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  • Liger30
    Armed Forces supporter
    • Jul 2010
    • 901

    Originally posted by Fedaykin View Post
    At the moment I still see Merlin as the MASC solution with Cerberus and Searchwater 2000AEW.

    The only way I see Hawkeye being operated by the UK is if we do some form of joint squadron with the French by co-financing at least a couple more Hawkeyes and then operating them as part of a common pool with the French keeping all maintenance and support in France where it already is. The French operate three Hawkeye as it stands and would like a fourth, that would give five Hawkeye which is enough to service Charles De Gaulle and whatever CVF is available at the time.

    The Key questions would be:

    a) Does purchasing a couple of Hawkeye and operating them with France cost less then refiting seven or eight Merlin as a MASC type?

    b) Could they sort out the politics of it and operational practicalities between the FAA and Aeronavale?
    You are more optimist than me then.
    I see the Sea King ASaC very likely to be killed after its use over Afghanistan is over or even sooner.
    When the Sea King HC4 goes, i think there's quite a great chance to see the ASaC squadrons disbanded as well and MASC requirement "delayed to better match the ISD of the Carrier Strike force"... Which means getting back the capability, again, in 2020.
    After all, the Type 45 is not cleared to embark Sea King.
    The only platform which will remain will be HMS Ocean eventually, or HMS Illustrious if she's destined to be a less-than-obtimal amhpibious assault LPH if the planned 100-millions Refit planned for next year kills HMS Ocean as i fear is horribly likely. I don't believe at all to the "study on which ship delivers the best helicopter assault capability" because there's no need for study: HMS Ocean wins. She's been DESIGNED to embark Marines, L118 guns, towing vehicles and trailers, has the LCVP and crane for the Howercrafts as well and the internal design to ease embarkation ops for Marines.
    HMS Illustrious has nothing of all this, obviously.
    However, HMS Ocean is less well conserved, and scheduled for a costy refit next year. THIS is what matters and most likely will kill the Mighty O.
    Left without platforms, the Sea King ASaC will be an easy target for deletion. Easier than Harrier because it is a lot less known and iconic for the general public. "Until the Carrier Strike is active, it is not needed!"

    For that date, it'll be an open battle on MASC. For the survival of the requirement first of all. And then for the choice of platform. And if a Joint UK-US-France agreement of some sort can offer a way to keep costs down... the Hawkeye certainly has the Navy's blessing.
    Last edited by Liger30; 26th October 2010, 15:13.
    "It is upon the navy under the providence of God that the safety, honour and welfare of this realm do chiefly attend." - King Charles II

    Comment

    • Fedaykin
      Fueled by Tea
      • Dec 2005
      • 5295

      Considering the MK8 Mod1 is no longer in production and current turrets would be overhauled for RN Type 26 they needed a realistic option for export sales. So I'm not surprised about Babcocks agreement with Finmeccanica, the OTO127mm is a fine gun and makes the Type 26 more attractive.
      Because sometimes in life we need a bit of fun

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXNAp3mKepc

      Comment

      • Liger30
        Armed Forces supporter
        • Jul 2010
        • 901

        So I'm not surprised about Babcocks agreement with Finmeccanica, the OTO127mm is a fine gun and makes the Type 26 more attractive.
        More attractive than a gun that fires army-common 155 mm NATO standard ammunitions with considerable long term savings in terms of commonality, joint procurement for Army and Navy and such...?
        I don't think so.

        The TMF could totally fire the land-version 155 mm Vulcano ammunition, or the UK-French Impaqt ammo or any other NATO round, and allow for a single large stock of rounds for Navy and Army.
        The 155 TMF's only drawbacks are the relatively short-range (damn 39-calibre barrel and the termination of the Braveheart programme!) and low rate of fire. But BAe could solve both problems creating a more ambitious version for the richest customers abroad by going for the 52 Calibre, Water-Cooled barrell that already was proposed. Hell, BAe even proposed a TWIN barreled gun that would have been totally awesome. Twin six inches back at sea...? Hell, it would be the coolest thing in years.
        The UK would likely buy the baseline gun for the usual budgetary constraints... but still, it would have its obvious advantages.

