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Talking point – SDSR: Harrier axed

This week's UK Strategic Defence & Security Review (SDSR) has announced the end of the Harrier in RAF and RN service. Tell us what you think about this!

18-Oct-2010


The Naval Strike Wing operates the Harrier GR9 as a single unit at RAF Cottesmore, due to disband on March 31, 2011. Key - Gary Parsons

This week's UK Strategic Defence & Security Review (SDSR) has announced the end of the Harrier in RAF and RN service. Tell us what you think about this!

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93 Comments

glider said on the 12-Feb-2009 at 12:20

the a/g role of the typhoon is still in doubt since many of the partners are not really interested in.
tornado was designed for that role while typhoon was for air supremacy.
to me the point is in the answer to the following question:
is the next future of a/g missions still in the wings of powerful manned ac?
if so tornado has to be kept up in shape until typ will be a true multi role. tornado airframes will be worn out by date. save the harrier for training until jsf is ready.
if we are going to fly a/g missions only to pound goat shepherds with ak47 let's stay with harriers and dismiss the tornadoes. indeed we could axe both and strafe with some WWII typhoon and put the savings into an advanced a/g capability of the typhoons or foot the bill of the jsf.
are we going to strafe ak47 armed goat shepherds with jsf? sounds weird.

Robert Grixti said on the 12-Feb-2009 at 18:10

@ glider said

LOL! But hey you are right that one could just as well use an OLD typhoon! In fact the US are launching a tender for a low-cost, CAS aircraft.

Could the tucano end up replacing harrier and tornado??

Ian Smith Watson said on the 12-Mar-2009 at 11:24

The trouble with arguments based around present conflicts is they are just concerned with that. The present conflict. The Armed Forces have to maintain disciplines in all areas. We never know nor expect the conflict of tomorrow. i.e. no one expected the Royal Navy to be deploying tactical attack submarines against the Argentinian Navy, in March 1982 the very thought would have been bizarre!

glider said on the 12-Mar-2009 at 19:39

@ Robert
I think OV-10 Bronco will have a chance to fly COIN again. CAS is still a too hard game for props.
anyway a low cost COIN airline can be fielded with sturmoviks.

@ Ian
indeed, and keeping a wide and deep technological divide is the best way to enforce peace without firing a single shot. making naval and aerial power too pricey and too difficult to achieve is a "wisdom booster" for the many competitors of the real world risiko.

Robert Grixti said on the 12-Mar-2009 at 19:45

Personally speaking, I always liked airplanes like the Bronco and Pucara (in their appearance and mission characteristics) ever since I was a boy. Although nothing beats a warthog in my opinion...

What if the UK reverts to the A-10C? :)

glider said on the 12-Mar-2009 at 20:12

@robert

imho without thousands MBTs swarming around on german plains A10 is definitely overkill.
talib can be diehard, but not so hard to need DU rounds from a GAU-8.
the handful in US inventory is surely enough, no need to spend that much for such a specialized, pricey and old flying gun. the scenario it was designed for is unrealistic and will be that way until the airframe of A10s will be worn out twice.

Robert Grixti said on the 12-Mar-2009 at 20:26

@ glider

i was indeed joking...

On another note, I am truly intrigued by the American COIN plan. Perhaps the US (and other European countries) are finally realizing the futility of investing heavily in a handful of highly-prized aircraft, and then seemingly not utilizing them for fear of having one of these assets shot down (with the obvious PR and breach-of-technology implications). The loss of the F-117 in the Balkans springs to my mind.

Also, why is that development of a new bird of prey is taking whole decades, with a hemorrhage of development costs and deadline overruns ? The new COIN initiative also seems to tackle this issue.

glider said on the 12-Mar-2009 at 22:28

the golden rule is (should be) the HI-LO mix

high brass and industries are always in love with some klingon cruiser sibling and when it comes to the LO side cash is empty and the idea of a LO part of the mix is just a HI budget for a plane with LO performance mainly because of small minded projects, small numbers, little or no international cooperation and so on.

the US way is to waste big bucks in klingon cruisers even when thinking of a mere VIP helo (VH-71 story is crazy)
the european way is to waste money in small national ill fated projects or crowded consortiums without a clear view of the goal, with partners always trying to steer in different directions, messing up requirements and causing to take double the time to get a (late) good (average) solution.

Tom Broomhead said on the 11-Oct-2009 at 10:15

I would certainly keep the Harrier.It`s more suited to the type of war we are becoming involved in with better ground attack capability.

Robert Grixti said on the 24-Oct-2009 at 13:11

I would keep the Tornado: more flexibility, more punch, more impact overall (including psychological). The Harrier's role and utility are not much suited in today's perceived combat environment in my humble opinion. Running costs could overturn my "decision" though...

R B TAIT said on the 14-Nov-2009 at 21:09

Almost every aspect of the Tornado is superior to the Harrier, including 2 man crew, greater range, larger and more versatile payload, the gun (which is proving useful in Afghanistan), two engines, greater speed and loiter time and enhanced combat survivability.

Harrier still is an essential piece of kit for force projection as a carrier borne asset, however, that role in the current context is limited.

Ian Smith Watson said on the 21-Nov-2009 at 13:49

I would keep the Tornado. The Harrier popularity is bouyed up almost always by hype because of it's almost unique VSTOL capability, which it rarely if ever uses to any advantage. The truth is the Harrier is a light weight, it is not the most agile, it hasn't got the range, it hasn't got the payload, indeed it hasn't got anything over the Tornado apart from viffing for the airshow crowds. That in itself hasn't much recently. Also, I understand the Harrier is closer to it's airframe sell by date? Another thing, the Harriers are much fewer in number. If it's simply a type that needs to go, well then I'm sure we'll miss tha Harrier's operational capability least of all.

adey said on the 28-Nov-2009 at 19:18

The typoon is slowly taking over the tornados role. The harriers replacment (jsf) is not even in production yet so if we scrapped harrier gr9 we would not have any carrier borne aircraft.

ChrisH said on the 13-Dec-2009 at 14:30

What about the Hawk? Here's a time proven design which can be outfitted with just about any payload you wish. Granted it's not a heavy hitter but with payloads like the small diameter bomb coming into service it seems to fit the bill rather well?

Kris said on the 16-Dec-2009 at 22:51

With the Typhoon replacing the Tornado in the air defence role and the likely candidate to ultilmately replace it in the strike role, the financially sensible decision would be to scrap the Harrier - reducing to a two-type common CTOL fleet. This would also support inevitable moves to reduce the F35 procurement which is only necessary due to the MOD's foolish decision to build a STOVL carrier.

drabslab said on the 17-Dec-2009 at 09:10

Does anyone care really?

Is it not much more important to continue supporting that useless US monster at the expense of sovereignty, the European military aircraft industry and related research?

drabslab said on the 17-Dec-2009 at 09:16

@ adey: what about the Rafale?

glider said on the 20-Dec-2009 at 23:51

@Kris
why do you think a stovl carrier is unwise?
the fate of f/b is in the wings of f35.
no way out unless reverting to wwII tiffies.
the stovl f35 is indeed pricey, low in range and payload when compared to the f35a ctol but

a) a conventional carrier is much more expensive than a stovl one
b) f35b is already a standard in other nato navies
c) a massive wing taking off from a large carrier is no more a realistic scenario since the fall of the soviet threat.

actual threat is likely to be posed by some advanced SAm supplied via roseboronexport to the wrong guys.

"our" need for f35 is making such a politcally dangerous procurement not worth since the few of those pricey sams are likely to be ruled out by the (supposed) higher technology of a handful of f35 taking off from a small and easily deployable TF with a small stovl cv then leaving the area an easy arena for the many older and heavier fighters and carpet bombers.

a large ctol cv/cvn is needed the same way we need the Hood, Iowa, Bismarck, Yamato and Roma.

or the CdG. ;)

imho.

adey said on the 21-Dec-2009 at 08:56

@drabslab I do not know to much about the french made Dassalt Rafale, but it is not a STOVL a/c, probally outperforms JSF in manovorability.And we need British jobs for British people.

glider said on the 21-Dec-2009 at 10:29

anyway, if a ctol carrier is needed I would go for a navalization of the typhoon convincing the japanese to join the consortium.
the big investment on a new platform is done. let's save time and money we have already spent and go with consistent evolution process making progress available also for older a/c and cost to be shared with many investors.
I'd get japanese into the consortium anyway as they are not getting f22 and looking for something better than teir ageing f15s.
otherwise lack of sales and international crisis striking the european countries sharing the project is going to axe the a/c evolution.
todays f16 are not comparable to the early ones and we don't want our typhoons to be the same old ones in the next 40 years.

