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veryoldbear

HMS Queen Elizabeth

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HMS Queen Elizabeth is being formally commissioned into the Royal Navy today.  First time she will fly the white ensign.

....but apparently won’t be ready for military deployment for another 3-4 years....!

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Yes, it does seem a long time but although the ship is functioning as such, many of the systems such as the electronics and defensive armament have still to be installed. A first of class vessel always takes much longer to fully work up than succeeding units as was the case with the Astute class subs.

I saw a report that HMS Prince of Wales is to be completed to a slightly different specification to enhance its operational versatility so it is not just a fast jet platform. I would imagine that with experience QE may also be modified in a similar way, especially as we don't appear to be able to afford more than a handful of aircraft anyway!

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Yes, delays in the F35 programme and their increasing unaffordability, rather makes this a decision (to build) that you wouldn’t make now.

Can you imagine one of the leading supermarket chains building their biggest store ever .......... and then saying “I’m afraid that for the next 2 years, we’re only going to be able to sell bread & baked beans”.

No disrespect intended to what looks like a fine ship and no doubt a dedicated crew, but how many frigates could the UK have had for the price of these 2 carriers?  

 

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A lot of the extra cost is down to politics, chopping and changing the specification to meet changing perceptions of need and drawing out the construction process to maintain employment.

The original concept was for 16 Type 45 destroyers to support the carriers and act as air defence ships. This envisaged dealing with conventional military threats. As the project proceeded it was decided that, actually Russia and China etc. would no longer constitute a threat in future and that military funding should be directed towards involvement in 'brushfire conflicts' such as Afganistan, Iraq etc. As a result, a defence review imposed drastic cuts on the navy which was given the option of continuing with the carriers or cutting the destroyer programme in half with other building programme reductions and scrapping ships in service such as Ark Royal, and latterly Illustrious. A bit stupid really as the carriers and destroyers are complementary but that's politics for you. The Admirals took a calculated risk and decided to press ahead with the carriers on the basis that once built, money would have to be found to provide sufficient vessels to support them. Basically that is where we are now. Suggestions that the second carrier should be built and then immediately mothballed or sold as being surplus to defence needs have of course now been rethought due to the resurgence of Russian seapower and the rise of the Chinese navy so we are back to conventional threats taking precedence again.

The sorry story of the F35 is a separate issue, we should probably have bought something less sophisticated although I gather the US jets on their carriers are no longer produced. I did read that there is a French aircraft that might be suitable though and a lot cheaper.

Looking on the brighter side, the RN will have two decent sized flat top platforms which will function with essentially the same size crew  as the older Invincible class and should be good for 40 years or so. They can be adapted to changing needs over that period. The RN has traditionally suffered from having ships designed down to a price and often borderline obsolescent on entering service. They have then been too small to be upgraded with more modern systems and had short service lives as a result which is an expensive way to run a navy. Despite the well known power problems of the Type 45 destroyers (again an example of 'saving' money by installing only just enough capacity with no margin) these ships are big enough physically to accommodate future upgraded weapons systems - if the money can be found. Upgrading an existing ship is much cheaper than building an entirely new one!

As always, the killer influence on defence is a poor understanding of what is needed by politicians, short term thinking and the inability to effectively manage procurement programmes which are subject to constant emergency budget cuts. There is nothing new about any of this but nobody seems to ever learn!

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We face threats from Jihadists on London Bridge and Manchester arena - and cyber crime too - but we have an aircraft carrier with no planes to project British power in the world. Couldn't make it up, could you. 

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We do have planes for the Aircraft Carrier, some of them are already in the UK at an unknown airport. The other Aircraft are currently in America where HMS Queen Elizabeth heads in the new year after another set of trials.

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This was reported during the initial sea trials, it isn't new news. Be interesting to know how it will be repaired with the ship alongside though.

 

 

 

 

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Have you got a link to that earlier report? The earliest I can find a reference to the problem dates from no more than 10 hours ago. Ed

No, I don't bother to bookmark that sort of thing but when she first went to sea from Rosyth, there was a delay reported in the press which said there was a problem with one of the propshafts. After evaluating it, they continued with the sea trials programme.

The builders will no doubt have to foot the bill for the repair but the problem for the Navy is that the only UK drydock she cas use is at Rosyth and to send her up there would put a large dent in the commissioning programme.

 

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She did not go back to Rosyth as originally planned for checks and instead came south. I think I read that was for cost reasons as getting her in and out of the Forth was very expensive. They might regret that decision now. Ed. 

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The decision to come south was taken after the problem with the propshaft had been identified so they must have been reasonably confident of being able to fix it at Portsmouth.

Anyway, the fact that th vessel is shipping the equivalent of less than a bathful of water every hour is not exactly a critical issue. she won't sink anytime soon and if the pumps fail then a couple of crew with buckets could cope with it.

Just media hype really.

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On 12/10/2017 at 18:44, TonyMWeaver said:

We do have planes for the Aircraft Carrier, some of them are already in the UK at an unknown airport. The other Aircraft are currently in America where HMS Queen Elizabeth heads in the new year after another set of trials.

BAE in Samlesbury now has an F35 gate guardian alongside their English electric Lightning, that might be a clue.

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