Sunday, 18 March 2012

Libya : Harrier Versus Tornado




"The Tornados have delivered [MBDA] Storm Shadows to penetrate hardened buildings and the dual-mode Brimstone,neither of which could have been delivered by the Harrier."

"I am not knocking the Harrier,just those who have,often willfully,overstated its relative utility in this scenario,"

"In operations such as Ellamy,on the periphery of Europe,the access,basing and over-flight restrictions that would necessitate carrier strike do not apply.

 There is simply no comparison in terms of platform capability,time on station or versatility between Tornado GR4s operating from a well-found NATO airfield in Italy and Harriers operating from a CVS*."

*A Royal Navy aircraft carrier.

Air Chief Marshal Dalton,the current head of the British Royal Air Force (R.A.F.),and a former Tornado pilot,may not have read our previous piece "What To Cut: Typhoon,Harrier And Nimrod Versus Tornado And F.S.T.A.".


If he had,he would know that Brimstone was due to be cleared on the Harrier as part of the "Capability D" upgrades.


Harrier had already flown trials with Brimstone at the time the Chief of the Air Staff (a former Tornado pilot) made this comment.


At the time of the Strategic Defece and Security Review it was often claimed that the Harrier could not carry Brimstone.

This was cited as one of the reasons for retaining the Tornado instead of the Harrier.

This is what the Royal Air Force's own website had to say on the matter:

"The aircraft (Harrier G.R.9) is also expected to be fitted to carry the advanced Brimstone fire and forget anti-armour missile."







It was also often claimed that the Harrier should be retired because it could not fire the Storm Shadow cruise missile.

Here is the view of one commentator,Thinkdefence:

"Storm Shadow is very large and heavy.

 Because of asymmetric loading and release issues,dropping one of these from a wing pylon would be a serious issue to overcome,even for a Tornado,the Tornado carries them on the fuselage hardpoint for this reason.

A Harrier does not have the ability to do this because of under fuselage clearance;wing pylon mounting would be the only option.

This means those asymmetric release issues become more pronounced and because of the length of the missile and relative size of the Harriers wing it is difficult to see how it would be carried on a wing pylon without some additional costly modification."


Here is the official position from Nick Harvey,Minister of State for the Armed Forces in Parliament on the 18th of July 2011:

"The Harrier aircraft was withdrawn from service on 15 December 2010.

Prior to its withdrawal,it had an operational emergency clearance to operate Baseline Brimstone.

 In order for the Harrier to use Dual Mode Seeker Brimstone,we would have had to extend the provision for the weapon and conduct a full trials programme on Harrier.

Although capable of carrying Storm Shadow,Harrier was not cleared to do so when it was withdrawn from service."


Harrier was capable of carrying Storm Shadow,numerous official statements confirm that.

Yet it is still common to hear claims to the contrary.

Full clearance for Storm Shadow to fly on the Harrier fleet was cancelled by the Royal Air Force in a "cost cutting exercise".

Harrier could also have carried a pair of Storm Shadows to a considerable unrefuelled combat radius.

Although some commentators seem to think otherwise,here is a comment from Thinkdefence:


"You also have to ask if with a pair of Storm Shadows, plus drop tanks, plus ECM and self defence systems a Harrier would have got off the deck at all, unless of course it would have had to take off almost empty of fuel and get refuelled in the air."

United States Navy figures (page 7 of this document) give the Harrier a Hi-Lo-Hi combat radius of 302 miles with 12 500 pound bombs (6,000 pounds total weapon load),strakes and no external fuel tanks,with no aerial refuelling.

A Harrier with 2 2,860 pound Storm Shadows (5,720 pounds total weapon load),strakes and no external fuel tanks tanks should have a Hi-Lo-Hi combat radius greater than 302 miles due to the slightly lower weight and drag.






British aircraft carriers have often operated around 50 miles off a hostile coast during combat operations,including during the Invasion of the Suez Canal Zone in 1956 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003.









It is reasonable to assume that a British aircraft carrier would launch Storm Shadow armed harriers from about 50 miles off the Libyan coast.

This would allow the Harriers to launch Storm Shadow missiles 252 miles or more inside Libyan territory.


Storm Shadow has an officially quoted "range in excess of 250km (156 miles)",a Harrier would be able to deliver 2 Storm Shadow missiles to targets beyond a radius of 458 miles from it's aircraft carrier.

This allows a Harrier to engage targets over 408 miles in side Libya from an aircraft carrier 50 miles off shore,with noaerial refuelling.



Royal Air Force Tornados launched Storm Shadow attacks on Libya from R.A.F. Marham,1,502 miles from Tripoli.



The Tornado's Hi-Lo-Hi combat radius is widely quoted as 863 miles with an unspecified weapon load.

This is far short of what would be required for a Tornado based at R.A.F. Marham to fire Storm Shadow missiles at targets in Libya without aerial refuelling.



Marham's Tornados required 4 aerial refuellings just to deliver 2 Storm Shadow missiles each against targets in Libya.

Each sortie involved an 8 hour,3,000 mile round trip.


Even with this vast amount of tanker support the Marham based Tornados were only ably to cover a small portion of Libyan territory.



With no aerial refuelling support at all a carrier based Harrier can range across much of Libya's territory while carrying a pair of Storm Shadow missiles.

Tornados launched 2 Storm Shadows each on the fringes of Libyan territory and needed 4 aerial refuellings to do that.


The Harrier could provide coverage with the Storm Shadow missile far superior to that of the Tornado.

It would also require no aerial refuelling.



"In operations such as Ellamy,on the periphery of Europe,the access,basing and over-flight restrictions that would necessitate carrier strike do not apply."

In order to attack Libya the Marham based Tornados required overflight rights from at least 2 countries and possibly many more depending on their route.

Each of these countries would have the potential to disrupt combat operations at any time as has happened on many occasions in the past.

Including during current operations in Afghanistan.

Harriers based on an aircraft carrier in international waters off the Libyan coast do not require over flight rights from any country.


Land based Tornados required Host Nation Support from Italy.

But Italy was opposed to the creation of a No Fly Zone (N.F.Z.) over Libya until the United Nations adopted Security Council Resolution 1973 on the 17th of March 2011.


Which is why Royal Air Force Typhoons did not begin flying sorties from Gioia Del Colle until the 21st of March 2011,2 days after a Royal Navy submarine had fired cruise missiles in to Libya.

The submarine was able to pre-position it's self before combat operations began as it did not rely on host nation support.

The first Typhoon combat sortie from Gioia Del Colle was the following day but the Typhoons could not conduct ground attack missions.

Tornados,which could,arrived in Italy only on the 22rd of March 2011,3 days after the Royal Navy had begun combat operations against Libya.



R.A.F. VC10 tanker aircraft and Sentry surveillance aircraft initially operated from the British base at Akrotiri on Cyprus.

This required them to spend approximately 4 hours in transit on each sortie.


To reduce this waste of flying hours they were sensibly relocated to a closer Italian base at Trapani-Birgi on Sicily.

Trapani-Birgi is a civilian airport,348 miles from Tripoli,which is also used by military aircraft.



Unfortunately one of it's main civilian users,Ryanair,complained that it's passengers were being inconvenienced by the Royal Air Force presence.

Consequently the Italian authorities were about to evict the R.A.F. from Trapani until preempted by the sudden end of combat operations.


Malta refused to grant host nation support to military aircraft involved in attacks on Libya.

But it did grant over flight rights.

Nevertheless,combat aircraft,including Royal Air Force Tornados,were sometimes forced to land at Malta International Airport.

When your air base is 582 miles away in Italy and you don't have enough fuel to get there,you have to land somewhere.

This would not have been a problem for a Harrier who's home was an aircraft carrier 50 miles off the Libyan coast.

Fortunately the Maltese government did not impound these aircraft  as the Brazilians did with a Vulcan bomber which was forced to divert there during the Falklands War in 1982.


In total the Royal Air Force used 6 airfields to conduct operations against Libya.

Of these,3 were on British Bases in the United Kingdom (R.A.F. Marham and R.A.F. Brize Norton) and Cyprus (R.A.F. Akrotiri).

Italy provided 2 more bases,one of which was at a semi-civilian airport (Trapani-Birgi and Gioia Del Colle).

Malta International Airport  provided an emergency landing site for combat aircraft which could not make it 582 miles back to Gioia Del Colle from Libya.


Had the United Kingdom deployed a catapult equipped aircraft carrier,none of these bases would have been necessary.


A fleet of Hercules and Globemaster transport aircraft was needed to deploy Royal Air Force units to their overseas bases.

These are the "replenishment vessels" of the Royal Air Force delivering tools,support equipment,parts and ordnance to bases in Italy and Cyprus.

But these aircraft are far more expensive to buy and operate than ships and an aircraft carrier would not require their support.


The RAF's No 2 (Mechanical Transport) Squadron transported 1,680 tonnes of kit down to the airfield at Gioia del Colle,including generators,air start trolleys,drop tanks,hydraulic rigs and weapon loaders for the Typhoons and Tornados.

An aircraft carrier would have all of this equipment on board,eliminating the need for transport aircraft or trucks to bring it in to theatre.



"There is simply no comparison in terms of platform capability,time on station or versatility between Tornado GR4s operating from a well-found NATO airfield in Italy and Harriers operating from a CVS*."

*A small Royal Navy aircraft carrier.


There are many factors which influence the combat and endurance of a combat aircraft.

These include weapon load,fuel load,runway length,temperature,altitude,speed and flight profile.
The chart above is from an official United States Navy document on the AV8B,the American version of the British Harrier G.R5/7/9 aircraft and gives us a good idea of that aircraft's capabilities.

Unfortunately such specific information is often unavailable and we have to deal with far less well defined figures.


The Royal Air Force claims that the Tornado has a combat radius of 460 miles (400 nautical miles) on a Lo-Lo-Lo flight profile with an unspecified weapon load.

This is not sufficient for a Tornado based at Gioia Del Colle to attack targets in Libya without aerial refuelling.



The Harrier G.R.9 has a Lo-Lo-Lo combat radius of 287 miles (250 nautical miles) with an unspecified weapon load according to the Royal Air Force.

Unlike the Tornado,a Harrier on a Lo-Lo-Lo flight profile can attack targets in Libya,with no aerial refuelling,when flying from an aircraft carrier 50 miles off the Libyan coast.




These Royal Air Force figures demonstrate that,on a Lo-Lo-Lo flight profile,the range and endurance of the carrier based Harrier are far superior to those of the Tornado for operations over Libya.


Various official and unofficial sources say that the Tornado has a Hi-Lo-Hi combat radius of 863 miles with an unspecified weapon load.



This allows only limited loiter time over Northern Libya which is why Tornados required several aerial refuellings on a typical 5.5 hour mission over Libya.



The Royal Air Force credits the Harrier with a radius of 402 miles (350 nautical miles) at medium level,again with an unspecified weapon load.



This gives the Harrier more time on station over Libya than a Tornado on a Hi-Lo-Hi flight profile with no aerial refuelling.



The above picture shows a typical weapon load for a Harrier on combat operations in Afghanistan.

It carries 2 500 pound bombs,2 rocket pods,a targetting pod,a reconnaissance pod and 2 drop tanks.


The closest configuration to that on the chart above is for a Harrier with 4 1,000 pound Mark 83 bombs and 2 300 Gallon drop tanks.


According to these United States Navy figures a Harrier would have a Lo-Lo-Lo combat radius of 363 miles (316 nautical miles) with this weapon load.

This allows the Harrier to attack targets up to 313 miles inside Libya with no aerial refuelling when based on an aircraft carrier 50 miles off shore.


Unlike a Tornado based at Gioia Del Colle,which cannot attack targets in Libya without aerial refuelling.


On a Hi-Lo-Hi flight profile the same aircraft has a combat radius of 661 miles.

That is enough to attack targets throughout most of Libya with no aerial refuelling.

That range could also be traded for endurance in the coastal areas.



Again,the Harrier offers range and time on station far superior to the Tornado  when flying a Hi-Lo-Hi flight profile.



"There is simply no comparison in terms of platform capability,time on station or versatility between Tornado GR4s operating from a well-found NATO airfield in Italy and Harriers operating from a CVS*."

*A Royal Navy aircraft carrier.

Time On Station Versus Flight Time


The above graph shows time on station over Libya versus total flight time for a Tornado based at Gioia Del Colle in Italy and a Harrier based on an aircraft carrier 50 miles off the Libyan coast.

It assumes that both aircraft transit to the combat area at a speed of 480 miles per hour or 8 miles per minute.

At this speed the Harrier has a transit time of 12.5 minutes while the Tornado has a transit time of 145.5 minutes.

Which means that the Tornado has to fly for over 145.5 minutes to spend any time on station over Libya at all,while for any sortie length beyond that the Harrier generates 133 more minutes on station per sortie than the Tornado.

During combat operations over Libya Tornados averaged about 5.5 flight hours per sortie which gives 184.5 minutes on station over Libya on each sortie at a transit speed of 480 miles per hour.

On a 5.5 hour sortie the carrier based Harrier would spend 317.5 minutes on station over Libya.

It would take 4.5 such Harrier sorties per day to keep one Harrier on station over Libya for 24 hours.

In contrast the land based Tornados would need to fly 7.8 daily sorties to keep one Tornado on station over Libya for 24 Hours.

During combat operations over Libya,Royal Air Force Tornados and Typhoons averaged about 9 sorties per day.

It is likely that the time on station generated by these sorties could have been generated by just 5 daily carrier based Harrier sorties.



Text to be continued at a later date due to issues with blogger.

93 comments:

TrT said...

I'm still unsure about Stormshadow, to the best of my knowledge, the biggest thing currently on a harrier is a 1000lb bomb.
Storm shadow weighs nearly 3000

GrandLogistics said...

Hello The Raging Tory,

Harrier was using 2,000 pound guided bombs in Afghanistan and it also carries 370 (U.S.) gallon drop tanks which are even heavier.
The tanks are a similar size to a Storm Shadow and Harriers can carry 4 of them.
See page 8 of this link:

http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/26738B86-7890-4FD3-B55E-A50167F3CE32/0/dlonews45june06.pdf

GrandLogistics.

Gabriele said...

Hi GranLogistics, you are writing an excellent review, very informative and interesting.

You might have this material already, but regarding Harrier GR9 and Storm Shadow there are two interesting documents that prove that Storm Shadow was compatible and planned.
Indeed, the Storm Shadow, Brimstone and Maverick trio was used by the RAF to secure funding for the GR9 upgrade, against Sea Harrier.

From an article i wrote on my own blog time ago:

Prior to the upgrade, there was a study program on the airframe to prove that it could be done:
BRCP821 study
http://www.airsceneuk.org.uk/hangar/2002/gr9/gr9.htm

Harrier GR9 was to carry Storm Shadow, Brimstone and Maverick. The evidence is in the Parliamentary report "Delivering Front Line Capability to the RAF", dated 2006, at upgrade already undergoing. (indeed, the upgrade was contracted for in 2003, physically began in 2004 and had to be finished by 2007). Everyone with enough patience to do so, can scroll down to Page 15 of the report and read it here: http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmdfence/557/557.pdf.

The document was presented to Parliament in 2006. The GR9 was already flying. The upgrade was to conclude the following year, even if, as we know, successive weapon integration process and spiral upgrades were ongoing still as of 2010.

Either the RAF lied for at least 10 years, from 1996 to 2006, promising a capability that couldn't really be provided in order to get money for the upgrade and get their hands on the carrierborne aviation, or we are being fed with lies now when they talk of Harrier as if it could not use the weaponry.

