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Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Contains threads on Royal Navy equipment of the past, present and future.
Clive F
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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Clive F » 27 Jul 2018, 15:41

Concentrate on what we are good at. Build dedicated (i.e. radar / weapons for ONLY ASW), small but "1st tier" ASW (insert appropriate name, OPC/Frigate/sloop....) ship. Based in Scotland ( for TAPs etc). This would require a smaller crew and shorter range. Make the design life for 15 years and sell on after the 15 years as there will be loads of Nations that require a quality ASW capacity but can not afford brand new.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Ron5 » 27 Jul 2018, 17:33

donald_of_tokyo wrote:But, RN continued avoiding such light-frigate/surveillance-frigate.


A Falklands lesson learned and now being forgotten.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Tempest414 » 27 Jul 2018, 20:38

donald_of_tokyo wrote:
Tempest414 wrote:I think the only way to truly get export orders for British war ships is to have a proper plan of ship building for the RN. One reason the Incheon class is cheap is it is planned to build 20 to 22 ships over 3 batches with each batch improved as the build goes on. for me in real terms the UK should have a 3 tier surface fleet

Tier 1) The escort fleet which should be made up of 25 ships of 3 classes with a new ship coming on line in the fleet each year ( the reason for 3 class is so current type 45 followed by type 26 followed by new type 46
Tier 2) The MHPC class made up of 14 to 18 ships with a new ship coming on line every 2 years
Tier 3) the RFA fleet replace by contract as needed

we can then add to this the bespoke ships like Carriers , LHDs , Icebrakers and so on. for me this would allow the ship yards and the design teams to plan properly and with investment in the yards can take on export orders
Sorry, but I see zero possibility this plan would be supported and implemented in MDP review.

Or, all escorts must had been of light-frigate like, such as French FTI (now) or MEKO200 (in T22/T23 era). All MHC must be of PSV-like. Then, it is possible. RN just didn't went this way.

Another way for export is, RN building 2nd-tier fleet of its own. French built Floreal and La-Fayettes. But, RN continued avoiding such light-frigate/surveillance-frigate. T31e is going this way. I am not a fan of it, but for export, clearly one of the logical way to go (even though not guaranteeing export, of course). Let's just take a glance on it, and look at what is going to happen.


Sorry I was not talking about the MDP review as this is not a long lead plan for UK ship building and is more of the same ill supported mess at we have become use to from HMG. What I am talking about is a long term plan supported by say 1.1 billion per year allowing the yards to plan properly if they know they are going to build 10 destroyers followed by 15 frigates in one yard and 15 MHPC ships 1 every 2 years in another they can set up and train staff and retain skills leading to cheaper build costs. this would cost the UK something like 28 billion over 25 years and I see it working like so

years 1 to 10 - 10 destroyers @ 900 million each - 5 MHPC's @ 150 million each + 4 RFA tankers cost 120 million = 10.28 billion from a 11 billion budget leaving 720 million for extra investment in the yards

years 11 to 25 - 15 Frigates @ 750 Million each - 10 MHPC @ 150 million each - 3 SSS @ 330 million each - 4 Bay B2 @ 250 million each - 2 At sea repair ships @ 150 each = 15.05 billion from a 16 .5 billion budget leaving 1.48 billion for a LHD maybe not taking inflation into account we could do this every 25 years . Lets not forget that HMG claim to be spending 63 billion on navy ships between 2016 & 2026

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Repulse » 27 Jul 2018, 22:27

Unless we see a move back to a defence budget of 3+% the the days of 25 FFs/DDs are long gone, forget just the build costs the crewing and support costs would be unaffordable.

