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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F-35B the right choice and the only choice for the Royal Navy

The F-35 Lightning II has proved highly controversial since the program’s conception in the 1990s. There are still those in the UK who would be happy to see the back of it, but the arguments in favour of the aircraft that is an essential part of the RN’s future are overwhelming.

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Naval Strike Missile

Failure to replace the Harpoon anti-ship missile would be inexcusable

The Royal Navy’s sole heavyweight anti-ship missile, Harpoon (Block 1C) is semi obselete and at present there is no plan or funding for a replacement. Recently HMS Duncan, Richmond and Sutherland escorted Russian warships close to the UK. In photos showing these warships at work, the 8 Harpoon missile canisters were plainly visible. Although nearly obsolete, the missiles purpose is clear and their availability reassuring. When the RN is called on to meet Russian vessels, their hitting power will be nothing but a single 4.5” gun. This state of affairs is unacceptable, dangerous and risks making the navy a laughing-stock.

*Harpoon Out of Service Date was extended until 2023 as an interim measure in 2017
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National Shipbuilding Strategy

The National Shipbuilding Strategy report – a roadmap for a stronger Royal Navy

On 29th November Sir John Parker’s report to inform the UK National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) was published. Commissioned by the Treasury, exasperated with decades of continual delays and cost increases to warship construction, the report is concise and written in clear layman’s language. The 34 recommendations are eminently sensible and the report has generated at least temporarily, a warm and fuzzy feeling of consensus and optimism. Both the Defence Secretary and the First Sea Lord have welcomed the findings. The actual NSS, due to be announced by government in Spring 2017, and its implementation will of course, define whether this has been a worthwhile exercise.

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Admiralty board

Dear Theresa May and Michael Fallon, this is how you should fix the navy… fast

On 25th November the professional head of the Royal Navy delivered a robust defence of the service, upbeat about its current work and its future. He was right to make his point, this is his job and leaders need to show confidence. The sailors of the RN are doing an outstanding job and deserve to believe in their future. In reality they are making do with insufficient ships, submarines, aircraft and people but somehow just about manage to keep on delivering on a daily basis.

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Type 26 Frigate

Will the Type 26 frigate deliver a punch commensurate with its price tag?

The quality of a warship should never be judged purely on its armament. There are many other factors to consider such as its sensors, electronics, propulsion, construction quality and above all the standard of its crew. But in this article we will focus primarily on the weapons fit of the Type 26.

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Type 31 frigate Venator 110

Type 31 Frigate – unwanted child of austerity or bright hope for a larger fleet?

It is widely accepted that the current total of 19 surface escorts falls far short of what is needed to meet the UK’s strategic aims. With the Type 26 frigate programme now fixed at 8 ships, the only way surface escort numbers are ever going to be increased is to build more of the cheaper Type 31 frigate (General Purpose Frigate – GPFF). The 2015 SDSR committed government to “at least 19” frigates and destroyers but on 4th November 2016, when talking in the context of frigates, the Defence Secretary said “We will have fleet larger than the fleet at the moment”. This is a positive sign and at least suggests intent in government build more than 5 Type 31 frigates.

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