Ian Smith Watson said on the 21-Dec-2009 at 12:37

I think I concur with Glider. The future is probably going to be served best all round by a Typhoon/F35 based R.A.F. But I can't see the Tornado GR4 gong for quite while yet. That said, I'm not convinced that any of the U.K's main stream political parties can be relied upon to do anything but continue to slice away at the R.A.F. end of the defence budget. Despite the success of GR4s in Afghanistan, they are not currently in vogue. It will take a major shift in the international diplomacy situation before that will happen. By which time it will most probably be too late to prevent another U.K. defence blunder based on consigning the past to history rather than carefully reflecting upon it.

drabslab said on the 23-Dec-2009 at 09:35

@adey

The Rafale characteristics are known and seem to be impressive. The plane is also operational NOW, at a well known cost, and not in some undefined future.

Further, the new carriers don't exist yet. Is it that difficult to change to a conventional launching system.

Equally, the UK has already announced that they would work together with France "sharing" an aircraft carrier.

Finally, France has shown great flexibility in offering "complete" packages including economical and technological exchanges for selling a few Rafales to Brasil for instance.

Considering the smoke curtain put up by JSF on the transfer of technology, the real cost of this thing, how many will go to produciton and when, how can you trust them providing you with jobs in some distant future?

glider said on the 23-Dec-2009 at 12:46

@ drabslab
maybe a change in cv project from stovl to ctol is not that difficult, but surely has a big impact on available space (stop wires and catapult hardware and steam generators need room to be seized from other equipment or hangars).
it also affects cost of the cv and availability of the cv and the a/c. steam is free if nuclear propulsion is provided, requires much more energy/fuel/time for catapult recharging in a conventional plant.

I think the choice is to be made basing on the mission the cv and the embarked wing are supposed to be requested in the (not so predictable) future.

in that view I think stovl is a more flexible approach.

as far as the rafale is concerned, actually it's a good a/c with effective multi role capability but the naval version is intended for CdG ctol catapults.

also consider that in order to boost sales dassault is open to grant access to core hw and sw to their customers. if that is such a key to drive sales it also means (imho) that the simple product specs are not able to win the match.

also consider the commonality issue in logistics and maintenance when deployed far away. I don't see frequent and/or consistent joint operations with french navy as France is likely to hold on it's "independent" way in foreign affairs.

imho F35 are to be considered a lead in, first strike asset. maybe a mere air arm of a fleet in being strategy.

if a hard job is to be done air refuelled typhoons and alike will give air cover and tornadoes and f15s will ferry some iron for a long time to come.

afterall in syria IAF levelled a supposed nuclear site hassle-free without F35 siblings despite some state of the art russian radar and sams.

rafale is a good plane, but we need a good and coherent system.

glider said on the 23-Dec-2009 at 17:05

another key point in selling rafale is dassault can supply both airplane and complete/integrated support for a wide range of weapons enabling their customer to overcome any actual or future US sales restriction and/or system performance degrading. reportedly (maybe depending on how the french bid is hard to win) with access to source code too.

glider said on the 23-Dec-2009 at 17:48

finally and going back to the topic:
keep a small number of harriers as STOVL school until lrip F35B will enter service (there will be no F35B twin seat trainer)
keep tornadoes alive until typhoon will be a true swing role or multirole (support and join german a/g program asap)
go for standardization and partner logistic/spare commonalities.
if we really want to waste money let's try a stobar Typhoon on our cv rather than adding another plane/training/spares/logistics line with rafales.

if we want a decent technical evolution of our platform to keep it efficient and effective for the next 30 years at least we DO need to save all the money the R&D process needs.

4S need to be our mantra

streamline, simplify, standardize, share with partners finance load, technolgy and development strategy.

IMHO

adey said on the 23-Dec-2009 at 18:32

I concur with Glider, it allows us to beg, steal and borrow from the New World.

glider said on the 23-Dec-2009 at 18:42

beg, steal and borrow

uhm, wait, I got it!

it's a banker's action plan to salvage his bonus and benefits. :D

Tom Howe said on the 23-Dec-2009 at 20:40

Tricky one... Harrier better at supporting troops on the ground, Tornado better at longer range, high speed strike attacks.... I think the Tornado should be kept because the RAF have more Tornados than Harriers and the GR4 is a younger aircraft design, but if I was to pick my favourite of the two it would have to be the Harrier.

drabslab said on the 27-Dec-2009 at 13:23

The question; Harrier or Tornado seems to make us reflect on what comes next.

Or, do we need a VTOL now, and in that case we need to keep the harrier, or, we do not need a VTOl, and then the Tornado looks better.

For the long run, this is dangerous reasoning, the problems of today, never mind yesterday, are not necessarilty those of tomorrow.

And here i have an interesting question on the JSF.

What is it worth without stealth?? Does it stand a chance against a present Gripen, Rafale, F-16, Typhoon, SU 27, MIG 29 if we would dump its stealth feature.

Stealth is only important to strike a highly advanced enemy, such enemy could (will) develop a counter technology. With net centric warfare, this technology can be based on a ship, ground station... and still be directly available in the (Sukhoi?) fighter planes.

Where does that leave the JSF?




Tom Howe said on the 27-Dec-2009 at 15:57

I understand what drabslab is saying, I'm not a fan of the JSF myself, I think the A is basically a stealthy F-16 and the B a stealthy Harrier and I believe that once in service it will underperform. Another thing is if the JSF is to complete a normal long range strike mission it will have to carry external fuel tanks and external weapons, which are not stealthy, so it mucks up the whole concept because the fuel tanks and weapons will show up on radar. I believe that rather than purchasing the F-35, BAe Systems should navalise the Typhoon like Dassault have done with the Rafale so it can operate from the new carriers.

drabslab said on the 28-Dec-2009 at 18:36

@ Tom Howe: thanks!

What I find very sad (even when not being brittish) is that the UK is at the origin of VTOL but it has done nothing with this technological advantage for XX years.

Why couldn't the truckloads of money now spent on JSF been used to build a next generation "harrier".

The US marines could have bought it, like they bought the harrier, it would defintively have secured UK jobs and have been the basis for future developments.

No matter how you look at it, JSF makes the UK dependent on US goodwill to secure jobs, exchange technology and have military sovereignty.

Tom Howe said on the 28-Dec-2009 at 19:01

Exactly, I think the RAF and Royal Navy will regret the F-35 purchase in years to come but it will be too late to go back. I've also heard that the production F-35 when fully armed and fuelled will not be able to take off vertically because of the weight and also because of the bizzare engine and fan layout, it will not be able to 'truely' hover like the Harrier can. And yet the USAF alone are ordering 1400 of the A variant!! Using it to replace the F-16 and the A-10. BIG BIG mistake, god help western air power in years to come.

glider said on the 28-Dec-2009 at 21:16

tom, I think f35 is not a simple replacement of harrier in a stealthy flavour.
imho it's a different plane which comes from a different doctrine.
just the same way a tornado is far different from avro lancaster or b17 not just because of turbofan instead of propellers but because of a different doctrine in air operations.
f35a and f35b share the same platform but are intended for a different use.
f35b are for stovl (not vtol unless unarmed I think) which grants easy deployment via small and cheaper cv. an easily force projection of a hardly detectable first strike wing able to get rid of a handful of state of the art sams, radars or protected bunkers, plants, hq. this is worth the small(er) payload.
f35a is the stealthier counterpart of a tornado since
nowadays tor-m1 and alike make the tree trimming high speed TF intrusion no more a viable solution to avoid sams and flak. jamming could make standoff weaponry unreliable so a hardly detectable sead and ids platform is needed.
the point is in keeping a wide tech divide between our instruments of dissuasion and whatever roseboronexport or china export supplies to "the dark side".
the best strategy is pushing the scenario of any military confrontation out of reach for any eventual contender. we cannot lean on numbers, we can exploit tech race as we successfully did agains ussr. the inherent message of our technology achievements need to be "you loose the moment I start engines". of my airplane, of my frigate, of my mbt, of my missile, even of my supply truck.

