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River Class (OPV) (RN)

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ArmChairCivvy
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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 18 Sep 2019, 09:39

Jake1992 wrote:brexit will determine the numbers needed for UK EEZ
Isn't that purely a question of retaining B1s (and for how long)?
- though the impact will be felt in other parts of the navy as manning does dot appear from 'nowhere'. MCM fleet has been mentioned in the early efforts; but if we talking about more than 2 yrs?

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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Jake1992 » 18 Sep 2019, 09:50

ArmChairCivvy wrote:
Jake1992 wrote:brexit will determine the numbers needed for UK EEZ
Isn't that purely a question of retaining B1s (and for how long)?
- though the impact will be felt in other parts of the navy as manning does dot appear from 'nowhere'. MCM fleet has been mentioned in the early efforts; but if we talking about more than 2 yrs?


I don’t believe it is, we’ve already heard from french and Belgium fishermen that they will ignore any change in their right to fish in UK waters.
If this becomes the case 3 RB1s will not be enough to cover the UK EEZ.

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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Poiuytrewq » 18 Sep 2019, 10:16

Jake1992 wrote:This is why I said any uparming needs to look at what role they’d be asked to do, as uparming for uparmings sake is just a waste.

It’s also why I mentioned brexit will determine the numbers needed for UK EEZ
Agreed, a lot depends on whether the UK enters a lengthy transition period to exit the EU or leaves with a bump in November or February. If it turns out to be an abrupt exit expect the UK EEZ to become big news very quickly.

Trying to fathom the decision to investigate the worthiness of up-gunning the RB2's: could this be a stop-gap to a larger Frigate force?

If the long term aspiration is to build 16 Frigates (8xT26/8xT31) and give RN an escort fleet of 22+ vessels, could the RB2's simply be used to augment the T31 GP's until the T31 programme reaches No8 hull?

For example, Forth and Medway deployed to the Falklands and Caribbean with unaltered armament and Trent, Spey, Tamar forward based globally with the addition of a 57mm and 2x 30mm's/LMM and possibly a UAV. This would substantially increase the forward presence of RN globally and help enable the distributed Littoral Strike concept.

That would require the remaining 8x T23 ASW's and 6x T45's to escort the CSG and conduct TAPS and FRE. A tall order but perhaps possible if the T23 GP's and RB2's can fill the gaps from time to time.

If something like this is being considered I think it looks like too much of a stretch as until the manning issues are resolved at least some of the aforementioned vessels won't have crews. Much better to forward base 3 or 4 of the T23 GP's globally with the 5th in reserve or refit and keep Trent, Spey and Tamar in the UK conducting FRE and UK EEZ patrol.

If HMG really want to enhance the UK's global presence rapidly why not build three or four 105m Leanders at Cammell Laird immediately? Keep them simple with a 57mm, 2x 30mm's/LMM and 12 CAMM. Aim for a target price of £150m. These cheap and cost effective presence ships would be solid and credible, negating the need for cut price Frigates.

If HMG really wants more forward presence then more money will have to be forthcoming to enable it. If that's unaffordable then so is the idea of enhanced forward presence.

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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Tempest414 » 18 Sep 2019, 10:21

Poiuytrewq wrote:In my opinion all this talk about up-arming the OPV's is a classic case of mission creep.

Patrolling around the Falklands, Gibraltar and the Caribbean does not require anything more than a 30mm. If that changes then it's the job for a Frigate or Corvette anyway.

The RB2's should concentrate on patrolling the UK EEZ or very low threat areas away from the choke points and flash points.

Any extra money should be diverted into the T31 programme to make them as credible as possible.


I would agree in some part however in my mind a move from a single 30mm to a single 40mm or 57mm brings a big step in ability. A 30mm is ok against fishing boats and speed boats but to my mind thing are changing UAV's will become more of a threat fast attack boats will rise in number in the gray area of state and non state agression and 40mm with 3P rounds offers better all round protection against these threats.

