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Subject: Required defence spending
EssexBoy    9/14/2007 1:21:12 PM
This is just for the sake of an argument. I've been reading a few articles recently about the Wanless report on the NHS and was surprised by just how much extra we're spending on healthcare each year. For 2006/07 spending was just over £40bn higher than it was in 2000/01. Leaving aside the question of how well this has been spent, I was wondering how much of this increase would have been required to be switched to the annual defence budget to keep the top brass (and armchair generals) happy. Anybody care to estimate how much extra (over and above actual and currently predicted spending) would be needed to do the following: Navy Order 2 CVFs in CATOBAR fit, 8 Hawkeyes, (say) 90 F35Cs, plus 12 Merlins. Order 12 fully kitted out (ie with MK41 VLS, TACTOMS, Harpoons and ILMS) T45s. Order an additional LPH and two more LSD(A)s. Maintain a 18 strong frigate force to be replaced on a one for one basis by fsc. Start building 8 C3 type Oceanic PVs. Start placing orders for the MARS vessels. Order Astute boats 4 to 8. Army Reverse cut in infantry battalions - back to 40 battallions. Re-open a dedicated military hospital. Order more battlefield Helicopters (not sure of required numbers - take a guess). Supply adequate number of MRAP type vehicles. Order a fleet of helicopters dedicated for medevac. Replace SA80 with G36. RAF Order Tranche 3 Eurofighters. Order 60 odd F35Bs. Order replacements for tanker fleet. Order another 6 C17s. Re-start FOAS programme. Feel free to add anything I've missed off. I appreciate that a lot of the above will be acquired over a period of time, but roughly how much of that £40bn increase in healthcare spending would be required each year?
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flamingknives       9/16/2007 3:47:28 PM
"Replace SA80 with G36." 


I'd recommend a replacement small arms project - produce in UK, sensible ammunition etc.
But it wouldn't be necessary for a good few years.

CATOBAR carriers have benefits (fixed-wing AEW, larger fighters), but suffer from other drawbacks for the UK fleet. Not least that the RN would have to change from small, STOVL carriers to large CATOBAR carriers - two changes rather than one.
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Armchair Private    Ummmmmm   9/17/2007 5:46:02 PM
£10bn - £15bn a year?

Nearly half the extra NHS money went on increased staff wages, around a qtr on extra staff (both front line and backroom) and the rest on paying providers more for drugs and treatments.

Funnily enough some of the real improvements seen in the NHS are partly due to PFI, (or off budget sheet debt accounting as it's otherwise known) with the increase and redesign of hospitals and health centres cutting waiting times.

The NHS costs so much because it's a grinding monolith, the third largest employer in the world according to some.

As to the defense budget, most of the stuff you mention procuring would be purchased over 10+ years, I'd guess it'd be the running costs not the purchase costs that would require the real increase in spend.

Other comments:


STOVL has advantages and disadvantages, I'm content with it at present, in a real war the launch rate, and unprepared runway landing capability of  STOVL  aircraft may outweigh the reduced range and lack of  AEW - Thats until you may be facing large opposing navys in a Midway style battle, in which case we can convert them to CATOBAR. Thats the idea I think anyway.
FSC has been replaced/renamed according to Beedall I think.

Is G36 substantially better than SA80 since the refit?
*Better pay & conditions.

Reading between the lines (and speculating) I think the UK agreed to stop FOAS and particularly Replica in return for our favourable (work share; tech) inclusion in JSF. The US calculated it was better for them to have a partner on board rather than a rival on the market is my guess.
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Tale       9/17/2007 6:29:47 PM
Agree with Armchair in that you'd be looking in an annual increase in the mid-teens, your naval requirements alone would cost at least £12 Bn and probably substantially more. The helicopter requirement, well on top of increasing fleet size youve got to consider all those 70s era pumas/chinooks/lynx that need replaced/refurbed. I think the original battlefield rotorcraft budget was about £3 Bn (before being cut) and I think youd have to at least match that to see even a 20% increase in fleet size.

Theres also the fact that the kind of increases you're talking about would require reversing the manpower cutbacks of the past decade and a half and you dont build back that kind of capability quickly.

I think an interesting question is what kind of increase could a government reasonably justify and what could you do with it. Current UK defence spending stands at about 2.7% of GDP, given current operations I'd say an increase to 3% of GDP could be passed without much complaint. That amounts to an increase of £3 Bn on this years budget and that (in the short term) can go straight to the procurement budget. So what would you do with that extra £3Bn?

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Armchair Private    For £3bn....ish   9/17/2007 8:04:19 PM
1st priority of any state should be defensive systems.

As such:

4+ More Astute giving us the full 8.

More Satellites.

150+ JSF, and 232 Typhoon with all the bells and whistles.

£100m more per year on 'blue sky' research

Only then think about offensive systems:

3rd CVF, all three given expensive armour.

6 more T45 giving 12.

More merlin, chinook, A400M and C17.

Frigate replacement, LPH, LPD, 1 Keeley Hazell for each man. etc.
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perfectgeneral       9/17/2007 8:04:51 PM
Tale, that £3bn in the short term will amount to 0.9% of GDP in the long run once Iraq and Afganistan are off the books. I realise the wait for 'Stan to finish is a long one. All the more reason for an increase in budget to 3% of GDP.


Astute 4-8 (one every eighteen months), then Vanguard replacement 1-4, then next SSN 1-8

Daring 4-8 (one every ten months), then C2 global cruisers 1-8, then C1 through deck ASW destroyers 1-8

C3 light frigates 1-12 after second CVF completed

Spares and wage increases.


