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The US was near Euphoric when we bought these, because they can see their carrier capability shrinking. The Ford Class I gather is finishing production at 4 units. Its far from clear what is going to replace them. Logic would dictate something like a nuclear powered QE to make the budget stretch. The USN has been successfully fighting a holding action against that since the 1970's, and I dont suppose logic will break out now.

So America's allies, contrary to narrative, are going to be ever  more important for collective security in the 21st Century. South Korea is talking about building carriers. Japan is talking about modifying their helicopter carriers for F35. There as even some discussion about Australia doing it. India is talking about building a copy of the QE, or was. Even Russia, hilariously, suddenly reversed attempts to build a Kuznetsov replacement and has mooted building a QE analogue. Apparently all these nations can have carriers, but we are unable to make it work, despite not having deployed on operations yet, and having a Century of Carrier operations under our belt. 

Look, its a stretch, particularly on our budget, I get it. But with the size of some of the Eastern European Armies, it makes sense for us to concentrate on seapower. Its our heritage, its good news for British shipyards and the aircraft industry. its even something Europe needs. Who knows, maybe we will even surprise people.  Apparently the Americans already are, and its not just politeness on their part.

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It's a matter of shifting expectations and perspective, I suppose.

If the UK wishes to remain a global power, it needs global reach and the ability to bring to the table a threat credible enough to use as leverage against peer opponents.  This is not unreasonable given it's overseas commitments, commonwealth allies, and trade interests.  IMO, a STOVL only QE with the F-35B's limited combat radius, limited support assets (AEW), and limited escorts is not that.  It's grossly inadequate for peer threats for which this horse was ostensibly originally intended for, and overkill for non-peer threats. A horse designed by committee, after all.

In this day and age, too many people are beginning to consider any semblance of national pride a vice rather than merely an excess of it. So it's nice to see that you at least got these. To the layperson it feels good, it looks good, and it won't ever be used in a manner that will put it at risk, so of course it will do anything asked of it...  but "at least we got these..." is a hell of a consolation prize and it doesn't mean it has to sit right with those of us who know better - that the UK is short changing themselves and will simply change strategic doctrine and shift expectations to ensure it doesn't ever bite them in the ass.

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Im not sure why it's inadequate against China. The USMC use LPH and LPD against China. So does Australia and Japan. South Korea and India will. Ditto F35B, why is it inadequate in British service, but not in Japanese, Italian or USMC service?

More to the point, If you don't like the range, there are always drop tanks, buddy packs or air tankers that could be utilized. If the USMC could offer CAS support over Afghanistan from the Persian Gulf with the humble Harrier,  I think the range arguments are a bunch of crock, utilized purely to justify the F35C.

If you fellas want to assert Britain has no place at sea, by all means do so, but you need better arguments than these. Ultimately all these nations operate similar platforms without comment. It's only when Britain does the same, imminent disaster is predicted. Do none of you fellas remember the Falklands when similar doom was predicted?I

 

AEW, oh heavens, not THAT old chestnut again....

 

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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What is the peer-threat scenario for UK? It's not China and if it's Russia, then probably entire NATO would be involved. I think in current strategic situation it would be pointless for UK to actually build 'truly balanced stand-alone fleet', whatever that might mean. Royal Navy has slightly shifted towards the continental model, where you have smaller core of top-end vessels and larger fleet of 'avisos' to handle colonial wars^H^H^H peacekeeping duties. I don't see this necessarily a bad thing. In any major war UK would be likely aligned with USN or at least some other European NATO country.

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I think the main reason why it was kept going as a project was to assist the Americans in the War on Terror. It actually predates it, I think the first occasion when I recall them talking about it was 1998. But it certainly firmed up and took on a vitality of its own after 911.

