The US Air Force shared a draft request for proposal for the Light Attack Aircraft with Sierra Nevada/Embraer and Textron Aviation following the conclusion of the second phase of the Light Attack Experiment.

According to a press release, the US Air Force say that this is the first step in working with industry towards the final RFP release that is expected in December 2018. US Air Force acquisition officials indicated there are items that still need to be finalised prior to the release of the final RFP, but it is prudent to begin the dialogue with industry in order to adjust the RFP as appropriate in order to meet the timelines.

“We must develop the capacity to combat violent extremism at lower cost,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson.

“Today’s Air Force is smaller than the nation needs, and the Light Attack Aircraft offers an option to increase the Air Force capacity beyond what we now have in our inventory or budget.”

Wilson said in the past year the us Air Force has completed two flying experiments and drafted the Light Attack Aircraft request for proposal.

“We’re where we’re at today because both Congress and our industry partners understood the need to find ways to get capabilities to our warfighters faster,” she said.

Pilots flew the Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano and the Textron Aviation AT-6B Wolverine this summer as a live-fly experiment to gather additional information about aircraft capabilities, as well as partner nation interoperability, prior to a potential light attack purchase.

“It is important to look at the light attack aircraft through the lens of allies and partners,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein.

“An interoperable light attack aircraft that delivers common architecture and intelligence-sharing network capabilities will enhance our collective ability to compete, deter and win across all domains.”


  1. This is an interesting development. Going back to cheaper platforms to deliver close air support.
    I thought at the time of the Falklands that the Argue Puccara aircraft was probably their best attack platform. Fortunately the SAS and navy/ RAF harriers destroyed the force in the Falklands before they could really make an impact.
    Against low to medium threat targets a low observability, quiet, low flying turboprop aircraft like envisaged in this programme should be very cost-effective.
    Something for the RAF, RN and Army air corps to consider.
    Is this going to cheaper to buy and operate then Apache? Almost certainly.

      • Depends how they arm them. Reaper has limited offensive options or carry weight. The greater carry weight and size of one of these, would be great for sustained CAS roles. How they hold up in a zone with basic shoulder launched SAMs / RPGs is yet to be seen.

        • If you are looking to see how they would fair in a environment with MANPADS look up the South American insurgencies. These militias or cartels depending on country have access to pretty much anything money can buy. They have been known to shoot down low flying aircraft like helicopters and small planes as well as recon drones relatively routinely.

  2. We had something similar once, it could carry out ground attack roles, look after itself in a hostile air environment, operate from improvised airstrips or a field even, and carry out precision strike. It was called the Harrier. It was scrapped.

  3. For CAS – which is defined as release of ordnance within 600 m of friendlies – the Reaper can’t be used since the platform must be under the positive control of the JTAC (which is what Prince Harry did on his first tour) and receive a “Cleared Hot” call which authorizes the pilot to release ordnance or shoot the target.

    Due to the safety restrictions, CAS platforms still need to be manned to deal with fluid, chaotic situations, very detailed attacks in many cases, and finally – the ability to react quickly and precisely in an emergency – e.g. “We’re being overrun”…. Live eye’s on target is irreplaceable in those instances

    IN the Afghanistan, USAF and UK JTACS have had to bring fire directly down on their positions in some very bad situations. The latest USAF Medal of Honor winner (the first for the service since Vietnam) – TSgt John Chapman was a JTAC .


    • not to mention that there will always be a delay caused by time takes for signal to travel to the operator and this could cause problems in a fluid battlefield.