I think we need to go back to understanding the needs / ambition before we start with the kit. I’d say in naval terms the UK national interests in peacetime (i.e. up to an not including a hot war with a peer nation) terms of surface naval engagement in the world of Global Britain are:

1) UK EEZ and BOT protection
2) North Atlantic sea control in partnership with the US / CAN
3) Mediterranean SLOC control in partnership with the US / EU
4) Horn of Africa to Gulf SLOC control in partnership with US / EU and Oz
5) Far East SLOC Patrol in partnership with Oz / NZ
6) HADR (part time)
7) Global Power Projection (100%, 1 week notice)

Suggestions:
- The UK invests in facilities to forward base the T26 through RN bases (Gibraltar and Oman) and through joint support arrangements with Oz (who will operate the Hunter T26 derivative) then I think it’s quite feasible to get a 1:2 ratio of commitments to ships rather than the current 1:3 ratio.
- The RN adds a MHPC class which has MCM, Survey, Patrol, UAV and Littoral ASW capabilities with reasonable AAW (CIWS gun and 12 CAMM). These should be capable also of a 1:1.5 commitment to ships ratio again through forward support facilities.
- The RN builds two new AORs (Fort III) which are capable of operating 5 ASW Merlins.
- The RN builds a large (40,000t) LHD that can fulfil HADR and Amphibious Assault roles - only needed part time.
- RFAs are able to maintain a a 1:2 commitment to ship ratio.

This could the map to the commitments as:
1) 2 T45s plus 8 MHPCs
2) 2 T26 plus 2 RFA AOR
3-5) 2 T26, 3 MHPCs plus 2 RFA Tanker each
6) 1 LHD
7) 2 Carrier Groups of 1 QE, 2 T45, 1 T26, 2 MHPC, 1 RFA LSD, 1 RFA Tanker, 1 RFA FSS

Excluding the Ice Patrol ship and fast Patrol ships, this would give a surface fleet of:
2 x QEs
1 x LHD
6 x T45s
10 x T26s
18 x MHPCs
2 x RFA AORs
2 x RFA FSSs
2 x RFA LSDs
8 x RFA Tankers

I’d say that this is affordable if the RN budget can remain level in real terms.
”We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow." - Lord Palmerston

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby donald_of_tokyo » 28 Jul 2018, 02:41

Repulse wrote:1) UK EEZ and BOT protection
2) North Atlantic sea control in partnership with the US / CAN
3) Mediterranean SLOC control in partnership with the US / EU
4) Horn of Africa to Gulf SLOC control in partnership with US / EU and Oz
5) Far East SLOC Patrol in partnership with Oz / NZ
6) HADR (part time)
7) Global Power Projection (100%, 1 week notice)
Good list, I think.
Suggestions:
- The UK invests in facilities to forward base the T26 through RN bases (Gibraltar and Oman) and through joint support arrangements with Oz (who will operate the Hunter T26 derivative) then I think it’s quite feasible to get a 1:2 ratio of commitments to ships rather than the current 1:3 ratio.
I do not buy this idea. RN must first do it (trial), verify it is doable for 3-5 years period using 2 or 4 ships. Only then the fleet plan can rely on it.

The fact was, in 2014/8--2016/8 (24 months), average number of escorts deployed out of Britain water was 3.7 (ref. Navy news). This number does not include, FRE and TAPS, but include all the others. Let's assume FRE and TAPS required 4 ships. (We all know these two tasks are no always at sea).

This will leave 19-4 = 15 escorts in rotation for "other deployments". In other words, deployment ratio is 3.7/15 = 24.6%.

So it is 1:4, not including training/port-visiting/patrolling around Britain water (I think it is consistent with "1:3 ratio" assumption.

Then, this will give

CVTF: 2 CV, 2 T45, 4 T26 --> 50% on station (or two "6 month deployment" within 2 years) of a CVTF with 1 CV, 1 T45, 2 T26.

Remaining: it is "4 T45 and 6 T26" in your fleet. This will give us "1 T45 and 1 T26 always deployed", reserving 2 T26 for TAPS.

In conclusion
- [plan-A] in 50% of the time, RN deploys "1 CVTF and 1 T45 and 1 T26", while in the other 50% "1 T45 and 1 T26" only.
OR
- [plan-B] in 50% of the time, RN deploys "1 CVTF and 1 T45", while in the other 50% "1 T45 and 2 T26".