Yeah, its probably true that its difficult to envisage a peer opponent these days. The Kuznetsov is in a mess, difficult to envisage that it will ever return. The Soviet VSTOL carriers are gone. The Chinese have 2 carriers, and lacking Cats, its far from certain in my mind they are going to prove any more successful than Kuznetsov was. They lack the multirole capability that any carrier, other than perhaps CDG or the US Carriers have. Looked at realistically, the US is only in competition with itself in carriers. And the USN has perhaps inevitably started to slide towards more affordable carriers, closer perhaps to what Zumwalt was imagining in the 1970's than the 100000 Judgernaughts they can barely afford to fill up the flight deck these days.

So what can we use them for? Well the old Ark Royal proved very useful at flying the flag. That was in an insecure post Empire period when we were called on to look after the Commonwealth more. But it strikes me that is a challenge that has not gone away. Its going to be useful in coastal areas around africa. Its going to be useful sailing it into the North Cape to shit the Russian navy up a bit. Defence analysts say its unlikely we are going to be sailing it to the Pacific much, not least because the yanks are getting cold feet about keeping a squadron of F35's on our carriers (they are after all cutting procurement under the USMC 'Reforms'). But its a possibility we will end up deploying there occasionally. I think when you look at the weaponry they are hanging on F35B, not least Meteor, its competitive in that area. And obviously, tis viable in the Gulf, particularly using on hand tankers. Its air wing is 2 generations on from anything Iran flies. Even their best warships were built by Britain in the 1970's. Its not exactly a peer opponent.

 

In the world of Top Trump's, im sure QE doesnt get the highest score. But then neither did the Invincible class carriers, and they did everything we asked of them.

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Even if the UK and US may not have global possessions, they are both still maritime nations, so the means to support and protect shipping worldwide is vital.  While pitched battles against superpowers are (hopefully) very unlikely, there may well be smaller, but fairly well-equipped adversaries may occur.  There are problems that strongly-worded letters from half a world away or speeches in the UN won't resolve.

A force like the QE group can sort out these issues, yet not be big enough to tempt excessively.

Edited by shep854
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Agreed, a fleet in being can have important strategic effects, even if it never meets an enemy. We know China is trying to do out of area operations. It might reconsider that if at least some of the NATO allies meet them with carrier task forces, allowing the Americans to concentrate in the Pacific.

There is also the diplomatic effect of carting 60000 tons of steel around the world. I suspect nuclear powered submarines in many cases are more effective. But there is something about a British flag being towed around by a carrier that makes people take notice. Britain in many ways was still a regional superpower when it got rid of its last full deck carrier. This isnt quite that, but it does offer a fair amount of the capability, and just like the old Ark, its going to focus minds to people who want friends. Its going to make friends, as well as enemies, take notice. Considering the economic basic case the country now is, Im finding that something of a comfort.

 

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In the end of the day, even if the UK and other navies are able to add notable supplementary capability and/or capacity to a USN-led fleet coalition, the USN still has the ability to mop the floor with all others at once at any location if it really wanted to. So it's kind of funny to see voices that represent the supplementing navies talking big and tough and a lot at the USN and US in general.

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Even the USN needs allies. Its got negligible minesweeping capabilities, its got no frigates, its going to take a nosedive in flatops, and they are losing nuclear submarines quicker than they can replace the 688's with Virginia's. Technically its still first rate, but despite talk of a 300 ship navy, its making no appreciable progress towards it.

In fact, I was listening to an Atlantic Council podcast about 4 years ago, and they were talking about the increasing importance of Pacific Rim Amphibious warfare capacity. That was even before the controversial 'reforms' of the USMC started.

 

All that said, yes, the USN today would still wipe the floor with China, its only likely peer opponent. Im in two minds how long its going to maintain that lead without allies however. Technically I could even see China getting parity. Probably not a lead, its not so easy to steal technology nobody has developed yet...

