even 1 in 2 rule. Having said that though, 1 or 2 DDs and up to 8 FFs are really there if needed in an emergency.

      • Sorry didn’t make that clear, I meant more than the operational ones, for a total of 3/4 DDs, up to 11 FFs, and in real desperate need it wouldn’t be the first time warships sailed to war with shipyard workers on board, screwdriver, hammer and blowtorch in hand!

        What might also make sense in these days of budgets is defence alliance foreign shipyard exchangeability so, for instance, a transport takes the whole kit and caboodle, fitters and parts and specialist equipment out to Nova Scotia in 8 years time to perform maintenance or repair on one of the UK’s T26 out there – and vice versa for theirs.

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