This assumes, FRE and APT-N is covered by RFA and River OPVs = not escorts, and APT-S is banned. In other words, I was forced to cut FRE escort in this fleet plan. (Need to "re-deploy" one of the CVTF ship or "remaining T45 or T26" in place.)

In plan-B, in the first 50% the "1 T45" will be covering Atlantic (e.g. NATO fleet) or Gulf, and CVTF vice versa. In the latter 50%, "1 T45" will be covering Atlantic, "1 T26" the gulf, and "1 T26" in APT-S or ASIA or Med.

In other words, since RN already cut APT-S, and by also cutting FRE-escorts, "6 T45 + 10 T26" fleet will work, to my understanding. Less hull = less tasks. Make it clear cut, so that UK people can "see" there is a cut.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby R686 » 28 Jul 2018, 06:45

Repulse wrote:
I think we need to go back to understanding the needs / ambition before we start with the kit. I’d say in naval terms the UK national interests in peacetime


.



Disagree, defence should built around conops and the commitment on how government is prepared for a peer-peer conflict within of reality of ones own nationalist capability, then Standing commitments after that. T31e is a vanity exercise by government to dressed up as pig in lipstick

In other words would those same politicians put there own son and daughters o those same ships and send them into harms way I think not

Edit

I made it a little more legible, I was continually getting called away when trying to post this quickly and should have proof read what I wrote :thumbdown:

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Repulse » 28 Jul 2018, 08:27

donald_of_tokyo, you make some good points, my view is:

- I agree that forward basing Frigates needs to be validated, which can be done with basing 2 T23s in the near term from Oman. Another point is that if Australia / Canada have T26 variants common support facilities could be built in the Middle East.
- If not successful then you are right commitments need to be dropped: Anything beyond a occasional flag waving exercise is already the reality for APT(S) and would be for anything in the Far East.
- Even if it does work, the reality would still be that there would be a string mutual reliance with allies and also accepting that at times we would need to gap when unforeseen incidents happen.
”We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow." - Lord Palmerston

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Repulse » 28 Jul 2018, 08:37

R686, agree to this point. The reality is though, that with any peer to peer conflict that turns hot the best thing the UK can do is to buy time to build a force whose cost is never acceptable in our current peacetime mindset.

This requires the RN to protect the UK from invasion, secure SLOCs across the Atlantic, make the BOTs as difficult to capture as possible and harass the enemy using SSNs and SF raids.

This is why the current planned structure is flawed and a maximising T26 numbers / flexible MHPC / part time Amphibious Assault approach makes more sense to me.
”We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow." - Lord Palmerston

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Tempest414 » 28 Jul 2018, 10:51

Repulse wrote:Unless we see a move back to a defence budget of 3+% the the days of 25 FFs/DDs are long gone, forget just the build costs the crewing and support costs would be unaffordable.

I think we need to go back to understanding the needs / ambition before we start with the kit. I’d say in naval terms the UK national interests in peacetime (i.e. up to an not including a hot war with a peer nation) terms of surface naval engagement in the world of Global Britain are:

1) UK EEZ and BOT protection
2) North Atlantic sea control in partnership with the US / CAN
3) Mediterranean SLOC control in partnership with the US / EU
4) Horn of Africa to Gulf SLOC control in partnership with US / EU and Oz
5) Far East SLOC Patrol in partnership with Oz / NZ
6) HADR (part time)
7) Global Power Projection (100%, 1 week notice)

Suggestions:
- The UK invests in facilities to forward base the T26 through RN bases (Gibraltar and Oman) and through joint support arrangements with Oz (who will operate the Hunter T26 derivative) then I think it’s quite feasible to get a 1:2 ratio of commitments to ships rather than the current 1:3 ratio.
- The RN adds a MHPC class which has MCM, Survey, Patrol, UAV and Littoral ASW capabilities with reasonable AAW (CIWS gun and 12 CAMM). These should be capable also of a 1:1.5 commitment to ships ratio again through forward support facilities.
- The RN builds two new AORs (Fort III) which are capable of operating 5 ASW Merlins.
- The RN builds a large (40,000t) LHD that can fulfil HADR and Amphibious Assault roles - only needed part time.
- RFAs are able to maintain a a 1:2 commitment to ship ratio.