As I said before the reason the B2's have a 30mm in the first place is down to the RN not having anything between the 30mm and 4.5" at the time and I think this could be a clever move to give the RN a more flexible fleet

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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Caribbean » 18 Sep 2019, 13:07

Agreed that the level of up-arming will be determined by the tasks that the B2s are asked to undertake.

Currently we have retained the B1s for UK EEZ patrol. They, clearly, do not need up-arming in any way to carry out that role.

Of the B2s, from recent announcements/ speeches etc, it looks as if one will be forward based in the Falklands. As things stand, there is no need to up-arm for that role either. though that might change over the next four to five years. One is likely to be forward based in the Caribbean - likewise I do not see any need to up-arm that one, though a rotary UAV may be of great assistance given the patrol area to be covered. This could also be addressed by positioning land-based helicopters in the region (Cayman has just done a deal to co-finance and operate a second, search and rescue oriented, helicopter under the auspices of its newly-formed Coast Guard).

At least one and maybe two B2s will be stationed East of Suez and a third will be the "on-call" replacement and possibly involved in patrolling off the coast of Africa (in the Med and elsewhere) - these are the most likely to need additional defensive systems. To my mind, any equipment selected for up-arming would need to be removable, in the same way that Phalanx systems are currently, so that it can be swapped between ships as they rotate through the different stations. Over time (at refit?) I would expect vulnerable areas to be "up-armoured", using applique armour plates and spall-liners, to improve crew safety, but that the weapons systems would only be bolted on as required.

To that end, two or three sets of 40mm in non-deck-penetrating form (if definitely chosen for the T31, otherwise additional 30mm), LMM launchers, decoys, additional small arms (50 cal etc) and containerised UAV systems would probably cover pretty much all requirements. Once the T31s are in service, much of that equipment could easily be moved to other platforms
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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Repulse » 18 Sep 2019, 13:49

Caribbean, personally not convinced on the short term need for the 40mm, and would keep to a 57mm and 30mm combo to minimise overall impact to supply and support requirements.

Given we are a couple of years from their commissioning, I agree that Spey and Tamar should be the EoS platforms and add fixed 57mm and 2x30mm guns now. This reflects the higher expected threat environment and their to boost self defence capability.

Everything else should be containerised and added / removed as needed. I’d say looking at options for extending the B2 would be good for the new NavyX team to look at.
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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Caribbean » 18 Sep 2019, 14:21

Repulse wrote:personally not convinced on the short term need for the 40mm

As I say, only if confirmed as secondary armament for the T31, I wouldn't want to see it introduced specifically for the RB2s. I would agree with future hulls being equipped with a 57mm, if installed at build, as significant space is required below deck for the magazine. There is also a suggestion that we could get more River OPVs (as well as up to eight T31) - perhaps it is those that will get the big upgrades, with the existing hulls getting only minor upgrades.
My rationale was that the 40mm can be used in the same way as the Phalanx, being bolted on as and when needed to suitable platforms. I believe that there is even a version incorporating its own mini-CMS for stand-alone installation, which might be suitable for RFAs and the like.
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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby donald_of_tokyo » 18 Sep 2019, 15:45

Every available image of cut-out of River B2 has a "magazine" section right below the bow 30 mm gun (*1). Deck penetration may not be an issue, I guess.

*1: https://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/up-clo ... ms-medway/
Also the River B2 movie, originally provided by BAES, has a simple blue-print image, showing "magazine".

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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby SKB » 18 Sep 2019, 16:36



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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Aethulwulf » 18 Sep 2019, 16:54

I am still puzzled by the suggestion of increasing the lethality of the River B2s. What is the role for the B2s where this would be required?

Fishery protection (and other EEZ roles) does not require the use of lethal force, even after Brexit.

Similarly, combating drug smugglers, people smugglers or conducting non-opposed boarding / ship seizures (e.g. Grace 1) does not require any change away from the current 30mm weapon.

It could be simply a desire to replace the 30mm with a 57mm because:
a. It looks better (and has a much increased psychological impact)
b. The RN always wanted a 57mm for the B2s, but could not justify the introduction of a new caliber just for the B2s. Now with its use on T31, it can be justified.
c. It is an increased insurance policy for the unexpected, while transitioning through risk areas.

