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Wednesday, 21 July 2021


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"You can replace the asterix in that statement" If you have the Gaul!

How could we have a larger navy without competent ship building?

We could make a start by retiring most admirals. About half a dozen would be enough. We could duplicate this by retiring the upper ranks of the Navy's civil servants.

As to ships - the Navy issues a spec, the Treasure OKs the money and the shipbuilders build it. If it isn't up to spec, the shipbuilders pay the Treasury.

A truly eye opening article. The workings of a kakistocracy. Odd, we have the same thing only our defense apparatus now wants everyone to be 'woke'. So if we have a functioning Navy, we will render it useless because no one will know how to fight and win an engagement.

Replace the asterix with with any state body...except the ones that issue income payments and welfare payments I'm betting.

"As to ships - the Navy issues a spec, the Treasure OKs the money and the shipbuilders build it. If it isn't up to spec, the shipbuilders pay the Treasury."

The shipbuilders and tank builders would go bust long before they returned the value of those useless ships and tanks, I venture to suggest. It's "buyer beware" when you contract for more than the "broke if it fails" threshold from a supplier. Some form of insurance laid off across a wide base of risk takers might have been in order, but the premium based on past MOD performance would have been eye-watering.

And that's the whole issue: Blighty is not big enough to absorb these kind of "bespoke development failure" losses. We should be buying off-the-shelf if we can't afford to write off bespoke development failure. And that stance, that underpins the repeat performances of these catastrophes, is endemic in statism.


Thanks Jannie - fixed!


An island nation with significant dependence on imports to feed its population that does not ensure it has the maritime assets to protect those imports is asking for trouble.

The UK may not be in the same position as it was during WW2 but the principle is still the same.

It is a lesson our own "pollies" need to take on board.

I agree, OzzieD, we call it the "Senior Service" for a reason.

While the desire to possess the most advanced destroyer in the world might appear to be admirable - and if you read up the spec of the type 45, it is an astonishing beast ...

- it's no use whatsoever when 5 out of 6 of them are in Portsmouth being repaired, and the one that's out there might shit its pants at any moment!

And yet the next in line is being planned already ...

As for the British army's seemingly endless tank fiasco, well, that started at the beginning of WW2 and is currently represented by the Ajax that makes its crew sick, can't be driven at more than 20 mph, can't fire on the move (doesn't like bumps), and can't reverse over something 20cm high! We can kinda understand why Blighty threw in the towel and bought Uncle Sam's Sherman during WW2.

Perhaps there's a clue in there as to what we should be doing for the Senior Service's ships as well?

We have the facilities to build them under licence to keep the jobs and technical nous local, and let Uncle Sam bleed all over the leading edge with the research and development. We just buy 'em 5 years after they've been proven seaworthy.


There's really a simple solution to your navy issue and its available right now!

Just one *issue but I'm certain y'alls tugs could remedy it.

We sell you the USS Gerald Ford - You ensure it gets to your shipyards then, using your centuries experience building ships you can tidy the Ford up, re-christen her in right good English fashion (the HMS Harry & Meghan perhaps?) and all will be set a'right.

*The Ford's propulsion system seems to be the only system functioning tolerably well for the moment but still I'd recommend when you do come over to fetch it from out shipyards, bring along the tug "just in case"!

I'm thinking Loz, the answer to all our problems would be simply to, buy from the Russians!

Hehehe JK!

They do seem to be on a roll with their mil kit of late. When you look at an Ajax vs an Armata you just want to curl up and die - probably what would happen to you if you were sat in an Ajax on the receiving end of a 125mm Armata shell!


Just reflected on that article, JK, and it does seem like the fetish for "Swiss Army Knife" weapons that can do everything is a major problem in the US and UK.

As we know the Swiss army knife has the worst compass, magnifying glass, knife, toenail cutter, whatever than any single purpose competitor on the market for those products.

I always use the Swiss Army knife analogy when describing Microsoft products: you get a lot of named products for your buck, but none of them are on the podium for functionality and quality when compared to the honourable competition. But if you go with the best of breed competitors instead, you'll pay a buck for each one you need to make up the one buck Microsoft suite offering.

That's the "value x volume / cost" equation that balances out to give both Microsoft and the one trick ponies a market.

But with the military they seem to pay "premium one trick pony" prices - like a buck for each product per the analogy - for the all-in-one basket of shite!

Why is that I wonder?

I think it's yet another example of state laziness.

When you buy best of breed with IT you then have to do some, well actually, a lot, of work integrating the products, both technically and in usage workflow. That's the bit of effort the non-Microsoft punter has to make if they decide to pay the premium and go for "gold on the podium" products.

The same is true for military: the technical integration work for comms, command and control, logistics, and tactics when you go for a multiple best of breed single purpose profile solution is hard work.

When I do my consultancy blurb I always start by dissing the Microsoft "basket of edible but past their sell by date and slightly manky eggs" for the same price as just one super-fresh competitor egg, to settle the punter down that I am not an MS drone. But I always like to look up and take a peak at the punters' expressions when I get to the point of explaining the second downside of chuffing up a buck for each pristine golden egg: you gotta make them work together:

"Try getting Hoki-Koki to work with Zippedy-Do-Dah with Fantabulous as the platform. There's a bloke I know in Timbuktu who did that once, he's a bit rusty and his day rate would bankrupt you by Xmas and he's not available this millenium. Shall I make enquiries?".

Something like that. Their little faces drop like stones. But that is their job, right! To try to make something whose combinational value outweighs its cost, and that uniquely drives the business in a way the competitors who go MS drone can't do. Few do it. Lazy, risk averse beggars. So be it, I get the contract!

And that's kinda what the lazy soldiers, sailors and airmen are up to: Let General Dynamics or whoever do all the integration hard work and give us a Swiss Army Knife product, so we don't have to have multiple products and do all the extra tactics, logistics, command and control. Internalise the lot and let the contractor do the heavy lifting.

But the military go one step further into la-la land. They demand the Swiss Army knife is *also* the best of breed in each tool. No wonder the cost goes into the trillions and it never works! If it was do-able someone would have done it before at least once: the Panzer division in one vehicle that is both tank, anti-tank, self-propelled artillery, armoured personnel carrier, command vehicle.

But that sort of integration takes inspiration, luck and the incentive of decades of perpetual existential conflict to produce. Hence why the Israeli Merkava and Namer vehicles are the closest embodiment today - and yet totally ignored by UK and US procurement!

The Jerry military rolled up their sleeves and did all the work themselves outside of the plethora of incompatible kit they were faced with. And the Panzer divisions spoke for themselves in the outcomes of their battles.

I think it's time for UK and US procurement to stop these "best of breed Swiss Army Knife" projects. They should start procuring multiple "single purpose best of breed" system more likely to work, and then do the work on integration, tactics themselves outside of the systems. Or in the unusual case of the Merkava and Namer, procure the "Best of breed Swiss Army knife" ready made, tried and tested off the shelf.


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