Paul Padley said on the 7-Jan-2010 at 19:24

Ian Smith Watson, thanks for your reply. I appreciate your taking the time. Other things I don't understand are i) how important is this stealth thing and ii) in light of your comments on range and armament, if you do decide you need stealth why you would choose the F35B in preference to the F35C if you are building the bigger carriers? And lastly, if you decide you don't need stealth why would you not buy the French Rafale and do some kind of deal with them on sharing a 3rd carrier. I am assuming that they can't afford their second one either. Is there a win-win outcome here?

Michael Leek said on the 13-Jan-2010 at 21:34

If a brutal choice had to made in the forthcoming Strategic Defence Review, as posed by this question, I would have to say that the Harrier should go.

However, the question, and therefore the answer, is not that simple or straightforward, regardless of the fact stated above that for the foreseeable future the Typhoon will be the backbone of the RAF. Regardless of the hype put about by the RAF, British Aerospace and their servants in the MoD, the Typhoon is an aircraft designed for the air superiority role in a Cold War senario. It was not designed as a ground attack platform, and, regardless of trials in Nevada, has still not been cleared for this role and therefore its planned deployment to Afghanistan has been conveniently forgotten.

Regardless of age, the Harrier has, on the other hand, proven itself in Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Troops in Afghanistan would like more of them!

The Tornado, unlike the Typhoon, WAS designed as a multi-role aircraft, and has, like the Harrier, proven combat experience.

JSF is over-budget and whatever the polticians say, the RAF and RN will NOT have full access to software codes. We will therefore be beholden to the US for as long as JSF is in service. Not good. JSF is also a limited platform in its 100% stealth capacity because it is unable to carry a reasonable payload. It you attavh external stores/weapons you remove the stealth capability. This suggests the designers really knew what they were doing!!!

And in its naval version payload is further reduced to allow for sufficient fuel to be carried. Reduce the fuel capacity to increase the payload and the carriers will have to go up river to give the JSF any chance of doing its job!

And do we need a JSf with stealth capability?

Given the end of the Cold War, the very limited need for air superiority fighters, the questionnable need for stealth capability, logic would suggest we should reduce the Typhoon fleet, up-grade through a life extension programme the airframes of the Tornado and Harrier fleets, and look for a more appropriate and proven alternative to the JSF!

This would leave the RN with two very expensive, gold-plated white elephants unless a major up-grade of the Harrier could be developed. Alternatively, build the white elephants as fully fledged carriers (as per the Nimitz class), and not as half-hearted half-measures as the Invincible class of - remember the misnomer - 'through deck cruisers' were. Mind you, as the politicians are unlikely to pull the plug on the new carriers (even though one will not be full developed as such, but built as a replacement for HMS Ocean), and because these white elephants spend so much time in port we could probably man them with a few reservists, hiring out the hanger space for car boot type events!

Seriously though, I wouldn't be surprised if by this time next year the Harrier will be history. And it will not be long after that when the RAF will not be able to meet its commitments.

A very perverse irony, heavily laced with sarcasm, is that the UK could find, in a few years time, that the USAF at Lakenheath has more front line jets than the whole of the RAF, particularly when half our JSFs are 'in' the States having their software upgraded...!!!

Michael Leek said on the 12-Feb-2010 at 17:00

The outcomes of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) are indicative of the lack of experience, a lack of understanding of UK's defence needs and a significant failure on the part of the current minority coalition government to approach the review rationally, logically and objectively - in other words, an inability to employ 'joined-up-thinking' and to see the 'wider picture'. However, that the UK is in this position should come as no surprise for the level of incompetence and poor decision making in respect of the UK's defence needs is not new and certainly not exclusive to one party or another - even the SNP in Edinburgh have been guilty of undermining the future of defence jobs in Scotland by their past rhetoric about independence. Added to this is a year-on-year failure of consecutive governments to address the inherent incompetence that is endemic in the MoD. There can be no other department in the history of democratic government in the UK that has so consistently demonstrated its inability to perform according to its Crown remit and in the interests of the countries it serves - and no other department that has been so poorly led by minority elected politicians, prime ministers included. It is no surprise therefore that the UK can only react to events such as the Argentinean invasion of The Falklands in 1982 with a knee-jerk reaction, using marine-based weapons platforms that were not even up to the task of lengthy patrols in South Atlantic waters (e.g. Type 42 destroyers that required strengthening on their return to the UK because, to 'save money', their design was substantially altered, with batch 2 ships reverting back to their original design because the 'cost saving' versions - batch 1 - were not fit for purpose, though even these had to be strengthened too! A similar senario with the Type 21 frigates and with the Leanders, etc, etc...).

The latest news that ministers are now considering selling off RAF Leuchars for conversion to a civil airport in order to 'safeguard' RAF Lossiemouth is yet further evidence of the incompetence of those who sat on the SDSR committee and those who 'advised' them. This shows that the SDSR process was flawed from the beginning. If this was a serious consideration in the context of the defence and security needs of the UK then why has there been no earlier reference to this option other than coming about as a result of a public campaign to save RAF Lossiemouth? And, furthermore, were the RAF ever consulted? It was obviously on the advice of the RAF that the government agreed to having a planned contingent of three squadrons of Typhoons at RAF Leuchars to cover northern QRA and air defence duties, yet all of a sudden ministers are now apparently considering other options, without taking cognisance of the implications of another civil airport so close to Dundee's existing airport and its required airspace!

And if RAF Leuchars closes it will leave the UK with only one dedicated air defence station which one or two strategically placed IEDs could very easily put out of commission!

The UK is a maritime country because it is an island. Each of its constituent countries have long traditions associated with the sea. We are also on NATOs northern flank and share, with Norway, the task of monitoring a revised and revitalised Russian navy. Our merchant fleet, such as it is, remains global in operations and faces growing piracy threats off the coast of north east Africa, into the Indian Ocean and beyond. There is also the threat of fundamentalist attacks by sea. The UK also has a long and unique tradition in the support and welfare of seamen, regardless of race, colour, creed or nationality. Supporting seamen, be they professional or leisure-based, has been via the lead from the RNLI with the RAF and RN providing SAR assistance as necessary. Co-ordinating SAR attempts around UK waters has often been via the Nimrod fleet from RAF Kinloss. Even a cursory examination of the evidence over many decades will clearly show the successful role the Nimrod has played in saving the lives of those distressed at sea. And this is in addition to the Nimrod's primary roles of maritime patrol, surveillance and anti-submarine warfare. But the wise men of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Whitehall have decided, with no rational explanation offered to voters, to scrap the latest version of the Nimrod. It will sadly be on the lives of those lost at sea over the coming years who will be the evidence to show that this decision was a mistake - but by then David Cameron, as with so many PMs before him, will have long since retired conscience-free and never having to account for his decisions.

Alone and without Nimrod MRA4 the RN will not be able to provide the level of support and protection demanded by the Merchant Navy, and others, because with an SDSR proposed reduction to 19 surface ships that will spend most of their time in harbour or in refit, there will be insufficient warships to carry out their key tasks, let alone deterring privacy and other 21st century roles. And yet again politicians demonstrate their lack of experience and inability to grasp historical realities by ordering only two aircraft carriers - though through the SDSR to be reduced to one - when the evidence of the Illustrious class of so-called 'through-deck cruisers' (of which HMS Ark Royal is one until the end of this year) clearly showed that for the RN to have at least one carrier at sea at all times they needed three to be in service, though originally only two were ordered - to 'save money')! And as for the aircraft that is supposed to be flying from these new aircraft carriers - the Lockheed-Martin JSF Lightning II - we, the voting public, are kept in the dark about its real costs and indeed its real suitability, all at the expense of one of the most suitable and effective close-air-support aircraft currently in service, the Harrier GR9 (quote from the OC of 41 (T&E) Sqn: if the decision to scrap the Harrier was 'capability based, you couldn't get a better platform for the role it was operating in...').