        I totally agree, though, that the 127 mm Oto was TOTALLY expected to be offered, from the very first moment, and i agree it is the most likely choice, even if probably it comes after:
        -Keeping current 114 (crap, but it is the cheapest option after having no gun, so don't underplay this chance too easily...)
        -155 TMF gun upgrade
        Last edited by Liger30; 26th October 2010, 15:23.
        "It is upon the navy under the providence of God that the safety, honour and welfare of this realm do chiefly attend." - King Charles II

        Comment

        • Anixtu
          Rank 5 Registered User
          • Jul 2008
          • 92

          Originally posted by Liger30 View Post
          After all, the Type 45 is not cleared to embark Sea King.
          The only platform which will remain will be HMS Ocean eventually, or HMS Illustrious...
          Left without platforms, the Sea King ASaC will be an easy target for deletion.
          AOR, AFSH, Argus, (Waves?).

          Comment

          • Fedaykin
            Fueled by Tea
            • Dec 2005
            • 5295

            True a 155mm solution would offer synergy with army ammunition supplies. But no navy operates a split charge 155mm solution at the moment, many navies do operate 5inch guns and it is a proven solution hence why it does make sense for the export market.
            Because sometimes in life we need a bit of fun

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXNAp3mKepc

            Comment

            • Liger30
              Armed Forces supporter
              • Jul 2010
              • 901

              They don't operate it because it is not available. 155 mm is the AGS, but it is not going anywhere else other than on the Zumwalths DDG1000 with how horribly massive and expensive it is. And it is not compatible with anything else anyway.

              Germany did try building its own 155 mm gun. Unable to do it, they chose the 127 mm Oto. Had the 155 TMF been available in time, it would have won.

              The US Marines are not going to see their Naval Gunfire Support requirement fullfilled with the Zumwalt number cut back to 3, and the new-build Arleigh Burkes in the next years would be a very realistic candidate to get the 155 TMF if it is completed.

              The 155 TMF has been succesfully test-fired, with the round built into a single assembly that reunites the split launch charge in a single block ready to fire.
              I think it has pretty good chances if it is not abandoned. Was I in BAe managers, sincerely, i'd totally complete the development with my own money and present it at the weapons expositions around the world to start getting back a share of the market.

              Even Russia aims for commonality and has been planning a twin barreled 152 mm gun (they don't have the 155 calibre) for their fleet and for export! The UK has the chance to be a word leader in a potentially very succesful market...
              And anyway, if a foreign buyer really wanted the Type 26 to be fitted with the 127, it still could easily if the frigate is even just a little bit "modular" as it is promised she'll be.

              AOR, AFSH, Argus, (Waves?).
              The Waves aren't cleared for Sea King. Argus and the Forts possibly could. The Forts most surely can, since their aviation facilities were pretty much designed for Sea King itself.
              But i express my doubts on the solidity of such justification. I don't see the admirals succesful in defending Sea King ASaC with so little, personally, with how more evident cuts have been imposed without trouble in the years, from destroyers and frigates to Sea Harrier to Ark Royal itself...
              Last edited by Liger30; 26th October 2010, 15:39.
              "It is upon the navy under the providence of God that the safety, honour and welfare of this realm do chiefly attend." - King Charles II

              Comment

              • Anixtu
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Jul 2008
                • 92

                Originally posted by Liger30 View Post
                The Waves aren't cleared for Sea King. Argus and the Forts possibly could. The Forts most surely can, since their aviation facilities were pretty much designed for Sea King itself.
                Argus and AOR have operated ASAC Sea Kings. AFSH flight facilities were designed around Sea King (albeit HAS Mk.whatever).

                Ref. Waves, you are reading from HOSTACS? Though I can't find a photo of one online, I'd be astonished if the flight deck was not cleared for Sea King. The hangar fits a Merlin, so it can only be a matter of ancillaries to support a Sea King.

                Comment

                • Liger30
                  Armed Forces supporter
                  • Jul 2010
                  • 901

                  They certainly COULD, but even the Type 45 has got the Hangar for a Merlin but is (for now) fully cleared only with Lynx for operations, even if a Merlin was shown on the deck for the first entrance in Portsmouth.

                  The same Type 23, they could all carry Merlins, but just a number of them are cleared for Merlin ops.
                  It is not so automatic.
                  "It is upon the navy under the providence of God that the safety, honour and welfare of this realm do chiefly attend." - King Charles II

                  Comment

                  • Anixtu
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Jul 2008
                    • 92

                    Originally posted by Liger30 View Post
                    They certainly COULD, but even the Type 45 has got the Hangar for a Merlin but is (for now) fully cleared only with Lynx for operations, even if a Merlin was shown on the deck for the first entrance in Portsmouth.
                    Regular visiting Merlin ops depends on whether Daring (or a sister) has conducted first of class flying trials for Merlin and has a set of SHOLs, Letters of Release, etc.

