shark bait wrote:The RN absolutely needs another frigate. Only 14 escorts to protect two carriers and an amphibious group is ridiculous. If that happens the RN really will have bet everything on the carriers and gone bust.
But RN CANNOT man them, without putting precious T23ASWs or T45s into extended readiness
. You are happy to ditch 2 T23ASW (extended readiness) to enable 5 T31e coming in? It will be a big reduction in ASW capability. Even if the man-power issue improves, it takes time and not sufficient. On top of it, the "LIFEXed T23s" will be back into the front line very soon.
Again, how can you man those T31e without putting ~2 T23ASW (or T45) into extended readiness?
The issue is replacing the T23's as quickly as they drop out of service. Adding a couple of extra units to the end of the T26 production run does not solve that issue. The RN need a product that can be delivered in 4 years.
I am insisting on two things.
- SDSR20 is man-power first. This is the top priority. The 2nd priority is operational cost (escorts' sea-going days per hull has been 20-30% reduced after ~2015). May be ammunition also important. "More ship" is not higher than 3rd priority for sure.
- Only after man-power issue is solved, RN needs T31e. Just concurrently built them with T26. Since the shipyards differ, there is no problem.
Canceling T31e is not my point. Delaying the decision on T31e to 2021 is the point
. It has many merits.
1: the program is already in quite a hurry, significantly increasing risk. As this is a "fixed price contract", higher risk directly means "higher cost". Crystal clear. With fixed price, it means lower standard/armaments. In other words, even if the 1.5Bn investment is unchanged, we are degrading the T31 capability by hurrying
2: the SDSR2020 is coming quite soon. MOD will fight until X'mas of 2020, and there is a very-very high "risk" of (at least) partly losing the game. The 7-14.8Bn blackhole is real, which means MOD must ask for (more than) 1Bn/yr increase in defense budget. Is it "100% secured?" Surely NOT. Preparing for "further cut" is just normal, far from pessimism
. Not thinking of it is very very dangerous. (Even foolish, I'm afraid). If we order T31 on 2020 summer, the only "cut" RN can find is, CVF, T26, and RM, or more man-power and operational cost cuts.... If we are happy with it, RN shall proceed with T31e.
3: And because of today's man-power shortage, 2023's existence of 2 escorts in extended readiness is inevitable, considering the time to train them. So, at least a one-year delay has no impact on RN fleet. Are there any candidate impact?
I think this is logical approach...