As for the arguments for and against RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Marham, the decisions will be influenced by the narrow-mindedness of party politics, not by the needs of the RAF in defence of the countries it serves. Lossiemouth is long way from becoming a Conservative constituency whilst Marham lies within a marginal seat surrounded by safe Conservative constituencies. So-called lesser individuals would be rightly reprimanded if their decisions were based on such narrow parameters or criteria. However and for sensible reasons, RAF Lossiemouth has been chosen as the future base for the Lightning II. According to my sources it also had built, a few years ago, a comprehensive engineer and maintenance facility, designed specifically for the Tornado GR4 fleet. For some undisclosed reason engineering and maintenance were transferred to Marham, with the building at Lossiemouth now effectively empty, or certainly not used as planned (reminds me of the new RN accommodation facility built on Portland, Dorset, only to be closed by Margaret Thatcher within months of being completed - yet more cost to the taxpayer caused through poor and short-term decision making on the part of politicians and the MoD). Furthermore, the prevailing weather conditions for flying training in and around Moray are far more conducive than those in and around Marham. Indeed, Tornados from Marham have to travel much further distances to get to suitable training airspace than do their Lossiemouth colleagues, a factor which I doubt has ever been costed.

That the Tornado fleet is to be reduced to five operational squadrons and one OCU is not a surprise (though still not welcomed), but for the RAF - or should be that more accurately be the politicians? - to effectively put all its eggs in the one basket that is the Typhoon, at least until the Lightning II comes into service, is again short-sighted. Significantly, in the close-air-support role the Typhoon has a very, very long way to go to prove its worth against the successes of the Tornado and Harrier fleets, particularly in recent conflicts over the past two or three decades.

Even putting to one side the implications of the rebirth of the Russian armed services, if, as a member of NATO, the UK ever gets embroiled in Iran, North Korea or elsewhere in ten years time then I dread to think what will be expected of our armed services, including the Army, following the draconian and poorly considered decisions resulting from this SDSR.

I believe we need a defence review that is not led by party politics, but independent, and even independent of senior serving officers from any of the armed services, though they would onbviously be consulted in an advisory capacity.

Finally, I'm surprised the national media haven't picked on the irony in the title of the SDSR. The title is Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty and is the best piece of irony of 2010! By implication the coalition government are concerned about Britain's security, yet lack the fore-sight to address the long-term strategic and operational defence needs of Britain in an environment they describe as 'uncertain', suggesting they are aware of international situations that could deteriorate at any time, yet they come up with a review that puts Britain's security at risk! Whoever thought of this black-humuoured title for the SDSR must work for a well-known satirical magazine! Someone in government is taking the proverbial out of the British voters and public...

R B TAIT said on the 12-Feb-2010 at 19:52

Michael should be praised for his summation of the impact of SDSR on current the position of the RAF and RN and also some of the implications in the short and medium term.

I would say that the closure of Leuchars with a transfer of the Typhoons to Lossie may be a necessary move for the following reasons: if the GR4's were to move to Marham there appears to be no room there for the the GR4 OCU also there is not enough Sim capacity, whereas there are 2 Sims at Lossie; the infrastructure is not only superior to Leuchars it has the capacity to cope with the Typhoon squadrons, the GR4 OCU, retain the existing SAR and still be able to cope with the addition of the F35Cs (Lightening IIs); finally the social impact on RAF families and the localised economies of Moray and St Andrews would be less.

Harry McColl said on the 21-Feb-2010 at 09:22

Why can we not create a new Harrier from the funds being spent on the JSF? It is a proven aircraft, unlike the JSF, and as commented before would help British Industry which needs all the help it can get.

We may not always be in bed with the US and without full access to the software, the whole JSF fleet could be grounded on a political whim.

Too much monet has been spent on Typhoon that it cannot be scrapped and will have to be developed into a multi-role aircraft to justify its expense, so I would reture the Tornado and build a new Harrier.

mike yates said on the 12-Mar-2010 at 01:09

@ Michael....You have read and understood the views of the Government with the same cynical eye that I now use when anything concerning cuts are mooted by any minister in the press.

Our national interests will be safeguarded by fewer ships , sub hunters, aircraft and tanks.

Our air force will be able to perform better with fewer types of aircraft available because they are multi-role.

Our army will be able to cope with any type of warfare coming along in the near future because they are getting more helicopters.

Our merchant fleet will be more secure because we are providing French Atlantiques and American rivet joint aircraft and sticking to ages old Sea Kings instead of buying Sea Hawks.

These are just a few of the LIES that keep spewing from the mouths of IDIOTS like Cameron and co..... But remember this;

Our health service will work much better with fewer nurses.

Crime is falling year on year.

We will be much safer if we cut the amount of police officers in the force

These are some of the other UNBELIEVABLE comments made by the same, lame politicians that have been voted in this time. They are all as bad as each other, which ever party is voted in but HONESTLY, do they believe the crap they are coming out with, cos if they do we are all DOOMED!

David Brown said on the 11-Apr-2010 at 19:51

Remember there was no Military SDR, it was Slash & Burn by George Osborne.

There is no Military Stratedgy or SDR.

It is simply a Cost Cutting excercie.

Richard Samwell. said on the 12-Apr-2010 at 18:42

Successive governments have, for many years
given us their version of Sucessive Defensive
Shutdown Reviews (play on words). It has always been the Nations Defence that has had to pay for the Gross Incompetence of Other
Departments( Health,Raiways & Education).
I really wonder what the Royal Family would say
about all this if they could, in public.

chris mastin said on the 16-Jun-2010 at 22:34

the harriers, should be upgraded,and the tornado,s
mothballed,the f35 is overpriced,and wont be ready
for a few years yet,

Ian Smith Watson said on the 17-Jun-2010 at 08:07

The Harrier is closer to the end of it's airframe life. Perhaps this is why they are no longer deployed in Afghanistan, they are also much fewer in number, another reason for why they are no longer deployed. The Tornado GR4s are still around in large numbers. Any future cuts in the R.A.F's Frontline inventory would, I imagine, fall on the GR4s, but merely to cut down on the numbers. The Harriers should only be retained to provide relevant currency for future F35B pilots.

Ian Smith Watson said on the 17-Jun-2010 at 08:15

One more point on the Falklands, the Typhoon FGR4 is the type which should be invested in here with regard to any future tension sparked almost certainly by the oil down there. I further hope the U.K. Government don't bow to any pressure from the U.S. to concede to Argentina (they'll be banking on it) as we certainly don't have an ally in Uncle Sam as long as Obama is there.
I'm afraid there may be pressure from the U.S. on behalf of Argentina, this will be bad news for us.

Paul Padley said on the 17-Jun-2010 at 21:26

I am far from being a defense expert, just a taxpayer. Can someone explain to me whether we would have the capabilities we need if we cancelled F35, kept both the Tornado GR4's and Harrier GR9s as long as they fly, converted some GR9's to a new Sea Harrier while we built navalised Typhoons? Also, I understand that the Russians have made a cheap mass produced mach 3 Exocet which can be launched from boats little larger than a sailing dinghy. How do we defend our capital ships against this threat? And lastly how does a Type 45 prevent itself and its charges from being overhwelmed by mass attack from air launched exocets when its radar aerial is so close to the sea? Wouldn't basic geography and physics say you need to have your early warning radar in airborne vehicles to give you the notice you need?

Ian Smith Watson said on the 18-Jun-2010 at 07:34

Paul,

Your suggestions would probably make sense in the long run. I'm not sure for why, but a hell of a lot of store seems to be put by the capabilities of the F35? However, it is damned expensive, and the one we're expecting to get is the F35B, this is because it has VSTOL like the Harrier, this so the pilot can make a more considered appraoch to carrier in bad weather, presumably. There is a down side to this, the lift fan and associated apparatus means forsaking valuable fuel and armament. The navalised Typhoon or even French built Rafale M would be a viable economic but worthy alternative in my opinion.