                    The same Type 23, they could all carry Merlins, but just a number of them are cleared for Merlin ops.
                    It is not so automatic.
                    I'd say it's a matter of being fitted for embarked Merlin rather than "cleared". Ancillaries, spares, etc. Stick a TAS, a tractor, some workshops, tools and spares on a Bay and it is fitted for embarked Lynx operations but otherwise is not capable.

                    Comment

                    • Liger30
                      Armed Forces supporter
                      • Jul 2010
                      • 901

                      Of course. But you gotta fund that all.

                      And if even HMS Daring has difficulties in getting money for completing the Merlin trials and all the rest, you can figure how many hopes exist about spending money to deploy "obsolescents" Sea Kings on new platforms to justify their existance.
                      Either way, if the need for cuts is not too bad, the ASaC could still survive, i guess. I only explained what i see as a pretty likely scenario.
                      "It is upon the navy under the providence of God that the safety, honour and welfare of this realm do chiefly attend." - King Charles II

                      Comment

                      • nocutstoRAF
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • May 2010
                        • 954

                        Originally posted by Liger30 View Post
                        They are different indeed. Nimrod MRA4 has got the Searchwater 2000MR while Cerberus is based on the Searchwater 2000AEW.

                        I'm fascinated by the dream of a S-3B capable to cover long-range ASW and AEW role both (and perhaps Carrier On-board Delivery and eventually a bit of Air-to-Air tanker too - the RN had investigated using F35B as Buddy-Buddy air tankers to remedy to the shorter-than-promised range!!!), but i think the chances of it happening are minimal to say the very least, unfortunately.
                        Thanks Liger. While I am not an expert it seems to me that S-3B with updated avionics and systems pulled from the Nimrod or those ordered for the Nimrod and not actually installed would make a half decent MRA platform, to at least provide top cover SAR and protect the Vanguards on transit. Plus as Jonesy has said in the past the S-3B could also be fitted out in the MaSC role (though there is a strong argument to use the Merlin's as C2 platforms and to fuse the sensor data from a wide range of UAV's to cover MaSC/ISTAR requirements).

                        Ignoring the minor issues of where they would find the money for pilots, aircrew and a base it seems to me that for not an unreasonable price we could field 20 S-3B as mini-MRA's, sacrificing range and cutting edge capabilities for numbers and then we could operate another 8 in the MaSC role off the carriers, and if need be rotate S-3B's in MRA role onto carriers.

                        Finally personally I think Hawkeye is very unlikely as we want to support Searchwater/Cerberus as our maritime AEW system
                        If having a little knowledge is dangerous then I must be bloody deadly

                        Comment

                        • Liger30
                          Armed Forces supporter
                          • Jul 2010
                          • 901

                          My pleasure to share what i can.

                          In response to a MOD request for information made in 2001, Northrop Grumman proposed the then latest E-2C Hawkeye 2000 variant which entered USN service in 2003, however the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye - now under development and due to enter USN service in 2010 - became a more likely candidate. The Hawkeye is a fully pressurised aircraft and is thus able to operate at greater altitudes than either the Merlin or Osprey.

                          The STOVL mode of carrier operation by the aircraft (the F-35B) selected in September 2002 for the JCA requirement significantly affected the MASC platform options. CVF would not have the catapults and arrestor gear that the Hawkeye normally uses. However the chosen carrier design is "adaptable" and it could, at least theoretically, be fitted with one catapult and arrestor gear in a hybrid configuration. Also the new carriers could be easily modified to a STOBAR configuration, with a box ski-jump and no catapults, but with arrestor wires. The E-2C Hawkeye demonstrated its ability to launch from a ski-jump during the 1980s and thus the "new" Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye remained officially a viable choice for MASC, indeed it still had many supporters if the funding can be found. Ironically, the RN first considered purchasing the Hawkeye, in its original E-2A form, way back in the 1960's when it needed a replacement for the Gannet AEW.3 to be carried by the then planned new fleet carrier, CVA-01.

