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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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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Aircraft Carriers - HMS Queen elizabeth

SDSR implications for the RN – Aircraft carriers: front & centre of UK defence policy

Although far from perfect, the decisions made in the SDSR appeared to offer something good for all the UK armed forces. At first glance the RAF appearing strongest; retaining its Tranche 1 Typhoons, orders for F-35s and 9 new P-8 Poseidon aircraft.  The Economist breathlessly reported “Spies, special forces and the Royal Air Force are the main winners”. In fact the SDSR was very maritime-centric with the RN the main beneficiary.

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ships company of HMS Somerset, Malta

SDSR implications for the RN – The manpower situation

It is no secret the RN has been struggling with a serious manpower shortage, particularly with technically qualified personnel. The modest increase of 400 people for the RN announced in the SDSR was greeted with disappointment in some quarters and criticism that shiny new kit was being prioritised ahead of the people needed to operate it. Although the RN would undoubtedly benefit from having more people, the true state of its manpower resources is more complex than may appear.

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Frigate design

SDSR implications for the RN – The surface escort conundrum

This is the first in a new series of articles looking in detail at what the recent SDSR announcements may mean for the RN. The navy will get 8 Type 26 frigates and government has affirmed its promise to maintain a surface escort fleet of at least 19 ships. How will this be achieved?

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Why a submarine-based nuclear deterrent is the best choice for the UK

This piece was inspired by a recent click-bait gem that proposes the UK consider joining the US Long-Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) programme with a view to replacing the submarine-launched nuclear deterrent with an air-launched alternative. This kind of proposal rears its ugly head very so often and was even briefly enshrined in UKIP defence policy. Here we will show why submarines are overwhelmingly the best vehicle to carry the UK nuclear deterrent.

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Type 26 Frigate (or Global Combat Ship)

A critical moment for the Type 26 Frigate programme

Speaking at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) Exhibition last week, the First Sea Lord Admiral Zambellas said:

“the Type 26 [Frigate] will form the backbone of the Royal Navy, with a design that has the potential to meet the operational needs of a number of major navies around the world.”
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Royal Navy Merlin Helicopter on flight deck of HMS Sutherland

The Royal Navy’s Merlin helicopter fleet – bearing a heavy load

Glossy MoD publicity may give the impression the Fleet Air Arm is in rude health with several new types of aircraft coming into service to replace ageing veterans. A new generation of aircraft are indeed being delivered but the actual number of helicopters in RN service will have declined dramatically by 57% (From 194 to 83) in the decade between 2009 and 2019.

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