  4. An Apache is in the region of $40mn, plus the higher running costs. A Super Tucano or Wolverine upgraded for combat is less than half of that (highest cost I’ve found for the Tucano is $18mn). So far cheaper than an Apache.
    Still, given how small our Apache fleet is right now, I’d much prefer more investment in gunships than light attack craft. Gunships can be flown off of the carriers for maritime strike and amphibious assault operations, they’re far more durable and better protected than armed trainers (there are some structural reinforcements to make them tougher, but at the end of the day their cheapness is what makes them attractive, if they were going to give them the same capabilities as a gunship for the same cost, they would buy more gunships)

    • These are strictly a low threat platform. Useful for what we’re doing now. A few squadrons / trainers / and spares would be useful in some cases. A large investment would be a waste of funds IMO…


  5. (Chris H) But on a more serious note wan’t the A-10, possibly the greatest CAS asset ever built, one of the aircraft being dumped and replaced by the F-35? So they scrap the A-10, build an F-35 and then realise they need a slower, cheaper aircraft that can actually deliver heavy ordnance so go back to turboprops. Why not refurbish A-10s?

    Forgive me but this is what happens when you give your military endless supplies of money. They lose the common sense that fiscal discipline demands.

    • They are refurbishing the A-10s however Fairchild Republic went out of business. So parts are hard to come by and often have to be fabricated. While the USAF is very good at maintaining aircraft and upgrading them but they have to have the components to do it.
      The other thing is the A-10 is not being replaced by this program. Note the “through the lens of our allies and partners quote.” This is essentially a program to acquire aircraft for COIN and strings attached Foreign Military Aid. For places like Africa specifically Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon where SOCOM has been in a counterinsurgency campaign along with the local armies. Also for Afghanistan where they are already serving as the result of a previous and smaller program.
      The purpose of the program is to provide locals with a aircraft they can actually maintain and train pilots for. Without constant support.
      Retired the P-51 early? No, but they retired the Douglas AD Skyraider early despite it’s ability to preform CAS in Vietnam.

      Endless supplies of money? What crack have you been smoking? The US Military budget is only just now getting the sequester cuts undone and as a percentage of GDP is half of what it was during the Reagan buildup. Common sense and fiscal discipline? I would not look to the UK as an example of Military fiscal discipline considering how the combat vehicle programs and ship building programs as have gone as those are examples of cuts cuts and more cuts not discipline.

      • (Chris H) Elliott – The Mustang comment was humour so do let us know when you find a sense of humour.

        If a country cannot manage to arm itself adequately running a 3.3% GDP budget then its more than common sense that has gone out the window especially given the huge size of the US economy. Most western countries scaled back after the Soviets collapsed. In 1980 the world average was 3.5% and now? 2.2%

        And Reagan era? In 1980 the UK was spending 4.2% GDP and the USA 4.6% (2010: 4.7%) and now 3.3%

        The difference between the US and the UK is you see yourselves as the ordained world Policeman and we just want to defend ourselves and assist friends and allies. You rely on military power and intimidation to further your foreign policy. You have since WWII. We rely more on ‘soft’ power where we are still the world No 1

        That you seek to criticise the UK for “how the combat vehicle programs and ship building programs as have gone” distorts factual reality:
        * We have procured (often at short notice) all that we required in land vehicles, we still operate the best MBT in the world and have just ordered 2,700 Oshkosh vehicles. You’re welcome.
        * We have built and (nearly) delivered two state of the art carriers capable of 100% 5th Gen strike operations in less time than you will have delivered one Ford Class carrier. Our two cost $10 Bn all up and your one costs $16 Bn and counting. We are now building what will be the best ASW Frigate in the world. Its a shame your people felt the need to obey US Incorporated and exclude the Type 26. We have a new fleet of the latest and best RAS tankers in the world (Tide Class) nad we are upgrading most combat ships as they go through refits
        * The RAF have procured every aircraft they needed in the quantities and specifications needed and were all basically on time. Unit for unit our tactical and strategic lift, QRA and Ground Attack capabilities are second to none. We even manage to fund, design, build and deliver some 15% of every F-35 built. Again you’re welcome

        I could compare the way we procured 14 A330MRTT Voyagers on budget and on time to how your people bent over and took a Boeing upfuck with the catastrophic procurement of the KC-46 but I am not someone who feels the need for Schadenfreude. It is in such a state that Boeing are now blaming everyone they can (like Cobham) and not paying their bills, have totally failed to deliver ANY operating tankers and are now some 18 months late on first deliveries. I hope Cobham tell Boeing to go shove their piece of crap and then see how they get to refuel aircraft – after all Cobham kit works fine on the A330s that refuel UK and US aircraft over Iraq …

        No Elliott there is a world of difference and discipline between (like us) having to count every penny and make do with the bare minimum and (like you) having $ Bns to keep US Incorporated in the manner to which they have become accustomed. Ford Class, Zumwalt, Littoral ships, F-35, KC-46 – some prize examples of how not to procure military equipment

        At least we agree that our procurement problems are down to fiscal cuts (given where we were in 2010). Its a shame you cannot see how your problems are due to the complete opposite ….

