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Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

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

Postby Poiuytrewq » 16 Mar 2019, 10:34

Tempest414 wrote:I don't understand having a T-31 in India I would say it would be better to have one in the Gulf and one out of Singapore.
Singapore might be seen as too much of an escalation in political circles. Maybe a Wave and an RB2 is seen as less controversial.
Tempest414 wrote:Also with all the talk of ships being forward deployed East of Suez we will need a EoS command latest count is

1 x FLSS
2 x T-31
1 x B2 River
4 x MCM
Plus a Bay and possibly a Wave and maybe even a FSS if we order three. In amongst all that lot is the Eastern LSG.
Lord Jim wrote:we will only have two FLSS and five T-31e, so that currently suggested availability goes against al current operating schedules and so on. FO example having two T-31e EoS means there would be a maximum of one available for everywhere else.
The Ambition is great to see but based on what has been officially proposed so far I think we are looking at a minimum of eight up to possibly ten T31's if the T31's are to routinely conduct FRE.

If this is credible and affordable going forward I think we are going to have to be a bit more careful with the design of the T31. Do we really want that many Rivers and Leanders?

I think the following would be a better mix even if it takes slightly longer to achieve it.

6x T45
6x T26
6x T26 lite
6x T31 (£250m Max)
5x RB2

With all these assets now going to be routinely based or deployed East of Suez with little or no ASW capability, what is RN's East of Suez ASW strategy going to be?

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Repulse » 16 Mar 2019, 11:12

Trying to avoid going in circles, but if the B2 is no longer to replace the B1 for fisheries, but be a Global Presence Sloop - then there is absolutely no justification IMO to pad out a middle tier with a new T31 class of more than 5. The roles just aren’t there and the real minor warship need beyond this level would be MCM and Survey ships replacements, for which none of the T31 designs look particularly suited to.

If the T31e was dumbed down to be more of a (Avenger) B3 River, then I can see these being FLSS escorts. I’d still struggle to see how these should cost more than £200mn each even with CAMM.

As such, if there is more money for ships beyond 5 “more basic” T31es, please god buy more T26s (full fat - let’s not waste money on half fat nonsense) or kick start a MHPC programme.

15-16 first raters would be enough to operate 2 CSGs rotation and an ARG with notice projected from the UK. This for me is a sound, appropriate and what’s more deliverable capability, able to address or NATO and global commitments.
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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Caribbean » 16 Mar 2019, 13:02

It looks to me like they are looking at permanently stationing ships along the trade routes towards China and the East Indies. If the purpose of the T31 is patrol and surveillance, then it seems an appropriate use of them. The Med is full of friendly navies (even if relations with some of their Governments are a bit strained at times) and Op Atalanta seems to have the Red Sea/Horn of Africa locked down. The Gulf will allow patrols over the Arabian Sea/ western Indian Ocean, so this is the next logical step to extend coverage to the eastern Indian Ocean/ Bay of Bengal. The ideal place to base this would have been Colombo, Sri Lanka, but our years of condemnation over their treatment of the Tamils has driven them into the arms of the Chinese and it's going to take a long time to win them back, if ever. Increased co-operation with India seems like a very good idea as well.
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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 16 Mar 2019, 16:16

Poiuytrewq wrote:With all these assets now going to be routinely based or deployed East of Suez with little or no ASW capability, what is RN's East of Suez ASW strategy going to be?

+
Caribbean wrote:The Gulf will allow patrols over the Arabian Sea/ western Indian Ocean, so this is the next logical step to extend coverage to the eastern Indian Ocean/ Bay of Bengal. The ideal place to base this would have been Colombo, Sri Lanka, but our years of condemnation over their treatment of the Tamils has driven them into the arms of the Chinese

Quite, Triancomalee, more exactly.

