Return to the Arctic, another task for the threadbare submarine force

Two Royal Navy submarine officers recently participated in the US Navy’s ICEX 2016. Two American attack submarines (SSNs) navigated under the Arctic ice and surfaced where a camp was established on an ice floe. Shortly after the exercise concluded it was announced that an RN Trafalgar class submarine will conduct under-ice operations in the Arctic in the near future. Although a strategically wise decision, this is another pressure on the RN’s stretched SSN fleet which numbers just 7 boats.

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F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter

Have the armchair F-35 critics got it all wrong?

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (Lightning II) programme has been one of the most controversial defence projects of all time. The decision to abandon CATOBAR for the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers means their credibility rests largely with the effectiveness of the F-35B Lighting II. Born in the internet age where critics can spread negativity in a few clicks, (guilty your honour) the overwhelming public and media perception of the F-35 is of an expensive disaster. Those who dare to champion the aircraft, or are at least willing to give it a chance are ignored, written off as establishment stooges or seen as part of a sinister conspiracy.

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Is the Royal Navy surface fleet losing the ability to sink other warships?

In the immediate post-Cold War era the focus of naval operations changed from conventional open-ocean warfare towards maritime security, coastal operations and amphibious warfare. The possibility that fleets of warships might again have to slog it out against each other on the high seas seemed increasingly unlikely and even rather old-fashioned. Geopolitical changes manifest in the revival of the Russian Navy and the rapidly growing Chinese military are now driving western navies to seriously re-think their ability to sink warships.

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Type 45 Destroyer Gas turbine engine problems

Putting the Type 45 propulsion problems in perspective

Amongst informed defence commentators it has been an open secret for several years, but on 29th January a BBC report finally put the engine problems of the Type 45 destroyers into the public eye. The MoD has consistently played down the seriousness of the issue, that had on occasions resulted in total propulsion and electrical failure, leaving ships dead in the water. Even Parliamentary questions were met with vague assurances that “progress was being made”. The media coverage has since been predictably excessive, giving the unfortunate impression that Type 45s are £1Billion cripples. Although these breakdowns have hampered their operation, all the Type 45s have completed major deployments and HMS Defender is currently on a 9-month Gulf and Indian Ocean deployment.

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The Silent Deep - Submarines Polaris

The Silent Deep – Book review

£20.40 (Hardback)  £12.99 (Kindle)

2015 saw the publication of the latest in a string of fascinating titles dealing with the Cold War history of the Royal Navy Submarine Service. Secrets of the Conqueror (2012), Hunter Killers (2013) and Cold War Command (2014) were essentially based on stories told by RN submariners. The Silent Deep, the Royal Navy Submarine Service since 1945 is a lengthy and more encompassing work that tells the political, operational and personal stories of the service from the end of WWII up to the present day.

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Trident Successor Submarine

Taking down the arguments against Trident

The case for Trident – disposing of common arguments against renewing Britain’s nuclear weapons capability and the Royal Navy’s Successor submarines.

In 2016 Parliament approved the construction of 4 replacement of ‘Successor’ ballistic missile submarines for the Royal Navy. Despite majority public support, a very vocal minority opposes British nuclear weapons and the subject continues to be hotly debated.

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771 Naval Air Squadron Sea King Helicopter

Goodbye 771 Naval Air Squadron – UK search & rescue helicopter service goes private

After more than 40 years providing search and rescue (SAR) services across the UK, on 1st January 2016 771 Naval Air Squadron handed on responsibility to private contractor. Until now the MoD and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) have operated a 24-hour military and civil helicopter SAR service for the UK using around 40 RN and RAF Sea king Mk5s. 

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