                          As an alternative to the Hawkeye for a CTOL carrier, Thales suggested that an AEW variant of the venerable Grumman S-2 Tracker carrier based ASW aircraft would be very cost-effective. The S-2 Tracker first flew way back in 1952 and the US Navy had already replaced it with the new S-3 Viking for ASW purposes by the mid-1970's, although a few specialist conversions served until 1986. The US Navy still has about 18 airframes (S-2E and S-2G standard) in long term storage at AMARC, Arizona. An appropriate number of these could be bought very cheaply by the UK and then refurbished, re-engined (replacing the old R-1820 radial engines with modern turbo-props) and given new avionics and cockpit systems prior to conversion to an AEW role, for this they would be fitted with a Searchwater 2000 radar and other mission systems similar to those used in the Sea King ASaC.7.

                          In late 2002 Flight International magazine also reported that the UK MOD had sought information and pricing from the US DOD in regards to buying surplus US Navy S-3B Viking airframes, with a view of converting them in to AEW aircraft for MASC - an evolution of the S-2 Tracker approach, but using a more modern airframe.

                          It is unlikely that either the Tracker or Viking option was ever seriously considered for MASC.

                          Since mid-2004, one focus of work has been on the maritime strand of the Joint UAV Experimentation Programme (JUEP), which is increasingly seen as having the potential to deliver a system which will be able to meet parts of an increasingly extended MASC requirement at an attractive cost.

                          The budget for MASC was drastically reduced in MOD's ten year equipment plan (EP03) and Hawkeye and Osprey were formally eliminated from the list of options at Initial Gate in mid-2005. Instead, signs began to emerge that the MOD was increasingly interested in UAV's for MASC.

                          On 9 May 2006 Lockheed Martin UK announced that it had been awarded a contract by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to study the potential of using Merlin helicopters as a platform for both maritime airborne early warning and command and control. Under the 15-month programme, Lockheed Martin will led a three-way team which included Thales UK and AgustaWestland. The overall study, with a total value of 3.4 million, included two more contracts (believed to be worth about 500,000 each) which saw AgustaWestland and Thales UK each leading similar teams looking at other airframe and mission system options.

                          Interestingly, while there is a presumption that the Merlin is the most likely platform for direct replacement of the old Sea King's - Thales is also looking at other possibilities for fitting with an enhanced Cerebus-Searchwater mission set. The Eurocopter NH.90 helicopters is one option, while the V.22 Osprey is another, in the later case the radar would have to be fuselage mounted.

                          Lockheed Martin are also investigating enhanced Rotary Wing solutions - identifying the best value Rotary Wing solution to meet the User Requirement Document as an Airborne Early Warning and Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance asset, covering force protection, littoral manoeuvre and force projection.

                          On 22 July 2006, EADS Defence & Security Systems (DS) UK announced that it had been awarded a 250,000 study contract by the Ministry of Defence to study and define a MASC Enhanced Manned Rotary-Wing Solution for use on the two Future Aircraft Carriers (CVF). This study will examine the helicopter platform and the sensor suite including radar technology, EADS will be required to submit a report as a conclusive assessment of the current offering and a recommendation of new alternative technologies. The report will focus on “through life capability” forecasting requirements and technologies of the future.

                          These low value studies (which appear to have a deliberate degree of overlap) are expected to complete in mid-2007.

                          The MOD has never announced the number of MASC platforms that it is seeking to acquire, but hints from Northrop Grumman in 2001 indicated that it was between 6 and 12. The programme has always been very budget constrained and the higher number of platforms was presumably associated with less capable, but also less costly, aircraft such as the proposed AEW Merlin variant or large UAV's.

                          The allocated procurement budget for the MASC programme has not been published but again hints from Northrop Grumman would indicate that it was originally expected to be the range of $1 - 1.5 billion (700 million to 1 billion, FY2001-2). However, critically, no significant budget line for MASC was included in EP03. it becoming apparent that even the original baseline of 12 new Merlin AEW helicopters fitted with already extant mission systems (estimated cost of under 500 million) could no longer be afforded in a 2012-13 timescale.

                          The MOD has become amiable to splitting the MASC project in to several phases with the final Sea King replacement possibly not now entering service until the 2020's, but it remains to be seen whether the MOD can even procure within the available budget the type of innovative and still cutting-edge UAV carrier-based solutions that it is now seeking to supplement the Sea King ASaC.7 by the middle of the next decade.