Anyway, out of the Gulf for the western... and eastern in co-op with the Indian navy. US has been making noises that with their enhanced seabasing DG is not so important anymore, whereas India has been interested
- their carrier group(s) have strong ASW, but any area thus covered is only a spot in the vast ocean
- enter P-8 (the DG harbour is nothing to write to back home about) and using DG as a turnaround point as opposed to half of the time in the air being used for transit. Hey! - they build the support facilities and we fly in more planes should the situation call for it
- go further East than the Andamans and the navies of Singapore/ Malesia/ Australia will come and meet with you

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Caribbean » 16 Mar 2019, 17:57

ArmChairCivvy wrote:Triancomalee, more exactly

Yes, indeed - Colombo is probably the older (and, it seems, as heavily used) naval base - the SLN HQ is there (SLNS Parakrama), but Trinco is the better port (and airfield), with better facilities. Still, somewhat academic, as I don't see us having access any time soon.
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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 16 Mar 2019, 18:16

Caribbean wrote:Trinco is the better port


I think the Admiralty (in the years long gone) rated it as their best natural deep port.
- no wonder the Chinese have been so interested
- I believe Oz (to counter any such) actually offered a heavy subsidy to redesigning and reconstructing the town after a major earthquake ... just to keep the strategic competition out?

But globally deployable ships/ frigates would have no problem plying between Gulf/ Oman and Singapore, so any 'porting' in-between would mainly have a symbolic importance.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Repulse » 16 Mar 2019, 18:22

Poiuytrewq wrote:what is RN's East of Suez ASW strategy going to be?


Apart from T26s operating with the CSGs or (rare) singleton units with allied groups, then it’s SSN based. Doesn’t Diego Garcia have SSN berths?
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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Lord Jim » 17 Mar 2019, 01:49

Does the RN have enough SSNs to operate one on a regular basis east of Suez, I don't think so. In the eastern Med possibly but like all RN assets, our current commitments to NATO occupy the majority. Protecting UK sovereign territory followed by NATO is and should remain out key defence commitments with other operations on a case by case basis. We cannot afford to send forces on operations outside these two commitments except to deal with real and imminent threats.

If a presence it really needed, then we need to use a platform similar to the French Floreal class, and maybe a T-31e in the shape of a super OPV with a Mk8, hanger for a Wildcat. a couple of stabilised mounts for Starstreak/Martlet and HMGs would suffice. Remove the requirement for Sea Ceptor and have a similar electronics fit to the B2 Rivers. Build fur or five of them as cheaply as feasible an use the remainder of the existing T-31e Budget to purchase an interim new AShM for the RN's high end platforms or fit Sea Ceptor to he Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales.

Ideally though I would take a step back from the idea of deploying forces worldwide and stick to out two primary commitments, and use the T-31e budget to purchase two more T-26. As I have previously mentioned I believe the members of the class after the first three should be built to an evolved design using ideas taken from the Canadian and Australian variants of the design. In simplest term this would mean removing the "Mushroom" launchers for Sea Ceptor and adding an additional standard length MK41 VLS. I would also change one of the existing Strike length MK41s and replace that with a standard length also as we would only need the Strike length for the operation of TLAM, and having sixteen cells available is more than enough and these cost considerably more then the standard variant. As has been pointed out removing the amidships "Mushroom" launchers leave more than enough space to fit eight or more AShMs of whatever type the Rn decide to replace the existing Harpoon with. If funding were available I would also replace Artisan with the Australian CEAFAR radar with its increased capabilities and growth possibilities. These initial five B2 City class could be joined by the two additional B3 variants and these could be followed by additional units further down the line.

Yes the RN would have fewer Escorts for a period but we have a number we cannot man or operate even now so are not operating the much talked about nineteen. Continuing to build variants of the T-26 into the 2040s at regular intervals would eventually allow the RN to increase in size to match the hoped for increases in manpower. Not expanding the RN's core commitments will also help reduce the strain on the fleets at the same time. And who knows a stretched T-26 allowing for another four Mk41s or six to eight Sylver launchers could be a replacement for the T-45 when they need replacing.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 17 Mar 2019, 07:15

Lord Jim wrote:with other operations on a case by case basis.

