HMS Queen Elizabeth – are aircraft carriers too expensive?

The arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth was a day for celebration and pride. Beyond the flag waving and excitement, there are many critical voices who question the whole carrier project. Here we address some of the issues about the financial impact of restoring the Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier capability.

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Up close with a US super carrier and the pilots fresh from combat operations

The arrival of the USS George HW Bush in British waters to participate in exercise Saxon Warrior with the Royal Navy provided a useful opportunity to meet US naval aviators who have recently completed combat missions against ISIS in the Middle East. Although they are very different, inevitable comparisons will also be made between the Nimitz class CVN and the Queen Elizabeth class CVF, which deserve to be put in perspective.

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Crowsnest Merlin Helicopter Aircraft Carriers

Crowsnest – the strike carrier’s eye in the sky

Crowsnest is the name for the project to provide a new airborne early warning system for the RN. Sea King Mk 7 helicopters operated by 849 Naval Air Squadron currently operate in this role and provide what is now called Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC). They are the last Sea Kings remaining active in UK service but are due to go in 2018, by which time this type will have served for nearly 50 years.

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Type 23 frigate in heavy weather

Ongoing manpower issues revealed by status of Royal Navy surface escorts

Although recent news for the Navy has been mostly positive, with HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea and orders placed for the Type 26 frigates, a quick look at the status of the escort fleet reveals the stresses that lack of manpower continues to exert.

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Astute Class submarine Faslane

Outlook for the Royal Navy in the wake of the 2017 general election

The uninspiring and complacent election campaign run by Theresa May and the Conservative party delivered something of a shock result. Universally expected to increase their number of seats, the Tories lost their Parliamentary majority and are now forced to rely on the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland to remain in power.

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German type 212 submarine

Should the RN consider buying conventional submarines, even at the expense of frigates?

The 2015 Defence Review promised the UK would build a new ‘cheaper and simpler’ frigate to complement the more expensive Type 26. This Type 31 frigate offers the attractive possibility that the total number of Royal Navy warships could be increased, albeit after 2030. Threats to surface ships continue to proliferate, adding to the challenge of making the Type 31 a credible warship. Meanwhile, the undeniably potent RN submarine fleet is far too small. Here we ask if the RN should prioritise expanding its submarine force with the same enthusiasm it applies to frigates.

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HMS Illustrious Philipines

Why a portion UK overseas aid money should be given to the armed forces

Britain’s £13 billion annual international aid budget is extremely controversial and re-directing this money often cited as a way of solving the defence funding crisis. Theresa May recently said she remains committed to the current level of spending on aid. There is a strong moral, economic and security case for Official Development Assistance (ODA) and humanitarian aid but there is little doubt we should be allocating the funds more intelligently. The armed forces are key enablers for aid delivery and disaster response – a portion of the generous DFID budget should be re-directed to finance more ships, aircraft and personnel.

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Restoring the UK’s maritime patrol aircraft capability (Part 1)

The axing of the troubled Nimrod MRA4 project in 2010 SDSR has left Britain unable to properly patrol its waters and left a serious gap in anti-submarine capability. In 2015 the government tacitly admitted its mistake and announced the plan to purchase nine Poseidon P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) from Boeing in the United States. In the first part of this article we will look at the programme and infrastructure behind its introduction into service, and the aircraft itself.

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Solid Stores Support Ship

Fleet solid support ships – an important part of the naval logistic chain

The 2015 SDSR confirmed the intention to build 3 new solid stores support ships. This kind of logistic support vessel is critical to the global reach of the RN but are low profile and do not get the focus of attention given to warships. Government commitment to build the new ships is positive but entirely lacking in urgency, the first ship will probably not be ready for sea until around 2025.

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Steller Systems offers another option for the Type 31 frigate design

Steller Systems, an independent consultancy specialising in naval architecture, has just announced Project Spartan a design proposal to be considered for the Royal Navy’s Type 31 frigate / GPFF project. To date, BAE Systems has submitted 2 outline proposals and BMT Group have submitted their Venator-110. Here we take a brief look at the competing options for the Type 31 design.

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