                          In June 2001, at the Paris Air Show, Northrop Grumman's Gary O’Loughlin, Director of International Business Development, revealed that the United Kingdom was considering purchasing up to 6 E-2 Hawkeye's - perhaps enough to equip one squadron containing a second-line HQ flight of 2 aircraft, a single front-line operational flight of 3 aircraft, plus 1 aircraft in reserve, deep maintenance or modernisation. (incidentally, this would be perfect to equip a single Strike Carrier in the new Cat & Trap mode, and it would be the "ideal" kind of MASC solution if the platform Hawkeye is selected)

                          In July/August 2001 the MOD released a formal Request for Information (RFI) to Northrop Grumman seeking life cycle cost data in relation to its Hawkeye 2000 platform.

                          In response to this RFI, a document was delivered to the MOD by Northrop Grumman on Jan. 17, 2002. According to O'Loughlin, "In the RFI letter, the Ministry of Defence asked for a more solution-oriented report. ... The team, led by Northrop Grumman, provided a very detailed response that concentrated on the Hawkeye 2000, the current-generation E-2C with the most up-to-date capabilities. .... When you factor in absence of nonrecurring costs, the E-2C becomes an affordable AEW option for the United Kingdom."

                          Despite the DPA's clear interest in other options, it is believed that the Concept Phase studies showed that the capabilities of the Hawkeye 2000, and even more its successor the Advanced Hawkeye, compared very favourably with other options when dealing with projected post-2015 threats and requirements. There was a lobby within the MOD still advocating a small Hawkeye purchase as the best and lowest risk option for MASC, even with the extra costs that would be incurred fitting the carrier platform with the associated equipment for CTOL operations. Indeed STOBAR (Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) was suggested as compromise. The E-2C Hawkeye had demonstrated an ability to launch from a low incline ski-jump built ashore at NAS Patuxent River during the 1980s and it was thought that adding arrestor wires to the CVF design (i.e. changing it to a STOBAR configuration) might still allow its adoption for MASC given some modifications (e.g. strengthened nose wheel) - and the necessary finance. Also, a STOBAR carrier would have a lower cost than a full CTOL configuration while perhaps being able to operate both the F-35A and F-35C. If the F-35C was selected for the manned element of the RAF's Future Offensive Air System, then it would almost certainly be able to successfully operate from a STOBAR configured CVF. However the MOD showed no interest in the Hawkeye/STOBAR idea, perhaps sensibly as in 2004 and early 2005 Northrop Grumman did further research on a ski-jumping Hawkeye 2000 in the context of a proposal to the Indian Navy, and while insisting that this was perfectly feasible it had to admit that the required changes for STOBAR operations would reduce the aircraft's capabilities somewhat compared to the standard model. The Indian Navy decided that it was unconvinced about the concept, citing concerns such as the disastrous effect of a single engine failure during the full power take-off run.

                          The Hawkeye option was formally ruled out for MASC in mid-2005, but is not completely out of mind due to developments and disputes in relation to the UK's expected purchase of the STOVL F-35B.
                          A lease of 6 Hawkeyes would totally be the best MASC solution possible for the Strike Carrier now that catapults are the chosen way.
                          I think we can keep our hopes moderately high about the Hawkeye resurrecting as a very real option for the MASC requirement, and apart from Navy and MOD supporters, it is likely to have US and French backing too, which might help.
                          My hope is for the Hawkeye being chosen. If the carrier is going to be one, then kit it out properly at least.

                          As to UAVs solutions:

                          On 4 August 2005, Thales UK was awarded a 700 million contract for the development, manufacture and initial support phases of the Watchkeeper programme. At one point it was mooted that Watchkeeper UAV’s should be able to operate from the RN’s new aircraft carriers, but this requirement was ultimately not included in order to avoid “scope creep”, instead it and several other desirable capabilities were bundled in to the Joint UAV Experimentation Programme (JUEP) with the intention of better understanding the potential benefits, risks and costs before preceding to an operation system.

                          JUEP

                          In a development that directly relates to MASC, in 2004 the MOD decided to fund a series of ScanEagle trials as part of the “UAV Support to Maritime Ops" strand of the JUEP. The purpose was to explore the operational utility of current UAV systems, with an emphasis on ISTAR, and the potential contribution that ship-based UAVs can make to a future maritime Network Enabled Capability (NEC)