There are so many SLOC pinch points that the case by case approach is a must - currently access into and out of the Red Sea has the most imminent threat (of course, access on the other side of the Arabian peninsula can quickly come from simmer to boil).
- if one agrees with that kind of prioritisation (just for now), then the next step is to assess how to counter the threats. Which are (mainly) land-launched missiles and sea mines; never discount remote-controlled boats being used as surface torpedoes, because classifying them as threat/ non-threat can be 'very last minute' and thereby the technical sophistication demanded form potential operators is not that huge.
Lord Jim wrote:initial five B2 City class could be joined by the two additional B3 variants and these could be followed by additional units further down the line.
I agree (without going to any specs) that evolution, down the line, is very likely.
- we may be worrying that we are ending up with two distinctive frigate classes;
- never fear: we will have one, as the escort destroyers and singleton cruisers will all be variants of the same :) hull... will take a while to get there, though. A while being the expected life of the T31s (ref: NSS) if only the initial batch of 5 will be built.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Repulse » 17 Mar 2019, 08:36

Lord Jim wrote:we have a number we cannot man or operate even now so are not operating the much talked about nineteen


As quoted above, this is no longer the case according to the 1SL. However, unless and until more funds are found for the RN a drop in first raters from 19 is inevitable. What I don’t think is that the RN has the luxury to afford a new mid tier of warship; if it wants to fight real wars then there needs to be a solid UK based but globally deployable premier league (CSG + SSN) core.

However, having global presence using minor warships (with regular deployments of the core) is extremely important, the world does not stop at the Europes border and we need to be involved to help shape and support. Having permanently solo based RN “cruisers” smack of empire and I think counter productive, subtle Patrol, MCM and Survey assets give a lot more IMO. The only alternatives, I can see are embedding UK warships into local fleets, like my suggestion with a joint T26 NZ capability, or invisible SSN assets.

I am of the belief that the T31 should just be the next evolution of the River Class design to give additional minor warship capability. Perhaps the announcement in deploying globally the B2 Rivers is the start of the end of the T31e programme as it is. Longer term, a fleet of 20+ Patrol/MHC Sloops would give the RN a real balanced fleet.

Lord Jim wrote:Does the RN have enough SSNs to operate one on a regular basis east of Suez, I don't think so.


You are correct, and this is where the RN could and probably should make a big shift. I’ve been sceptical in the past, but a build of 4 SSKs to operate in UK and North Atlantic waters is probably a good move, allowing the SSNs to have a more flexibility on deployments. On reflection this maybe more important than a 9th T26.

So in summary, scrap the current T31 programme, make some targeted low cost upgrades to the B2 Rivers, get CL to build 2 B3 (Avenger) Rivers under licence for EoS, start a SSK programme and get a move on with a follow up MHPC design - simples :D

EDIT: sorry had to clean up some of the above- struggling on Sunday morning...
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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Poiuytrewq » 17 Mar 2019, 08:44

Repulse wrote:Apart from T26s operating with the CSGs or (rare) singleton units with allied groups, then it’s SSN based.
That could be the plan but I think as a future strategy it's extremely risky.
Lord Jim wrote:Does the RN have enough SSNs to operate one on a regular basis east of Suez, I don't think so.
I don't think so either, this is were the T31 strategy starts to look like defence on the cheap.

Looking at it logically, it appears that Submarine activity east of Suez isn't going to be a priority for Royal Navy frigates based in the area. To the point were it's entirely possible with current planning that the UK won't have a single frigate east of Suez with even a hull mounted sonar when the T31's replace the T23's? This is bonkers.

Moving the CSG into an area to provide an ASW capability is an expensive way to provide it to say the least.

Is it really credible to form a Littoral strike group around a FLSS that is totally blind below the surface? Clearly not.

How future proofed is a plan like that? It appears we are intending to commit to further roles/deployments without raising the budget to pay for it.

Of course adding a basic hull mounted sonar to the T31's initially and 2087 at a later date would solve the issue. Is a frigate really a frigate without a hull mounted sonar?