        • Aren’t you glad the US relied on military power and intimidation to further its foreign policy from 1941-1945 and later? I hope the Germans, Italians, and Japanese were intimidated, and then later the Soviets.

          • (Chris H) David E Flandry – Oh dear God someone will always bring up WWII – and then rewrite its history.
            * The USA never joined WWII until December 1941

            * We never saw any US troops here in the UK until November 1942 and then it was to ferry them to North Africa.

            * There wouldn’t have been a ‘D Day’ had we not built the harbours, provided 80% of the Naval resources, sunk fuel pipelines, kept the UK free and designed and commanded the entire Overlord operation. We landed more men on more beaches than the USA did. The USA assisted the liberation of Europe. I am sure they are grateful.

            * The USA never once liberated or defended the UK. We did all that ourselves when we stood alone with our Commonwealth for 3 years.

            * The USAAF never really showed up until late 1942 by which time we were already flying 1,000 bomber raids deep into Germany. They were struggling to get 12 B-17s to Holland and back

            * The US Navy never ONCE took on anything the German Navy put out other than convoy patrols while we sunk everything that did venture out. We even knew where every U Boat was by 1942

            * The US Navy allowed the U Boats their ‘Happy Time’ as they plundered US shore hugging ships lit up by the lights on land. Admiral King, by ignoring UK convoy and sub hunting skills and the daily Intell. from Bletchley Park has more blood on his hands than any U Boat skipper.

            * We gave (repeat GAVE) the USA: Jet engines, plastic explosives, self sealing fuel tanks, advanced sonar and of course Magnetron radar in 1941. They gave us NOTHING. We PAID for every damn thing.

            * As for the Japanese we had more men fighting the Japs in the longest jungle war in WWII than the USA ever had in Europe at any one time. We even lent ships to the US Navy.

            I could go on but I suspect your short attention span was lost ages ago. You fabricate the position that the UK wasn’t there, that we had no influence post WWII and it was all down to the USA. Well maybe read some history and avoid Fox News and Hollywood films.

            And the Soviets? During the Cuba crisis it wasn’t the US B-52s that worried Kruschev it was the RAF Vulcans crewed, fuelled and tooled sat on runways ready to go in under 2 minutes. Vulcans that could fly higher or lower than any Soviet radar could handle. How do we know this? Because Kruschev said so in his son’s biography. And who played a big role in dismantling the Soviet Union? Maggie Thatcher thats who – And Reagan always said as much.

            No Pal we don’t need to intimidate anyone we can see the upfucks that the USA has caused in the Middle East to show us how wrong those ideas are.

        • The height of the Reagan Era was 6.8 percent of GDP. 1980 when he took office was the Carter budget. The 3.3 number proves my point. The sequester cuts hit the US Military after 2010 hitting the Military in FY2013. Those cuts bit hard and much hader than at first glance.

          Most countries in the world did cut back after the Cold War. The term for that is parasites and political cowards who threw away investments in military infrastructure that took decades to make. All so they could handout goodies like they were Mardi Gras beads to buy votes.