I'm not fully convinced by any of the above. If we do follow through on the "Just in case" justification, the Gosport ferry is going to look might odd with a 57mm on its bow.

So, could a increase in lethality be justified by the wish to combat pirates off the Horn of Africa? Not really.
To intercept pirate skiffs as they approach their target really requires a helicopter and a RM sniper. If you wish to board a ship that has been captured by pirates not only requires a RM boarding party, fast boats and a helicopter, but also a Role 2 medical facility on standby.
So a B2 would need to be modified to be able to fully support a helicopter and have a role 2 medical unit. Both would be difficult modifications, and neither are really a increase in lethality.

So what about operations in the Gulf. As of today I think there are 4 UK FF/DD in the Gulf. There is no way that the RN can maintain this level long term, and still provide a sovereign carrier strike capability with 2 FF and 2 DD escorts.

So maybe the RN is wondering if a B2 could be used to replace a frigate in this role.

To counter the small boat swarm threat, a 57mm would be very useful. This would likely also require the fitting of a fire control radar (STIR 1.2 EO mk 2 for example, or maybe something smaller). The fitting of two 30mm mounts with LMM onto the aft bridge wings would also be justified. Each would require its own EO director and laser system. The B2s would also need to carry a Wildcat, but this could be for short-ish periods during each transit with the Wildcat regularly returning home to a shore establishment for routine maintenance. An increase in the B2s top speed would also be handy.

But there are other threats in the Gulf and, as we have seen over the last 2 days, things can quickly escalate. Iran has many shore batteries capable of launching sea skimming missiles. I think I have seen reported that HMS Montrose has been repeatedly illuminated by their fire control radars during her recent passages. To protect against this threat, and replace a FF, the B2s would need a Sea Ceptor fit. Although they might get away with using a fire control radar, it is likely that this would also require the replacement of the current TS4100 2D surveillance radar with a full 3D radar (for example, sea giraffe). Finding space for the missile tubes would be okay (remove the crane). Finding space in the ops room for extra consoles and CMS would be more of a problem.
For a start, I don't think the B2s have a separate ops room. All command and control is conducted from an extended bridge area.
Such a significant increase in weaponry would require a significant increase in weapon operators and engineers. It would probably also need to be accompanied by a fit of countermeasures and ESM.

In short, it would be a major and expensive undertaking. I fear that the B2s, even if heavily upgraded, would just not be capable of maintaining a good track on all surface and air targets in such a busy shipping area. It would put an enormous strain on their small crew. The consequences could be either to lose a B2 to Iranian action, or a B2 being provoked to use lethal force mistakenly. Either would be a major escalation, with very serious consequences.

But even if MOD pressed hard on the T31 or T26 accelerator, there is now no way the RN will see an increase in Frigate numbers before 2024/2025.

The RN doesn't have enough Frigates, and can only hope to increase its numbers by 2025 at the earliest.

So the options appear to be:
1. Hope the situation in the Gulf rapidly returns to normal, with only the need for HMS Montrose to be there in the long term.
2. Rely on support from other nations and for them to deploy frigates to the Gulf.
3. Massively upgrade the B2s and hope they are up to the task.

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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Caribbean » 18 Sep 2019, 17:37

A couple of points of information: the B2s do have an Ops room. It's described as small and I've no idea how many terminals it can fit, but it exists; the Scanter 4100 can track up to 100 air targets (up to supersonic aircraft) and a total of 500 targets in all out to 90 miles and 30,000ft - it can also interface with a number of CMS's for fire control purposes and to use decoy systems; it's claimed that CAMM is sensor-agnostic and can be cued by something as simple as an EO system. If true then the Scanter should be able do the job (but may not be ideal), however, that said, I would have thought that a decoy and countermeasures suite would be more likely than fitting Sea Ceptor.

I would think that the result of a major upgrade like that would be capable of assisting a frigate in escort duties, particularly against the sort of attempted/ faked boarding and harassment actions that the Iranians have engaged in in recent weeks, while remaining under the AD bubble provided by the frigate.
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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Aethulwulf » 18 Sep 2019, 17:51

Thanks for the info. I wasn't sure about the ops room. I knew it didn't have a "normal" ops room on a different deck to the bridge.