ArmChairCivvy wrote:one agrees with that kind of prioritisation (just for now), then the next step is to assess how to counter the threats. Which are (mainly) land-launched missiles and sea mines; never discount remote-controlled boats being used as surface torpedoes, because classifying them as threat/ non-threat can be 'very last minute' and thereby the technical sophistication demanded form potential operators is not that huge.
We also need to consider how these threats will evolve in the next two decades. We need to plan for the unexpected, not paper over the cracks to stay within an insufficient budget. Future proofing the current trajectory wouldn't be that expensive in my opinion.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Repulse » 17 Mar 2019, 08:54

Poiuytrewq, I agree the likelyhood of a T45/T26 EoS unless part of a CSG will be rare. I think unless the funds are there to do it properly (at which point you are at the argument to just buy more T26s) then trying to add on a hull sonar / TAS on the T31 is dangerous as it will give an illusion of capability in a region where submarine technologies are quickly becoming peer to Western Navies.

I’ve come to the (late) conclusion that probably the best approach is to buy some SSKs to free up the SSNs to take a more global role.

Second, I’d still like the UK to part fund and man a couple of T26s for RNZN but that is a pipe dream...
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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby SW1 » 17 Mar 2019, 08:59

Of course where these grand plans all come falling down is when it comes to budget. The equipment and support plan remains seriously unaffordable. All these “good” news story’s feel as though there being placed to prepare for the bad news reality of what’s getting cut.

To put it in perspective assuming best case on the budget (a dangerous thing I know) and the pain is shared equally between services the navy would need reductions equivalent to removing the entire type 23 fleet just to meet there part of bringing it back to balance.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Scimitar54 » 17 Mar 2019, 09:24

Any politician who even half-heartedly thinks about the possibility of overseeing such a reduction in our Naval force
levels (No Frigates indeed) should resign now, because clearly they would be unworthy of the position that they occupy. Save this drivel for April 01 please. :mrgreen:

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 17 Mar 2019, 09:40

Repulse wrote: Perhaps the announcement in deploying globally the B2 Rivers is the start of the end of the T31e programme as it is.
I rather see it as 'baby steps' where the other 'leg' is trying out (tentatively?) frwd basing with T23s
Poiuytrewq wrote:Looking at it logically, it appears that Submarine activity east of Suez isn't going to be a priority for Royal Navy frigates based in the area.

+
Repulse wrote:is dangerous as it will give an illusion of capability in a region where submarine technologies are quickly becoming peer to Western Navies.

I lean more twrds Repulse on this one. If subs are used to deny freedom of navigation, that is "war" and we won't be in it alone
- let's make sure that we have the ASW we need in our "own" ocean

Poiuytrewq wrote: Future proofing the current trajectory wouldn't be that expensive in my opinion.
I actually think it is being done with our surface combatants (the 'minor' warship designs still to emerge!... Venari is just a commercial 'tipping of the toe in the bath water')
- both with the T-26 and (if the size/ flexibility rqrmnt setting carries the day in the selection) the T-31
SW1 wrote:To put it in perspective assuming best case on the budget (a dangerous thing I know) and the pain is shared equally between services

Difficult to get to grips with the assertation without any numbers; what is this "best case"?
- is it as bad as my "Brexit worst case"... for the defence budget/ EP :) ?

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Repulse » 17 Mar 2019, 09:49

SW1, I think you have a point, but unless Brexit blows up the finances (I believe unlikely) then I think it will be a mixture of more cash and “cuts hidden as part of a restructure / change of strategy”. The latter is already happening; whilst it would be great to have even more cash a restructured and change of strategy is still needed.

For me the new strategy seems to be a strong (but smaller) first rate globally deployable core based in the UK, which is exercised regularly, coupled with smaller but more numerous global presence. I’m okay with this and I think fits our position in the world.

How this translates could be for example the loss of the 5 GP T23s, but if it’s aligned to a longer term balanced fleet to fit the strategy, then it’s needed IMO.
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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 17 Mar 2019, 09:54

Scimitar54 wrote:for April 01 please.