Either way, it is a messy and sad saga. This is the link to my article of the time, if you do not mind: http://ukarmedforcescommentary.blogspot.it/2011/04/fleet-air-arm-raf-past-and-future.html

Keep up the good work, i've been waiting for a new post of yours for quite some time!

Gabriele

GrandLogistics said...

Hello Gabriele,

I have read your site,it is always well researched and logical.
It is rare that I find anything to disagree with you about.
But I do plan to write something about heavy forces and why you don't need 5 of them!

I mentioned B.R.C.P.821 back in 2010:

http://grandlogistics.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/what-to-cutharrier-versus-tornado.html

I also mentioned that report:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmdfence/557/55706.htm

It is clear that a great deal of disinformation has been put about regarding the Harrier.

There is one big question which has to be answered.

Did the Royal Air Force tell the Prime Minister that the Tornado should be retained because Harrier could not fire Brimstone and Storm Shadow,neglecting to mention that Harrier could fire these missiles also?

Did the Royal Air Force tell the Prime Minister that the Tornado had better range,payload and endurance than the Harrier,neglecting to mention that the Tornado is usually based much further from the action giving the Harrier a significant advantage in all these areas?

Did the Royal Air Force exploit the lack of military knowledge within the political class to mislead them?

Bear in mind the notorious comments to the Defence Committee about the Sea Harrier.

Also bear in mind the cost of keeping Tornado and Voyager and scrapping Nimrod.

This could potentially be a £20 Billion scandal.

The Royal Air Force's News Of THe World moment.

The Prime Minister needs to tell Parliament what persueded him to retain Tornado.


GrandLogistics.

Chuck Hill said...

Great to see you back.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello Chuck Hill,

thankyou,hopefully there will be more posts in the not too distant future.

Once this one is complete!


GrandLogistics.

Topman said...

Hello GL

I'm not sure you've put the right links up. The 4 tank fit harrier doesn't say how much fuel is in it. If they were full they would weigh 2500lbs, but we don't know that.

The reports just say that it was planned to integrate them. That's not really the smoking gun you make it out to be. Having worked on trials, you can write all the reports you want. Until you come to the trial stage they count for little. Sometimes things just don't work. Although I wasn't there at the time of the Harrier SS trial, but having spoken to people that were it was a very difficult process to get into the a/c. A 500lbs HES had to be fitted to the other side. As far as I know it never flew and was considered inpracticable to operate with it. It could be carried in the sense that it could be attached to the a/c. But that's some way away from from being able to fly and operate.
There's also the other angle you've not touched on. Which to my mind is more likely (but more dull) why would you want to fit a weapon to 2 types for something you would only use every few years? Telic and Ellamy are it's only two operationally launches. They may will have been a geniune will to do so, but when the bean counters get hold of it. That will be the question they will ask.
The cost of the trials are incredibly expensive, try finding somewhere that will let you fire a SS. Budgets and priorities change, it doesn't always mean there is some conspiracy behind it all.

Regards Topman.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back!

The services should be looking at the best solutions, and less at who gets the creadit for the ops.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello Anonymous,

thankyou and I agree.


GrandLogistics.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello Topman,

thank you for mentioning links,I had not checked them all and a few needed to be fixed.

That was the most official link I could find regarding the weight trials.
It was a long time ago and there is far less about it online now than there was 18 months ago when I last covered this subject.

The Harrier's engine upgrades and these trials were meant to make it possible to return to operate from a carrier with heavier weapon loads.
I recall Storm Shadow being specifically mentioned in that regard.

The normal maximum take off weight for a Harrier is around 31,000 pounds.
I believe the intention was to increase that to 34,000 pounds but QuinetiQ only said that they acheived a World record weight without specifying any numbers.

The normal ferry configuration for a AV8B/Harrier is 4 300 Gallon (U.S.) drop tanks with 7,915 pounds of internal fuel and 7,915 pounds of external fuel in the tanks.
That is at a take off weight of 30,605 pounds.
I think 4 370 gallon tanks would add around 2,000 pounds of fuel to that plus the weight of the larger tanks.

Storm Shadow became a matter of some political interest and there are now a number of ministerial statements which say the aircraft could carry the missile.
One of those specifically ruled out technical issues.

The Royal Air Force was planning to integrate Storm Shadow on Harrier,Typhoon and Tornado for many years.
It is normal practice to integrate weapons on as many aircraft as will take them in order to maximise the use you get from them.
Again there are documents going back many years which state Harrier was to get Storm Shadow.

The cost of the trials are tiny in comparison to the cost of retaining the Tornado fleet.
How much did it cost to integrate Storm Shadow on Tornado?
How much will it cost to integrate it on Typhoon?

I will cover the numbers relating to some of the Chief of the Air Staff's claims in future.
Suffice to say the time on station generated each day over Libya by the combined Tornado and Typhoon fleets could be matched by about 5daily sorties by carrier based Harriers.
Well within the sortie generating capacity H.M.S.Invincible demonstrated in the Falklands.


GrandLogistics.

Topman said...

Hello GL.

'One of those specifically ruled out technical issues.'

I'm sure that statement was made, but my understanding was that the statement is incorrect. Wouldn't be the first time a minister has got it wrong.

'It is normal practice to integrate weapons on as many aircraft as will take them in order to maximise the use you get from them.'

Not always when you consider the cost of integrating it against the operations it's used in and how often. The Treasury would highly unlikely to sign off having 3 sets of trials, including the Harrier which at the time even pre-trial needed lots of mods to carry it, if it were to be only used every 9 years (so far).

'I believe the intention was to increase that to 34,000 pounds but QuinetiQ only said that they acheived a World record weight without specifying any numbers.'

Again the bringback weight isn't specified. The landing weight tends to be more critical (very broadly) we've no idea of the landing weight. How much fuel was used before it landed ?


'Again there are documents going back many years which state Harrier was to get Storm Shadow.'

Like I said plans are one thing, doing it is another entirely.



'How much did it cost to integrate Storm Shadow on Tornado?
How much will it cost to integrate it on Typhoon?'

I don't know to be honest, in the tens of millions I would have thought.
For Typhoon current costings are £239m, but that includes PW and LIII integration which has already been done, along with Brimstone which has not. Ballpark figure? About £65m would be my guess.


a point I missed from earlier.
'Also bear in mind the cost of keeping Tornado and Voyager and scrapping Nimrod.

This could potentially be a £20 Billion scandal.'

I've seen your thoughts on GR4, but FTSA was too big to go. It wasn't the right choice for doing it. It was decided by GB it was PFI or nothing. It wasn't the RAF's choice and didn't want the FTSA as it stands but there wasn't any choice and it was better than nothing.

Regards Topman.

Bagman said...

Lots and lots of factual errors here GL I'm afraid.

Firstly, GR9 only ever conducted captive carry trials on legacy Brimstone and it was never integrated (due to funding for that and several other upgrades such as TIEC and ASRAAM being cut). DMSB was never test fired or carried.

SS was never realistically going to be carried by the Harrier. You mention drag and weight etc but this is an extremely simplistic perspective. Fatigue (eg of missile, wings and pylons) and acoustic and thermal derived issues from the nozzles were real (and costly) obstacles which gradually emerged and would have prevented SS carriage on GR9 without significant expenditure. Integration on a whole range of upgrades for both the GR4 and GR7/9 were cut around 2006 by HMT despite several re-attacks for funding by the RAF.

You suggest Hawkeyes could have provided coverage over Libya. Again untrue for a variety of reasons not appropriate for discussion here. Ever flown on an E-2?

A bigger issue however is that naval ISR assets such as E-2 and SKASaC lack the C2 and ISR capacity offered by AWACS, JSTARS, Sentinel etc. That's why the French E-2Cs only controlled AAR towlines (USN E-2s were allocated similar secondary tasks in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan for similar reasons).

As ever, Libya illustrates that naval assets utilised land based C2ISR and AAR assets every bit as much as land based assets. Oh, and several French naval assets also ended up night stopping in Malta and elsewhere!

You may also wish to do an FoI request as to how much naval logs were flown out to various locations and how much HNS the RN utilised for their own replen. Similarly, CdG spent over 40 days non-flying due to replen requirements (and other issues such as sea state etc). Land based assets flew every day of the op bar none.

Land based and maritime are complimentary and each have pros and cons. GR4 and GR9 are both excellent assets and the latter would undoubtedly have been useful in Libya. However, we could only afford to keep one. In terms of Libya, the GR4 was the most versatile especially given the larger fleet size avoided Afghan ops being curtailed.

I admire your sentiment and no-one mourns the passing of RN CVS more than I. However, with respect, you need to research your arguments a little more.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello Topman,

there have been numerous ministerial statements in Parliament about Harrier and Storm Shadow.
All of them said Harrier could carry the missile.
Are all of those statements wrong?
I can't think why ministers would claim Harrier could not carry Storm Shadow if it could not.

It is well documented in many official sources over a period of many years that the Royal Air Force planned to integrate Storm Shadow on the Harrier,Tornado and Typhoon.

I have found an interesting number regarding the Harrier's weight,details are not specified but it is a figure of over 35,000 pounds and it is in a recent official document.
I don't have any figures for the landing weight of a Harrier with the Mk.107 engine but as it produced about 15% more thrust it should have a vertical landing weight about 15% higher.
I understand that increasing bring back weight was one of the major drivers for the engine upgrade.

I would agree with your figure of "tens of millions" for weapon integration,that seems reasonable given other published figures.
Spending those tens of millions would have saved us thousands of millions by allowing us to retire the Tornado fleet by 2015 at which point we would have had 6 Typhoon squadrons and 2 or 3 Harrier squadrons.

Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (F.S.T.A.) is one of the worst scandals in defence procurement.
It is also a perfect illustration of where the problems lie.
For too long industry and specifically British industry has taken the flak for the Ministry of Defence.

In this case the supplier was not a British company and had a product bought by many other nations.

The Ministry of Defence still screwed it up.

During our last big war fighting operation in Iraq 2003 the Royal Air Force delivered the equivalent of just 5 daily A330 tanker sorties (and 40% of that was for foreign air arms).

Yet we have contracted for a fleet of 14 A330 tankers till 2035.

With significant reductions in the size of our air and ground forces this is a massive overcapacity.

The decision to aquire such a large fleet is probably why it ended up being a Private Finance Initiative (P.F.I).

Not that the 8 strong C17 fleet was purchased outright over the same period,despite costing a similar amount for each aircraft.

Thanks to that P.F.I. we have aircraft which cannot refuel our C17s and future Rivet Joints and do not have cargo doors which are considered essential by other users.
That lack of cargo doors means we will have to deploy C17s to carry cargo in support of the A330s.
While other countrys deploy the A330 on it's own as they specified cargo doors and floors.

I would have been very happy to see 6 or 7 A330s bought outright with cargo doors and booms.
That would have matched British transport and tanker requirements and would have cost far less than the P.F.I..

GrandLogistics.

Topman said...

'there have been numerous ministerial statements in Parliament about Harrier and Storm Shadow.
All of them said Harrier could carry the missile.
Are all of those statements wrong?
I can't think why ministers would claim Harrier could not carry Storm Shadow if it could not.'

Carry and operate are two different things. As I said above.

'It is well documented in many official sources over a period of many years that the Royal Air Force planned to integrate Storm Shadow on the Harrier,Tornado and Typhoon.'

I think your repeating yourself, I covered that above.


As to PFI maybe so, but it was PFI or nothing. The RAF wanted another option, but that was a non starter.

Bagman said...

‘I can't think why ministers would claim Harrier could not carry Storm Shadow if it could not.’

Because the statements were made prior to real integration work (and issues) being conducted and/or concerns were being buried by BAeS?

‘It is well documented in many official sources over a period of many years that the Royal Air Force planned to integrate Storm Shadow on the Harrier, Tornado and Typhoon.’

Yep, and the funding was cut for GR9 just as other upgrades were for both platforms (eg TIEC and ASRAAM).

To be honest, I can see no real value in integrating SS onto GR9 given the funding caps we’ve faced in recent years. Whilst SS is broadly similar in size and possibly weight to a GR9 underwing fuel tank, you conveniently fail to mention the not inconsiderable factor that the SS is not full of fuel! Realistically, a GR9 would have to drop one bag for each SS carried (SS was only ever planned to be carried on the inboard pylons) which would have a significant impact upon it’s range (moving the bags outboard required a reduction in fuel and also impacted other stores configurations)...

Bagman said...

...‘The Ministry of Defence still screwed [FSTA] up.’

Incorrect. Gordon Brown’s HMT stated unequivocally that FSTA funding would only be available in PFI form. It was PFI or nothing.

‘During our last big war fighting operation in Iraq 2003 the Royal Air Force delivered the equivalent of just 5 daily A330 tanker sorties (and 40% of that was for foreign air arms).

Yet we have contracted for a fleet of 14 A330 tankers till 2035.

With significant reductions in the size of our air and ground forces this is a massive overcapacity.’

Exactly what planet are you on GL?

Firstly, in EVERY single coalition op the UK has been involved in, AAR is at a premium with the hours flown more a reflection of the age of the fleets involved. In Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, we could have tripled AAR provision and we and our allies would have still wanted more. Indeed, Afghanistan has seen the RAF VC10 and Tristar fleets almost become a private AAR service for the USN who rely ENTIRELY on land based tanking to conduct ops up country.

Enablers such as ISTAR and AAR provide hugely disproportionate influence within a coalition; far more so than fast air.

However, you spectacularly miss the point that FSTA is also a strat AT asset designed primarily for trooping. Spend just one hour at DSCOM, KAF or Brize and you’ll realise how stretched the Air Bridge is. Do you HONESTLY believe that such excess capacity would survive first contact with the HMT scrutiny?!!! Still, this all makes for an amusing departure from the normal ‘the RAF don’t care about anything but fast jets’ mantra!

‘The decision to aquire [sic] such a large fleet is probably why it ended up being a Private Finance Initiative (P.F.I).’

Incorrect. PFI was purely an HMT decision.

‘Thanks to that P.F.I. we have aircraft which cannot refuel our C17s and future Rivet Joints and do not have cargo doors which are considered essential by other users.
That lack of cargo doors means we will have to deploy C17s to carry cargo in support of the A330s.
While other countrys deploy the A330 on it's own as they specified cargo doors and floors.’

The RAF wanted cargo doors (although I don’t believe RAAF jets have the door either). The lack of boom is not a major drama. We’ve never needed to tank our C-17s (not least as ours have the additional centre wing fuel tanks) and even USAF crews very rarely use the option (most of their sqns are not even current). Boom would be useful for RJ but its endurance is pretty good anyway and a coalition boom will nearly always be available. A far bigger issue is that FSTA is not provisioned to receive fuel and funding for other key capabilities is also at a premium.

But again, HMT made it very clear that PFI was the only option even though the RAF and everybody else screamed ‘bad idea’. However, HMT don’t care about cost in the long term, if they can save cash in the short term. Like it or not, that’s the real world GL.

Regards,
Bagman

GrandLogistics said...

Hello Bagman,

you are half right,there are many factual errors but they are in your comments rather than my post.

You made rather a lot of points,I shall have to go through them one by one as blogger limits the size of replys.

Bagman said

"Firstly, GR9 only ever conducted captive carry trials on legacy Brimstone and it was never integrated (due to funding for that and several other upgrades such as TIEC and ASRAAM being cut). DMSB was never test fired or carried."