          Your Tide class tanker were a good choice for South Korea not the UK. I am sure their workers enjoyed the job security. A little inconsistent of you to defend that particular choice considering how much you rant about poor English shipbuilding.
          Your Carriers are budget models that do not have catapults and thus little variety of aircraft. Have to depend on a helicopter for AEW. Due to the lack of commitment on the part of your government to provide planes and pilots has borrow some from the USMC to fill out the air wing. That should be considered a National embarrassment.
          The T26 is theoretically the best ASW Frigate. Most expensive I will grant you. Obedience to this tinfoil hat conspiracy theory about what you call “US Incorporated” is not barred it’s entry. That would be the UK’s own sloth and stinginess in starting their own build program for their own Frigate.
          Have you ever heard me make excuses for the LCS? I still think whichever idiot thought up that cluster should be going to the scaffold.
          Ground vehicles where the MOD spent all of the time assisting in developing the Boxer. Then pulled out started the FRES program then cancelled that. Started a new program and ended up buying the Boxer anyway after more than a decade of lost time and possible joint sales had it stayed in the program. Best MBT in service? Once again in la la land the thing has a incompatible main gun with any modern ammunition and if the MOD thinks returreting or changing the gun is going to be cost effective I have ocean front property in Arizona to sell them. It is slower than any other western tank, hasn’t been continuously upgraded unlike it’s contemporaries so it’s current service life extension is going to be eye wateringly expensive.
          Instead of buying the latest CV90 from BAE the MOD purchased a upgraded ASCOD from Spain built off a a Austrian design.
          Acquired vehicles quickly? Well that’s what happens when you send Snatch Land Rovers to Iraq. Politics will at least fix that particular idiocy.
          RAF on time with acquisitions and on budget? Eurofighter late and over budget. MPA capability gap due to the Nimrod debacle. A400 late and over budget for every country involved.

          You constantly seem to think that their are vast conspiracies undermining British development programs. Coming up with things like “US Incorporated”, “Japan and South Korea might as well be the US”, or “France undermined our efforts to sell aircraft”, the list of excuses goes on.” Take some damned responsibility for once.
          The fact you think that the US furthers it’s goals through solely military force and coercion is ignorance of the highest order. Were we this fanged beast you portray people wouldn’t be so eager to come here. Citing feel good studies where people think that giving out welfare to dictatorships makes you listened to or respected. Makes one think you missed a rather large dose of Prozac this morning.
          People like you also rant and use the “if you can’t defend yourself adequately with this amount,” argument. However they don’t want the United States to defend itself. They want it to guarantee NATO. Keep the sea lanes open and the oil flowing. Smash terrorists and send whatever tin pot dictator stepped out of line this week to hell. While also keeping whatever their particular boogeyman is from haunting their dreams.
          For whenever we don’t we are accused of being isolationists, selfish, and cruel. Whenever we do we are called warmongers. Damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Given the choice I would rather give the Military what it wants not what bureaucrats THINK is necessary.

      • Fairchild didn’t go out of business, it was acquired by M7. What is a main business of M7? Aircraft parts, aerostructures manufacturing, and aircraft repair and overhauling.

        Yes, new parts need to be fabricated. They needed to be fabricated under Fairchild too. The company didn’t build each unit with an infinite supply of spares, nor did it have a magic spares machine which plucked them out of thin air.

        • Their is a difference between fabricating small lots for individual repair jobs and series production/continued parts production.
          M7 doesn’t make any new aircraft only parts. More recently it was bought by Elbit to increase it’s US holdings so that may change but I doubt it.

      • What the hell has the UK got to do with this aircraft, why not keep on subject as to the merits of this program rather than making petty jibes just for the sake of expressing your inate prejudices. You could at least save them for when there’s inkling of relavence

    • The A-10 is a not a great CAS platform. It is expensive to maintain and is not well suited to the role. It was designed to take out armour in a hot war and take heavy damage doing so. It is now useless for that role due to improvements in air to air weapons. The Apache has far greater accuracy and other aircraft are cheaper to run but offer similar performance. The A-10s massive gun is impressive but you would not want it to be used if the enemy were close to you as it is not very accurate and would likely rip up both friend and foe.

  6. Can see the logic, but given Trump’s not much of an interventionist I doubt the winner is going to be used much. It’s for the last batch of wars.

  7. Well if the USAF are serious about this maybe there’s some hope that the RAF will follow suit. We always seem to copy whatever the US does. It’s just a shame we didn’t try this a few years back when there was parliamentary debate about using our Tucanos. Unfortunately at the time the RAF threw a huge sulk.