This could the map to the commitments as:
1) 2 T45s plus 8 MHPCs
2) 2 T26 plus 2 RFA AOR
3-5) 2 T26, 3 MHPCs plus 2 RFA Tanker each
6) 1 LHD
7) 2 Carrier Groups of 1 QE, 2 T45, 1 T26, 2 MHPC, 1 RFA LSD, 1 RFA Tanker, 1 RFA FSS

Excluding the Ice Patrol ship and fast Patrol ships, this would give a surface fleet of:
2 x QEs
1 x LHD
6 x T45s
10 x T26s
18 x MHPCs
2 x RFA AORs
2 x RFA FSSs
2 x RFA LSDs
8 x RFA Tankers

I’d say that this is affordable if the RN budget can remain level in real terms.


The problem with working to a need it is a case of chicken and egg and needs change. For me first and for most we need to get British ship building on firm program which allows the yards to plan , train and retain staff and in real terms the navy is looking for its escorts to have a 30 year services life so for me 1 ship built every 2 years would give you 15 escorts and the yard a fixed plan of works. of course there is a big problem and this is we are way out of step as the last type 45 was commissioned in 2013 and the first type 26 comes on line in 2027 some 14 years out of step

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Lord Jim » 28 Jul 2018, 19:53

Agreed, I see the main issue with British ship building is not the need for more yards capable of building warships, but ensuring the one(s) we have regular work.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Zero Gravitas » 29 Jul 2018, 17:44

Donald-san has a point around making clear there are cuts when there have been ones.

How about following the OBR & Bank of England independence models and creating an 'Office for Military Readiness' or OMR.

Chaired by ex-military senior officers. Board made up of same plus the usual suspects. Tasked with releasing an annual report on the global threat level; the UK's preparedness within that; check and challenge / 'red team' existing plans, policy and procurement; public report published on the web and a secret report delivered to the SoS.

If the principle is that economic policy is too important to be left just to HMT than why not
treat defence policy the same?

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby albedo » 29 Jul 2018, 18:13

Zero Gravitas wrote:If the principle is that economic policy is too important to be left just to HMT than why not
treat defence policy the same?


It's an interesting parallel, but I don't think you mean 'policy'. Economic policy in the sense of strategy is set broadly by the government as a whole (with a starting point of the governing party's last manifesto, as modified by the cabinet in response to events along the way and with some major input of course from the CoE). The tactics for achieving the strategy are then set by HMT, as articulated in successive budgets.

The role of the OBR is then to provide objective forecasts. Like any forecast, it is only as good as the assumptions that go into it (which is a major constraint on the OBR in practice) and, like any forecast, is typically much less than 100% accurate.

So the role of your OMR would to provide - as far as is possible - an objective assessment of threats and ongoing capabilities to counter those threats. But just like the OBR, it would be constrained by having to assume that projected government policy and spending plans would continue exactly as announced and would not be allowed to challenge those with its own better judgement.

So this doesn't invalidate the idea at all, but it's prudent to be aware of the ground rules.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Lord Jim » 29 Jul 2018, 18:58

The idea of an "OMR" has great appeal but no Politician is going to give such a body a remit to criticise an area they deem sensitive to national security. If something was set up it would be kept behind closed doors and at most briefing Parliament in confidence being covered by the Official Secrets Act.

For me Government as a whole needs to be reorganised, with former responsible for policy and an independent body responsible for implementation and setting of the budget to do so. IF the books don't balance the it is the responsibility of the Government to revise the policy, in an open and transparent manner, not unleash a barrage if statement from its "Spin" factory to hide the imbalance and prevent situations where policy is not properly funded or reliant of "Efficiencies". The Treasury's role would become more of assessing the affordability of the costs of implementing Government policy as a whole rather than setting the actual departmental budgets. It would still set taxes and so on and so would have the power to raise these to match the funding requirements produced by the independent bodies in each department in order for them to meet the policies of the Government.