                          The trials culminated in March 2005 when a team led by Thales UK and including Boeing and QinetiQ conducted a two week long exercise with a SeaEagle UAV which also involved the Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland and a Sea King ASaC.7 helicopter from 849 Squadron. During the exercise, the ScanEagle showed its ability to support maritime operations and land reconnaissance with flights of up to 8 hours, demonstrating capabilities which would for example, enhance the commander's recognised surface picture and enable early warning and evasive action against fast attack craft. Unfortunately bad weather and technical problems limited the trials - the UAV had to be launched and recovered from a land-based catapult rather than the frigate; and the ASaC.7 was not able to directly control and task the SeaEagle, although it was able to vector the UAV in to investigate radar contacts. Richard Deakin, Managing Director of Thales UK's aerospace business, said “The often hostile weather found off the North coast of Scotland in March added an element of realism that would not have been present had we taken the easier route of conducting the trials in warmer and calmer climates." Lt Col Dick Park, the Officer Commanding the Joint UAV Experimentation Team (JUET), emphasised: "The trial was a success. We operated the ScanEagle UAV system within UK segregated airspace and demonstrated the Command & Control capabilities of a UAV from a RN Type 23 Frigate. First impressions from the ship's operations room staff were that control of the UAV did not impinge on the ship's ability to conduct other operations. The Commanding Officer of HMS Sutherland stated after the demonstration: "The concept has great merit and utility". The final year of the three year JUEV programme has now begun. It had been hoped that it would be possible to further investigate the utility of an organic maritime UAV system operating with current RN equipment, including the launch and recovery from a RN warship and control from a Sea King ASaC.7 helicopter, perhaps during an exercise to co-ordinate naval gunfire support. However due to JUEP funding being cut by about a third from the originally planned 35 million, these activities are now unlikely to be undertaken.
                          The ScanEagle would be a useful capability to have on Type 23, and it could be used with great success against piracy, drug-smugling and disaster relief and mostly any other kind of very real commitment.
                          However, when even a "tiny" budget of a few millions is slashed constantly back as the MOD Budget is robbed, it is hard to continue down any serious path.

                          Thanks as always to beautiful Navy Matters for the incredible amount of useful data. http://navy-matters.beedall.com/masc.htm
                          Last edited by Liger30; 26th October 2010, 17:26.
                          "It is upon the navy under the providence of God that the safety, honour and welfare of this realm do chiefly attend." - King Charles II

                          Comment

                          • radar
                            Rank 5 Registered User
                            • Apr 2005
                            • 216

                            Originally posted by Liger30 View Post
                            Germany did try building its own 155 mm gun. Unable to do it, they chose the 127 mm Oto. Had the 155 TMF been available in time, it would have won.
                            i wouldn't say the german were not able to build it but their idea didn't work. the idea was to navalize a pzh 2000 turret with minimal effort. but then they realised that this "cheap" solution would not work and that such a 155 mm gun would cost much more money than expected.
                            so they lost the interest on it.

                            in addition to this it's also questionable for which reason the german navy needs such a gun (no marines, landing crafts etc.). imho the 127/64 gun is a good choice (low risk, common standard with upgrade path for the future, ...)

                            and buying the italian oto melaras 127/64 is a good compensation for the u-212 deal.

                            Comment

                            • Liger30
                              Armed Forces supporter
                              • Jul 2010
                              • 901

                              AKA, they did not make it. The attempt was a failure and they did not want to engage in a development programme that promised to be very complex, since they have no indigenous naval gun production experience from many, many years.

                              This does not mean they "lost interest" in the 155 mm NATO-compatible Army/Navy ammunition. They did not judge to have high enough hopes to design a cost-effective system and stick to Oto Melara 127 mm gun. (Which is about as justified as the 155 if we reason in terms of "they've got no marines". They could have fitted a Oto 76 Strales which could have worked as CIWS as well, but they want a shore-bombardment option to influence events on land, and thus they want a heavy gun.)
                              Good choice, of course, from their point of view. They arguably chose the best gun available on the market, after all.

                              But this all has no value whatsoever in downplaying the sale-chances and the sense of continuing with the 155 TMF development all the way to fielding the system on Type 26.
                              "It is upon the navy under the providence of God that the safety, honour and welfare of this realm do chiefly attend." - King Charles II

                              Comment

                              • nocutstoRAF
                                Rank 5 Registered User
                                • May 2010
                                • 954

                                Hi Liger (and anyone else interested),

                                Just been reading on PPRUNE this thread http://www.pprune.org/military-aircr...uture-faa.html, makes depressing reading as it sounds like there is little chance of either Merlin MaSC or the FAA owning any Merlin's in the future .
                                If having a little knowledge is dangerous then I must be bloody deadly

                                Comment

                                • Liger30
                                  Armed Forces supporter
                                  • Jul 2010
                                  • 901

                                  I'd lie if i said i wasn't expecting it, honestly.