    • (Chris H) David Steeper – so a decision based on the declared tactical and strategic policies of the UK means “the RAF threw a huge sulk”? #FacePalm

      We have absolutely no need for a combat Tucano. Any where. Any time. Any how. If we need such a converted trainer then we can build Advanced Hawk versions here in the UK and they will be 10 times better than a Tucano.

      Sometimes when the USA does something that is a very good reason for us NOT to do it. That isn’t a criticism its a recognition of the simple facts they have different foreign policy ambitions and have many times more money than we ever will have.

      • The problem with how the military works is that top brass are an era behind where the modern world has moved to. We saw this very obviously in WW1 when the focus was still on house warfare in an era of machine guns. Again in WW2 when the royal navy ships were way behind fire power wise. Move to modern period and top bass are still planning around a cold war world and the impact of this was seen in Iraq/Afgan, where the gear was inappropriate.

        In 2018 we need a mix of top end gear and cheaper but more number lower end gear. Focusing too much on top end means that the soldiers on the ground do not have sufficient CAS coverage and have to rely on the US.

        Yes we still need some top end gear, in case there is a rare event of a peer war, but equally they need gear for the wars that we are realistically going to fight, which is much more low end and much more quantity over quality dependent.

        • “The problem with how the military works is that top brass are an era behind where the modern world has moved to. We saw this very obviously in WW1 when the focus was still on house warfare in an era of machine guns.”

          Every major power at the start of WW1 used horses for cavalry and mounted infantry, the British get a little stick for using them the longest when the Germans got rid not long after the start.

          But while that is fair you have to put that next to the British military leaders revolution in battlefield methods, and laying down the parameters of the modern style of warfare still seen to this day, by 1918 the British Army was undertaking high intensity rapid tempo engagements dominated by industrial weaponry, and the arrival of air power now meant combat took place in three dimensions, battle became deep, trying to break out of fixed positions, replacing tactics that were still used by all major powers that were pre Industrial Age. All these new tactics had to be backed up by a brand new logistic and communication structure. No other country saw this coming, so why do people expect British military leaders should have?

          The military “top brass” has constantly throughout the ages had to adapt and redifine warfare through the dynamic situations that appear on the battlefield with new tactics and weaponry, Boer war, WW1 and WW2 being prime examples of a very high learning curve that ended in consistent military victories at the end of those wars, that should be appreciated as well.

          Its now appreciated that much that modern historians over the last few decades, have changed the term of “lions led by donkeys” into “civilians led by soldiers” when referring to the world wars.

        • Steve, horses were still valid as transport and part of an army in the early 20c, you have to remember that it was only the very specifics of trench warfare in a specific theatre of war that was unsuitable for horse Calvary and they were still very useful in other theatres.

          Horses still even had a use in the Second World War as many armies had not fully mechanised. Even the vaunted panzers divisions that sliced through the third republic were backed up by horse drawn logistic and artillery units. Infact going into the Second World War it was Britain that had the most mechanised forces, every other nation ( France, Germany, USA, Russia) even had actual Calvery units. German and the Russia used over 6million horses in WW2.

          • I guess i made my point badly, I realise that these problems are not unique to UK and that many other countries have made the same mistakes, but mistakes they were.

            The US military had the same problem in Iraq/Afgan, just their strength of depth allowed them to bring lessor focused gear on mass to the front line.

            This is not a unique problem for the armed forces, the same problem occurs in every profession. Just look start up companies that have got big, they lose track of changes when they grow, as they focus on what made them big and forget that the world may have changed and generally get beaten by new startups.

            The strange thing is the lessons should have been learnt by the UK / US with Vietnam/Falklands, but appear not to be (ignore the naval side of the Falklands and think about the land battle and need for light attack role, that still doesn’t appear to be filled and would have been very helpful in iraq/afgan). The focus seemed to be on the hypothetical war of the cold war (glamour of hundreds of thousands of soldiers/tanks/ships lined up), and not on wars that actually were fought.