Richard Teo said on the 24-Jun-2010 at 06:58

The RAF should keep both aircraft and forget about the F-35. In the current world situation the F-35's promised capabilities is really not needed and it is getting to be more and more expensive.
To choose between the two I would retire Tornado as the Typhoon has the qualities to replace Tornado. To retire Harrier, which is an excellent CAS aircraft would be a mistake with Afganistan still in the cards.

Ian Smith Watson said on the 25-Jun-2010 at 00:00

Richard,

I'm curious as to why the Harrier is no longer deployed in Afghanistan. The Tornado, which exists in far greater numbers , and VSTOL aside, is a more verstile platform, surely must have been deployed in it's place for a good reason. To dispense with this aircraft and hold onto the now dwindling Harriers would be placing a significant limitation on Ground attack options. To hold onto both indefinitely surely means leaving another problem down the road when the airframes are life expired, apparently 2018 for the Harriers and 2025 for the GR4s. But I'd be amazed to see them last that long. The F35 and already much reduced Typhoon order, would probably represent the best plan for the country's future air combat capability. Including a cheaper Nuclear alternative to Trident (thinking of the F35 again.)

Ian Smith Watson said on the 25-Jun-2010 at 00:05

Another couple of options to the F35, hoisting on board the problem of runaway expense and over sold capability, is to get Rafale or Sea Gripen?!?!

Or indeed Super Hornet!?!?!?!

chris mastin said on the 3-Sep-2010 at 22:54

the harrier force should be not be cut it has proved its
worth over the years, we should invest in a new version, the jsf is expensive, should trouble start in the
falklands we will need harriers, a defence reveiw is
needed before elections,

Ian Smith Watson said on the 3-Oct-2010 at 11:41

I don't think after all is said and done, the C.A.S. is being faced with a choice between his Harriers and Tornados. However, I believe the Harrier's only reason for soldiering on now is to provide a pool of single seat ground attack and carrier rated pilots for the F35, when ever that materialises. Otherwise, surely the Harrier would be deployed in Afghanistan now, not the Tornado!?

christopher mastin said on the 18-Oct-2010 at 16:33

news leaking out, we will have two carriers but no
aircfaft, poss/rent to the french,?

Barry walker said on the 18-Oct-2010 at 16:48

Given that the UK armed forces' role is no longer to defend the realm, but to fight other people's civil wars, surely it is better to retain the Harrier ?

Andrew Dyson said on the 18-Oct-2010 at 19:24

Time to buy a Rolls Royce engined F18 and delay the JSF purchases for a number of years. This could follow the RAAF approach with some fitted for a future Growler role.

Mike Yates said on the 18-Oct-2010 at 23:09

Would the Americans allow the U.K. to re-engine the f18, would they allow system codes needed to give us U.K. missile, target aquisition of our own, or would we have to purchase a watered down version of the platform. More of a worry is the complete lack of future indidgenous aircraft for the home market. The new Hawk is good but is it as good as the Aermacchi 346. Where is the next step up. We need a Hawk on steroids. Supersonic, to at least 1.4 mach.c.a.s. capable with a usefull bomb and missile load, one engine...ej200 would mean swapability with Typhoon and produced by Bae for us are you listening Cameron. It wins on all sides . Jobs for Brits, aicraft for Brits, and pride for the Brits in our own capabilities. If we go down the road of buying Rafales or F18`s we will just end up as a far away air arm to the Yanks or the French.

And just a final point. Every major European country,is looking to increase capability, India ,Pakistan China and Russia are all improving their air capability when we are shrinking ours back to a level lower than that in W.W.2. America has a navy with a much bigger aircraft inventory than our very own R.A.F. this can`t be right.

David Nowell said on the 20-Oct-2010 at 16:49

Rather than scrap assets to save money, why not, in the short term, mothball them, so that we can re-instate them if the world order changes - we should learn from history, and last time (in the 1930s) it didn't take so long to build an aircraft/ship, and in the case of aircraft, manufacturers could afford private ventures. Store the Harreies on Ark Royal, and the Nimrods in the hangers at Kinloss, which could be kept on a care and maintenance basis.

Mike Wood said on the 20-Oct-2010 at 19:03

Whatever has been decided, REMEMBER how short of aircraft we were in 1938 to 1941,and you cannot build modern aircraft as fast these days. Keep the Harrier for now.
Will some be mothballed pr are all to be scrapped?

David Nowell said on the 20-Oct-2010 at 21:02

Recent history suggests that they will be sold, probably along with Ark Royal to India, or some other poor country with our own money given as overseas aid...........

drabslab said on the 21-Oct-2010 at 16:58

Axing the Harrier is a logical decision and completely in line with the longstnding UK government appraoch to let die or kill any innovative product ever invented i that country.

David Nowell said on the 21-Oct-2010 at 17:22

This is one of a long line of MoD bad decisions - including the hurried retirement of the Jaguar just as the update was being completed - they should have been sent to Afghanistan, with a view to leaving them there for the Afghan AF. As previously stated, the Harriers and the Nimrods should be mothballed, as no-one can tell what is just round the corner - after all, they have been paid for, why get rid of them, so by scrapping them, only the operating costs will be saved. At least the Harriers could then be deployed on the first of the new carriers when it is completed. How about converting the development Nimrod MR4As into R1 replacements, thus saving buying 'rivet-joints' with their known astronomical maintenance costs.

Ian Smith Watson said on the 21-Oct-2010 at 20:25

Well David, you talk a lot of sense. But don't forget we're talking of political decision making here. And all that may suggest.

Ian

Mike Yates said on the 21-Oct-2010 at 20:29

There are I think 3 mra4 flyable test airplanes as well as at least 1 or 2 that have been doing the airshow circuit this year. So thats 5 Nimrod mra4`s
ready to be put into full service. This has gotta be better than buying 3 rivet joints and scrapping 5 airframes that have at least 25 years solid service in them, I mean they are 95% new airframes. And if any of the politicians had been near me at riat this year, they would have heard the gasps from the crowd at such a military looking piece of hardware powering up those beautiful engines as it sailed majestically overhead. We know they are perfect sub hunters. We can`t scrap them, we have `em, use `em with pride.
Also the politicians need to stop Bae bashing. If the government would stop messing them about with untried system requirements there would not be the problem of cost overruns. I mean, the government buy, in such small numbers, that Bae can`t hope to compete with Boeing for instance who are almost through giving their navy the last hundred or so of the 550 F18`s they had ordered
Thats 5 times more strike aircraft for their naval fleet than we are getting fighters as a country.

Ian Smith Watson said on the 21-Oct-2010 at 20:39

Indeed, the United States is perhaps the only western country that still spends more than 3% of its GDP on defence. Considerably more. Given the size of that GDP that is a hefty amount. We could certainly do more, so could the rest of Europe. However, that's not to say we should be trying to compete with the U.S. by any stretch, but we could do more.

Ian

Mike Yates said on the 21-Oct-2010 at 22:25

Yes the GDP as an amount in hard cash differs from country to country. I agree we shouldn`t try to compete with the Americans, but whatever France,Italy Germany and Spain etc. spend on defense per year in euros, we should have the equivalent amount of pound sterling to spend per year. And we should only be equalling the amount of soldiers, planes, helicopters etc. as each of our European partners. No more, no less,

David Nowell said on the 22-Oct-2010 at 16:29

What grieves me is that we are scrapping perfectly good airframes that
a Do the job
b are finished, or almost so
c have been paid for, or will effectively have been, paid for when BAE's cancellation charges are taken into account (just as would have been the case with the carriers - BAE aren't stupid when they negotiate contracts, they know how politicians of all colours, and the MoD, work. Just think back to TSR2 ).
I see in this morning's Daily Mail that BAE are talking to the powers that be about the Nimrod contract - maybe, just maybe, sense will prevail - but I doubt it . I certainly don't want to see our forces being held to ransom by the US when it comes to maintenance information, etc.