This is not correct.
Integration of Brimstone on Harrier was not cut.
Harrier had an emergency clearance to fire Brimstone before it was withdrawn from service.
Work to acheive full integration was ongoing when the decision to withdraw Harrier was made.
As dual mode Brimstone is almost identical to baseline Brimstone it would require little extra integration effort,as was demonstrated with Tornado.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said

"SS was never realistically going to be carried by the Harrier. You mention drag and weight etc but this is an extremely simplistic perspective. Fatigue (eg of missile, wings and pylons) and acoustic and thermal derived issues from the nozzles were real (and costly) obstacles which gradually emerged and would have prevented SS carriage on GR9 without significant expenditure."

Storm Shadow was for many years planned to be carried by Harrier.
There are numerous ministerial statements saying it could be carried by Harrier and a minister has specifically ruled out any technical problems.
Are you suggesting that those ministers lied to Parliament?
Perhaps you could explain how "Fatigue and acoustic and thermal derived issues" could have "gradually emerged" when there had not even been a single flight trial?

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said;

"You suggest Hawkeyes could have provided coverage over Libya. Again untrue for a variety of reasons not appropriate for discussion here."

Airborne Early Warning and Control is critical to modern combat operations.
The Royal Air Force Sentry fleet yet again demonstrated it's inability to provide round the clock coverage during recent operations in Libya.

I understand the 2 Sentrys deployed managed only 5-6 hours on station per day between them.
This is the norm rather than the exception for the Sentry fleet.
It is the result of poor force generation (often only 2-4 aircraft "fit for purpose" out of 7),poor sortie generation (often only 1 sortie per aircraft every 2 days) and many flight hours (around a third) being wasted in long transit flights from their bases.

It took 8 Sentrys from N.A.T.O.,France,the U.K. and the U.S.A.,flying from at least 4 air bases,to keep just one Sentry on station near Libya.
Britain will never again be able to conduct independent war fighting unless the Sentry fleet is replaced with aircraft which can provide round the clock coverage.

Sentry is useful when operating alongside our N.A.T.O. or E.U. allies but as Air Marshal Jock Stirrup pointed out if we can rely on our allies to provide a capability during coalition operations there is no reason for us to duplicate that capability.

The United States Navy,which has far more combat experience than the Royal Air Force,is purchasing the E2D Hawkeye to support it's carrier wings,which are far larger than any force the United Kingdom will deploy in future.

The E2D is of course far more advanced than the ancient Sentry.
Hawkeye has a modern radar system,Co-operative Engagement Capability and Ballistic Missile Defence capability,all of which the Sentry lacks.

Best of all,buying a fleet of Hawkeyes would save thousands of millions of pounds compared to the cost of replacing the Sentrys in 2025.
We could use that money to save the British Army from further draconian cuts.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"A bigger issue however is that naval ISR assets such as E-2 and SKASaC lack the C2 and ISR capacity offered by AWACS,JSTARS, Sentinel etc."

The wonderful thing about modern air warfare is the trend towards ever fewer aircraft in the battle space (and fewer still with pilots).
During the Libyan operation N.A.T.O. forces averaged just 5.4 sorties per hour and less than 2 of those were strike sorties.
It is clearly not neccessary to have 10 workstation operators in a Sentry to control such a very low level of air traffic.
The 4 operators on an E2D Hawkeye should have little difficulty with such a very low workload.

Of course the E2Ds systems are state of the art,unlike those on the Sentry which lacks the C2 and I.S.R. capacity for Co-operative Engagement Capability and Ballistic Missile Defence.
The Sentrys radar is so old it is rumoured that it was originally designed to track Pterodactyls.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman Said:

"As ever, Libya illustrates that naval assets utilised land based C2ISR and AAR assets every bit as much as land based assets. Oh, and several French naval assets also ended up night stopping in Malta and elsewhere!"

British Tornados and Typhoons required more tanker support than carrier aircraft due to having to fly an extra 1,160 miles in transit on every sortie.
Carrier aircraft will of course use tanking if it is available but they certainly did not need it,unlike the Tornados and Typhoons.
Particularly as carrier aircraft can refuel on the deck of their ship a matter of minutes flying time off shore.

Tornados and Typhoons on the other hand needed several aerial refuellings on each sortie just to spend around 3 hours on station.
A Rafale M on Charles De Gaulle in the Gulf of Sirte can spend a similar amount of time on station with no aerial refuelling.
The same is true of the recently retired British Harriers.

Just think how much money we could save if we didn't need to spent £11,000 Million on tanker support for the Tornado fleet!
That is a lot of infantry regiments saved from the axe.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagger said:

"You may also wish to do an FoI request as to how much naval logs were flown out to various locations and how much HNS the RN utilised for their own replen."

Perhaps you are not familiar with naval operations,I would not expect a member of the Royal Air Force to be.
But if you were familiar with naval operations you would know that warships routinely spend many months at sea without putting in to port.
They have been doing that for hundreds of years.

A modern warship like H.M.S.Daring can spend 45 days at sea without replenishment (I understand the Type 26 frigates will have an endurance of 60 days) when she does need replenishment a Royal Fleet Auxiliary comes along side and gives her everything she needs for another 45 days on station.

This is how the Royal Navy managed to fight the Falklands War 7,000 miles from the nearest British naval base.
During that conflict H.M.S. Invincible spent 166 days at sea without putting in to port once,including 45 days of intense combat operations.
Despite having fewer aircraft the 2 British aircraft carriers in that conflict generated 4 times as many sorties each day as the Royal Air Force Tornados and Typhoons managed over Libya.

But it was nice of the Royal Air Force to take the Royal Navy's mail bags out to Italy on their routine flights to support the Tornado and Typhoons based there.
I am sure the matelots were happy to get their letters from home more quickly.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

(sorry,I just noticed I got your name wrong.)

"Similarly, CdG spent over 40 days non-flying due to replen requirements (and other issues such as sea state etc). Land based assets flew every day of the op bar none."

Despite having returned a month earlier from 4 months supporting operations in Afghanistan,Charles De Gaulle spent 138 days at sea supporting operations over Libya during which she conducted flying operations on 120 days.
Her 16 fast jets averaged about 11 combat aircraft sorties a day.
The 18-22 British Tornados and Typhoons in Italy averaged just 9 sorties per day.
But you are correct,it was very inconvenient that Britain could not send an aircraft carrier to replace Charles De Gaulle when she finally had to go home after spending 9 of the last 12 months on combat operations.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"Land based and maritime are complimentary and each have pros and cons."

I agree completely,nobody would have suggested that an aircraft carrier in the North Sea was an appropriate tool for applying air power against Soviet forces pouring across the inner German Border.
But in Libya we saw land based Tornados and Typhoons being used to do the job of carrier aircraft.
That is like using a spanner to hammer in a nail.

The grotesque inefficiency of this approach is highlighted by the fact that a fleet of 219 Royal Air Force Tornados and Typhoons was only able to generate an average of just 9 daily combat sorties over Libya.
During the Falklands War a fleet of 31 Sea Harriers generated an average over 30 daily combat sorties.

Only 10% of the Tornado and Typhoon fleets deplyed for operations over Libya versus 90% of the Royal Navy's Sea Harrier fleet which deployed for the Falklands War.
Why does the Royal Air Force have such poor force generation?

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"GR4 and GR9 are both excellent assets and the latter would undoubtedly have been useful in Libya.However, we could only afford to keep one."

Because someone took the decision to keep the most expensive one we have had to get rid of the Nimrods and decimate the British Army to pay for that decision.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"In terms of Libya, the GR4 was the most versatile especially given the larger fleet size avoided Afghan ops being curtailed."

In Libya the Tornado was crippled by it's poor sortie generation (one sortie per aircraft every two days,far lower than other participants managed) and dependence on tanking.
Around half of the flying hours it did generate were of no military value at all as they were wasted on the 1,180 mile commute from it's base in Italy.

In 2010 there were just 28 (out of 136) Tornados fit for use in Afghanistan versus 40 (out of 72) Harriers which were fit for operations there.

A single squadron of just 9 carrier based Harriers could have generated as many hours on station as the 22 deployed Tornados and Typhoons managed over Libya thanks to the Harriers being based just a few minutes flying time off shore (H.M.S. Ocean was within 30 miles of the Libyan coast).

As Afghanistan requires 8 aircraft,it would have taken just 17 of the 40 combat ready Harriers to do both Libya and Afghanistan at the same time.
Clearly the Tornado fleet was not needed.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"I admire your sentiment and no-one mourns the passing of RN CVS more than I. However, with respect, you need to research your arguments a little more."

I don't mourn the "through deck cruisers" at all but I think it is a terrible tragedy that the British Army is being decimated just so the Royal Air Force can contine to deliver air power in the least cost effective manner.

Still,Libya did demonstrate that the land based Royal Air Force is completely incapable of providing round the clock air defence,close air support and airborne early warning to British land and sea forces.
The British armed forces should be shaped by cost effectiveness,military effectiveness and the national interest,not by naked interservice rivalry as has so often been the case in the past.

With respect,my points are all well researched,your's on the other hand do not appear to be.


GrandLogistics.

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"Because the statements were made prior to real integration work (and issues) being conducted and/or concerns were being buried by BAeS?"

That is the really interesting thing about this whole debate.
According to Government Ministers from the Ministry of Defence there were no problems integrating Storm Shadow on to Harrier.

It is possible that flight trials may have highlighted some issues.
But no flight trials had been conducted.

Why then are there so many people on various internet forums claiming Harrier can't carry Storm Shadow due to 101 different technical issues?

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"To be honest, I can see no real value in integrating SS onto GR9 given the funding caps we’ve faced in recent years. Whilst SS is broadly similar in size and possibly weight to a GR9 underwing fuel tank, you conveniently fail to mention the not inconsiderable factor that the SS is not full of fuel! Realistically, a GR9 would have to drop one bag for each SS carried (SS was only ever planned to be carried on the inboard pylons) which would have a significant impact upon it’s range (moving the bags outboard required a reduction in fuel and also impacted other stores configurations)..."

The recent operations in Libya demonstrated why it would have been worthwhile to integrate Storm Shadow on Harrier.
We could have had carrier based Harriers launching StormShadow from a ship off the Libyan coast rather than Tornados flying 3,000 miles from Marham to do the same job.**
Not to mention eliminating the need for Herculeses to fly StormShadows out to Italy (and then back again).

That would have allowed us to save somewhere between* £7,700 Million and £6,400 Million by retiring the Tornado fleet instead of the Harriers.
It would also have reduced the need for tanker aircraft,allowing another £5,000 Million or so to be saved by rightsizing the Voyager fleet.
That is a total saving of over £11,000 Million,which would have saved more important assets from the axe,such as the Nimrod fleet or infantry,armour and artillery regiments.

If you read the post again you will see that the figures I used to estimate the Harriers combat radius with 2 StormShadows (over 300 miles) very specifically did not include external fuel tanks.

The Harrier's external payload would allow it to carry 2 300 U.S.Gallon drop tanks in addition to 2 StormShadows.
External payload for a Harrier II with the latest Mk.107 engine is over 6 tonnes (according to the Americans),2 StormShadows weigh only about 2.5 tonnes.
So the figure I quoted without drop tanks is very conservative.

The United States' Marine Corps routinely carries 300 U.S. Gallon drop tanks on external pylons.
The Royal Air Force usually carries tanks on internal pylons.
The American way would lessen the asymmetric load effects of weapon release.

*Depending who's figures you believe.

**One mission was aborted in flight as civilians entered the target area in the hours it took for the Tornados to fly 1,500 miles to their release point.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"Exactly what planet are you on GL?

Firstly, in EVERY single coalition op the UK has been involved in, AAR is at a premium with the hours flown more a reflection of the age of the fleets involved. In Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, we could have tripled AAR provision and we and our allies would have still wanted more."

As I said earlier,you have obviously not researched this subject.
We covered aerial refuelling in some detail in an earlier post:

http://grandlogistics.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/aerial-refuelling-demandby-numbers.html

Aerial refuelling is at a premium in every operation the Royal Air Force is involved in because the R.A.F. insists on flying from air bases hundreds of miles away from the combat area.
Take the Royal Air Force's land based aircraft away and tanker demand declines significantly.

For example,in Libya,where aircraft carriers were operating within 30 miles of the Libyan coast,the Royal Air Force was launching air strikes from 1,500 miles away in England and 580 miles away in Italy.
Carrier based Harriers could have done that operation with no aerial refuelling at all while the Royal Air Force Typhoons and Tornados routinely needed 2-4 aerial refuellings on each sortie.

It was the same story in Kosovo (and Bosnia),see here:

http://grandlogistics.blogspot.co.uk/2009/06/distance-to-target.html

There were 8 R.A.F. Tornados bombing Kosovo from a base 900 miles away in Bruggen Germany,they had 4 VC10 tankers in direct support with more tankers in Italy.
Some Tornados later deployed to Solenzara a mere 600 miles from Kosovo.
Meanwhile aircraft carriers were in the Adriatic,100 miles from Kosovo,from where they could operate without any aerial refuelling.

In Iraq,2003,one British wing was well forward in Kuwait but most R.A.F. aircraft were based at Al Udeid,400 miles from the Iraqi border while British aircraft carriers were again within 100 miles of Iraq in the Northern Gulf.

During the invasion of Afghanistan R.A.F. Tornados were based 1,500 miles from Kabul and never even flew a single combat sortie which is a good job given the massive tanker support they would have needed just to get to Afghanistan.

American carrier based Hornets and Tomcats fom the Arabian Sea were at least able to fly to Afghanistan and back without aerial refuelling,they only needed tanking to stay on station or extend their reach.
Unlike the land based American F15s,F16s,B52s and B1s,all of which required huge tanker support just to fly any mission in to Afghanistan.

Then there was the Falklands where carrier based aircraft had no tanker support at all and land based R.A.F. Bombers needed 14 aerial refuellingtankers to support each bombing mission.

In each of those conflicts if more carrier based aircraft had been used instead of land based aircraft aerial refuelling demand would have declined significantly.
See also Suez 1956 and Korea 1950-1953.

Bagman said:

"Indeed, Afghanistan has seen the RAF VC10 and Tristar fleets almost become a private AAR service for the USN who rely ENTIRELY on land based tanking to conduct ops up country."

R.A.F. Tristars and V.C.10 are refuelling British and other coalition aircraft over Afghanistan.
United States Navy Hornets and Superhornets are being refuelled by carrier based SuperHornets as well as land based United States Air Force and British Royal Air Force tankers on their Afghan missions.

The United States Navy actually has far more aerial refuelling tankers than the Royal Air Force has but they are mostly small tankers which are predominantlt used near the carrier for recovery tanking and for mission tanking.
They would normally top up the combat aircraft after take off from the carrier and again before landing.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

They were flying 2 sorties per aircraft per day during the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

But they are less well suited
to the long range work in post invasion Afghanistan.
Navy Pilots prefer a long hose British tanker to a probe and short hose U.S.A.F. tanker as it is easier to hook up to.

Post invasion Afghanistan,that is after air bases became available in country (5 months after combat operations started and 3 months after Kabul was captured)is one of the few instances where it made a lot of sense to use a land base despite the logistical and force protection burden.

Carrier based aircraft are capable of operating from a land base post invasion as well as flying from a sea base during the invasion phase.
Unlike R.A.F. Tornados which did not fly any combat sorties during the invasion of Afghanistan.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"Enablers such as ISTAR and AAR provide hugely disproportionate influence within a coalition; far more so than fast air."

That is hardly surprising given that Royal Air Force combat aircraft generated a mere 9 sorties per day during operations in Libya.

