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Surface Forces: Frigate Retirement Delayed
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October 29, 2011: Britain is upgrading its thirteen Type 23 frigates, in order to improve their performance, and enable them to serve five years beyond their planned retirement date. The year long, $30 million (per ship) refurbishment includes replacement of two diesel generators and one of the gas turbines. A new 114mm (4.5 inch) gun is being installed, along with a towed sonar array, new paint that will keep barnacles and such off the hull. Improvements to living quarters for the 185 crew are in addition to an upgraded ventilation system. There are also upgrades to the electronics and the anti-aircraft missile system.

Each 4,900-ton Type 23 is equipped with eight Harpoon anti-ship missiles, a 114mm (4.5-inch) MK 8 main gun, 30mm close range guns, several types of 7.62mm machine-guns, four torpedo tubes (and 24 anti-submarine torpedoes) and the Sea Wolf anti-aircraft missile system. They can also carry a medium-sized helicopter. Three of the 16 Type 23s built were later sold to Chile.

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LB       10/30/2011 1:02:50 AM
It's really rather sad the RN has been reduced to a flotilla. The entire surface "fleet" is 19 destroyers and frigates. Three almost brand new Type 23's were sold off and the 4 Type 22 batch 3's (more capable than the 23's) were all recently retired without replacement. Twenty years ago the RN had 50 such ships and 10 years ago 32. The submarine force has declined from 29 in 1990, 12 in 2000, to just 7 SSN's today (all numbers exclude the SSBN's). At 37,000 men exactly which century was the RN this small?
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RtWingCon       10/30/2011 9:30:06 PM
Not surprising given uncertain economy. One could argue they no longer have an empire or former colonies to protect, no enemies surround their island, sea lanes protected by others, why should they continue with an offensive navy? NATO responsibilities maybe, but why bother if other nato members don't? 
Falklands would be an argument for a larger navy. The Argentines will use force again if they believe the time/conditions are right. A strong RN capability pretty much puts a kibosh on that, but does a weaker RN invite renewed aggression from Argentina at some point?
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LB       10/31/2011 4:19:51 AM
At some point perhaps but not anytime soon given Argentinian capabilities.  It's really not economic but rather political.  The UK was operating over 30 escorts and 12 SSN's ten years ago.  They simply chose to build, maintain, and operate a smaller force.  Labor was saying they would fund 12 new DDG's and 12 new SSN's but the numbers were cut to 7.  The nation didn't seem bothered enough about it to change policy.  Spending 2.5% of GDP on defense, including the nuclear forces, simply can not fund what many would deem an adequate force structure.
Certainly there are very serious defense cuts being made today but the RN got where it is from choices made in the last decade.  Today a bad situation is merely being made worse.  
It's certainly not just the UK.  The NATO minimum is 2% of GDP and some of these nations are spending closer to 1% including Germany, Italy, and Spain, etc.  This was not caused by the debt crisis but the crisis is of course going to make things worse.  Back in the 1980's when we were trying to get everyone to spend 3% it was called burden sharing.  Today it's a lot closer to the US burden with very little sharing.
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Thomas       10/31/2011 4:26:57 AM
I just wondered what those 185 hands on board are doing.
A Huitfeld-class has a complement of 101 - and lodgings for an extra 64.
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Thomas    Which is my point   10/31/2011 4:30:29 AM
The Royal Navy is simply to expensive
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JTR~~    Budget   10/31/2011 9:43:27 AM

it is not necessarily the MoD budget that is at fault, well not directly in terms of its
size anyway. Moreover i tend to feel that it is more of a situation concerning
nothing more than a distinct "lack of bang for our buck" as it were.
if one studies our relative defence spending in comparison to other world
powers such as France and Japan for example, they are able to maintain larger
forces with more adequate levels of equipment for roughly the same level of
cost, and in regards to Japan at a fraction of Britain's current defence

it is difficult to determine what Britain's military budget is actually being spent
on and where is actually goes. in my opinion vast sums of money have to be,
just have to be lost through excessive waste, it can be the only explanation.
In all honesty is seems that British defence policy has become too heavily
bogged down in politics. Our procurement is often minimal as we attempt to get
away with purchasing in a highly complex fashion (again the influence of
politics at play here) the bare minimum levels of equipment that often lack in

For example, Britain seemingly runs is procurement processes based on economic
effect, in other words, contracts are favourably offered to domestic companies
in order to support jobs. the US manages this well, 97% of the US' equipment is
sourced and built domestically, yet the DoD does not run its procurement
programs based on how it will sustain employment in the industry. Furthermore
there is far greater internal competition in the States between the likes of
Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrupp etc. Britain's defence output largely consists
of one single supplier, BAE systems. Even BAE Systems has fallen foul of
politics with ministers from various government offices picking up new
employment within the defence industry in Britain after their term of office
expires. i suppose you might be so bold as to label this as corruption even

i cannot and have not yet truly fathomed as to where British procurement and military
policy is going so wrong, like i said it seems to be confused priorities and a
lack of direction in conjunction with a far to heavy influence of politics.
most definitely however one major issue with the whole affair is that of a
distinct lack of foresight and future planning not just in terms of current
force structure and strategic planning, but also in terms of more general factors
such a procurement and future force development. There is the highly concerning
and widely held assumption (that is ever growing in the western world, even in
the US) that conventional warfare is largely coming to an end for western
nations. Thus many are gearing down their forces and reducing their
conventional large scale war fighting abilities to a minimum.

The truth is, our budget seems to be sufficient, and however the way in which it is used
is awful. this in combination with successive government constantly reforming
the armies structure in an highly untidy fashion IE cutting portions from one
units, cutting a whole unit from another areas, taking scraps from this and
that, forming new units out of two halves of an older one etc, has left the British
armed forces as a whole very scrappy and dishevelled.

in my opinion, the only way to correct this is simply to start again, top to bottom
reform, a new structure and clear direction in terms of capabilities and
matching assets to provide said capabilities.

anyway, that’s just my two pennies worth, my response doesn’t really do the problem
justice as it would need to be covered in far greater detail and i would need a
far greater understanding of just where our money is going, and why we can’t
deliver on capability.






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