Ben said on the 27-Oct-2010 at 18:37

I think this is a awful decision because we have only just upgraded a load of them, they work perfectly and if theres a war , what we going to do send in 4 typhoons and wait until 2018 for the f35's , scrap the tornado before the harrier , the tornado is older.

Mike Yates said on the 27-Oct-2010 at 19:00

I think you`ll find Harrier is the older airframe, it is also very high maintenance and more importantly far less capable, except for the vstol, than the Tornado.

David Nowell said on the 27-Oct-2010 at 19:34

Harrier would be able to take off fron the carriers - which will be useless until/if JSF comes. It will also be able to take off from container ships in the interim, or even our helicopter carrier. As to Nimrod - I saw an interesting letter to the press which pointed out that we have an international obligation to have the ability to do search up to 400 miles from our coast - so how do we do it without a suitable aircraft - Nimrod is perfect, exists, and will have been paid for.....

Ian Smith Watson said on the 27-Oct-2010 at 19:37

Well you'd think David Cameron would have seen that letter? Or that at leaast somebody would have brought it to his attention.

Ian

David Nowell said on the 27-Oct-2010 at 19:40

Harrier can take off from our helicopter carrier, container ships, and from our new carriers until JSF eventually arrives.
As to Nimrod, I see today that we have an international oblication to have a search and rescue facility for up to 400 miles from our coast - Nimrod is perfect, exists, and is weffectively paid for. Any alternative would need to be bought, at extra cost. Unless, of course, the mods specified for the MR2s were to be implemented on the few currently maintained in taxiable condition and the aircraft brought back into service. Outlandish idea - but maybe possible.

Mike Yates said on the 27-Oct-2010 at 19:53

The French Atlantiques are coming our way. They are the ones the French have been trying to offload for ages now, so that the can buy into a newer system. Not as good as Nimrod for us but they ARE built for the job. We might be saved! and more importantly they are cheap, unless Sarkosy had his Arthur Daley coat on.

Ian Smith Watson said on the 27-Oct-2010 at 20:00

What an absolute embarrassing disgrace.

Three rousing bloody great cheers for the British Political Establishment I should damn well think not!

Ian

Mike Yates said on the 27-Oct-2010 at 20:05

They are gonna lend us their aircraft carrier now if we need it. With a bit of luck, if we did borrow it for the soon to be"Falklands2" it might fare better against those FRENCH exocet missiles they sold the Argies to use against us....sorry to take the p.

David Nowell said on the 28-Oct-2010 at 12:10

Maybe we could sell the Nimrods to the French, or exchange them for the Atlantiques (and even borrow them back if needed?)

Geoff B said on the 29-Oct-2010 at 11:06

Chopping the Harrier is an absolute disgrace, especially in view of the vast sums we're throwing at the EU. An now we have no effective maritime recce - these politicians just don't understand the realities of defence.

Union Jack said on the 29-Oct-2010 at 20:29

For the past twenty years, since the end of the Warsaw pact the whole structure of British forces have been changed to accomodate the goverment policy of expeditonary warfare and power projection capability to any part of the globe. But now with the withdrawal of the Harrier and Ark Royal makes a total mockery of this policy. Wake up H.M. Goverment and grasp the reality, that along with the Harrier you have also thrown away your most flexible go any where in the world asset. Not only is the Harrier the most flexible naval aircraft it must also be remembered that for several years in Afganistan it was the most flexible close support aircraft there is. It went to airfields out there that no Tornado could venture to. Getting rid of the Harrier is WRONG !WRONG! WRONG! HOW MANY TIMES MUST I SAY THIS!

Paul Murphy said on the 29-Oct-2010 at 21:40

The Harrier is one of the most versatile aircraft of recent times.Having witnessed field engine changes.Deployed and lived with it on deployment in the 70's from Wilders and Gut.
I firmly believe this aircraft is still ahead of its time in many ways.
We cannot afford to scrap proven aircraft.For a political football.

Mike Yates said on the 29-Oct-2010 at 21:58

I think the government HAVE actually woken up, to the fact that we cannot afford to be the worlds policeman any more. They must know what they have thrown away, the deeper question to ask is why they are leaving us so impotent.

David Nowell said on the 29-Oct-2010 at 22:42

Please can this thread, minus the duplicate entries, be forwarded to the relevant Government departments. It is no use our ranting away to each other, without bringing it to the decision makers' attention.
As a complete aside, it was nice to see a junior Defence Minister who was visiting Brough today wearing a Vulcan to the Sky lapel badge - maybe there are some people who value our aviation heritage (?)

Mike Yates said on the 29-Oct-2010 at 23:44

Was this minister wearing the Vulcan badge, with pride, do you think. I hope so,but...
Where is todays Vulcan, for our kids to be proud of, why do the powers that be think that thousands of people queue for hours to see it and the children watch openmouthed at the sight of this plane. It is because it is a beautiful piece of engineering, of awesome power, a sight to behold, like Concord and we know there will be nothing like it in the future. Avation heritage is ok but it has to be a continuing line, or it will be lost.

David Nowell said on the 30-Oct-2010 at 15:54

I can't believe thatit wasn't being worn with pride - whilst on the subject, the Vulcan to the Sky fund was yesterday almost within reach of the required sum, so that the trustees agreed not to put the company into administration - they now 'only' need £75K so anyone out there who thought that a donation now would be a waste of time, it should not be as money was coming in at an acceptable rate - so let's not let this bit of our heitage go down the pan. Maybe we could then think about keeping a Harrier airworthy (?)

Mike Yates said on the 30-Oct-2010 at 20:23

I believe I will be seeing the old bird at Cosford this year again...fingers don`t need to be crossed, we all put what we can where we can.

There have been many designs in the last fifty years that should be kept in flying serviceable order, even if they only flew once a year, say at Farnborough... I`m thinking Meteor, Vampire, Vixen,Lightning, Hunter, Gnat, Hawk, Phantom,Nimrod and Vulcan, as well as the BBMF and of course the Harrier

Ian Smith Watson said on the 30-Oct-2010 at 21:35

I think if it was a stark choice between the Harrier and the Tornado. It hard to be the Harrier that went. What was the reason they were replaced in Afghanistan exactly. The ludicrous choiced seemed to be one or the other. If the Tornado went, wth its 7 squadrons and OCU. As oppose to the Harrier with its one sqn a piece for the R.A.F. and F.A.A. and an OCU. Just what would that have left us with a total of 4 R.A.F. combat FJ sqns. 3 of Typhoon and one of Harrier. Plus one Harrier sqn for the Navy.

That would have left us with a smaller Air Force than Holland. But be sure, it would remain a far more Bloody expensive one.

There is a great deal of emotional attachement to the Harrier. Because people are still incredulous about how it can go straight up and down like a Helicopter. And that is the real reason people think the Harrier should have stayed and don't appear to apply much thought to what exactly that would mean overall for the R.A.F. it would have been disatrous if the kind of Strategic thinking which seems to have prevailed i.e. one type or another. This was absolutley stupid.

Ian

COL. ALNAJDI said on the 6-Nov-2010 at 20:01

I think they should keep the Harrier and take the GR4 away because the FGR4 already get into service with RAF and F-35 will get in problems in the next few years....

best regards.