But British armed forces don't exist so that Royal Air Force officers can feel important when they are hob nobbing with officers from other air forces.

British armed forces exist to further the British national interest.
If they cannot conduct independent war fighting operations then they cannot do that.
Without round the clock Airborne Early Warning and Control British armed forces cannot conduct independent war fighting operations.
The Sentry fleet is incapable of providing round the clock Airborne Early Warning and Control.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"However, you spectacularly miss the point that FSTA is also a strat AT asset designed primarily for trooping. Spend just one hour at DSCOM, KAF or Brize and you’ll realise how stretched the Air Bridge is. Do you HONESTLY believe that such excess capacity would survive first contact with the HMT scrutiny?!!! Still, this all makes for an amusing departure from the normal ‘the RAF don’t care about anything but fast jets’ mantra!"

Again,you are clearly not familiar with the figures.
We have discussed this subject long ago:

"In 2010 there were 533 Royal Air Force and 443 civilian flights to Afghanistan.

A total of 976 flights for the year and an average of less than 2.7 flights a day,1.46 by the Royal Air Force and 1.19 daily civilian flights.

Very few aircraft would be required to maintain such a small number of flights."

Does the Royal Air Force really need 14 Voyagers to cover those 1.46 daily flights to Afghanistan?

Even allowing for unservicability and the infrequent flights to the Falklands and other places only 3 A330 Voyagers would be needed to support trooping flights (probably fewer still after the defence cuts).

Add in the reduced tanker demand of carrier based air power and it is difficult to see any need for more than 6 or 7 Voyagers.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"The RAF wanted cargo doors (although I don’t believe RAAF jets have the door either). The lack of boom is not a major drama. We’ve never needed to tank our C-17s (not least as ours have the additional centre wing fuel tanks) and even USAF crews very rarely use the option (most of their sqns are not even current). Boom would be useful for RJ but its endurance is pretty good anyway and a coalition boom will nearly always be available. A far bigger issue is that FSTA is not provisioned to receive fuel and funding for other key capabilities is also at a premium.

But again, HMT made it very clear that PFI was the only option even though the RAF and everybody else screamed ‘bad idea’. However, HMT don’t care about cost in the long term, if they can save cash in the short term. Like it or not, that’s the real world GL."

At last,I have found something we both agree on.

The boom is useful for Rivet Joint and Globemasters but not needed by the rest of the fleet.
It's main advantage is that it allows us to support foreign combat aircraft which don't have probes,including United States Air Force combat aircraft (i.e the majority of aircraft we operate alongside).
For coalition operations that is a huge benefit,it matters far less for British operations.
Getting a Globemaster to the Falklands in a hurry is about the only time I think it would be needed.
The lack of a probe is a much bigger issue for the Voyager,that eliminates a lot of options such as a homeward bound tanker offloading unused fuel to an outbound Voyager or refuelling a Voyager so it can get to the Falklands in one hop instead of stopping at Ascension (I used to think it could do that without refuelling but recent comments by senior officers suggest otherwise).

There are 2 very strange things about that Private Finance Initiative.
While the tankers were being procured on a P.F.I. the similarly expensive Globemasters were being purchased outright.
While it is understandable that the 5 Voyagers which are expected to be leased out do not have full militarisation,it is difficult to understand why the rest of the fleet could not have cargo floors etc..

The only good thing is that the virtually unmodified aircraft should be easier to pass on if the contract is renegotiated.


GrandLogistics.

Topman said...

A couple of points 'In Iraq,2003,one British wing was well forward in Kuwait but most R.A.F. aircraft were based at Al Udeid,400 miles from the Iraqi border while British aircraft carriers were again within 100 miles of Iraq in the Northern Gulf.'

But most combat aircraft were in Kuwait not at Al Udied.

'Are you suggesting that those ministers lied to Parliament?'

They probably didn't lie. The person reading out the statement wouldn't know what SS was if he fell over one. It didn't progress past ground trial phase.

'It is clearly not neccessary to have 10 workstation operators in a Sentry to control such a very low level of air traffic.'

They may well be busy on other tasks that E2D aren't capable those needing fewer people, because they aren't as capable although good though they are.

'But it was nice of the Royal Air Force to take the Royal Navy's mail bags out to Italy on their routine flights to support the Tornado and Typhoons based there.
I am sure the matelots were happy to get their letters from home more quickly.'

Put in the request see how much it was you might be surprised as to how much HNS all navies use.



But cutting to the chase 'The United States Navy,which has far more combat experience than the Royal Air Force' and 'I am sure the matelots were happy to get their letters from home more quickly'

What's with the chippiness?


'Her 16 fast jets averaged about 11 combat aircraft sorties a day.
The 18-22 British Tornados and Typhoons in Italy averaged just 9 sorties per day.'

Operations and the various arms aren't decided by numbers alone. Operations isn't a game of figures from wiki and top trumps like stats. The question (which is hard to quantify in such a simplistic way) is what effect did those sorties have? I can tell you first hand in COACs it is irrevelant not how many but what impact does it have. You can compare as many numbers as you like, until the effect is known they are (unsupported) meaningless.

Regards Topman

Topman said...

cont

'In Libya the Tornado was crippled by it's poor sortie generation (one sortie per aircraft every two days,far lower than other participants managed) and dependence on tanking'

You do know how tasking are generated and what level and by where?

'In 2010 there were just 28 (out of 136) Tornados fit for use in Afghanistan versus 40 (out of 72) Harriers which were fit for operations there.'

Without knowing anything more about it's hard for you to draw the conclusion you do. I could have easily have written it as. Why do Harriers have such poor a/c serviceability. They req'd some 40 a/c for 6 a/c in afghan(as they had for quite a while) whereas the much superior GR4 only reqd 28 a/c to be ready for ops and with this could provide 10 a/c.

Both statements are without looking into the story behind them meaningless.


'Only 10% of the Tornado and Typhoon fleets deplyed for operations over Libya versus 90% of the Royal Navy's Sea Harrier fleet which deployed for the Falklands War.
Why does the Royal Air Force have such poor force generation?'

To use that op as a bench mark and knock everything below that as poor is nonsense and you know it. Wonderful though it was, it was one off and I can't see it ever repeated by anyone anywhere.

'not by naked interservice rivalry as has so often been the case in the past.'

That statement could be apt for this blog.

'Meanwhile aircraft carriers were in the Adriatic,100 miles from Kosovo,from where they could operate without any aerial refuelling'

A good case in point, what effect did they have? My knowledge was they went just to make up numbers. The vast majority of the flights had no opertaional impact and were they just to wave the navy flag. The were to my knowledge asked to stop flying at times such was there non impact.

'the infrequent flights to the Falklands and other places only 3 A330 Voyagers would be needed to support trooping flights'

Go to brize and you'd be surprised where they are needed to fly to.

Regards Topman

Bagman said...

Hi GL,

I did take a trawl through some of your posts GL. With respect, you come across as a ‘Wikipedia Warrior’ who is adept at using statistics and drawing straight lines on maps to argue your case but who lacks military and/or relevant operational experience. As TM intimates, statistics are extremely misleading and can be manipulated to argue any standpoint. I have no particular beef with either land based nor maritime air power; as I said previously, each have their pros and cons.

What I do have is many years and thousands of hours of military flying under my belt, much of it in the conflicts to which you refer. That includes experience with and flying from USN carriers.

‘As dual mode Brimstone is almost identical to baseline Brimstone it would require little extra integration effort,as was demonstrated with Tornado.’

The fact you suggest that DMSB is ‘almost identical’ to legacy Brimstone speaks volumes GL. As you admit, DMSB was not cleared. Moreover, an OEC has limited applicability in terms of time and environments. They are very different to full integration with the operational software and Standard Conventional Loads (SCLs) being utilised and FULL weapons release is a time consuming and costly business.

Do you work for BAeS by any chance?

‘Storm Shadow was for many years planned to be carried by Harrier.’

Never said it wasn’t fella. However, it’s not been a serious option for years and neither the RAF nor RN have seriously pushed it for quite a time as everyone knew the money simply wasn’t available.

‘There are numerous ministerial statements saying it could be carried by Harrier and a minister has specifically ruled out any technical problems.
Are you suggesting that those ministers lied to Parliament?’

It wouldn’t be the first time would it. More likely however was that they were either mis-informed and/or didn’t understand the first thing they were talking about, or had a vested interest in maintaining the facade.

‘Perhaps you could explain how "Fatigue and acoustic and thermal derived issues" could have "gradually emerged" when there had not even been a single flight trial?’

Err…from static tests, computer modelling and the myriad of other development and integration testing that is conducted prior to flying!...

Bagman said...

‘Airborne Early Warning and Control is critical to modern combat operations.’

At times it is. However, it depends on the scenario. For instance a decent AAW asset such as a DDG or a land based radar may be perfectly adequate.

The Royal Air Force Sentry fleet yet again demonstrated it's inability to provide round the clock coverage during recent operations in Libya.’

Once again? Actually the RAF maintained a 24/7 orbit for the entirety of TELIC without a single minute being lost. Moreover, RAF and RN C2 assets have an exceptional reputation on ops amongst UK and coalition partners alike.

‘I understand the 2 Sentrys deployed managed only 5-6 hours on station per day between them.’

When flying from Cyprus sometimes although often it was longer. However, that was all they were tasked for. From Sig they maintained far longer. As an indication of what the type can do, sorties exceeding 18 hrs were conducted over Afghanistan.

‘It took 8 Sentrys from N.A.T.O.,France,the U.K. and the U.S.A.,flying from at least 4 air bases,to keep just one Sentry on station near Libya.’

Incorrect; often there were multiple E-3s airborne and deconfliction at times had to be carefully managed. However, bear in mind that even a single E-3 has several times the surveillance and C2 capacity and endurance than an E-2 of any variety.

‘Britain will never again be able to conduct independent war fighting unless the Sentry fleet is replaced with aircraft which can provide round the clock coverage.’

Utter rubbish. How many hours do you have in these aircraft types GL? How many times have you been controlled by them? How many times have you exchanged data with them?

Aside from the obvious endurance and C2 capacity advantages, the E-3 has significant capacity for additional tasks such as small command teams for specialist ops or ro-ro role specific equipment. Moreover, the platform’s broad area ASuW capability goes some way to offsetting the loss of MPA. Likewise, there are key benefits of commonality (airframes and engines in particular) with RJ. Upgrades will maintain the capability of the type at far lower cost than procurement of an entirely new type. That’s why ourselves, the USAF, NATO, France and Saudi Arabia are not planning on replacing the type. Of course perhaps they’re all wrong and you’re correct; then again perhaps not...

Bagman said...

‘… if we can rely on our allies to provide a capability during coalition operations there is no reason for us to duplicate that capability.’

Using that ridiculous argument GL, why do we need CVF or for that matter the vast majority of our armed forces?

‘The United States Navy,which has far more combat experience than the Royal Air Force,is purchasing the E2D Hawkeye to support it's carrier wings,which are far larger than any force the United Kingdom will deploy in future.’

Actually, the average USN aviator has far less operational experience than his RAF or RN colleague. The USN as an entity is clearly bigger. However, virtually every RAF or RN aircrew guy has combat time on several ops. Let me assure you that the inverse is certainly not true. Indeed, some CAGs can be surprisingly poor and integration into ops can be a nightmare for a period. There is a further significant diversion in abilities between East and West coast USN communities.

‘The E2D is of course far more advanced than the ancient Sentry.
Hawkeye has a modern radar system,Co-operative Engagement Capability and Ballistic Missile Defence capability,all of which the Sentry lacks.’

Once again, an enormous and baseless generalisation. AWACS Block 40/45, NATO MTIP and on-going French and UK upgrades make that a very tenuous argument indeed. However, even against a legacy E-3A system as fitted to current French E-3Fs, the most modern of E-2s still maintain far lower sensor coverage and C2 capacity. In short, it’s fairly academic how great the E-2Ds mission software is if it lacks the sensor coverage, operators and radios to talk to a package, provide C2/SURPIC to a myriad of naval assets and liaise with or relay ground force comms (eg FACs) whilst simultaneously retaining the capacity to reconfigure to CSAR tasks if required with minimal operational impact.

That is why E-2s are inevitably relegated to secondary or even tertiary tasks when E-3 and E-8s are available.

‘It is clearly not neccessary to have 10 workstation operators in a Sentry to control such a very low level of air traffic.
The 4 operators on an E2D Hawkeye should have little difficulty with such a very low workload.’

This is a most illuminating comment GL and suggests you really do have a negligible understanding of ops. ‘Control’ of traffic – air or otherwise – is just one of a great many tasks conducted by airborne C2 assets. Similarly, ‘unmanned’ assets often involve far greater numbers of operators on comms than conventional platforms.

‘Of course the E2Ds systems are state of the art,unlike those on the Sentry which lacks the C2 and I.S.R. capacity for Co-operative Engagement Capability and Ballistic Missile Defence.’

This is not the place to discuss specific capabilities about CEC nor BMD GL. CEC for instance is an enormously expensive capability which even the USAF are not fielding to any extent. However, again: how many hours do you have on these types or roles GL? Frankly, you’re talking rubbish. To be honest, the RN SKASaC has a better mission system than even the E-2D and the USN OT&E team were very impressed when they visited Culdrose for the first time some years ago!

bagman said...

‘Carrier aircraft will of course use tanking if it is available but they certainly did not need it,unlike the Tornados and Typhoons.’

In my experience of ops, carrier assets will often depend upon AAR at least as much if not more than land based assets. The former will routinely be required to launch at reduced fuel loads and – more importantly – will be required to hold significant diversion fuel in case of deck blacking. There does also seem to be a widely held but entirely erroneous belief that carriers can maintain an endless flow of assets due to their proximity. In reality, it is very difficult for cat/trap carriers to maintain constant ops for more than a day or so without exhausting men and materiel. Rather, a fairly fixed launch and recovery ‘cycle’ is established which allows naval assets to contribute to the ATO at fixed periods. Outside of those windows, they tend not to fly much. More on that later.

‘Just think how much money we could save if we didn't need to spent £11,000 Million on tanker support for the Tornado fleet!’

But tankers are not there simply for Tornados nor even UK assets. Moreover, we have to procure similar aircraft types anyway for strat AT!

‘Perhaps you are not familiar with naval operations,I would not expect a member of the Royal Air Force to be.
But if you were familiar with naval operations you would know that warships routinely spend many months at sea without putting in to port.
They have been doing that for hundreds of years.’

As mentioned, I have been lucky enough to spend much of my operational career with or alongside the USN; this included CVN flying. I’d be delighted to engage in a debate with you on the wider aspects of maritime operations whenever you would so wish so that we can examine your knowledge of AAW, ASuW, ASW, acoustics, EW, WEZ integration, Redcrown procedures, ATP-34 TASMO, Ident procedures, deck cycle patterns and the like.

Ships CAN spend months at sea under certain circumstances and that is one of their major advantages. However, by way of example, CdG spent over 40 days off the ATO due to the need for replen (as well as other factors such as sea state etc). Likewise, do you think carriers as well as other surface and sub-surface vessels enjoy Tardis like qualities in their weapons magazines? Moreover, the nature of maritime assets means that when they do go for replen, it often means we’d be gone for several days.

‘But it was nice of the Royal Air Force to take the Royal Navy's mail bags out to Italy on their routine flights to support the Tornado and Typhoons based there.
I am sure the matelots were happy to get their letters from home more quickly.’

Once again GL, the fact that you believe that Air deployed just mail speaks volumes for your understanding of or partiality regarding this topic.

