Britain’s Future Navy

B2142

This revised edition contains some well-argued views of British sea power, or lack of it. There are some good colour images in illustration, but it has to be questioned whether any review of British naval power is likely to match the later realities. Under the Coalition Government there have been extraordinary cuts in British military capability, appeasement of Russian aggression, confusion about wars of intervention, massive increases in grant aid to dictators and corrupt nations, and yet when it suits a British Prime Minister to appear ‘presidential’ British service men and women are merrily thrown into new conflict somewhere in the world at a time when international relations are volatile in the extreme.

The level of political and military upheaval produces more potential alternative scenarios than at any time in the last five hundred years. The author has therefore been very brave to attempt a thorough review at this stage in the unfolding situation.

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NAME: Britain’s Future Navy
DATE: 200215
FILE: R2142
AUTHOR: Nick Childs
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, Flight Craft
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 172
PRICE: £14.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Royal Navy, RN, design, deployment, trade routes, surface ships, frigates, submarines, UAV, naval aviation, carriers, missiles, SSN
ISBN: 1-47382-324-2
IMAGE: B2142.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/pgznh2h
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: This revised edition contains some well-argued views of British sea power, or lack of it. There are some good colour images in illustration, but it has to be questioned whether any review of British naval power is likely to match the later realities. Under the Coalition Government there have been extraordinary cuts in British military capability, appeasement of Russian aggression, confusion about wars of intervention, massive increases in grant aid to dictators and corrupt nations, and yet when it suits a British Prime Minister to appear ‘presidential’ British service men and women are merrily thrown into new conflict somewhere in the world at a time when international relations are volatile in the extreme.

The only British political Party to offer a coherent set of policies is Ukip which may well win more seats in the May 2015 General Election than the political pundits expect, but which is unlikely to win enough seats to attempt to deliver on its promises. Desperate to regain power and wreck the British economy, the Labour Party is negotiating with every Party except Ukip to form a rainbow coalition from May 2015, even opening talks with Cameron’s Tories. The opinion polls are all over the place and the actual result may come as a huge surprise but the most likely outcome is continued managed decline and a reduction in British military capability to meet the requirement for the new EU Department of Defence where all EU military assets are pooled and placed under the control of unelected and unaccountable Commissars in Brussels.

As if that political turmoil and confusion was not bad enough, there are a number of very important new technologies emerging that have direct and indirect impact on ship requirements and design. Unmanned robot systems are coming of age. They will replace aircraft and ships and also introduce the need for change in ship design. Given the number of years required to design and build a ship, work that should have already begun has yet to receive approval.

The level of political and military upheaval produces more potential alternative scenarios than at any time in the last five hundred years. The author has therefore been very brave to attempt a thorough review at this stage in the unfolding situation.

The British military has not helped itself. The RAF has clung to its existing responsibilities and then abandoned some of them. The scrapping of new maritime surveillance aircraft was inevitable because the alternative would have been to reduce the number of Typhoon squadrons even further at a time when they can no longer catch Russian Backfire bombers. This places the RN at risk. However, the RN has committed to two very large conventionally powered carriers that are still years away from entering service and having aircraft to operate from them. Having committed to such large carriers, it was absolute idiocy to not include catapults to enable CTOL aircraft, including twin engine AEW aircraft to be operated from them, and to fail to develop modifications to allow Typhoons to operate from carriers. Given that the military is reaching the point where it loses critical mass in its individual services, the only way of maintaining effectiveness is the ability to operate any military assets in any combination, allowing heavy armour to operate with Royal Marines, Army helicopter gunships to fly from RN warships, operating Lightning II FAA fast jets on land as well as from warships.

With some of the recent technical developments, the RN might have been better served by the inclusion of a much larger number of smaller carriers that make best use of a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft, with a small crew requirement to sail and fight the vessels. Work conducted in the 1960s with rubber deck carriers and matching aircraft would lend itself to a new breed of largely automated carrier that presents a small target, a very high sortie rate, and a much lower cost for more vessels, providing for attrition in war. If one of the new carriers was lost in battle, it could completely remove the carrier capability. There is also the possibility of finding new ways to provide for the rapid addition of modern MACs based on using container ships to provide emergency carriers for the operation of helicopter and STVOL jets, with tilt-rotor aircraft to introduce a greatly expanded assault transport capability.

A large part of the RN budget is eaten up by the nuclear missile submarines that provide the British nuclear deterrent. As one possible May 2015 outcome the coalition of Labour, the IRA, the Greens, the Welsh Nationalists, Respect, and maybe the Monster Raving Loony Party, suggests that the loss of a British nuclear capability will be an early price of political ambition.

Against the background of all the confusion, and the many new opportunities, a well-argued case for British naval power is a refreshing interlude and the reader will be able to compare its insights with what begins to unfold from May 2015.

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