                                  The RAF giving something to the Navy...? No way, of course!

                                  The Commandos will be left without helicopters first as the Sea King HC4 goes.
                                  So, not replacing HMS Ocean will look "less" absurd to the general public.
                                  Next part: get rid of the Amphibs as time goes on, so that well before Albion and Bulwark end their life, they bow out.

                                  Largs Bay gone.
                                  Albion mothballed.

                                  Gee. At this rythm, in 2015 the Marines will be ready to move to the army and the navy will lose all the amphibs.
                                  Perhaps save a Bay to help Haiti at the next earthquake.

                                  PLEASE ARGENTINA BE STUPID AGAIN AND INVADE THE FALKLANDS NOW!.
                                  WE URGENTLY NEED A REMINDER OF WHAT IS ALL THAT BLUE WET STUFF SURROUNDING THE UK BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!!!!
                                  "It is upon the navy under the providence of God that the safety, honour and welfare of this realm do chiefly attend." - King Charles II

                                  Comment

                                  • graeme65
                                    Rank 5 Registered User
                                    • Nov 2008
                                    • 63

                                    The CVF will almost certainly carry and Anglo-French Hawkeye. Helicopter based AEW just doesn't really cut it for a 65,000 tonne carrier. Why invest all of that money in ship and fighters then put it all at risk due to a myopic radar platform.

                                    No one will be speaking publically about any additional expence at the moment but I would bet its what they have in mind.

                                    Comment

                                    • Geoff_B
                                      Rank 5 Registered User
                                      • Jul 2010
                                      • 507

                                      Well they only formally announced the switch to CATOBAR last week, they have a until the next review (re Election) to iron out some of the obvious capability gaps.

                                      I wouldn't be surprised to see a possible Hawkeye deal probably involving pooling resources with France to replace the AEW Seakings.

                                      Plus there was a rumour on the UK Switch to F-35C thread about leasing Hornets (could be superbugs ?) so they may be possibly looking at providing the FAA with some as part of the training deal with the USN.
                                      No doubt these would probably stay in the US, to provide us with a number of fully carrier qualified pilots who can then probably join in with the F-35C induction unit in the US.
                                      Whilst the F-35C unit builds up toward the end of the decade they could then use some of the F-18's to get the QE tested and certified in advance of the F-35C becoming avialable

                                      Of course that is a logical solution, the reality is probably more political in origin, officially the FAA is kept going in fixed wing aviation, the Carriers are therefore technically no longer white elephants come the next election as they would 'have aircraft' for them, and we haven't offically bought another aircraft type.

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                                      • nocutstoRAF
                                        Rank 5 Registered User
                                        • May 2010
                                        • 954

                                        Originally posted by Liger30 View Post
                                        I'd lie if i said i wasn't expecting it, honestly.

                                        The RAF giving something to the Navy...? No way, of course!

                                        The Commandos will be left without helicopters first as the Sea King HC4 goes.
                                        So, not replacing HMS Ocean will look "less" absurd to the general public.
                                        Next part: get rid of the Amphibs as time goes on, so that well before Albion and Bulwark end their life, they bow out.

                                        Largs Bay gone.
                                        Albion mothballed.

                                        Gee. At this rythm, in 2015 the Marines will be ready to move to the army and the navy will lose all the amphibs.
                                        Perhaps save a Bay to help Haiti at the next earthquake.
                                        Courting controversy, I am not sure things are that bad - there seems to be assumption from the SDSR that the UK will still have helicopter platform, so I am assuming the option study they plan is about which ship (Ocean or Illustrious) can be life extended to give a meaningful service life post 2020, which is what the SDSR is about (the shape of UK military in post 2020 world).

                                        I am worried about the helicopters, I understand that marinsing the Merlins, then retraining Sea King crews is expensive, I cannot help but wonder if in the long run it would be cheaper to buy small number of new helicopters and train the crews on them instead.
                                        If having a little knowledge is dangerous then I must be bloody deadly

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                                        • Liger30
                                          Armed Forces supporter
                                          • Jul 2010
                                          • 901

                                          We are promised that a LPH will still be part of the force, yes.

                                          In practice, the promise is valid at the most until the next SDSR in 2015, which could well change the assumption depending on how much the budget will be robbed by that day.

                                          Other deadline is the end of the service of whichever LPH remains in the Navy (PLEASE God, let it be Ocean! HMS Illustrious in that role is, sorry my beloved Lusty, an abort...). By then, or a replacement is funded, or we are screwed.