"Despite having returned a month earlier from 4 months supporting operations in Afghanistan,Charles De Gaulle spent 138 days at sea supporting operations over Libya during which she conducted flying operations on 120 days.."
Just as many of the Coalition air assets and their crews (particularly from the USAF and RAF) swung straight from one op into another. Indeed, several UK air assets were supporting multiple regional ops at the same time with crews flying in different ops at times from day-day. RN SKASaC and AAC AH crews also fall into this category and did stirling work. Swings and roundabouts.
‘…it was very inconvenient that Britain could not send an aircraft carrier to replace Charles De Gaulle when she finally had to go home after spending 9 of the last 12 months on combat operations.’

UK carrier air would indeed have been very useful in support of Libya; I reiterate that the loss of GR9 and CVS worries me immensely. However, as in every single op which the UK has been in since 1982, carrier air was NOT essential to success...

Bagman said...

‘Because someone took the decision to keep the most expensive one we have had to get rid of the Nimrods and decimate the British Army to pay for that decision.’

Ah yes GL…the Crabs are responsible for the woes of the British Army! It’s all part of their master plan for world domination! Yawn!!

‘In Libya the Tornado was crippled by it's poor sortie generation (one sortie per aircraft every two days,far lower than other participants managed) and dependence on tanking.
Around half of the flying hours it did generate were of no military value at all as they were wasted on the 1,180 mile commute from it's base in Italy.’

Sortie stats seem to be a key tenets of your mindset GL. However, they are extremely misleading. Look past the sortie stats however and examine what percentage of key ‘dynamic’ and urban targets were destroyed by RAF crews. In this respect, GR4 rapidly became THE asset of choice with significant effort by the CAOC to ensure the type was tasked to key areas due to its weapons mix (especially DMSB). In contrast, many other assets were largely limited to pre-planned strikes against infrastructure (although the GR4 could and did also service these at times). Likewise, the RAPTOR pod again proved its worth, particularly in area tasks.

Carriers often generate higher sorties because a fair proportion of their efforts are on organic protection and other tasks such as DCA, ASuW barriers and buddy AAR. For instance, in the Falklands, SHars were obviously required to maintain DCA CAPs whereas the GR3s were only flying when requested by the land commander. During the same conflict I suspect that the Sea King ‘pinger’ ASW community flew more missions and hours than ‘jungly’ commando sqns. Does that therefore make the ASW community any more valuable to UK Defence? Of course not!

Statistics are a fairly one dimensional method of assessing mission effect...

Bagman said...

‘As Afghanistan requires 8 aircraft,it would have taken just 17 of the 40 combat ready Harriers to do both Libya and Afghanistan at the same time.
Clearly the Tornado fleet was not needed.’

And what of the other Military Tasks in UK Defence Planning Assumptions? You appear preoccupied with Afghanistan and Libya without acknowledging the wider commitments the UK has. The UK is required to retain a degree of readiness for a wide variety of UK, NATO and wider scenarios. 40 GR9s would have been insufficient.

Even in Libya, look beyond your statistical safety blanket at wider effect. It’s a B-I-G country (as is Afghanistan) and the supercruise capabilities of Typhoon in particular enabled it to rapidly transit to time sensitive targets. Subsonic assets such as AV-8Bs and AMX were somewhat constrained in this respect. No particular hit on those assets as every type has pros and cons. Once again swings and roundabouts.

‘With respect,my points are all well researched,your's on the other hand do not appear to be.’

You’re quite correct GL: I do not NEED to research my points as they’re based on many years of first hand operational experience. You have to research to find out what you’re talking about and your knowledge seems largely to be derived from open source information which will often be simplistic or even factually incorrect. If you do have military experience I’d love to know what it is as you’re being VERY disingenuous in the manner in which you present facts.


‘We could have had carrier based Harriers launching StormShadow from a ship off the Libyan coast rather than Tornados flying 3,000 miles from Marham to do the same job.’

There is a lot more to SS than merely strapping it to a jet. Planning facilities? Size of magazine? Ability to move the weapon around the ship (eg does it fit onto the weapons lifts?)? Clearance for the weapon (eg RFI etc) to be carried on a CVS which will be out of service soon (even had we kept GR9). There are several capabilities which I would have added to GR9 before SS got a look in.

‘The United States' Marine Corps routinely carries 300 U.S. Gallon drop tanks on external pylons.
The Royal Air Force usually carries tanks on internal pylons.
The American way would lessen the asymmetric load effects of weapon release.’

Actually RAF/RN GR9 often carried bags on the outboard pylons when carrying EPW3. The principal reason the USMC carry bags outboard is because their centre-line pylon is not wired for LIII. In contrast, the UK jets carried the broadly equivalent Sniper pod on shoulder pylons.

However, it’s not about asymmetry; that’s relatively easily managed. As mentioned, thermal and resonance will inevitably be more of a factor on the inboard pylons. Could it have been done? Almost certainly, but I suspect not without a lot more heartache and cost than you envisage, particularly when ship integration is factored in.

Bagman said...

‘As I said earlier,you have obviously not researched this subject.
We covered aerial refuelling in some detail in an earlier post:

http://grandlogistics.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/aerial-refuelling-demandby-numbers.html’

I know, another post with extremely flawed and simplistic analysis.

‘It was the same story in Kosovo (and Bosnia),see here…aircraft carriers were in the Adriatic,100 miles from Kosovo,from where they could operate without any aerial refuelling.’

I flew throughout Kosovo old chap. Firstly our carriers were not always closer to ops than the land bases! But it is an interesting illustration of the relative pros and cons of land and carrier based air.

The USN CVNs would typically launch 2 or 3 cycles per day at fairly set times. These strike packages were limited to Kosovo as the northern targets in Serbia were more effectively targeted by Coalition assets from Italy, Germany and the UK. During the carrier windows, several tankers would be allocated to top up their fuel before and sometimes after ingress. This is no particular hit on the CAG, just a reflection that assets will often be forced to punch tanks during a sortie or may receive battle damage. But let’s drop the charade that carrier aircraft do not use tankers on a routine basis.

Meanwhile, it is extremely difficult for even a USN CVN to maintain a constant deck operations for all types and missions for more than a few days without a recovery period. This is due to the challenges of moving aircraft around for refuelling, rearming, reconfiguring and obviously because of the more limited weapons stocks available. It therefore makes sense for the CAOC to task the carriers to set launch and recovery windows. Outside of those windows, the CVNs largely limit themselves to organic ops such as DCA CAPs and ASuW/ASW. This latter point is a key reason why carriers on paper have higher sortie rates; to an extent they become a ‘self-licking lollipop’ launching missions for their own self-protection or support but which are not contributing to the op per se. Flying from a CVN is impressive and exhilarating but naval aviators will (reluctantly) admit they can rarely replicate the SUSTAINED sortie rates available to land bases. That’s one reason why they’re complimentary.

In contrast, the vast majority of operational combat and combat support missions were flown from land bases during Kosovo (and pretty much all other ops in the last few decades) where ramp space, log capacity (for fuel, weapons, expendables, LOX etc) as well as support infrastructure (eg mission planning and specialised imagery exploitation) was inevitably far greater...

Bagman said...

‘In Iraq,2003,one British wing was well forward in Kuwait but most R.A.F. aircraft were based at Al Udeid,400 miles from the Iraqi border while British aircraft carriers were again within 100 miles of Iraq in the Northern Gulf.’

Al Udeid was just one UK base; there were many others. Similarly, the carriers were within 100nm of a single part of Iraq. Yet ops took place across the entirety of the country. Using your simplistic stats therefore, carrier assets were further away from the majority of the operational zone than those land based assets in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and several other locations. Swings and roundabouts; lies damned lies and statistics. Does this make land or carrier based more or less effective? Not really as the relevance of each will ebb and flow based on any number of factors (operational and tactical scenario, priorities, weather etc); again, they are complimentary.

But it does again illustrate the fallacy of basing arguments on raw stats.

‘American carrier based Hornets and Tomcats fom the Arabian Sea were at least able to fly to Afghanistan and back without aerial refuelling,they only needed tanking to stay on station or extend their reach.
Unlike the land based American F15s,F16s,B52s and B1s,all of which required huge tanker support just to fly any mission in to Afghanistan.’

USN fast air tanked on virtually every sortie I was involved in during the initial stages of OEF and even utilised FOBs at times. AAR was provided by land based AAR.

USN fast air flew the majority of sorties in the first few weeks for the very fair sortie regeneration rate you mention. However, a statistical analysis of weapons delivered will show that land based USAF assets delivered by far the greater amount of weapons to target. However, as ever, such statistics are meaningless and must be taken in the broader context of the operation. Neither USN sortie rate nor USAF weapons delivery mean one or the other is superior or inferior.

‘R.A.F. Tristars and V.C.10 are refuelling British and other coalition aircraft over Afghanistan.’

Yep, never said they weren’t. For the record UK tankers also tank or have tanked USMC, French Navy and Air Force, Italian and Luftwaffe types over the Stan. However, the majority of their tanking goes to USN assets when the latter are in town. Pretty much every single USN trip will tank; land based assets often do not just as carrier assets may not elsewhere. Again, swings and roundabouts.

‘United States Navy Hornets and Superhornets are being refuelled by carrier based SuperHornets as well as land based United States Air Force and British Royal Air Force tankers on their Afghan missions.’

Buddy tanking is generally only conducted in the vicinity of the carriers. Even when the USN still had the S-3B for use as a tanker, I never saw one in Afghanistan and land based coalition tanker assets (or FOBs) have been critical to carrier air from the outset...

Bagman said...

‘The United States Navy actually has far more aerial refuelling tankers than the Royal Air Force has but they are mostly small tankers which are predominantlt used near the carrier for recovery tanking and for mission tanking.
They would normally top up the combat aircraft after take off from the carrier and again before landing.’

There is a world of difference in value between an FA-18E buddy tanker and a ‘heavy’ tanker such as a VC-10 or KC-135. FA-18Es buddy tankers require reconfiguration and their removal from other tasks (although it’s an excellent way to build hours on type!). As you say, buddy tankers are largely utilised as post/pre-launch top ups and for small numbers of aircraft, especially the various DCA and ISR assets dedicated to organic tasks. However, for the vast majority of work up country, land based AAR is utilised due to the far greater capacity available. This also prevents the naval assets from having to return to their ships for top up from the buddy tankers.

‘Navy Pilots prefer a long hose British tanker to a probe and short hose U.S.A.F. tanker as it is easier to hook up to.’

Let me assure you that all fast jet pilots prefer a long hose to the Boom Drogue Attachment ‘condom’! This especially true when the idiot boom op still tries to ‘fly’ the drogue!!

‘But British armed forces don't exist so that Royal Air Force officers can feel important when they are hob nobbing with officers from other air forces.
British armed forces exist to further the British national interest.’

A somewhat naïve comment with a fairly puerile cheap shot imho GL. It’s not about hob-knobbing any more than the desire in some quarters (but by no means all!) of the RN to obtain 2 x CVF is about staying in the big league. Our national interest is more often than not intimately linked to maintaining influence within a coalition. You may not appreciate that fact, but it’s reality.

‘Even allowing for unservicability and the infrequent flights to the Falklands and other places only 3 A330 Voyagers would be needed to support trooping flights (probably fewer still after the defence cuts).
Add in the reduced tanker demand of carrier based air power and it is difficult to see any need for more than 6 or 7 Voyagers.’

I’m afraid that comments such as these are again indicative of your lack of understanding of the subject GL.

I wouldn’t even expect to see Voyager to be used very often for Falklands trooping often; that’s been contracted for quite a while.

However, UK QRA; Falklands QRA; tri-service training, trials and trooping (eg AUTEC for the RN; MEDMAN, Kenya and AH training for the Army; FLAGS for the RAF); UK training and currency for RAF and in due course hopefully again RN aircraft; logs support to our overseas territories; operational support to all 3 services around the world (of which HERRICK trooping and AAR support is just one example) and a myriad of other tasks mean that the RAF AT/AAR fleet has been stretched to (and increasingly beyond) the limit for many years.

It may be difficult for you to look beyond the headlines of Libya and Afghanistan GL. However, thankfully there are people at DSCOM, Brize and elsewhere who have a more realistic appreciation of current and envisaged tasks. Once again, do you think that HMT would be willing to accept ANY excess capacity?!! As mentioned, go to DSCOM and ask to spend an hour with the taskers.

In short, the UK has more Military Tasks than Afghanistan...

Bagman said...

‘The lack of a probe is a much bigger issue for the Voyager,that eliminates a lot of options such as a homeward bound tanker offloading unused fuel to an outbound Voyager or refuelling a Voyager so it can get to the Falklands in one hop instead of stopping at Ascension (I used to think it could do that without refuelling but recent comments by senior officers suggest otherwise).’

Agreed although being unable to ‘force extend’ tankers by moving fuel between AAR assets for towline management is probably a bigger drawback.

‘There are 2 very strange things about that Private Finance Initiative.
While the tankers were being procured on a P.F.I. the similarly expensive Globemasters were being purchased outright.’

Something which HMT used to defend their direction. Don’t forget however that the initial C-17s were leased (again, against the advice of the military).

‘While it is understandable that the 5 Voyagers which are expected to be leased out do not have full militarisation,it is difficult to understand why the rest of the fleet could not have cargo floors etc..’

Because it’s cheaper.

In summary GL, there is a constant thread of reliance on statistics throughout your blog. That’s all very commendable and you clearly have more time on your hands than I. However, statistics (especially when used from open source) are a particularly poor way to derive conclusions and rarely expose the whole story. As TM has stated, the same stats could be manipulated in other ways to derive opposing answers.

However, REAL operational experience quickly exposes Wikipedia Warriors and I’m afraid that I’d place you in that category. However, your background is to some extent irrelevant. What’s needed these days is partial and objective assessments of defence capabilities. There will always be single service agendas and every service is guilty of that; sadly it’s human nature. Thankfully however, the vast majority of UK military personnel remain consummate professionals who strive to make the best of increasingly limited resources in an objective, impartial and qualified manner.

I wish your blog well for the future GL and again commend your efforts. However, with respect, I will not be returning balance and informed knowledge is almost entirely absent from your posts so far.

Regards,
Baggers

GrandLogistics said...

Hello,

Topman said:

"But most combat aircraft were in Kuwait not at Al Udied."

A little over half of the combat aircraft were in Kuwait by my calculations.
The rest at Al Udeid or Prince Sultan.

There were two very good things which should be noted about the aircraft in Kuwait.
The Harriers based there performed very well.
The wing was commanded in combat by a Wing Commander.
Which is rather rare in the Royal Air Force where Wing Commanders usually command squadrons.


GrandLogistics.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello,

Topman said:

"They probably didn't lie. The person reading out the statement wouldn't know what SS was if he fell over one. It didn't progress past ground trial phase."

Ministers may not know one end of a missile from the other but they have a whole department behind them to keep them informed.
If a defence minister says Storm Shadow could be carried by Harrier then someone involved with that project has passed that up the chain of command to the minister.

Even when a minister announced that Storm Shadow was not going to be integrated on Harrier he specifically said that it could be carried in the same statement.
There was no mention of technical issues at all.


GrandLogistics.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello,

Topman said:

"They may well be busy on other tasks that E2D aren't capable those needing fewer people, because they aren't as capable although good though they are."

The E2D is far more capable than the Sentry in some areas and the Sentry has it's own advantages.
But it comes down to cost and coverage.