The TS4100 can certainly track targets, but as a 2D radar it can only track bearing and range. These tracks can then be passed to the CMS, where another system (e.g. fire control radar) is cued to determine bearing, range and altitude. For high speed sea skimming missiles, the few seconds delay it takes to pass on this information and for the fire control radar to find, acquire and track the target is why a 3D surveillance radar is preferred for active missiles like CAMM. Also a fire control radar is very limited in the number of targets it can track at any one time.

Finally if an upgraded B2 can only augment a frigate in the Gulf, and not replace one, it does not help the solve the too few frigates problem.

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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby dmereifield » 18 Sep 2019, 18:23

Aethulwulf wrote:Thanks for the info. I wasn't sure about the ops room. I knew it didn't have a "normal" ops room on a different deck to the bridge.

The TS4100 can certainly track targets, but as a 2D radar it can only track bearing and range. These tracks can then be passed to the CMS, where another system (e.g. fire control radar) is cued to determine bearing, range and altitude. For high speed sea skimming missiles, the few seconds delay it takes to pass on this information and for the fire control radar to find, acquire and track the target is why a 3D surveillance radar is preferred for active missiles like CAMM. Also a fire control radar is very limited in the number of targets it can track at any one time.

Finally if an upgraded B2 can only augment a frigate in the Gulf, and not replace one, it does not help the solve the too few frigates problem.


Could it not work by augmenting, for example reducing 4 FF/DD to 2 FF/DD + 2 RB2. Working in pairs?

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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Caribbean » 18 Sep 2019, 20:17

Aethulwulf wrote:as a 2D radar it can only track bearing and range.

... and velocity, don't forget. It's true that 2D radars don't determine altitude, without a secondary 2D operating in the vertical plane (most air traffic control radars are 2D with a height-finding secondary - it's much cheaper apparently). I don't think the 4100 uses a secondary, though

I guess the million-dollar question is "is that sufficient for Sea Ceptor to find the target"? There are plenty of secondary sources that say that CAMM can use 2D radar, but MDBA themselves just say "Sea Ceptor can be targeted from the ship's existing surveillance radar sensors and therefore does not require dedicated fire control radars", which doesn't really help one way or the other. I can certainly see that reaction times could be better with a 3D, but 2D operation is likely still possible. Presumably the missile itself has to find the target

There are, of course, other solutions, like the containerised SPIMM module (using Simbad-RC) but that seems highly unlikely.
Aethulwulf wrote:Finally if an upgraded B2 can only augment a frigate in the Gulf, and not replace one, it does not help the solve the too few frigates problem.

Yes - fair point, though it would help to have two vessels present to assist with deterring multiple simultanous boarding attempts at the head and tail of a convoy, for instance. Perhaps the only real alternative is to take two or three hulls and really go to town, turning them into heavy gunboats (I hesitate to use the word frigate) that can stand alone on escort duties.
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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Repulse » 18 Sep 2019, 20:21

Poiuytrewq, thanks for the info, but I would say that a delay in the delivery of the T31 by a year or two would not be significant assuming the availability of other platforms was able to remain high. As such I do not see this in itself a reason to up-gun the B2s.

What I would say is that having just 5 T31s and 5 B2s to cover FRE plus all forward escort commitments (outside of CEPP) is reason enough as by giving all or some B2s the additional kit we’ve been mentioning gives the RN more options and flexibility on how to meet the needs.
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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 18 Sep 2019, 20:25

Caribbean wrote:MDBA themselves just say "Sea Ceptor can be targeted from the ship's existing surveillance radar sensors and therefore does not require dedicated fire control radars", which doesn't really help one way or the other.[...] Presumably the missile itself has to find the target


Instead of FC radars (which are limited by how many "channels" can be simultaneously operated) SeaCeptor has simple black boxes for initial guidance from the ship (I presume the handover is final) towards the target location at launch time so that the radar on the missile itself, with not only a limited range but a limited field of regard will be able to lock on.

