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Friday, 12 May 2017


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"American F36 aircraft". F35

BOTE you miss the point; that was Duffers being one step ahead again . . .

Alright, alright, I was only a corporal, remember!

BOE, welcome back, I was beginning to worry about you. Off swanning around the Caribbean, were you?

Duffers you will find that Admirals are like Generals - some are still fighting the last war and some are preparing for the next. It is the latter forward thinkers [e.g. Jackie Fisher in his day and Cunningham in the Med in WW2] who are looking to what the next threat will be.

In the 80's it was the anti-ship missile such as the Exocet delivered by aircraft [e.g the Argies in the Falklands] and later heading into the '90s the Sea Skua delivered by a "budgie" from a very stealthy Frigate. There is always a surge ahead/catch up sequence and I would be amazed if there are not already boffins looking at counter measures. I have no idea what they will be as I am well out of date but I would think that they will involve electronic measures linked to submarines [have I mentioned I hate submarines?] and drones as well as piloted aircraft.

In the meantime the Carrier Group is a very formidable weapon and no to be taken lightly or discarded too hurriedly.

Duffers - the whole of defence procurement is a huge scam at the expense of taxpayers.

I commend to your attention Lions Donkeys and Dinosaurs by Lewis Page who is scathing about MoD procurement and BAe.

It is an infuriating book to read because you can see nothing being done to fix it, and in the mean while the lives and limbs of our finest are being sacrificed and billions squandered on rubbish or obsolete kit or tactics... truly a depressing but valuable read.

May I suggest that command of the sea, like command of the air, is useless unless it confers the ability to strike targets on the ground. The aircraft carrier may well have ceased to be the means of acquiring command of the sea, but it is very effective at striking targets on the ground.
Just as battleships still are, but with longer range.
After all, no-one ever thought of the A10 as capable of producing air superiority, but once other aircraft have secured that its pretty good at attacking targets on the ground.

Thing is Pat, most of what you can do with an aircraft carrier you can achieve with cruise missiles, ground attack helis and drones, much cheaper.

@ CF provided you can get near enough.

Strip it all down and an aircraft carrier is just that...transport of needed planes. It serves as airport, refueling depot and maintenance. Sometimes in certain places it has a different more "diplomatic" function...say about 90 thousand tons of diplomacy. Allies seem to appreciate and adversaries have something to think about.

I see that President Trump has been redesigning the latest US carrier, the Henry T Ford.

The carriers have their well-established uses, and, if counter measures can be developed to cover their vulnerabilities, those uses are pretty important. Communist propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding, the only reason American voters re-elect Congresscritters who appropriate huge sums for the military is that they can legitimately call it "the defense budget" The idea is that our Navy, including carriers, is a forward outpost, so no enemy can get here to attack us. In a way, that is an oversimplification, and then again, it is the distillation. We don't try to conquer, except the ladies in port, but we are (were) determined to keep everyone out. Personally, I'd give them New York and LA, and bid for the popcorn concession, but that's just cynical old me.

Sin embargo, Carriers have their problems, but problems often have solutions, which it is our duty to find, for the sake of the uses. I also wish we'd kept at least a couple of the enormous battleships, but some people are penny wise and pound foolish. (Interesting, no? We say it that way, never bothering to translate into dollars. Maybe the alliteration was just too delicious.) They say that the big guns are outmoded by guided missiles, and "they" may not know everything, but they know more than I do, so we have to go with them.

Recall Teddy Roosevelt's, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." U.S. aircraft carriers are the ultimate (visible) big sticks. That's what makes them formidable diplomats. Every time they make a turn in one of the oceans they patrol, our potential adversaries take very careful note.

Up to now, modern naval warfare has been dominated by a truly lethal mathematical equation which is formulated by the number of missiles (multiple targets constant bearing) the enemy is firing at you, the number of anti missile missiles you have in your magazines to fire at the incoming missiles, and the hit probabilities of all the missiles concerned.

The Americans are currently developing laser defence systems which when they become operational will be a complete game changer as a ship's capacity to defend itself against missile attack will no longer depend on a very finite number of anti missile missiles carried.

I'm with Aussie D on this. If the Chinese are developing shiny new missiles, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Yanks are developing effective counter-measures.


We need a mix of weaponry for our defense.

I think JK's linked story demonstrates that this here armchair debate about the pros and cons of U.S. carrier strategy is a childish exercise. Does anyone here really believe they have some insight that hasn't occurred to the Pentagon experts who have been researching this issue for about 70 years?


Shalom TBH,

The pros and cons of weapons systems on ships have been a constant subject of discussion in Ward Rooms for as long as I can remember and probably stretch back as long as people decided you could use a water craft to fight from.

Far from being a useless exercise it has resulted in innovations and a good example, though an old one, was the change in WW2 anti-submarine tactics in the Atlantic brought about by Captain Walker of the RN.

At least two frequent commentators here do have actual and current knowledge in these matters. One is currently on Her Majesty's service is far foreign places, in an undisclosed location, so we don't hear from him as often as we'd like. Another takes great pains not to sound too knowledgeable, lest he give away the game.So, since a small part of the money is mine, I am very much interested in what I can learn from these discussions.


I would think that the article JK linked to is worthy of rereading, several times.


I think Mr. Straker stepped on one my pet peeves. Having at one time been a systems analyst it seems he is using the wrong approach to analyze the question.

His approach is what is called “bottom up.’ Start at the bottom with weapons, then build upon that to tactics, build on that to strategy, build on that to national defense objectives. Then cross your fingers and hope that what you built will serve to fight the wars that come along.

A better approach is “top down.” First what does the navy have to do to defend the fair isle. Then hat are strategies to accomplish this. Then What sort of tactics do you need. Finally what weapons to you have to use.

So, at the top what are some possible options. Some ideas:

1) Be a part the overall EU defense of Europe. But then why a Royal Navy. The UK will be defended by the EU navy, defense policy made in Brussels (or Berlin). Did I hear a rumor about Brexit?

2) While not a part of the EU the Royal Navy will be an auxiliary force to support the EU Navy.

3) Strictly coast defense to stop the Frogs or Huns at Dover.

4) Protect the sea lanes that keep the UK fed.

5) Participate in imperial international peace keeping operations.

6) While Britannia will probably never rule the waves again, a fleet that is strong enough to be a valuable contribution to a joint operation a force to be avoided. Thus allowing the government to work the balance of power to your advantage.

All these options would require different sorts of fleet, carriers would be essential for some options, useful for others, and unnecessary for others. But the decision as to what is to be done should happen before considering the pluses and minuses of carriers.

Shalom AD,

With all due respect, my remark was not, I repeat not, intended to demean all discussion of naval warfare throughout history. I limited my doubt to the presumption that the current discussion in this thread at D&N could possibly generate an insight into the wisdom of investing U.S. resources into aircraft carriers, which has not previously been considered by the experts at the Pentagon in 70 years of researching this subject.

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