The Army and Navy need round the clock cover and the Sentry fleet is not able to provide that.
If all we ever do is coalition operations alongside the Americans and Europeans that is not a problem but if we are always operating alongside countries with Sentry fleets we don't need any of our own.

If we are to ever conduct independent operations we will need round the clock cover which Sentry cannot provide.
Which is why we have the SeaKings A.S.A.C.s.
But they are highly vulnerable and lack the range,speed and endurance to hold station far from their base.
Our full time surface forces will have only part time air support.

The cost of operating and replacing both the Sentrys and the SeaKings will far exceed the cost of replacing both with around 7 Hawkeyes.

As far as I am aware there is currently no funding for a Sentry replacement in 2025.
I would hate to see our Airborne Early Warning capability go the way of the Nimrods because we failed to explore more cost effective options.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Topman said:

"Put in the request see how much it was you might be surprised as to how much HNS all navies use."

Navies routinely operate without Host Nation Support and always have done.
Though they will certainly make use of a local port if one is available.
It is cheaper to source things locally and it let's the crew stretch their legs.

Charles De Gaulle was operating a day's sailing from friendly naval bases but she was still spending a couple of months at a time without putting in to port during the Libyan operation.
British warships were doing the same.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Topman said:

"Operations and the various arms aren't decided by numbers alone. Operations isn't a game of figures from wiki and top trumps like stats. The question (which is hard to quantify in such a simplistic way) is what effect did those sorties have? I can tell you first hand in COACs it is irrevelant not how many but what impact does it have. You can compare as many numbers as you like, until the effect is known they are (unsupported) meaningless."

numbers are not everything but they are fundamental to warfare and the study of it and always have been.An aircraft has no military effect if it is sitting on a runway or spending hours in transit.
The low level of air power applied in Libya directly translated in to a lower attrition rate,longer campaign time and increased rebel and civilian casualties.

The desperate attempts by the Foreign Secretary to get other nations to deploy aircraft and the ever increasing number of British aircraft deployed bear testament to the fact that the aircraft in theatre were not generating as much combat power as was needed.

We simply cannot afford to deal with that problem by spending more money.
What we need is more efficiency.


Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Topman said:

"You do know how tasking are generated and what level and by where?"

The British Tornados and Typhoons were being tasked by the same C.A.O.C.(Poggio Renatico),to perform the same tasks as the Canadian F18s,French Rafales and Danish F16.
They just did less,proportionally.
The C.A.O.C. is not going to task forces to generate sorties which are beyond it's capacity.


Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Topman said:

"Without knowing anything more about it's hard for you to draw the conclusion you do. I could have easily have written it as. Why do Harriers have such poor a/c serviceability. They req'd some 40 a/c for 6 a/c in afghan(as they had for quite a while) whereas the much superior GR4 only reqd 28 a/c to be ready for ops and with this could provide 10 a/c.

Both statements are without looking into the story behind them meaningless."

It is regularly claimed that Harrier was withdrawn because the fleet was not big enough to sustain operations in Afghanistan.
Despite having done just that for 5 years.
There were more Harriers (40 out of 72) than Tornados (28 out of 136) fit for operations in Afghanistan.
The Harrier fleet maintained 8 aircraft in Afghanistan as does the Tornado fleet (mostly).

In October 2008,77% of the Harrier fleet were "fit for purpose" versus just 60% of the Tornado fleet.
The Harrier fleet was expected to remain in service until 2018.


This is the official reason Tornado replaced Harrier in Afghanistan:

"The Harrier force, first deployed to Kandahar airfield in November 2004, continuously has been in operation ever since. This is an impressive record by any standards but I am very mindful of the strain that this extended deployment has put on the crews, their families and the wider roles of Joint Force Harrier. I have therefore decided to withdraw the Harrier force by spring 2009 and to replace it with an equivalent force of Tornado GR-4s."

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Topman said:

"To use that op as a bench mark and knock everything below that as poor is nonsense and you know it. Wonderful though it was, it was one off and I can't see it ever repeated by anyone anywhere."

You are quite right.
The Fleet Air Arm's 90% force generation during the Falklands was exceptional.
They scraped together every aircraft and man they could and formed new squadrons in a matter of days (they did something similar during the Suez Crisis).
One should not expect the Royal Air Force to routinely match such an extraordinary performance.

However,the Royal Air Force has never deployed more than 14% of it's fleet on combat operations in any war in the 67 years since 1945.
It is not unreasonable to expect better force generation than that.

In libya 10% of the R.A.F. combat aircraft fleet was deployed (22 out of 219).
Add in the 8 aircraft in Afghanistan and you get to just under that magic number of 14%.

In terms of squadrons there were the equivalent of 2.5 (12 strong) squadrons deployed in Libya and Afghanistan combined out of a total of 8 frontline squadrons.

During the Falklands the Navy deployed the equivalent of 5.6 frontline Sea Harrier squadrons despite only having a total of 2 frontline squadrons at the start of the conflict (they deployed their O.C.U. and formed a new squadron as well as expanding the existing units).

It is not unreasonable to expect that the Royal Air Force should be able to sustain one third of it's frontline strength on long term operations and surge two thirds for short term operations.

That is a fraction of what the Royal Navy did in the Falklands but it is still way above what the Royal Air Force usually manages.


Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Topman said:

"That statement could be apt for this blog."

Would you believe I really don't like writing about aviation?
My real passions are armoured warfare and logistics (in the widest sense).
The only reason that I write about aviation is that I noticed how much disinformation there was on the subject.

Topman said:

"A good case in point, what effect did they have? My knowledge was they went just to make up numbers. The vast majority of the flights had no opertaional impact and were they just to wave the navy flag. The were to my knowledge asked to stop flying at times such was there non impact."

During operation Allied Force the Royal Air Force flew 1,618 sorties in 78 days,including 1,008 strike sorties (80% of which were flown by Harriers).

During the same operation the American aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt flew 4,200 sorties in just 55 days.
She then sailed to the Gulf and flew another 2,600 sorties over Iraq.

Of course,it is not just about sortie numbers.
The Kosovo operation was an embarrassment.
An air force which had spent 54 years preparing for a war in Europe deployed a fleet of ground attack aircraft which proved to be next to useless at conducting ground attacks in Europe.

The Royal Air Force flew 10% of all strike sorties over Kosovo but delivered only 5% of the ordnance dropped.
Because 50 newly upgraded Tornado G.R.4s were not fit for combat the old G.R.1.s were used and they had problems identifying targets (Tornados and Harriers combined dropped just just 244 Laser Guided Bombs).
So 75% of attacks were made with dumb bombs instead.
Only 2% (yes two percent!) of the 230 1,000 pound unguided bombs dropped were confirmed as hitting targets.
Of 531 cluster bombs dropped by the R.A.F. only 31% hit their targets and 29% were "unaccounted for".

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Topman said:

"Go to brize and you'd be surprised where they are needed to fly to."

Yes but the important question is,how many do we need.

Voyagers will be replacing the Tristar fleet (VC10s no longer do "trooping").
There are usually only 2 or 3 Tristars "fit for purpose" at any one time.
We are sustaining a division in Afghanistan as well as all of our other overseas commitments with that tiny fleet.

In future we will need even fewer aircraft as the army is reduced to sustaining a single Brigade.
As few as 3 Voyagers may be all we need for trooping in future.


GrandLogistics.

Topman said...

'The Harriers based there performed very well.
The wing was commanded in combat by a Wing Commander.'

Why should these be noted? I'm not sure what you mean.

'There was no mention of technical issues at all.'

I guess it's upto you to believe or not.


'The E2D is far more capable than the Sentry in some areas and the Sentry has it's own advantages.'
'Sentry fleet is not able to provide that.'

I would refer you to bagman's comments above which disprove your original statements on E-3s.


'It is cheaper to source things locally and it let's the crew stretch their legs.'

Like I said put the request in or get your MP to ask. You will be surprised to the extent, they aren't as self sufficient as you imagine.


'The low level of air power applied in Libya directly translated in to a lower attrition rate, longer campaign time and increased rebel and civilian casualties.'

With respect you can't know that, it's simply guess work.


'numbers are not everything but they are fundamental to warfare and the study of it and always have been'

Indeed, however they need to be taken in context and looked at in the round. You rely on them too heavily and draw conclusions based almost wholely on them and without context. It distorts conclusions and leads you into incorrect conclusions. Without seeing more information that is required (and isn't online) you can't hope to come to the absolute conclusions you come to.

Topman said...

cont

'They just did less,proportionally.'

And what effect did that have. I'm not talking in terms of numbers on the ground.

'The C.A.O.C. is not going to task forces to generate sorties which are beyond it's capacity.'

No it won't, nor it does run at max flying capacity either.

'The desperate attempts by the Foreign Secretary to get other nations to deploy aircraft and the ever increasing number of British aircraft deployed bear testament to the fact that the aircraft in theatre were not generating as much combat power as was needed.'

More political than anything would be my thought. Can we and France built a coalition without the americans was the question being asked.

'There were more Harriers (40 out of 72) than Tornados (28 out of 136) fit for operations in Afghanistan.'

To turn some statistics around why did Harriers need more a/c available to meet the same or fewer a/c in afghanistan?


'It is not unreasonable to expect that the Royal Air Force should be able to sustain one third of it's frontline strength on long term operations and surge two thirds for short term operations.'

To have the ability to put 2/3 of a fleet in the field is unrealistic, it won't happen. Attritional airframes, OCUs and OEUs and a whole host of issues complicate the issue far more than you think. It's too simplistic to imagine others. Have you ever been a fleet planner? It's far more complex than you think. Could it be done, yes but it would require vast amounts of money that we won't have and never will. To do Libya that, under current funding and manning, is the best you will see. How does this compare to deployed units now? How many Apaches are in theatre, how many Lynx? How many Seakings and so on that would be a far better comparison for you to study and analysise, it's more like for like.

'Would you believe I really don't like writing about aviation?'

No, my point was that you have a very one eyed view of things and that taking your advice to others; you would do well to take it yourself.

'During the same operation the...'

My point was about the showing of the RN in Bosnia and it's lack of impact, I note you skipped over that.


'The Kosovo operation was an embarrassment.'

A bit strong, but yes it was a low point for the RAF opertionally and didn't go to plan for various reaons. However lessons were learnt. No organisation is perfect and I'm able to admit that and offer critism for my own service and I hope we do to learn from everywhere we can. But you seem unable to do the same, no critism of the navy is seen nor any positives of the RAF. You seem nakedly biased for some reason or another.


'Voyagers will be replacing the Tristar fleet (VC10s no longer do "trooping").'

Incorrect Voyger will replace both fleets for AAR and AT.

'We are sustaining a division in Afghanistan as well as all of our other overseas commitments with that tiny fleet.'

Not with that entirely no we aren't other assets are used. We can rationalise the fleets and other assets to just 2 Voyager and A400M.


'As few as 3 Voyagers may be all we need for trooping in future.'

Based on afghanistan but as I and bagman pointed out there is far more than that, but you seem reluctant to see that. We got the number we need, the Tresury would hardly have ok'd the purchase of 4 times the number we need. Does that really seem likely to you?

GrandLogistics said...

Hello,

Bagman said:

"I did take a trawl through some of your posts GL. With respect, you come across as a ‘Wikipedia Warrior’ who is adept at using statistics and drawing straight lines on maps to argue your case but who lacks military and/or relevant operational experience."

I started studying warfare about 20 years before Wikipedia was invented.
But I must admit I have just used Wikipedia to find out when Wikipedia was invented.
Some years ago I started reading British military forums.

I immediately noticed someone who claimed to be a member of the Royal Air Force and had a habit of making claims which were often far from correct.
When challenged he would hurl insults,cry "Lies damned lies and statistics!",reel off a list of acronyms,claim it was all secret and huff about his military experience.

Such behaviour is of course intellectually weak.
A stong argument stands on it's own merits with no need for such theatrics to support it.
Just out of interest,have you got 5,000 flying hours on the Sentry?

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"The fact you suggest that DMSB is ‘almost identical’ to legacy Brimstone speaks volumes GL. As you admit, DMSB was not cleared. Moreover, an OEC has limited applicability in terms of time and environments. They are very different to full integration with the operational software and Standard Conventional Loads (SCLs) being utilised and FULL weapons release is a time consuming and costly business."

Dual mode Brimstone was produced by adding a laser seeker to existing single mode Brimstone missiles.
The only significant difference is the laser seeker it is "almost identical".
It took very little additional time or money to clear Tornado to fire the dual mode variant.


Bagman said:

"Never said it wasn’t fella. However, it’s not been a serious option for years and neither the RAF nor RN have seriously pushed it for quite a time as everyone knew the money simply wasn’t available."

The money question is very interesting.
A ministerial statement dating back to 1998 says that the cost of integrating Storm Shadow on both Harrier and Tornado (but not Typhoon) was included in the Storm Shadow contract.

When we decided not to integrate it on Harrier,did we get a refund?

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"It wouldn’t be the first time would it. More likely however was that they were either mis-informed and/or didn’t understand the first thing they were talking about, or had a vested interest in maintaining the facade."

So what you are saying is that someone in the Ministry of Defence told the ministers that Harrier could carry Brimstone when it couldn't?
Alternatively that a minister has a "vested interest" in telling parliament that Harrier could carry Brimstone when it couldn't?
So the people who worked on this are lying to ministers or ministers are lying to Parliament.
It is not anonymous posters on internet forums who are wrong then?

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"Err…from static tests, computer modelling and the myriad of other development and integration testing that is conducted prior to flying!..."

So those who claimed it never went past a fit test were wrong then?
That is a lot of trouble to go to for amissile which many claim was too big to be carried by Harrier.
Isn't it remarkable that so many anonymous people on the internet know so much about all this testing and integration of Storm Shadow on Harrier.

If only defence ministers knew all about this they might stop telling Parliament that Harrier could carry Storm Shadow.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"Once again? Actually the RAF maintained a 24/7 orbit for the entirety of TELIC without a single minute being lost. Moreover, RAF and RN C2 assets have an exceptional reputation on ops amongst UK and coalition partners alike."

Yes,but I understand the number of crews has been reduced since then and the Ministry of Defence is now claiming only 5 of the 7 are still in service.
It is not clear if that includes aircraft which have been having major work done recently.
In any case in recent years figures put the number of Sentrys "fit for purpose" at 2-4 aircraft.

It took 2 to fill a daily 8 hour slot over Afghanistan in 2001 and 2 to fly a single daily 9 hour sortie in Libya 2011,with only about two thirds of that on station.

Bagman said:

"When flying from Cyprus sometimes although often it was longer. However, that was all they were tasked for. From Sig they maintained far longer. As an indication of what the type can do, sorties exceeding 18 hrs were conducted over Afghanistan."

Yes,but average sortie length is generally under 12 hours.
British Sentrys averaged 9 hours per sortie in Libya.
Each aircraft flying one sortie every two days on average.

THe good thing about that is that while they needed 60,000 pounds of aerial refuelling on each of those 12 hour Afghan sorties,in Libya the Sentrys were flying less than their unrefuelled endurance of 10+ hours so that should have cut tanker demand.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"However, bear in mind that even a single E-3 has several times the surveillance and C2 capacity and endurance than an E-2 of any variety."

The British Sentrys have an unrefuelled endurance of 10+ hours,an E2D Hawkeye has an unrefuelled endurance of 8 hours.

But as Libya demonstrated,to maintain an orbit in the Gulf of Sirte,the Sentry would be spending 3-4 hours in transit on each sortie depending on where it was based at the time (Trapani-Birgi or Akrotiri).
The E2D Hawkeye would be on station pretty much as soon as it took off from it's aircraft carrier.