40 battalions

more Merlins, Chinooks and Apache

limited FRES


Harriers (they would have to be secondhand)

Air transports and tankers

enough F-35b for 8 Sqdn (9 aircraft each) plus spares and OCU & OEU

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Lawman       9/21/2007 6:37:39 PM
I would aim for a number of changes.
Move towards a series of superbases, possibly actually akin to the superbases in Iraq, i.e. fully functioning mini cities, based around an airbase. These would include excellent accomodations and facilities, like a university campus, with nice apartments and housing. This would allow most troops to live in decent conditions, and have a good place to come home to.
16 Air Assault Brigade - increase to four battlegroups, built around a four-company battalion, plus light armour, artillery, and heavy weapons units.
3 Commando Brigade - again, increase to four battlegroups, complete with everything they need.
Create a number of large infantry battlegroups, ideally two to support each of the Air Assault and Commando units, so hopefully sixteen in total. I would then turn the armoured units into mini battlegroups, each with two tank squadrons, i.e. two companies equivalent, and these would then be attached as needed.
Switch the two CVFs to CTOL configuration, and increase the JSF procurement to get the Navy around 140 F-35Cs, allowing three full airwings, each with 32 aircraft (2 squadrons). I would also aim to get some UCAVs into service, with one squadron per airwing.
- 8 Type 45s, i.e. two more
- 8 Type 45 Global Cruiser, i.e. enlarged T-45
- 16 Frigates, possibly a cheaper mini T-45
Buy a pair of cheap LHDs, like the Spanish one that Australia is buying. These would offer greater capabilities than simply buying another HMS Ocean, which is useful, but limited.
Add another two Albion class LPDs, boosting the fleet to four total, and buy more of the Bay class LSDs, increasing the fleet to either six or eight total.
- Buy the full batch of Typhoons
- Increase JSF procurement, so that both the RN and RAF each get 140-150 JSFs, not a shared batch, which is simply too few to do the job.
Increase A-400M procurement, I know I'll be shot for saying this, but I've come to like it for some strange reason. It has a similar capability to the VC-10s in the tanker role, which would be very useful, boosting tanker capacity alongside the A-330s. I would hope to increase the numbers, preferably doubling the number to 48, allowing them to replace both C-130s in the transport role, and VC-10s in the tanker role.
Change the A-330 MRTT purchase, to a straightforward procurement, and increase it to around sixteen.
Buy two more C-17s, to bring the total to eight.
Increase the Nimrod MRA-4 procurement, quite a lot. They have the range and capability to provide the UK with maritime patrol, ISTAR and bomber capability. A new build one, preferably with a slightly better bomb bay, to allow four Storm Shadows internally, and four externally, or a conventional bomb load (which it can already do in theory, though rarely does in practice). The ridiculous thing is that they added a whole load of roles to the Nimrod, and yet they keep cutting the numbers.
Buy loads of new UAVs, basically the General Atomics Warrior and Reaper. They are really proving their worth in Iraq and Afghanistan, and yet the UK is lagging behind. I wouldn't try to develop a UK one independently, since it would take too long, and almost certainly result in a less capable one being bought, simply because its British. I would far rather see existing designs being adapted and license built in the UK, as is being done with the Watchkeeper, though that project itself is going far too slowly.
Basically, nothing very revolutionary, just a load of minor improvements across the board. It would be expensive, but all of these would boost frontline capability. I think for the Army, one of the most important changes would be to switch to the superbases, which would allow much better accomodations, and much better training opportunities, since they could have all the range facilities onsite (one big range is easier than having the whole range of facilities at every small base). I would seriously look at setting up new facilities in Poland, where there is the space available, and construction costs would be lower. Having a series of these superbases in the UK, Germany and Poland would be a good way of doing it. I would also aim to increase the facilities in Canada, to allow entire taskforces to train there.
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EssexBoy    Current spending   9/24/2007 1:53:14 PM
Thanks for the responses. If we assume that the forces need an extra £10bn a year then i think our blokes are in shtum. I can't see either Labour or the Tories stumping up that kind of cash year on year.
Incidentally, the Mod website gives the 2006/7 defence budget of £30bn as being approximately 2.2% of GDP. This means we're only talking about increasing the  budget to about 3% of GDP which is well below what the US, China or (IIRC) India are spending.
I think it's time we either fund a decent budget for our forces or start keeping our heads down for a bit.
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flamingknives       9/24/2007 2:20:56 PM
Considering the new marine territory rules, we probably ought to increase defence spending, especially focussing on the navy and maritime aircraft.
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Armchair Private       9/24/2007 3:59:13 PM

Considering the new marine territory rules, we probably ought to increase defence spending, especially focussing on the navy and maritime aircraft.

Said it before and I'll say it again, I can give you £10bn tomorrow and you won't notice the difference to public services.

Regional Development Agencies (9 quangos) running costs plus spend = a bit under £10bn.

Ever heard of them, know what they do? Only if you read the publicity they pump out telling us how wonderful they are (paid for with tax, thats tax paying for propaganda - we're all doomed you know)

Or Learning and Skills Councils, or the entire Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR), or lower tier local authorities (who's you councillor - go on?) or...

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flamingknives       9/25/2007 2:18:08 PM
I wouldn't be surprised that politicians could fritter away any amount of money with no noticable effect.

More defence capability then.
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