That's an idea: will put together the force brought about by combining :shock: a hard Brexit with a Corbyn Gvmnt getting in, on the coat tails of the incompetence exhibited (by the other party) in plain sight, for everyone to see

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby abc123 » 17 Mar 2019, 10:05

Scimitar54 wrote:Any politician who even half-heartedly thinks about the possibility of overseeing such a reduction in our Naval force
levels (No Frigates indeed) should resign now, because clearly they would be unworthy of the position that they occupy. Save this drivel for April 01 please. :mrgreen:


That would be too mercyful. No, the death will come, but in form of Thousand Small Cuts over few decades and defence reviews... :thumbdown:
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 SW1 » 17 Mar 2019, 10:05

ArmChairCivvy wrote:Difficult to get to grips with the assertation without any numbers; what is this "best case"?
- is it as bad as my "Brexit worst case"... for the defence budget/ EP ?


We know from the last NAO report the equipment and sustainment budget is between 7.5b-14b overcommitted and since that come out we had report than saving expected from reducing the civil service selling land ect have not been realised. We then have committed to new things on top of that and spent 18 months decided it was too difficult to do anything.

So assuming it’s 7.5b, each service needs to make about 250m pound saving per annum for 10 years in equipment or support thats about what it costs to run the type 23 fleet per year. I’d be more pessimistic and say it’s likely in the middle of the NAOs figures. Now that’s not to say it would cut all of them but it gives an flavour of how out of bed commitments and resources are.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 17 Mar 2019, 10:06

Repulse wrote:the new strategy seems to be a strong (but smaller) first rate globally deployable core based in the UK, which is exercised regularly, coupled with smaller but more numerous global presence. I’m okay with this and I think fits our position in the world.


I am also at ease with it (as it seems not to have cost us the amphib fleet)
- the weak plank is ASW, and what the price tag for another SSN could achieve, spent in a different way, should urgently be looked at
... as there won't be any coming out in any hurry after Boat7 (even that one could get run over, scheduling wise, by Dreadnought as there is a degree of jointness in their stages of build)

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 17 Mar 2019, 10:12

SW1 wrote:So assuming it’s 7.5b, each service needs to make about 250m pound saving per annum for 10 years in equipment or support


Yes, that number is the central case. The abt 1.8 bn (xtra) for last year will be repeated for this year... as if bridging over the Brexit mess wasn't enough trouble on its own.
- but "what" then? In the year after next (which we are into, by now)
- have they given the MDP a new name yet? As it was to be relaunched in-year

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Poiuytrewq » 17 Mar 2019, 10:15

Repulse wrote:I agree the likelyhood of a T45/T26 EoS unless part of a CSG will be rare. I think unless the funds are there to do it properly (at which point you are at the argument to just buy more T26s) then trying to add on a hull sonar / TAS on the T31 is dangerous as it will give an illusion of capability in a region where submarine technologies are quickly becoming peer to Western Navies.
Hence why I maintain a T26 lite is the best way forward. Without getting bogged down in figures, if the build speed was increased, frigate factory built and the T26's weapons load simplified slightly for a second batch each T26 lite would cost approximately the same as two Arrowhead 140's. This is why I believe the T31's do have a role to play but should be price capped at £250m or less and six is plenty regardless of which design is chosen.

These forward based T31's could cost effectively perform the global maritime security role and the six T26 lites could look after the CSG, LiTM group and TAPS leaving the six unaltered T26's to act as global cruisers backing up the T31's or reinforcing the CSG/LSG's if required. It's adaptable and affordable, I think it's the way forward and doesn't drastically alter current planning in the short to medium term.

Repulse wrote:I’ve come to the (late) conclusion that probably the best approach is to buy some SSKs to free up the SSNs to take a more global role.
I have been proposing this for a while. Expand Barrow to include an SSK build hall to build an existing design with Saab or Japan etc. Set the the budget at £2.5bn and build six. Four for UK patrol and two with an amidships block added to introduce a VLS TLAM capability to be based in Gibraltar. I would also leave an option open for an additional two for forward basing in the Falklands if things start to warm up in the South Atlantic in 10 to 15 years time.