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Well I meant mop the floor with the RN, RAN, JMSDF, and so on. That's why its funny if for any of these voices to talk big at the USN. I guess one thing that might give these (annoying perhaps) allies more creditbility in what they say is that US attention is all over yet very inward domestically. So any given noisy ally in the region of question is likely to be better informed and more attendative thus likely having better feedback to provide. Maybe.

 

Yeah, people always get trapped in thinking in terms of now and not 10 years from now regarding China. Although actually, I think the recognition has generally been achieved broadly that there is real PLAN potential and possiblility to rival the USN in the next 10-20 years. The achievment of that recognition reduces that possibility of happening now because comes recognition is adjusted countermeasures.

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I think the PLAN can challenge the USN regionally in the next 10-20 years. I'd even go so far as to say inside the first island chain is probably already a no go zone for USN surface assets on Day 1. But the PLAN will always have to overcome a lot of bad geography to break out of its back yard and the US is probably going to make that more difficult with a slew of long range weapons in fairly short order. Even the US Army seems intent on giving all of its long range ordnance a moving target engagement capability, from PrSM to the new medium range project to hypersonics. The US will soon be able to threaten the PLAN from Guam and other allied possessions throughout the WestPac. I think at some point we will see Conventional Prompt Strike loaded into a LUSV or lightly manned commercial specification vessels, based well outside the first chain but with coverage going up to the mainland. Given the geography, it seems likely that a lot of PLAN surface assets (and shore infrastructure) could be targeted in short order in a very asymmetrical fashion (much like they intend to do to the USN). But the geography of the Chinese coast in reference to neighboring land masses and choke points tends to favor the US in terms of ISR.

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The USN is a mess, the leadership can’t shake the cold war mindset of unlimited funding, revolutionary development and rolling in immature technology R&D into too big to fail programs.   It’s so bad we can’t even build basic things anymore on time, on budget or for a competitive price.

 Intangibles like quality of crew and training are suffering behind the curtain, leadership is full of corruption and opulence, and turnover is too high since everyone wants to completely change the vision to leave a legacy, which doesn’t mesh with low rate production and other lethargic military industrial complex processes. We can’t even afford to fill all our VLS tubes for fucks sake, and the carrier airwings are pitiful. The F-18E/F badly needs a real replacement in the works, and not another 20+ year gold plated trillion dollar program. Thinktanks are already espousing dropping everything we know works in favor of unmanned vessels of all sizes, bound to reliably turn taxpayer dollars into contractor profits for decades to come

 

It looks as though trillion dollar deficits are to be the norm indefinitely, and that’s before the Democrats implement a centralized healthcare system.  China will simply do to us what we did to the Russians - break us trying to keep up.  They think in terms of centuries, not 4-8 year election cycles.  Thanks to inertia, we will still have impressive assets on paper for the mid term but if something doesn’t change the quality and quantity will deteriorate, sacrificed to keep our own unsustainable economy going for just a little longer for that last drop of milk. In true Keynesian fashion, our solution is to hemorrhage more money hoping revolutionary technology will allow us to keep ahead

 

 

 

Edited by Burncycle360
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5 hours ago, Burncycle360 said:

The USN is a mess, the leadership can’t shake the cold war mindset of unlimited funding, revolutionary development and rolling in immature technology R&D into too big to fail programs.   It’s so bad we can’t even build basic things anymore on time, on budget or for a competitive price.

 Intangibles like quality of crew and training are suffering behind the curtain, leadership is full of corruption and opulence, and turnover is too high since everyone wants to completely change the vision to leave a legacy, which doesn’t mesh with low rate production and other lethargic military industrial complex processes. We can’t even afford to fill all our VLS tubes for fucks sake, and the carrier airwings are pitiful. The F-18E/F badly needs a real replacement in the works, and not another 20+ year gold plated trillion dollar program. Thinktanks are already espousing dropping everything we know works in favor of unmanned vessels of all sizes, bound to reliably turn taxpayer dollars into contractor profits for decades to come

 