The Hawkeye also has the option of being buddy tanked from the carrier (it has very low fuel consumption) or of refuelling on a carrier deck.
The Sentry would need a big dedicated tanker to refuel in the air.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"Aside from the obvious endurance and C2 capacity advantages, the E-3 has significant capacity for additional tasks such as small command teams for specialist ops or ro-ro role specific equipment. Moreover, the platform’s broad area ASuW capability goes some way to offsetting the loss of MPA. Likewise, there are key benefits of commonality (airframes and engines in particular) with RJ. Upgrades will maintain the capability of the type at far lower cost than procurement of an entirely new type. That’s why ourselves, the USAF, NATO, France and Saudi Arabia are not planning on replacing the type. Of course perhaps they’re all wrong and you’re correct; then again perhaps not..."

As recent operations demonstrated yet again much of the Sentrys endurance is wasted in transit as it has to be based on a long runway which is often a long way away from the action.
If it needs refuelling it has to have a big wing tanker to support it,unlike the Hawkeye.

Additional capabilities are always nice to have but not essential,as we saw with the retirement of the Nimrod fleet.
The Sentry has an out of service date of 2025,see here:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090302/text/90302w0037.htm

Replacing it with a similar aircraft will cost thousands of millions of pounds which we don't have.
Unless we find a more cost effective option than operating and replacing rotary and fixed wing A.E.W. fleets we shall find ourselves in the same situation as the Canadians who have just withdrawn from the N.A.T.O. Sentry fleet:

http://canadiandefence.com/canada-quits-the-nato-awacs-program/

It is not difficult to imagine a British minister echoing these comments by a Canadian official at some point in the future:

"Over the course of the past months, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces have identified numerous efficiencies that do not affect the core capabilities or readiness of our military, as part of this government's efforts to ensure best value for tax dollars,"

Think ahead or the Sentry replacement may be the "next Nimrod".

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"Using that ridiculous argument GL, why do we need CVF or for that matter the vast majority of our armed forces?"

Funnily enough I was using exactly the same argument that Air Marshal Jock Stirrup used in front of the Defence Committee to justify the withdrawal of the Sea Harrier fleet.
But he would have ore of a point with the Sentry wouldn't he?
The biggest combat operation the Royal Air Force has taken part in since 1945 was the liberation of Kuwait.
No British Sentrys were deployed for that operation,they were only just entering service at the time.
They were simply not needed.
Our allies provided Sentry cover as they do in so many other operations.

As an aside,I understand the Sentrys have all been grounded dut to radome cracks.
Let's hope that is not used as an excuse to gap the capability Nimrod style.
But this doesn't sound reassuring:

"Routine E3D operations have been temporarily suspended pending further engineering investigation.

"There is no loss of operational capability."

http://www.defencemanagement.com/news_story.asp?id=19459

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"Actually, the average USN aviator has far less operational experience than his RAF or RN colleague."

I was thinking about institutional experience rather than individual.
The United States' Navy,Air Force and Marines have had more combat experience than anyone else since 1945.

Bagman said:

"In my experience of ops, carrier assets will often depend upon AAR at least as much if not more than land based assets. The former will routinely be required to launch at reduced fuel loads and – more importantly – will be required to hold significant diversion fuel in case of deck blacking."

Nonsense.
Carrier aircraft can be and are launched at their maximum take off weights,even British Harriers.
During recent operations over Libya land based Typhoons and Tornados needed far more aerial refuelling than French Rafale Ms which were flying sorties from a ship just off the libyan coast.
The land based aircraft had to fly about 1,000 miles further than the Rafales Ms just to get to libya.
Worst of all were the Tornados launched from Marham needing 4 aerial refuellings on each sortie.

The land based air craft require fuel reserves to get to a divert field if tanking is not possible.
Carrier aircraft do not.
Their base is the carrier.
What do you think they do in the middle of the Pacific ocean?
Maintain fuel reserves to fly two thousand miles to Japan?
During the Falklands Harriers were landing on with 500 pounds of fuel.
Correct me if I am wrong but that would not get them to Ascension Island in the event of "deck blacking".

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"There does also seem to be a widely held but entirely erroneous belief that carriers can maintain an endless flow of assets due to their proximity. In reality, it is very difficult for cat/trap carriers to maintain constant ops for more than a day or so without exhausting men and materiel."

Again,you are clearly not familiar with this subject.
Cat and trap carriers can and do sustain high sortie rates for months on end.
Generating far more sorties than the Royal Air Force contributes to operations.
USS Theodore Roosevelt generated 16,000 sorties during a single cruise in 2005.
That is far more than the Royal Air Force has contributed to any major war since 1945.
During Operation Granby the R.A.F. managed a mere 6,000 sorties.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"But tankers are not there simply for Tornados nor even UK assets. Moreover, we have to procure similar aircraft types anyway for strat AT!"

Are you really suggesting that we should be cutting national capabilities like the Nimrod fleet just so we can maintain spare capacity to refuel other countries aircraft?
Our air transport requirements are tiny as I explained to Topman.

Bagman said:

"Ships CAN spend months at sea under certain circumstances and that is one of their major advantages. However, by way of example, CdG spent over 40 days off the ATO due to the need for replen (as well as other factors such as sea state etc). Likewise, do you think carriers as well as other surface and sub-surface vessels enjoy Tardis like qualities in their weapons magazines? Moreover, the nature of maritime assets means that when they do go for replen, it often means we’d be gone for several days."

Warships of all kinds routinely spend months at sea,ask a sailor.
The ammunition capacity on an American aircraft carrier is around 3,200 tonnes.
Which is more than the Royal Air Force has dropped in any major war fighting operation since 1945.
If you want to call that "tardis like" feel free.

Bagman said:

"Once again GL, the fact that you believe that Air deployed just mail speaks volumes for your understanding of or partiality regarding this topic."

Air transport was really busy,deploying land based aviation does require an enourmous amount of air transport.

Bagman said:

"UK carrier air would indeed have been very useful in support of Libya; I reiterate that the loss of GR9 and CVS worries me immensely. However, as in every single op which the UK has been in since 1982, carrier air was NOT essential to success..."

As in every major war fighting operation the United Kingdom has been involved in since 1945,land based combat aircraft were neither neccessary nor cost effective.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"Sortie stats seem to be a key tenets of your mindset GL. However, they are extremely misleading. Look past the sortie stats however and examine what percentage of key ‘dynamic’ and urban targets were destroyed by RAF crews. In this respect, GR4 rapidly became THE asset of choice with significant effort by the CAOC to ensure the type was tasked to key areas due to its weapons mix (especially DMSB). In contrast, many other assets were largely limited to pre-planned strikes against infrastructure (although the GR4 could and did also service these at times). Likewise, the RAPTOR pod again proved its worth, particularly in area tasks."

Those "assets of choice" each spent one out of every two days sitting on a base in Italy while other combat aircraft were over Libya rather more often.
It doesn't matter how good Brimstone may be,it can't hit targets in Libya from Gioia Del Colle.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"Carriers often generate higher sorties because a fair proportion of their efforts are on organic protection and other tasks such as DCA, ASuW barriers and buddy AAR. For instance, in the Falklands, SHars were obviously required to maintain DCA CAPs whereas the GR3s were only flying when requested by the land commander. During the same conflict I suspect that the Sea King ‘pinger’ ASW community flew more missions and hours than ‘jungly’ commando sqns. Does that therefore make the ASW community any more valuable to UK Defence? Of course not!"

Land bases require far more defensive sorties than the carrier because the enemy just happens to know where they are and British air bases also lack the back up of long range surface based missile defences.
Ground based air defences also have a shorter sensor horizon than sea based systems.
THe higher threat to land bases has been constantly demonstrated over the last 67 years,notably when the Taliban destroyed R.A.F. Harriers in Afghanistan.
No aircraft carrier has even been damaged by enemy fire in 67 years.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"And what of the other Military Tasks in UK Defence Planning Assumptions? You appear preoccupied with Afghanistan and Libya without acknowledging the wider commitments the UK has. The UK is required to retain a degree of readiness for a wide variety of UK, NATO and wider scenarios. 40 GR9s would have been insufficient."

The Harrier fleet was 72 aircraft in total.
They were about to stand up a third squadron.
They were more than capable of doing Afghanistan and Libya,it would only have taken 2 of their small squadrons to do both.

There were Typhoons available if the French decided to invade the Isle of Wight.
We could even have hung on to a couple of Tornado squadrons until Typhoons could replace them.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"Even in Libya, look beyond your statistical safety blanket at wider effect. It’s a B-I-G country (as is Afghanistan) and the supercruise capabilities of Typhoon in particular enabled it to rapidly transit to time sensitive targets. Subsonic assets such as AV-8Bs and AMX were somewhat constrained in this respect. No particular hit on those assets as every type has pros and cons. Once again swings and roundabouts."

How fast can a Typhoon go when it is towing a Tornado?
Supercruise is a nice capability to have.
But the Typhoons were teamed up with Tornados which can't supercruise.
In fact the Tornado with bombs and tanks is for practical purposes a subsonic aircraft.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"You’re quite correct GL: I do not NEED to research my points as they’re based on many years of first hand operational experience."

One of us is getting his facts right,it is not you.
See above.

Bagman said:

"Actually RAF/RN GR9 often carried bags on the outboard pylons when carrying EPW3. The principal reason the USMC carry bags outboard is because their centre-line pylon is not wired for LIII. In contrast, the UK jets carried the broadly equivalent Sniper pod on shoulder pylons."

That is exactly the point I was making,a second thing we agree on.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"I know, another post with extremely flawed and simplistic analysis."

Are you suggesting those numbers are wrong?
British aerial refuelling demand during that operation was a fraction of the capacity we are procuring through the Future Strategic Tanker contract.
As our combat aircraft fleet is far smaller now,we will need far less in future.

Bagman said:

"flew throughout Kosovo old chap. Firstly our carriers were not always closer to ops than the land bases! But it is an interesting illustration of the relative pros and cons of land and carrier based air."

Bruggen is still in Germany isn't it?
Or has Germany moved recently?

For an aircraft carrier to be further From Serbia than Bruggen was,it would have to be sailing somewhere in the region of Malta.

For an aircraft carrier to be further From Kosovo than Bruggen was,it would have to be sailing somewhere in the region of Cyprus.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"The USN CVNs would typically launch 2 or 3 cycles per day at fairly set times. These strike packages were limited to Kosovo as the northern targets in Serbia were more effectively targeted by Coalition assets from Italy, Germany and the UK. During the carrier windows, several tankers would be allocated to top up their fuel before and sometimes after ingress. This is no particular hit on the CAG, just a reflection that assets will often be forced to punch tanks during a sortie or may receive battle damage. But let’s drop the charade that carrier aircraft do not use tankers on a routine basis."

Are we talking about the same Kosovo campaign in 1999,or was there another one?

The Kosovo campaign where a single American aircraft carrier (U.S.S.Theodore Roosevelt) generated 4,200 sorties in 55 days (76 sorties per day),and then sailed to the Gulf where it flew another 2,600 sorties over Iraq?

The Kosovo campaign where the Royal Air Force managed to generate only 1,618 sorties in 87 days (21 sorties per day)?

The Kosovo campaign where R.A.F. Tornados were aborting sorties in the air because American carrier aircraft had taken those targets out before they got there?

The Kosovo campaign where Tornados based in Germany had a dedicated VC10 tanker for every 2 Tornados because they were flying 1800 mile round trips just to get to Kosovo?

While aircraft carriers were 100 miles from Kosovo in the Adriatic?

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"Meanwhile, it is extremely difficult for even a USN CVN to maintain a constant deck operations for all types and missions for more than a few days without a recovery period. This is due to the challenges of moving aircraft around for refuelling, rearming, reconfiguring and obviously because of the more limited weapons stocks available. It therefore makes sense for the CAOC to task the carriers to set launch and recovery windows. Outside of those windows, the CVNs largely limit themselves to organic ops such as DCA CAPs and ASuW/ASW. This latter point is a key reason why carriers on paper have higher sortie rates; to an extent they become a ‘self-licking lollipop’ launching missions for their own self-protection or support but which are not contributing to the op per se. Flying from a CVN is impressive and exhilarating but naval aviators will (reluctantly) admit they can rarely replicate the SUSTAINED sortie rates available to land bases. That’s one reason why they’re complimentary."

You really don't know very much about this subject do you?

The single American aircraft carrier involved in Kosovo generated 70% more strike sorties in 55 days than the Royal Air Force managed in 78 days.
They also dropped 70% more ordnance.
And provided the Electronic Warfare capabilities which the Royal Air Force lacked.

The "limited stocks of weapons available" on an American aircraft carrier far exceed anything the Royal Air Force has managed to deliver in any war since 1945.
A single carrier can accomodate 6 times as many bombs as the Royal Air Force dropped during the Kosovo campaign.
It's replenishment vessel carries as much again.
Unlike the Royal Air Force,it didn't require a fleet of transport aircraft to fly those bombs in to theatre.
Those ‘self-licking lollipop’s were flying Combat Air Patrols over Serbia and Kosovo to protect R.A.F. Tornados and Harriers from the Serbian Air Force.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"In contrast, the vast majority of operational combat and combat support missions were flown from land bases during Kosovo (and pretty much all other ops in the last few decades) where ramp space, log capacity (for fuel, weapons, expendables, LOX etc) as well as support infrastructure (eg mission planning and specialised imagery exploitation) was inevitably far greater..."

I take it you don't recall the Falklands or the Invasion of Afghanistan?
Your opinions on basing infrastructure appear to be somewhat different to those of the House of Commons Defence Committee:

"The deployment of RAF aircraft does also raise other concerns, which we examined in our inquiry. First, the use of a number of different air bases for a comparatively small number of aircraft created problems, not least logistically. This point is accepted by the Department and clearly needs to be borne in mind for future operations. The second obvious shortcoming in basing arrangements was the use of aircraft based in Germany for operations in the Balkans. The consequential strain on pilots and other resources was considerable. Crew were forced to spend long periods in the cockpit transiting to the theatre; substantial tanker support was required; and there was no guarantee that during the long flight the weather over the target would not have deteriorated to the extent that weapons could not be released. We were told that the use of aircraft flying from RAF Bruggen was due to the 'anticipated tasking rate and also trying to find a suitable base close to theatre'."

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"Al Udeid was just one UK base; there were many others. Similarly, the carriers were within 100nm of a single part of Iraq. Yet ops took place across the entirety of the country. Using your simplistic stats therefore, carrier assets were further away from the majority of the operational zone than those land based assets in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and several other locations. Swings and roundabouts; lies damned lies and statistics. Does this make land or carrier based more or less effective? Not really as the relevance of each will ebb and flow based on any number of factors (operational and tactical scenario, priorities, weather etc); again, they are complimentary."

I take it your "military experience" did not extend to reading maps?
There is not one part of Iraqi territory which is closer to Al Udeid or Prince Sultan than it is to an aircraft carrier 100 miles off the Iraqi coast.
Only the wing in Kuwait was closer to Iraq than the carriers,as I stated.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"USN fast air tanked on virtually every sortie I was involved in during the initial stages of OEF and even utilised FOBs at times. AAR was provided by land based AAR."

Surely all aircraft tanked as a matter of routine before entering "the box" over Afghanistan?
U.S.Navy carrier based tanker aircraft were flying 2 sorties per aircraft per day during that operation.
There was also a huge fleet of land based tankers (200 or so),mostly from the United States Air Force servicing the vast appetite of long range sorties by B52s,B1s,B2s,F15Es,F16s and transport aircraft.