In a nutshell this would make any Government more transparent and accountable. For example, if it decides that Students will no longer pay tuition fees the independent body will go away, do its sums and come back with a plan of actions showing how much this would cost. If the Treasury deems this to be unaffordable in the bigger picture, the Government will have to either amend its policy or increase revenue.

There has to be checks and balances to prevent Governments making policies that are never properly funded and so never properly delivered, but allow the Government to gain political capital through spin. Sorry gone a tiny bit off topic but funding not meeting aspirations is one of my Bug Bears.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby clinch » 29 Jul 2018, 19:36

Lord Jim wrote:The idea of an "OMR" has great appeal but no Politician is going to give such a body a remit to criticise an area they deem sensitive to national security. If something was set up it would be kept behind closed doors and at most briefing Parliament in confidence being covered by the Official Secrets Act.

For me Government as a whole needs to be reorganised, with former responsible for policy and an independent body responsible for implementation and setting of the budget to do so. IF the books don't balance the it is the responsibility of the Government to revise the policy, in an open and transparent manner, not unleash a barrage if statement from its "Spin" factory to hide the imbalance and prevent situations where policy is not properly funded or reliant of "Efficiencies". The Treasury's role would become more of assessing the affordability of the costs of implementing Government policy as a whole rather than setting the actual departmental budgets. It would still set taxes and so on and so would have the power to raise these to match the funding requirements produced by the independent bodies in each department in order for them to meet the policies of the Government.

In a nutshell this would make any Government more transparent and accountable. For example, if it decides that Students will no longer pay tuition fees the independent body will go away, do its sums and come back with a plan of actions showing how much this would cost. If the Treasury deems this to be unaffordable in the bigger picture, the Government will have to either amend its policy or increase revenue.

There has to be checks and balances to prevent Governments making policies that are never properly funded and so never properly delivered, but allow the Government to gain political capital through spin. Sorry gone a tiny bit off topic but funding not meeting aspirations is one of my Bug Bears.



What is properly funded? The Government prints money as it wishes. One minute it says there's no magic money tree; but there is a magic money tree that generates a billion quid for the DUP or millions for Virgin Rail for some obscure reason cos it couldn't do the job it was contracted to do or we waste millions on some dodgy privatised probation service that's just collapsed. We have been printing vast amounts of money to hand to bankers who caused the 2008 financial crisis. They have used it to pay themselves massive bonuses. Why can't we print money to do something useful, like building ships we need?

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Lord Jim » 29 Jul 2018, 23:20

Politicians should be responsible for policy, professionals with no political affiliations should be responsible for implementation. Policies should be clear and in the public domain and if they are not affordable in their entirety, need to be publicly changes with the reasons given. In other words is you say something is going to be done it the funding is put in place to get it done, No more smoke and mirrors. If a Department can make saving then fine the Treasury will benefit after they have been realised, not made part of some future plan.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby RetroSicotte » 01 Aug 2018, 09:08

I admit I've been away in Germany for the past half week, so my apologies if this has been noticed some pages back.

https://www.janes.com/article/82025/uk- ... eplacement

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby abc123 » 01 Aug 2018, 09:16

RetroSicotte wrote:I admit I've been away in Germany for the past half week, so my apologies if this has been noticed some pages back.

https://www.janes.com/article/82025/uk- ... eplacement


Great news. Just buy the NSMs with USN...
Fortune favors brave sir, said Carrot cheerfully.
What's her position about heavily armed, well prepared and overmanned armies?
Oh, noone's ever heard of Fortune favoring them, sir.
According to General Tacticus, it's because they favor themselves…

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby abc123 » 01 Aug 2018, 09:22

Zero Gravitas wrote:Donald-san has a point around making clear there are cuts when there have been ones.

How about following the OBR & Bank of England independence models and creating an 'Office for Military Readiness' or OMR.

Chaired by ex-military senior officers. Board made up of same plus the usual suspects. Tasked with releasing an annual report on the global threat level; the UK's preparedness within that; check and challenge / 'red team' existing plans, policy and procurement; public report published on the web and a secret report delivered to the SoS.

If the principle is that economic policy is too important to be left just to HMT than why not
treat defence policy the same?