SW1 wrote:To put it in perspective assuming best case on the budget (a dangerous thing I know) and the pain is shared equally between services the navy would need reductions equivalent to removing the entire type 23 fleet just to meet there part of bringing it back to balance.
I think there is a high likelihood that this will be addressed in the Autumn spending review. The Chancellor is sitting on a pile of cash so surely some is going to come Defences way. I'm not expecting a real terms increase but the threat of the impending black hole should start to reduce. Of course all this depends on the Brexit shenanigans :D

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby SW1 » 17 Mar 2019, 10:18

ArmChairCivvy wrote:
SW1 wrote:So assuming it’s 7.5b, each service needs to make about 250m pound saving per annum for 10 years in equipment or support


Yes, that number is the central case. The abt 1.8 bn (xtra) for last year will be repeated for this year... as if bridging over the Brexit mess wasn't enough trouble on its own.
- but "what" then? In the year after next (which we are into, by now)
- have they given the MDP a new name yet? As it was to be relaunched in-year


From the chancellors spring statement last week

So, I can confirm today that assuming a Brexit deal is agreed over the next few weeks and the uncertainty that is hanging over our economy is lifted…

…I intend to launch a full three-year Spending Review before the summer recess, to be concluded alongside an Autumn Budget. It will set departmental budgets beyond the NHS to reflect the public’s priorities between areas like social care, local government, schools, police, defence and the environment…

The conclusion of the NAO in November last year

However, some of its analysis remains optimistic and costs could increase further. The Department is improving its understanding of affordability risks, but we are not yet fully confident in the robustness of some of its underlying assumptions, particularly around efficiencies.

The Department recognises that continued unaffordability of the Plan is not sustainable and has presented the nature and scale of the challenges it faces more clearly in its latest Plan. However, as we have previously recommended, it still needs to undertake the necessary analysis and make the decisions needed for the Plan to be affordable. In January 2018, it established MDP to take the action needed to close the affordability gap, but this work has not yet concluded. Given that 84% of the identified affordability challenge falls in the next four years, the Department must make decisions now. During the current period of uncertainty, the Department has resorted to short-term decision-making, increasing the longer-term risks to value for money and the likelihood of returning to past poor practices.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby SW1 » 17 Mar 2019, 10:23

Poiuytrewq wrote:I think there is a high likelihood that this will be addressed in the Autumn statement. The Chancellor is sitting on a pile of cash so surely some is going to come Defences way. I'm not expecting a real terms increase but the threat of the impending black hole should start to reduce. Of course all this depends on the Brexit shenanigans


One would hope defence will get some additional cash, but it needs to be remembered that pay will also be increasing above the zero or 1% the service have had for a while. Off course should we have a general election in the next year all bets will be off.

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Re: Current & Future Escorts - General Discussion

Postby Poiuytrewq » 17 Mar 2019, 10:32

ArmChairCivvy wrote:I lean more twrds Repulse on this one. If subs are used to deny freedom of navigation, that is "war" and we won't be in it alone
- let's make sure that we have the ASW we need in our "own" ocean
That is clearly the current planning assumption but where is the containment strategy? Obviously the UK can't do it on its own but a better balance must be struck than no regular ASW capability east of Suez.

ArmChairCivvy wrote:I actually think it is being done with our surface combatants (the 'minor' warship designs still to emerge!... Venari is just a commercial 'tipping of the toe in the bath water')
- both with the T-26 and (if the size/ flexibility rqrmnt setting carries the day in the selection) the T-31
Agreed, it is still possible to achieve a positive outcome with the current direction of travel. We need to be realistic and restrain the overconfidence or the budget will implode again in the future.

ArmChairCivvy wrote:on the coat tails of the incompetence exhibited (by the other party
Are you sure it has been incompetence? Looks like something else to me.


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