PMM said on the 28-Dec-2010 at 16:16

I've just read this entire stream and would like to, as an Englishman, comment on the carrier /harrier debate. To me it seems that a very simple choice has to be made.
1. Does the UK need aircraft carriers to look after our defense and global interests?
I think that the UK needs to clearly demonstrate naval strength and those areas such as the Falklands /SA oil resource is of great interest to us. Both China and India are upgrading naval aviation and may well be full blue water naval powers in the medium term. Both will have increasing interests in marginally defended global resources. The US will also want to slip in a wedge at some point. Therefore the answer is yes. This applies to other RN units and numbers thereof.
If the answer to 1. is yes; do we want to go with 2-3 x super carrier(QE @ 65KT) or have more platforms, harder to hit but less capable (2-4 x Invincible/Ocean class at ~22KT). If the answer is QE class, then it is blatant stupidity to use F35B; any of the other options discussed would be preferable. The F35B is only viable for Invincible style carriers. As soon as you can launch ctol, you should go for it. Any ctol platform gives supersonic intercept and higher range and payload capability (F35C, Rafale, Navy Eurofighter, F18A-E etc.).
If the answer is Invincible type, I would argue that F35B is the only future type on the board at present. But I still wouldn't buy it. The entire engineering concept is flawed when compared to the current Harrier. The Harrier has v/stol capability built into its core makeup. The plane was designed around the engine, unlike the F35B which has a Heath Robinson set of doors and fans that have to operate in order to allow the thing to land vertically; a key requirement on a small carrier. This system has many things that can fail, any one of which will prevent the plane landing vertically. If the fan mechanism fails or a door can't open, the plane would have to ditch. The key point about any war plane is that it can expect to take damage at sometime and the F35B looks very fragile. A multinational, UK lead Harrier3, based on a similar engine geometry to Harrier, possibly 2 engines with smaller lift sections, would be money better spent; in my opinion.
On carriers in general: the RN exists to defend Britain and British interests. Carriers(CV) are only required for the latter, as RAF aircraft, if we had enough, should be more than capable of coastal patrol, medium range strike etc.
I am not one to knock the US gov, they look after their interests first, because they recognise that that is the role of national government. The UK gov (pick any colour) have failed to recognise that fact from Suez onward. The RN should field a force credible enough to say -"This is ours and if you want it, you better be prepared to pay a very high price to get it from us." Does the RN do that? I don't think so.
The US has 11 CVN and 9 (40KT) Marine (Harrier) carriers on its active list. That's about 1,400,000 tonnes of carrier capacity. The RN at its recent maximum (~2004-5) had 88,000 tonnes. Invincible, Illustrious, Ark Royal and Ocean. The American population is about 5 times the size of the UK. So it would be reasonable for the UK to field at least two decent carrier(QE) battle groups.
After this so called "defense review", we will have 44kt of carrier with no air intercept capability at all. Invincible is scrapped, Ark Royal is due to decommission by March 11 and has launched its last Harrier. You don't have a blue water navy without air cover. Any one remember HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Whales in WW2. State of the art war ships, sent to defend Singapore - without air cover. It took the Japanese a couple of hours to send them both to the bottom using aircraft. If the naval plan is to let enemy aircraft within missile launch of our ships, we better stay close to the UK.
The UK choice is straight forward.
1. Have a blue water navy that is highly effective and that means carriers.
2. Have a Home defense navy similar to the Japanese. This is about what we have now with some Marine trimmings for UN work and a half decent submarine fleet.
Currently we are equipped for one and pretending to be the other.

If we get 2 QE carriers, all the new frigates, type 45 destroyers and Astute subs planned, we can still have a claim to be blue water. Even that will be a carrier shy of what's needed

As far as a tie up with the French; a credible navy means that it contains elements that know how to win a battle. Bless em, their best effort in the last 206 years was under Napolean. Nelson sank their fleet and Wellington went on to destroy their army. The only reason they still speak French is because of UK/US in WW1 and 2. I think a country should at least demonstrate its ability to defend its own borders before asking it to help with ours.
Read some of the data on CdG - not good.

On Harrier v Tornado. Tornado is a better platform, but it can't land on a carrier. You pay your money: you take your choice. Lose the ability to send the Navy anywhere near an enemy air force so you can bomb AK47 wielding 11th century tribes people. No one will persuade me that the war in Afghanistan is in our National interest any more than Vietnam was in the US interest. We had to stand with the US in response to 9-11 given the NATO philosophy, but to get into a nation building protracted conflict was/is a mistake. I'd keep Harrier, but it's a coin flip. What it is, is a reduction in capability either way.

The Harrier decision may have been influenced by the possibility of selling Ark and its harriers as a pack to the Indians. They are short of Harriers (14 left out of 30 bought) and the Russians are stalling on delivering their next carrier. (They are still using HMS Hermes: as was.)

Michael Shaw said on the 26-Feb-2011 at 08:42

Wouldn't it be handy to have Ark and Harrier positioned in the Gulf of Sirte off Libya right now?

PMM said on the 26-Feb-2011 at 18:58

I was thinking just the same while I watched the BBC News tonight. A bit of CAP for those Hercs would have been nice. I would certainly think so if I was one of the UK tax payers whose life depended on it, sitting in an unguarded Herc. I've just got back from Japan and was talking to some mates out there. They're just cracking on building up their carrier fleet, though they're a bit worried about potential cancellation of F35B, as their third carrier was/is going to operate it. UK gov needs to recognise that they must plan for the unexpected. Does anyone know if the Hercs had any top cover?

Harry said on the 26-Feb-2011 at 20:09

With reference to the above comment on top cover. What would provide it?, you can bet that the government just sent them in with the hope that nothing bad happened and can now claim that they have sufficient resources.

It will take an event where lives are lost to get any british government to give a **** about the lives of the people they send into harms way, and that will only be after political spin and the public getting off their a***s and starting to care about the people who protect them.

Roger uraeus said on the 16-Jul-2011 at 11:26

It`s a shame about the Harrier-jump jet; a technical marvel of engineering. I didn`t know though that the original conceptual design was by a French aircraft designer, Michel wibault, for those like me, who didn`t know please read the following:

MICHEL WIBAULT & THE BE.53
Even before the first flight of the SC.1, the wheels were in motion that would eventually result in an operational VTOL aircraft, though by a long and very complicated path. In 1956, a French aircraft designer named Michel Wibault, well-known for his pre-WW II designs, proposed a VTOL aircraft named the "Gyroptere". He was interested in building a combat aircraft that would be able to operate independently of airfields, which were clearly vulnerable to immediate destruction by Soviet nuclear strikes on the event of a general European war. The Gyroptere was to be fitted with a British Bristol "BE.25 Orion" turboshaft engine, with 5,970 kW (8,000 SHP), fitted the rear fuselage to drive four blower units, arranged around the center of gravity with two blowers on each side of the aircraft. Each blower would be in a moveable snail-shaped casing that could be rotated to provide vertical or horizontal thrust.
Wibault tried to promote the Gyroptere to both the French and American air forces and got nowhere. Finally, he approached the Paris-based "Mutual Weapons Development Program (MWDP)", an American-funded NATO office that promoted technologies useful for European defense. The MWDP's chief, US Air Force Colonel John Driscoll, found the concept interesting, and passed it back to the NATO "Advisory Group For Aeronautical Research & Development (AGARD)" for comment.

AGARD's chairman was Dr. Theodore von Karman of the California Institute of Technology, one of the most prestigious figures in aerospace. Von Karman was very intrigued by the idea. Encouraged, Colonel Driscoll then passed the concept on to Bristol Aero Engines in the UK. Bristol's technical director, Sir Stanley Hooker, found Wibault's lash-up clumsy, but he liked the basic idea of using a single engine for both vertical lift and forward flight. Hooker assigned a small research team consisting of Gordon Lewis, Pierre Young, and Neville Quinn to investigate the idea.

The research team quickly concluded that Wibault's idea could be greatly improved by dropping the external blowers and instead using the airflow of the engine itself, directed through swivelling exhausts. They then gradually refined the idea:


Their first design concept, designated the "BE.48", was described to Hooker in a memo dated 2 August 1956. The BE.48 simply extended the Orion's shaft forward to drive a large compressor turbine at the front of the engine, something like that of a modern high-bypass turbofan engine, to drive airflow through a pair of elbow-joint swivelling exhausts immediately behind that. The memo suggested that the first two compressor stages of the Olympus BO1.21 could be used for the forward fan. The turboshaft's rear exhaust remained unchanged, with the airflow straight out the back.

This concept quickly evolved into the "BE.52", in which the Orion was replaced by a modified version of the smaller and simpler "Orpheus" turbojet engine, and the large compressor fan was more tightly integrated with the rest of the engine. The scheme provided just as much thrust, maybe even a little more, than the Orion-based concept. Versions with straight or swiveling exhausts fitted to the rear of the engine were considered.