IMHO, far better is to take Danish model of defence contract with PM and Head of Opposition signing it. But for say 10 years duration...
Fortune favors brave sir, said Carrot cheerfully.
What's her position about heavily armed, well prepared and overmanned armies?
Oh, noone's ever heard of Fortune favoring them, sir.
According to General Tacticus, it's because they favor themselves…

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Lord Jim » 01 Aug 2018, 18:36

abc123 wrote:
RetroSicotte wrote:I admit I've been away in Germany for the past half week, so my apologies if this has been noticed some pages back.

https://www.janes.com/article/82025/uk- ... eplacement


Great news. Just buy the NSMs with USN...


As the article says the need for a replacement/interim SSGW has gained increased priority but with no new money what do we give up to proceed. Don't expect anything to be announced beyond this announcement for quite a while if anything.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby NickC » 04 Aug 2018, 11:58

August 2, U.S. State approved possible FMS to Denmark of 46 Raytheon Standard Missiles, SM-2 Block IIIA, for the three Iver Huitfeldt class frigates and other related equipment for an estimated cost of $152 million, $3.3M each. Package includes additional two SM-2 Block IIIA Telemetry, Omni-Directional and two SM-2 Block IIIA Telemetry, Omni-Directional Antenna, Warhead Dud Capable.

Iver Huitfeldt class design was the basis of Babcock A140 without Mk 41 VLS cells for Type 31 competition, now 'on hold'.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby NickC » 09 Aug 2018, 13:27

"Quantity has a quality all its own"
50th Chinese Corvette Type 056 armed with eight anti ship missiles, ready for launch at the Huangpu shipyard. Total of 400 8YJ-82 anti-ship missiles capability just on Type 056.
[Wikipedia 8YJ-82/C-802, ship and aircraft versions, widely exported; 6.4m; 715kg; 165kg warhead; 120/180 km range; solid rocket booster-tubojet cruise; cruise Mach 0.9 at 20m-attack 3 to 5m; active radar homing head]
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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Ron5 » 09 Aug 2018, 15:47

Smaller than a River, the QE with its F-35s could sink them all in an afternoon.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby dmereifield » 09 Aug 2018, 17:21

Ron5 wrote:Smaller than a River, the QE with its F-35s could sink them all in an afternoon.


With what munitions? I thought they didn't have ASMs?

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby PapaGolf » 09 Aug 2018, 18:38

I’m guessing bombs from directly above. The type 56 only has very short range SAM.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby donald_of_tokyo » 09 Aug 2018, 23:17

repost from the T31 News thread
# looks like original one is now on Amphib thread, but may be better here.

Analyses: Leander top-view image from the leander web, analyzed to find out the dimensions, and ANZAC for comparison

Leander_anzac.jpg
1: Helicopter flight deck is rather small, ~23 m in length. But, I understand T23's flight deck is also 23m long, so it is Merlin capable, I guess. Note, Khareef's flight deck is ~20m long, and that of MEKO200 (and FFG7 and other many NATO frigates') is 25-26 m long.

2: Hangar space itself looks large, as large as 17x6 m. Here I also refer to Khareef, in which hangar looks like starting right after the funnel. [EDIT] But the current hangar in the images are too narrow, I'm afraid. What is shown, at least, is NOT Merlin capable, I guess.

3: CAMM VLS space for 6 cell each is very large, larger than Mk.41 VLS surface for 8 cell.

4: Funnel has 2 wide and 4 narrow exhausts. The former must be for two MTU 20V 8000 M91 (9.1MW each), and the latter for electric gen-sets. (If possible, MTU 12V 4000 M53B used for T23 can be used, but maybe more smaller engines).

5: Although Khareef is slightly narrower than MEKO200, it is apparently more "fatter", especially around the bridge.

[EDIT] On the 3m-longer versions (103m and 120m), related with item-1, I think one candidate is for "26m long flight deck", which might be important in export? Another is, in case my hangar size analysis is too optimistic, and +3m is needed for "Merlin capable" hangar? Speculation...
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