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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Aethulwulf » 18 Sep 2019, 22:26

"Sea Ceptor does not need dedicated tracking or fire control radars, it can work with all modern 3D radars"

https://www.mbda-systems.com/?action=force-download-attachment&attachment_id=16336

Caribbean wrote:
Aethulwulf wrote:as a 2D radar it can only track bearing and range.

... and velocity, don't forget. It's true that 2D radars don't determine altitude, without a secondary 2D operating in the vertical plane (most air traffic control radars are 2D with a height-finding secondary - it's much cheaper apparently). I don't think the 4100 uses a secondary, though

I guess the million-dollar question is "is that sufficient for Sea Ceptor to find the target"


Answer: No. Can I have my million dollars? :D

The combat system needs to know where the incoming threat is, in 3D, as well as its speed & direction to calculate an interception point. This data is passed to CAMM pre-launch and then updated over the datalink, until the target is acquired by the RF seeker on-board the CAMM.

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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby S M H » 18 Sep 2019, 22:34

ArmChairCivvy wrote:Instead of FC radars (which are limited by how many "channels" can be simultaneously operated) SeaCeptor has simple black boxes for initial guidance from the ship (I presume the handover is final) towards the target location at launch time so that the radar on the missile itself, with not only a limited range but a limited field of regard will be able to lock on.
I suspect that sea ceptors
own guidance is quite efficient once lunched and queued onto target However up arming the rivers to take it would be a major cost. The fitting of two 30mm port and starboard along with integration of aa provision on the gun mount would be sufficient should the need arise. They should never be a substitute frigate. However they could provide assistance for a proper frigate if sensibly up armed. Even in the mullahs sea

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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Caribbean » 19 Sep 2019, 00:28

Aethulwulf wrote: Can I have my million dollars?

As soon as the ink is dry
The same link also says "Can be used with a variety of surveillance sensor systems"

This one
https://www.mbda-systems.com/?action=force-download-attachment&attachment_id=12852

says "Compatible with any surveillance sensor for targeting", which kind of implies that 3D radar is not compulsory, so on second thoughts, I'll hang on to the million dollars :D
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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Aethulwulf » 19 Sep 2019, 00:59

Trust me, it needs a 3D system.

If it didn't and 2D was good enough, the target could be at a given bearing and range but might be at 10m above the waves or 10,000m. CAMM's little RF seeker is not going to find or hit anything with that level of uncertainty in the intercept position.

T26 - Artisan 3D radar
T31 - NS100 3D radar
Brazil TAMANDARE-class - Artisan 3D radar
NZ Anzac class upgrade - Smart S Mk2 3D radar
British Army - Giraffe AMB 3D radar
T23 Chilean Navy upgrade - TRS-4D 3d radar

This is not a coincidence that all CAMM users have combined it with a 3d radar.

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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Poiuytrewq » 19 Sep 2019, 09:54

Repulse wrote:What I would say is that having just 5 T31s and 5 B2s to cover FRE plus all forward escort commitments (outside of CEPP) is reason enough as by giving all or some B2s the additional kit we’ve been mentioning gives the RN more options and flexibility on how to meet the needs.
But for how long? What is the OSD now for the RB1's? Can we really expect them to go much beyond 2025? Economically it wouldn't make a lot of sense.

If the RB1's decommission around 2025 then at least three will transfer back to the UK EEZ. So the best RN can expect is a small uplift of 3 globally deployed OPV's for the next 5 to 7 years. After that the RB1's will need to be replaced, the planning for which needs to start now. The steel will need cut around 2022 to be sure the first commissions for 2025.

Even so, with current planning Frigate numbers are not going to increase before 2028/2030 at the earliest, so if HMG want RN to do more, extra vessels will need to be built. Simple.

It's worth rembering that this was caused by losing nearly double figures of FF/DD in the 2010 SDSR. It would be pretty simple politically to recognise that this was a mistake and start to put it right. There might be no votes in defence but there are lots of votes in supercharging the UK's shipbuilding industry and associated supply chains.