The next concept, the "BE.53", was similar, but the large compressor fan was changed so that it rotated in the opposite direction from the main compressor spool, eliminating gyroscopic effects that would be a nuisance in a VTOL aircraft. The BE.53 was described in the initial patent for the new type of engine, dated 12 January 1957.
Hooker took the BE.53 concept to Paris to show it to Driscoll and von Karman, who were both enthusiastic. Driscoll left the MWDP soon after Hooker's visit, but his successor, USAF Colonel Willis "Bill" Chapman, was just as enthusiastic. Hooker also hired Michel Wibault as a consultant. Wibault, far from being offended at the way the British were reworking his design concept, was delighted at their ingenuity. He and Gordon Lewis became joint patent holders for the BE.53, though sadly Wibault died just a few weeks later and never saw his idea become reality.

The Bristol work led to an engine, but not an aircraft. Then another lucky series of events took place. In early 1957, Hawker Aircraft's chief designer, Sir Sydney Camm, responsible for the Hawker Hurricane, Tempest, Hunter, and other famous aircraft, was attending the Paris Air Show. There, he happened to chat with the Hawker representative in France, Gerry Morel, a Frenchman who had been a member of the British Special Operations Executive during the war. Camm mentioned that he was unimpressed with most of the "lift-engine" VTOL schemes being put forward at the time, and Morel told Hooker about Bristol's tinkerings.
Camm was very worried about the future of Hawker, since the British government seemed almost indifferent to procuring new combat aircraft. Possibly, Camm reasoned, a VTOL combat aircraft might stimulate their interest. A few days later, Bristol's Hooker got a letter from Camm that read:

Dear Hooker:
What are you doing about vertical take-off engines?
Yours, Sydney

-- and a few days later Camm got back an envelope containing data on the BE.53. He passed it on to his engineering staff, and in due time got back a preliminary sketch of a VTOL aircraft. Some time later, in early March 1957, Camm then gave Hooker a call, starting out with: "When the devil are you coming to see me?"
Hooker replied: "About what?"

"About this lifting engine of yours, you bloody fool! I've got an aircraft for your BE.53!" The show was on.









MICHEL WIBAULT & THE BE.53
Even before the first flight of the SC.1, the wheels were in motion that would eventually result in an operational VTOL aircraft, though by a long and very complicated path. In 1956, a French aircraft designer named Michel Wibault, well-known for his pre-WW II designs, proposed a VTOL aircraft named the "Gyroptere". He was interested in building a combat aircraft that would be able to operate independently of airfields, which were clearly vulnerable to immediate destruction by Soviet nuclear strikes on the event of a general European war. The Gyroptere was to be fitted with a British Bristol "BE.25 Orion" turboshaft engine, with 5,970 kW (8,000 SHP), fitted the rear fuselage to drive four blower units, arranged around the center of gravity with two blowers on each side of the aircraft. Each blower would be in a moveable snail-shaped casing that could be rotated to provide vertical or horizontal thrust.
Wibault tried to promote the Gyroptere to both the French and American air forces and got nowhere. Finally, he approached the Paris-based "Mutual Weapons Development Program (MWDP)", an American-funded NATO office that promoted technologies useful for European defense. The MWDP's chief, US Air Force Colonel John Driscoll, found the concept interesting, and passed it back to the NATO "Advisory Group For Aeronautical Research & Development (AGARD)" for comment.

AGARD's chairman was Dr. Theodore von Karman of the California Institute of Technology, one of the most prestigious figures in aerospace. Von Karman was very intrigued by the idea. Encouraged, Colonel Driscoll then passed the concept on to Bristol Aero Engines in the UK. Bristol's technical director, Sir Stanley Hooker, found Wibault's lash-up clumsy, but he liked the basic idea of using a single engine for both vertical lift and forward flight. Hooker assigned a small research team consisting of Gordon Lewis, Pierre Young, and Neville Quinn to investigate the idea.

The research team quickly concluded that Wibault's idea could be greatly improved by dropping the external blowers and instead using the airflow of the engine itself, directed through swivelling exhausts. They then gradually refined the idea:


Their first design concept, designated the "BE.48", was described to Hooker in a memo dated 2 August 1956. The BE.48 simply extended the Orion's shaft forward to drive a large compressor turbine at the front of the engine, something like that of a modern high-bypass turbofan engine, to drive airflow through a pair of elbow-joint swivelling exhausts immediately behind that. The memo suggested that the first two compressor stages of the Olympus BO1.21 could be used for the forward fan. The turboshaft's rear exhaust remained unchanged, with the airflow straight out the back.

This concept quickly evolved into the "BE.52", in which the Orion was replaced by a modified version of the smaller and simpler "Orpheus" turbojet engine, and the large compressor fan was more tightly integrated with the rest of the engine. The scheme provided just as much thrust, maybe even a little more, than the Orion-based concept. Versions with straight or swiveling exhausts fitted to the rear of the engine were considered.

The next concept, the "BE.53", was similar, but the large compressor fan was changed so that it rotated in the opposite direction from the main compressor spool, eliminating gyroscopic effects that would be a nuisance in a VTOL aircraft. The BE.53 was described in the initial patent for the new type of engine, dated 12 January 1957.
Hooker took the BE.53 concept to Paris to show it to Driscoll and von Karman, who were both enthusiastic. Driscoll left the MWDP soon after Hooker's visit, but his successor, USAF Colonel Willis "Bill" Chapman, was just as enthusiastic. Hooker also hired Michel Wibault as a consultant. Wibault, far from being offended at the way the British were reworking his design concept, was delighted at their ingenuity. He and Gordon Lewis became joint patent holders for the BE.53, though sadly Wibault died just a few weeks later and never saw his idea become reality.

The Bristol work led to an engine, but not an aircraft. Then another lucky series of events took place. In early 1957, Hawker Aircraft's chief designer, Sir Sydney Camm, responsible for the Hawker Hurricane, Tempest, Hunter, and other famous aircraft, was attending the Paris Air Show. There, he happened to chat with the Hawker representative in France, Gerry Morel, a Frenchman who had been a member of the British Special Operations Executive during the war. Camm mentioned that he was unimpressed with most of the "lift-engine" VTOL schemes being put forward at the time, and Morel told Hooker about Bristol's tinkerings.
Camm was very worried about the future of Hawker, since the British government seemed almost indifferent to procuring new combat aircraft. Possibly, Camm reasoned, a VTOL combat aircraft might stimulate their interest. A few days later, Bristol's Hooker got a letter from Camm that read:

Dear Hooker:
What are you doing about vertical take-off engines?
Yours, Sydney

-- and a few days later Camm got back an envelope containing data on the BE.53. He passed it on to his engineering staff, and in due time got back a preliminary sketch of a VTOL aircraft. Some time later, in early March 1957, Camm then gave Hooker a call, starting out with: "When the devil are you coming to see me?"
Hooker replied: "About what?"

"About this lifting engine of yours, you bloody fool! I've got an aircraft for your BE.53!" The show was on.

Dave Biggs said on the 26-Jul-2011 at 16:19


Rumour has it that these babies are all going to be ground run in early August, might be an interesting watch.

ian leach said on the 2-Oct-2011 at 21:36

possibile out come for retired harrier GR9
United States Marine Corp has no "plan B" for late delivery of F35 Lightining 2(Recent developements indicate that R and D has been put back for 2 years for F35B)
Guess what her HM indept goverment(All political colours of the last 40 years)will offer some knock down/bargin basement /no longer needed GR9 Harriers and ready for upgrade to the US goverment(USMC) as a stop gap measure.
In return for this we will in some year`s time will be sold some second hand F18 Hornets and ask for discount on new F35C`s
The Ark Royal unfortunately will end up like Invincible as rasor blades

earnemngerulk said on the 4-Nov-2011 at 06:59

This is actually a wonderful website . london escort

earnemngerulk said on the 4-Nov-2011 at 06:59

That is really a tremendous site . escort

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