Have you got any idea how much fuel it takes to top up a B52 which has just flown 2,500 miles from Diego Garcia before it goes in to Afghanistan?
Here is a clue,it is a little bit more than an F18 needs after flying 400 miles from the Arabian Sea to Afghanistan.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"USN fast air flew the majority of sorties in the first few weeks for the very fair sortie regeneration rate you mention. However, a statistical analysis of weapons delivered will show that land based USAF assets delivered by far the greater amount of weapons to target. However, as ever, such statistics are meaningless and must be taken in the broader context of the operation. Neither USN sortie rate nor USAF weapons delivery mean one or the other is superior or inferior."

Third time lucky,I actually agree with you again.
The big bombers dropped a lot of bombs but many of those were dumb bombs (and many were smart too) which skews the numbers.
The Hornets,Tomcats,Eacles and Vipers were mostly delivering guided weapons.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"Yep, never said they weren’t. For the record UK tankers also tank or have tanked USMC, French Navy and Air Force, Italian and Luftwaffe types over the Stan. However, the majority of their tanking goes to USN assets when the latter are in town. Pretty much every single USN trip will tank; land based assets often do not just as carrier assets may not elsewhere. Again, swings and roundabouts."

I am actually agreeing with you again,this is getting to be a bad habit.
The U.S.Navy and Marines like the long hoses of the British tankers.
Well,you know what sailors are like.
A short hose and metal basket on an American air force tanker is not an easy thing to hook up to.
It also stops that tanker refuelling air force assets.
The U.S.Air Force was in the process of adding hose and drogue pods to it's tankers which should change things.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"A somewhat naïve comment with a fairly puerile cheap shot imho GL. It’s not about hob-knobbing any more than the desire in some quarters (but by no means all!) of the RN to obtain 2 x CVF is about staying in the big league. Our national interest is more often than not intimately linked to maintaining influence within a coalition. You may not appreciate that fact, but it’s reality."

That was just an observation on the reality of politics,no cheap shot meant.
How much influence did Churchill have with Roosvelt at Yalta?

Did the British contribution to Korea have any benefit in 1956?

Political advantage gained by contributing armed forces is often insignificant.
Ifluence gained by having a particular capability is even less significant.
Beyond inter service relationships there is probably no one in a foreign government who cares what capabilities we bring.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"I’m afraid that comments such as these are again indicative of your lack of understanding of the subject GL.

I wouldn’t even expect to see Voyager to be used very often for Falklands trooping often; that’s been contracted for quite a while.

However, UK QRA; Falklands QRA; tri-service training, trials and trooping (eg AUTEC for the RN; MEDMAN, Kenya and AH training for the Army; FLAGS for the RAF); UK training and currency for RAF and in due course hopefully again RN aircraft; logs support to our overseas territories; operational support to all 3 services around the world (of which HERRICK trooping and AAR support is just one example) and a myriad of other tasks mean that the RAF AT/AAR fleet has been stretched to (and increasingly beyond) the limit for many years.

It may be difficult for you to look beyond the headlines of Libya and Afghanistan GL. However, thankfully there are people at DSCOM, Brize and elsewhere who have a more realistic appreciation of current and envisaged tasks. Once again, do you think that HMT would be willing to accept ANY excess capacity?!! As mentioned, go to DSCOM and ask to spend an hour with the taskers."

I understand it perfectly well and so does the British government.
Allow me to quote from the website of 10 Downing Street:

"15. Air to air refuelling and passenger air transport. We are currently investigating the potential to use spare capacity that may be available in the UK’s Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme to meet the needs of France for air to air refuelling and military air transport, provided it is financially acceptable to both nations."

Even the Prime Minister thinks there is spare capacity in the Voyager fleet.
He has been trying to flog it to the French.
The F.S.T.A. requirement was set long before the contract was signed and that was long before the recent defence cuts.
The supply now far exceeds potential demand.
We will never need more than about half of those aircraft.
Yet we are spending £11,000 Million on them.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Bagman said:

"In summary GL, there is a constant thread of reliance on statistics throughout your blog."

Perhaps if you spent more time studying figures yourself, your perceptions might more closely match reality (see above).

Bagman said:

"I wish your blog well for the future GL and again commend your efforts. However, with respect, I will not be returning balance and informed knowledge is almost entirely absent from your posts so far."

Thankyou,it has been a pleasure.
But please,read the above.
You might gain some informed knowledge which you appear to be missing.

GrandLogistics.

Topman said...

GL

'Our air transport requirements are tiny as I explained to Topman.'

I'm afraid not, as much as you hope it were so it isn't.

I see you'll still quoting vast amounts of stats without knowing really what they show. Replies to Bagmans comments with unrelated stats or spurious comments related to the USN do the readers here any favours. Try to look beyond the stats. Like I said earlier for an example, you clearly have a lot of time on your hands research the RN CVS over Bosnia. Try looking at things not how much but what what weight and impact does it have?

Regards Topman.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello,

Topman said:

"With respect you can't know that, it's simply guess work."

The maths behind that statement is well established.
Mathematical analysis of warfare has been going on for a long time.
Probably the single most famous person to apply maths to warfare was a chap called Lanchester who came up with the eponymous "Lanchester's Theorem".
A simple mathematical demonstration of the link between numbers and attrition in warfare.

It applies to air warfare as well as land warfare.
Quality has to be factored in as well as quantity.

The Soviets were very into mathematical analysis,there was one very well known Soviet theorist but I have long since forgotten his name.
The Americans do the same sort of analysis (I would hope we do too) and there are some very interesting documents available.

One which would be relevant to Libya was actually all about nuclear bombing.
It went into the relationships between campaign time,attrition,aerial refuelling,forward basing and numbers of aircraft.
The maths is similar for a conventional conflict.
I will try to find it,people may find it interesting.

Topman said:

"Indeed, however they need to be taken in context and looked at in the round. You rely on them too heavily and draw conclusions based almost wholely on them and without context. It distorts conclusions and leads you into incorrect conclusions. Without seeing more information that is required (and isn't online) you can't hope to come to the absolute conclusions you come to."

On the contrary,it is the theory behind the numbers which I base my conclusions on.
The numbers are the "experimental evidence" which support thae theory.

Many people will not understand why air power is inversely proportional to the range at which it is applied.
The principles and maths may seem abstract to them.
But show them a map and the numbers and they understand it.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Topman said:

"And what effect did that have. I'm not talking in terms of numbers on the ground."

While the effect on the ground is lower attrition and higher casualties,beyond that there are military,political and economic implications.

The less efficiently we use our air power,the more we have to spend on it to generate a given level.
That means there is less to spend on other military assets,e.g.Nimrod,Sentinel etc..

Economically if we apply air power inefficiently then we are spending more money on it than we need to and that increases the financial burden on the economy.
This also has military implications as the civilian economy is the nation's principle military strength.

Politically,the inefficient application of air power results in the government having less international influence.
It also may have to use that influence to beg others to contribute assets,e.g.Libya.
The economic damage caused by spending more than we need on air power also has domestic and political implications related to the economic impact of excessive spending.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Topman said:

"More political than anything would be my thought. Can we and France built a coalition without the americans was the question being asked."

If it was just political,why were we increasing the number of aircraft deplyed to Italy?
The only reason we would need more is if the aircraft we had were not generating the air power we needed.

Topman said:

"To have the ability to put 2/3 of a fleet in the field is unrealistic, it won't happen. Attritional airframes, OCUs and OEUs and a whole host of issues complicate the issue far more than you think. It's too simplistic to imagine others. Have you ever been a fleet planner? It's far more complex than you think. Could it be done, yes but it would require vast amounts of money that we won't have and never will. To do Libya that, under current funding and manning, is the best you will see. How does this compare to deployed units now? How many Apaches are in theatre, how many Lynx? How many Seakings and so on that would be a far better comparison for you to study and analysise, it's more like for like."

I was refering specifically to the frontline strength rather than the whole fleet (i.e.excluding the depth fleet and training units) when I said two thirds,and specifically for short term operations.

The Americans,Australians and even the Royal Navy all expect to routinely deploy one third of their frontline force for long term operations.
In Iraq and Afghanistan the Americans have been going way beyond that.
They also surge more than that for short operations,say less than six months.

The British Army and Royal Air Force both sustain far less than that,using the 1 in 5 rule rather than 1 in 3.

We saw the Fleet Air Arm deploy the equivalent of 280% of it's peactime frontline strength for the Falklands,a short term operation.

I don't think it is unrealistic to expect the Royal Air Force to be able to surge just 66% of it's frontline strength for short term operations.

For long term operations I would like to see the Army and Royal Air Force sustain one third of their frontline strength deployed as others do.
For example,we might form the fast jet squadrons in to three frontline wings and be able to keep one of those deployed indefinitely,surging a second wing for short term commitments.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Topman said:

"My point was about the showing of the RN in Bosnia and it's lack of impact, I note you skipped over that."

Yes I did and quite deliberately.
The Defence Committee report very specifically said that the Sea Harriers flew fewer sorties because they received little tasking.
We know from the Falklands that they can generate very high sortie rates when asked to.
I understand that they were only deployed to bolster the R.A.F. as they were sailing home through the Meditterranean after conducting operations in Gulf.

Topman said:

"A bit strong, but yes it was a low point for the RAF opertionally and didn't go to plan for various reaons. However lessons were learnt. No organisation is perfect and I'm able to admit that and offer critism for my own service and I hope we do to learn from everywhere we can."

Kosovo was a huge shock.
Compared to most air forces the Royal Air Force has long had a very heavy focus on ground attack.
Harrier,Jaguar,Tornado,all pricipally ground attack assets intended for the European theatre.

Along comes a bombing campaign in Europe and they are not up to the job.
It was the Butt report all over again.

Some lessons have been learnt,Tornados took weeks to deploy to Solenzara in 1999,they took so long to get there that they managed only a sinle day's combat sorties before the 78 day war ended.
They deployed a lot more quickly this time.

We now have weapons which can be used in cloudy conditions.

But one of the biggest lessons was the disparity in performance and efficiency between the Harriers based relatively close to Kosovo and Tornados doing their usual long range operations.

We binned the Harrier fleet that generated 80% of all the sorties in Kosovo and kept the Tornados which made a marginal contribution with massive tanker support.
Then we used them in Libya in the same way which minimised their contribution in Kosovo.

Topman said:

"But you seem unable to do the same, no critism of the navy is seen nor any positives of the RAF. You seem nakedly biased for some reason or another."

I am often very critical of the Navy,though usually in relation to procurement projects.
How can I criticise them for force generation and sortie generation when their figures are usually exceptionally good?

I do often praise elements of the Royal Air Force which perform well.
In particular,I often mention that the tanker fleet generates respectable sortie rates.
You will also not find any criticism of the Royal Air Force Regiment,I have never seen any evidence which would give me reason to criticise them.

Where I constantly criticise the Royal Air Force is their obsession with inefficient long range operations which is a major cause of their low sortie generation and heavy logistical demands.
I did note that they sensibly relocated assets to closer air bases in the latter stages of the Libyan operation.

When you see the same pattern being repeated over a 67 year period (and beyond) there is something wrong.

It is easy to get the impression that the Royal Air Force has an institutional view of it's self as a long range bomber force rather than as an all round air force.
Which is a shame as long range bombing has been the thing that British air arms have done worst since the First World War.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

Topman said:

"Incorrect Voyger will replace both fleets for AAR and AT."

I was referring specifically to trooping requirements.
As I said earlier we need about 6 or 7 Voyagers,trooping demand acounts for only about 2 or 3 of those.
That figure is declining as the forces shrink.
In future it may be just 1 or 2 Voyagers needed for transport each day.

In our most recent big operation,Telic,R.A.F. tanker demand was roughly equivalent to about 2.5 daily Voyager sorties.
The tankers usually fly about 1 sortie per aircraft per day so we would probably have needed 3 Voyagers to cover U.K. requirements then.

In future we will need a lot less than that.
We have halved the fast jet fleet since then and the Nimrods and Herculeses will be gone too and the Harriers replaced with longer legged F35s.
They will also have less tanker demand thanks to the carriers (see Libya).

We flew less than one fifth as many fast jet sorties each day in Libya as we did in Iraq 2003.
Tanker demand was almost entirely dictated by the lack of an aircraft carrier for the fast jets in Libya.
Even the big support aircraft needed little tanking in Libya.
The Sentrys averaged 9 hour sorties,less than their unrefuelled endurance and Sentinels don't refuel in the air at all.

I would be surprised if we ever need to deploy more than 2 or 3 Voyagers in the tanker role in future wars.

Assuming availability of about 75% (it is a modern airliner after all),6 or 7 should suffice.

Continued in next reply...

GrandLogistics said...

GrandLogistics said...
Topman said:

"Not with that entirely no we aren't other assets are used. We can rationalise the fleets and other assets to just 2 Voyager and A400M."

Yes,we do use other assets but the Globemasters and Herculeses are not being replaced by Voyagers.
Just the VC10s and Tristars.
The only other thing Voyagers could replace would be the chartered civilian air transport.

Topman said:

"Based on afghanistan but as I and bagman pointed out there is far more than that, but you seem reluctant to see that. We got the number we need, the Tresury would hardly have ok'd the purchase of 4 times the number we need. Does that really seem likely to you?"

That is not based on Afghanistan,that is based on everything the Tristar fleet does at the moment,they only have 2 or 3 planes available most days for all tasks and the VC10s don't do trooping anymore.

We got the number of Voyagers which were thought to be required at the time the requirement was written.
The contact was signed much later,in 2008,after negotiations had been dragged out.
Since that requirement was set we have seen a huge reduction in force size (the Army will be sustaining a brigade instead of a division in future),the retirement of many of the tankers' customer aircraft and the building of a pair of aircraft carriers.
Demand for both tanking and transport will be far less than it was when the requirement was written.

The government has already tried to offload surplus capacity to the French.
See 10 Downing Street's own website!


GrandLogistics.

GrandLogistics said...

Topman said:

"I'm afraid not, as much as you hope it were so it isn't."

Are you suggesting that we need more capacity than we have at present when the armed forces are getting significantly smaller?
Our transport capacity provided by the Tristar fleet is satisfied by just 2 or 3 aircraft "fit for purpose" each day.
In future our requirements will be significantly less than that.

"I see you'll still quoting vast amounts of stats without knowing really what they show. Replies to Bagmans comments with unrelated stats or spurious comments related to the USN do the readers here any favours. Try to look beyond the stats. Like I said earlier for an example, you clearly have a lot of time on your hands research the RN CVS over Bosnia. Try looking at things not how much but what what weight and impact does it have?"

I understand the figures perfectly well,you don't appear to.
Perhaps you can explain why you think our air transport capacity in future needs to be bigger than it is at present?

All figures quoted relate to the points Bagman made.
He claims carriers cannot sustain high sortie rates despite the fact that they routinely sustain sortie rates far higher than the Royal Air Force has sustained in any war since 1956.

As I mentioned earlier,Invincible was on her way home from The Gulf
when she was diverted to reinforce the Royal Air Force over Kosovo.
Her aircraft received little tasking according to the Defence Committee.
From her previous combat experience,we know she can generate very high sortie rates when called upon to do so.

The "weight and impact" of an aircraft which generates more sorties and delivers more weapons is greater than the "weight and impact" of an aircraft which generates fewer sorties and delivers fewer weapons.

"How much" has always been fundamental to warfare.

GrandLogistics.