The cheapest solution to this conundrum is to start building three or four additional 105m RB3's or Leander's at Cammell Laird immediately. It would likely cost £500 to £600m over 5 years or roughly £100m to £120m per annum. Small beer to sort this out but the extra manpower would also need to be found.

That would allow Forth and Medway to concentrate on the Falklands and Caribbean for the foreseeable. Two of the remaining RB2's could be forward based EoS until 2023/2024 when the new batch of OPV/Corvettes could be begin to relieve them at which point the RB1's could start to decommission if necessary.

Another option is to not decommission the T23 GP's when the T31's are delivered but this would be massively manpower intensive and would likely result in more expensive T23 refits.

Of course the most popular course of action in the Tresury will be to do absolutely nothing....

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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Caribbean » 19 Sep 2019, 10:34

Aethulwulf wrote:Trust me, it needs a 3D system.

If it didn't and 2D was good enough, the target could be at a given bearing and range but might be at 10m above the waves or 10,000m. CAMM's little RF seeker is not going to find or hit anything with that level of uncertainty in the intercept position.

T26 - Artisan 3D radar
T31 - NS100 3D radar
Brazil TAMANDARE-class - Artisan 3D radar
NZ Anzac class upgrade - Smart S Mk2 3D radar
British Army - Giraffe AMB 3D radar
T23 Chilean Navy upgrade - TRS-4D 3d radar

This is not a coincidence that all CAMM users have combined it with a 3d radar.


I will reserve judgement. A great many commentators, some of whom seem to have good access to primary sources have stated that CAMM can use 2D radars. MDBA specifically state that the system is suitable for retrofitting on 50m OPVs (which are not likely to have high-end radars), using existing surveillance radars, so it would seem to me that there is a strong possibility that the seeker is more capable than you suppose. It appears that they aspire (or, in the past have aspired) to using 2D radars and have even claimed that it can take the data it needs from an electro-optical system, so it will be interesting to see whether anyone follows either route in the future. It may be that it is capable of it, but that the disadvantages compared to using a 3D radar are sufficient to make it undesirable. It would be nice to get a definitive answer from the manufacturers.
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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Tempest414 » 19 Sep 2019, 10:50

Why are you only giving the B1's a 20 year life surly they should be good for 30 years which takes them up to 2033

There has been a lot of talk about 57mm and CAMM being fitted to the B2's but I think we do have to think long term and have the B2's return to take over from the B1's as they retire. With this in mind any up arming needs to be bolt on bolt off so for me I would start by fitting all 5 B2's with a 40mm mount to allow good basic anti- surface and anti-air next I would buy under UOR 6 SeaRam units this would allow a number of ships to be scaled up as needed including the duty LPD and Carrier. For me this would allow the standard B2's to scale like so

B2 1 x 40mm , 4 x HMG/ Miniguns
B2 + 1 x 40mm , 2 x 30mm , 4 x HMG/ Miniguns
B2 ++ 1 x 40mm , 2 x 30mm with LMM , 4 x HMG/ Miniguns
B2 +++ 1 x 40mm 2 x 30mm with LMM , 1 x SeaRam , 4 x HMG/ Miniguns

For me this I would fit the SeaRam mount on the main deck at the end of the crane housing this would still allow 2 containers to be carried and the flight deck able to operate UAV's

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Re: River Class (OPV) (RN)

Postby Caribbean » 19 Sep 2019, 10:56

Poiuytrewq wrote: What is the OSD now for the RB1's? Can we really expect them to go much beyond 2025?

Probably 2028 would be the latest- that would be 25 years service for the first of the class. All 3 B1's will have had a major refit by the end of this year, so they are in good shape for now.
Agree with the rest of your post, however, which is one of the reasons why I proposed "upgunning" the B2s with bolt-on systems only as, as you say, three will have to be moved back to the UK at some point to replace the B1's as they go out of service. Replacement with three purpose-designed patrol frigates (c. 2500t range and a target cost of c. £175m) would be a sensible move and would provide the patrol fleet with a greater capability in higher-threat areas.
The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
Winston Churchill


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