                                          My dream is that the RN admirals start, right from now, contacts with the French counterparts to find an agreement to support in the next equipment planning rounds in the UK.
                                          The French would love to be allowed to put their planes on the UK carriers when CdG is out, since the PA2 is seen as unlikely, much as now "a decision is expected in 2012/2013", and they would also love to have some more Hawkeyes.

                                          For the RN it might be a total bargain to fight hard for a "joint" fleet of Hawkeyes to cover MASC, to fit with catapults PoW as well, and use it in collaboration with the french. (they'd pay for it, of course, but they would still save a lot of money themselves compared to building a new carrier, obviously)
                                          And the RN should find a way to obtain from the French a bargain price promise on one (ideally two) Mistral LHDs to replace the LPH when she bows out of service.

                                          THIS scenario would reassure me a lot.

                                          As to helicopters. Not-Navalized Merlins are a major drawback. Even assuming that, even if manned by RAF, the helicopters are tasked with Commando roles (and i'm sadly ready to bet the RAF will be a bitch about actually covering that by deploying at sea), they are a major drawback if not navalized.
                                          The sea is cruel. Without adequate protection, the Merlins HC3's life will shorten dramatically if they are used "regularly" at sea. The environment takes a serious toll on the airframes.
                                          Again, if not even the rotors are made foldable, HMS Ocean will go down from 12 helos + 6 attack helos to a ridiculous number of absurdly space-consuming helos. Without the folding rotors, i don't even know if the Merlins can use the lift to be brought down into the hangar. It is RIDICULOUS.

                                          The Helos "strategy" of the UK is the worst mess EVER in military procurement.
                                          The main cost of the Merlin move, is not so much about "marinizing" the airframes as it is about disposing of a lot of current Merlin pilots (some could transfer on the 12 new Chinooks, but others would lose their job) and retrain the actual Sea King crews for the Merlin.
                                          A "balanced" decision would be to still "marinize" the Merlin, but retain the current RAF crews, moving them to the Navy would be "symbolic" since the pilots would be the same. This would still mean losing the Junglies and kicking shamefully out of the Armed Forces the Sea King pilots after all what they did. (and it horrifies me to no end, but then again, hasn't it been done with the Harrier pilots and so many others too?) But, at least, there would be a REAL force of sea-adequate helos, and it would... make the best choice for the Armed Forces as a whole. The most balanced and cost-effective solution.

                                          Then again, i also consider the RAF owning Chinooks and Pumas DEMENTED.
                                          Chinooks and Puma should fall under the control of the Army Air Corps and be solidly framed into Regiments of air mobility, normally assigned to the 16 Air Assault Brigade and then of course used wherever they are needed for operations.
                                          Most nations do this way already. For example, Italy's Chinooks are part of a regiment of the AVES, the italian AAC counterpart.

                                          Also, i'd like the 12 new Chinooks to be built with foldable rotors. It would cost a little bit more, but Boeing is capable to do it, and it would be handy to make the new helos more naval-adequate too.
                                          After all, CVF's lifts can take the Chinooks to the CVF hangar... but i think that not Ocean and not Illustrious could ever held a Chinook anywhere else other than on deck, which is not optimal at all.

                                          In time, i'd personally like to see the Chinook and Puma being handed (crews and all, so it would be a mere question of ownership and administration) to the AAC.

                                          Equally, the Merlins HC3 should go to the Navy after navalization. Retaining the crews since they are already trained and experienced, but the airframe needs to be made adequate, and the RN must control the helos, or after the empty carrier we'll now have the empty LPH too. (most of the time at least)

                                          The SAR helos, perhaps coming as PFI if it is advantageous, might be flown by the Coastguard or another ministry. It should be valued if there's really any advantage in charging the MOD of the SAR work too. And with the change of helo platform, the current Navy/RAF crews would have to re-train in any case, so there's no real difference.

                                          Ideally, the RAF (or the FAA at this point, so all Merlins are pooled with advatages in terms of running costs) should have a dedicated Combat-SAR squadron instead, equipped with Merlins well kitted for the role. They could be used for Special Forces, support to civilian SAR in emergency, and for the C-SAR work in conflict time.

                                          That's my ideal world, of course.
                                          Last edited by Liger30; 27th October 2010, 08:23.
                                          "It is upon the navy under the providence of God that the safety, honour and welfare of this realm do chiefly attend." - King Charles II

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