  8. I know it’s not the point but these should be pretty fun to fly and could be quite good at airshows with a load of these buzzing about doing mock dogfights or airfield attacks.

  9. Great response. My only comment is the strikeforce capability of the new carriers with the F35 is a pale imitation of that provided by previous UK carriers using the Buccaneer bomb truck and the Phantom.
    When you only have a few very expensive aircraft with limited range and limited bomb carrying capacity you can only threaten, you cannot actually deliver a killer punch. We have to make do with less. We will have two carriers but we will only ever be able to put one to sea at any time. Not enough escorts, unless we get help from our allies in a war.
    One big problem with the new Ford is EMALS, but they will get it fixed. And yes the Yanks have wasted huge amounts of cash.

    • Because of various technologies we now need fewer weapons to achieve more than we did in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

      If (when?) the QEC’s go to war they will probably be carrying USMC F-35b as well as FAA ones, and as part of a much great US lead effort. Our new carriers are more about joining in and supporting US operations than the UK doing any uni-lateral.

      • but this isn’t really true, it’s a myth that keeps being said to justify cuts. The first problem with them argument is that if you fight a peer or near peer opponent their gear has also advanced and so nullified the advantages of modern weapons. The main problem is that wars are really won or lost by boots on the ground and infantry warfare hasn’t really advanced much since ww2. Yes the best weapons of 2018 are better than the ak47 (a weapon from 1948) but only marginally and certainly one soldier with a modern weapon is not worth 10 with ak47s, assuming similar levels of training or even 5?

        Quality helps but quantity is equally important in actually winning something. The problem the British military has is it has mainly great gear, but it’s not much use if it is not in the right place at the right time, becuase it’s being stretched too thin.

      • Absolutely right, you can never totally dismiss an exception to this, as we saw with the Falklands but outside of any exceptional military circumstance of that nature they will be operating with US or/and other allied forces.

        • The question i am struggling with, is how do you apply this logic to the navy.

          The navy’s role is predominately one of defense (ignoring the carriers), the role of almost every ship is to defend something, whether it is to defend troop carrying ships, carriers or merchant shipping or defending troops as the ship ferries them to land and defensive roles generally call on more high tech capability.

          This is why the OPV are pretty useless in a shooting war, since they are incapable of defending against anything other than unarmed ships/boats or insanely lightly armed ones, which wouldn’t be sent on an offensive role, for the same reason.

          Add some basic defensive weapons on them and suddenly they come useful, for example the seaRAM. With some basic defensive weapons they could be useful for escorting lower risk ships and freeing up high end ones, for example they could escort the supply ships as they enter or leave the bubble provided by the top end ships or just act as a final line of defense for the capital ships.

          The part i can’t get my head around is whether this is actually sensible, is it better to just chuck all the available money at the high end hulls and leave the low end ones behind should a war start. Since unlike ground warfare, naval warfare has in theory advanced a lot since WW2 or even the Falklands, and could a lightly armed ship be harm than good.

          • Steve, the purpose of a navy such as the RN is as not just about defence, the sea has and always will be the main artery of trade, Britain has always been pivotal in European wars not because of our armies but because of the power of our geographic position and navy.

            even at its best the British army has aways been out massed by other European nations. France, German and Russia have flushed away more soldiers lives in their field armies over the last 200 years than Britian could ever contemplate doing.

            But what we have aways been able to do during these times of war is offensively control access the the worlds oceans, starving other nations of money and resources. Navies are very offensive in nature just more strategically so than armies.

          • @Jonathan

            Fair point.

            I was going to post that this doesn’t change things, but thinking about it it does. In a very niche role, if you clear out a port of naval assets, a OPV could then prevent any merchant shipping from leaving the port. It is a bit of a risk strategy, but if you are confident that there won’t be a counter attack, then it would work.

  10. People really shouldn’t get that excited about this program, the USAF doesn’t want a light fixed wing CAS/COIN type and will kill the program the first opportunity they get!

    The only reason they are even going through the exercise is because both the US Army and USMC expressed interest in the idea. Hell will freeze over before the USAF will allow the US Army in particular get into the fixed wing attack game!