It looks as though trillion dollar deficits are to be the norm indefinitely, and that’s before the Democrats implement a centralized healthcare system.  China will simply do to us what we did to the Russians - break us trying to keep up.  They think in terms of centuries, not 4-8 year election cycles.  Thanks to inertia, we will still have impressive assets on paper for the mid term but if something doesn’t change the quality and quantity will deteriorate, sacrificed to keep our own unsustainable economy going for just a little longer for that last drop of milk. In true Keynesian fashion, our solution is to hemorrhage more money hoping revolutionary technology will allow us to keep ahead

 

 

 

 

It's certainly under performing from what it could be performing out. But all that still doesn't change the reality of seeing 100,000 of metal coming into bay bristling with F-18s on the deck. Or the Amphibious class coming in brislting with Ospreys on the deck. Things like logistic and maitenance issues is a matter of a mind-set fix, all the material and doctrine is already there. The other annoying allies don't have it. If the USN really wanted to, switching into a correct mind set and bringing actual performance up to full potential level would happen. That is not possible with the others because the material part is simply not there. At a closer and more detail look, upgrades still continue to happen.. Burke destroyers get the anti-drone ball installed, and new EW panals get installed, new missiles such as SM-6 get procured. And naval activities still happen, such the FONOPs. A Burke just did another one the other day. And the training, Valient Shield was just carried out. Other activities tend to go less reported such as a Burke going into the Black Sea (whether one agrees with that couse of action is another matter). There's a lot of stuff going on that never gets included into the mishap articles (Burke collision, Wasp fire, carrier commander squabble, and so on) thus a balanced view is not taking and all that stuff that does still take place goes unnoticed and unrecognized ir as isolated bits of info that's not woven into the opinion formulated after reading mishap articles.

 

The funny thing with that one is that maybe it is actually better for to go unrecognize because then that stuff can continue without being bothered by sissy questioning MSM types.

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I would argue that the FFGX appears to be a very realistic program with realistic goals, which implied that someone temporarily at least learned their lesson concerning cutting edge tech. The MUSV and LUSV are worthy of experimentation, but I think in practice they will require minimal crewing.

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Can we possibly do all the USN stuff on another thread, if that isnt being too awkward? They have a half dozen threads, and the RN has none, so keeping this one free would be obliging.

 

As for whether they can keep them operational underway, well there is a trip next year where everyone can sharpen their pitchforks ready. I hope anyone meaning to do so will be equally happy to give credit where its due when if works out alright.

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On 10/12/2020 at 5:48 PM, Yama said:

Well, how are we then supposed to feel about French and Italian navies? French have 1 carrier and 2 major escorts for it, Italians have 2+2 (of which one carrier is soon to retire)...

The Italians are running around the Med, so I don't see it as somewhat sad given the area they operate.

OTOH the French have always been the French, and with that in mind I do not see it sad how small their force is - which mind you has seen a lot of good use in the Med.

The RN was a former world-spanning navy, with bases all over the world, able to reach practically everywhere, a force to be feared and respected. Now it seems it is trying to be like that but with far far fewer hulls. If they operated closer to Europe, say stuck in the Atlantic, it would seem right. But they recently said they're going to do patrols in the South China Sea, and I can't help but thing they're over reaching beyond their capabilities.

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They have said they were going to do a voyage into the South China sea. I dont believe its ever been said they are going to stay there. Which would be impractical, unless they had one of the class permanently based in the Pacific.

Well you know, they did manage to keep going after traveling 8000 miles into the South Atlantic. And the real problem is less hull's, and more the Fleet oilers, with which see to be fairly well equipped with still. The only debate is about the vessels to carry the munitions, and I strongly suspect the RN is going to be winning the argument about those too.

At the present time, they are also running an exercise in the Med. So that means we are capable of running maritime operations on two oceans at once. Which I submit, is really not bad.

https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/10/13/largest-ever-deployment-of-royal-navy-ships-to-cyprus-on-wednesday/

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