    This is shades of the C27J Spartan all over again, an Army initiated program to get that service a much needed in theatre transport to replace the Shorts Sherpa. The USAF managed to muscle their way into the program and then take it over stating they would be far better equipped to manage it, they then killed as quick as possible stating they could do the job with C130 perfectly well. The US Army got some extra Chinook to soften the blow but in effect they went into the program with a fixed wing in theatre transport capability and ended up with none at all due to USAF machinations!

    The USAF have form on this and it isn’t the first time they have held then killed off transport aircraft and light attack aircraft programs when the US Army starts making noises that they would really like the capability

    • This is the same problems that have plagued the British military intra force fighting over resources, just with a smaller budget the in fighting cause a lot more harm to the British military.

      I personally think it is time to join the services, as it is inefficient to have so many top ranking caps and command and control roles, massive duplication is not needed with such a small military.

      However, as that would never politically fly and would never be suggested by the military (turkeys voting for christmas) maybe its time to remove the buying decisions from the services and set up a new service that is focused on long term strategy and planning and not pulling from the other services (avoid top guy being from say navy and so putting money in navy). Ok not a perfect solution, as it involves more cost and would take a long time to get fully established, but it is an idea.

      There needs to be change, so that the military plans longer term and plans for what is overall best for the service and not just what is best for the individual sub services.

      • In principle I agree that a joint service sounds a good idea, the problem is culture and human natures. In any joint service you will aways find one historic paradigm will win through and start to starve everything else for what it sees as the most important aspect.

        It’s one of the reasons the NHS( which is not a single organisation by the way) does not like an acute trust management team getting their “hospitals beds” focused hands on community services, historically that always seem to end up putting more and more into the acute hospital and less and less into community services to the detriment of all.

        • You hit on one of the biggest problems with the NHS there, it is not one organisation, but should be or at least the buying side should be. It was split into local trusts as a political decision of it doesn’t work, so we need to be seen to be changing things, without thinking it fully through in the long/medium term.

          This is the same thing with the trains, they split into local trusts thinking that they were creating competition, which in theory should create a better service. No question that if they actually created competition this would be right, but in practice they created a lot of inefficient local monopolies, which has the compete reverse effect of creating efficiency, less buying power, more scope for corruption (harder to track it when its not central) but no competition. Now they can’t be merged because people will complain and unions will strike to stop it, mainly because it would result in heavy job losses.

          This is the same with the 3 services, there should be one procurement / strategy unit that works across the military and frankly there should be one service. The problem is no politician is ever going to force it through, because it would cause huge amount of short term pain (how many people here are ex service men that initial reaction is negative towards this, and how many of you when you think about it, realise it is mainly sentiment/history and not really based on logic.) but would not bring any benefit for at least 10 years if not more (i.e. no benefit for this government or the next).

          The main problem here is that we live in an era where morale in the armed forces is at a all time low (or near it) and this change would make that worse, at least in the short /medium term. I have no doubt, in my mind, that in the long term it would help improve morale, as it would fix the underlying problem around poor equipment etc with some actual strategy around expenditure. but in the short term for sure will cause problems as your merging forces that have always felt different from each other and there would need to be a lot of job cuts due to massive overlaps in roles in the back room (not front line forces)

          • Steve, yep internal/sudo markets are a total rubbish idea conpletly driven by the idea that the market is always right. Unfortunately it’s utter rubbish, the market a great way of managing simple production and distribution it’s rubbish for complex interdependent “cost based” systems like healthcare (the only fully market based western healthcare system is a basket case, sorry USA looking at you in an astonished “how much, are you bonkers kind of way).

            On the joint service issue the culture of “what we do is the most important” could be a nightmare. One arm of the forces will inevitably dominate to the detriment of the rest.

  11. Joint Services DO NOT WORK. The Canadians for one tried it before sheepishly reverting to three services. The roles of each service are highly specialised and Jonathan is right to say that there would be a detrimental impact to at least 2 of the merged forces – quite possibly all of them.


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