HMS EAGLE in the Falklands

IIRC Brian Hanrahan was with a platoon of Gurkhas when the Argentines surrendered IOTL.

Their British officer's comment on the signal was, "Bloody marvellous!"

This was in stark contrast to the miserable expressions on the faces of his men after he told them (in Nepalese).

Did that still happen ITTL?
I heard another story (maybe on this here forum) where a Gurkha officer had to rapidly intervene when his men had misinterpreted his order to 'deal with the prisoners'.
 
Also, if the RN stays with CATOBAR carriers, I can't see them building Ocean either, since they'll quite rightly say that an Invincible will pick up the slack when needed since they aren't the RN's main air defence option.

Edit: I think the RAN would probably pick up the Ark Royal, since there is no way that they'll be accepting Sea Dart into service on a single platform. Likely they'd delete the launcher and radars and replace them with more magazine space, an enlarged deck park and Vulcan CIWS where the fire control radars were located.

Illustrious would have to go into the dockyard for that anyway, so why not just sell the third hull off with a reduced weapon fit and divert the launcher and ancillaries to a new build Type 42 replacement?
Ark Royal isn't going to be available soon enough.

HMAS Melbourne was pretty much gone already by this time.

Its Invincible, Illustrious or nothing.
 
Don't think she went to China to be scrapped until '84.

So the RAN can do a swap with her .... Melbourne going back to the UK to be stripped for spares for the Eagle, while the Illustrious is sold off to the RAN as HMAS Australia (III) to replace the Melbourne along with enough Sea Harriers to re-equip 805 Squadron.
 
Invincible still sold to Australia, illustrious commissoned as planned, Indomnitable (Ark Royals original name) modified (as they were designed as such) as commando carrier (Illustrious following on later), Hermes sold to India. Two new redesigned CVA01s ordered with Eagle eventually sold/scrapped/museum. fearless and Intrepid scrapped because ‘we’ve just given you two commando carriers and a couple new LSLs”. Maybe...
 
I dunno about the Hermes going to India. She's a major source of spare parts for the Eagle, so she'll probably get the Ark Royal treatment, ie dying by degrees to keep Eagle operational.
 
I dunno about the Hermes going to India. She's a major source of spare parts for the Eagle, so she'll probably get the Ark Royal treatment, ie dying by degrees to keep Eagle operational.
Very likely, also if Britain does go the New Catobar route then its likely that at some point the fifth Ark Royal will be surplus to requirements as well, that's more likely what will end up being offered to India if they need to keep Eagle going until a replacement can come on line around 1990. Assuming India can afford to buy a modern ship of course.
 
Of course, the RN could sell off all three of the Invincibles.

Brazil had started looking at replacing the Minas Gerais (ex HMS Vengeance) around the same time, so might take the Ark Royal and with India not getting the Hermes, they might take the Invincible so the RN might have to build two Ocean's to replace them in the Amphibious role.
 
Of course, the RN could sell off all three of the Invincibles.

Brazil had started looking at replacing the Minas Gerais (ex HMS Vengeance) around the same time, so might take the Ark Royal and with India not getting the Hermes, they might take the Invincible so the RN might have to build two Ocean's to replace them in the Amphibious role.
Thing is though, Brazil still wanted to maintain CATOBAR capability. I don't think they'd be interested in down grading to jump jets. Especially in a TL where CATOBAR carriers have once again demonstrated their seeming importance.
 
Thing is though, Brazil still wanted to maintain CATOBAR capability. I don't think they'd be interested in down grading to jump jets. Especially in a TL where CATOBAR carriers have once again demonstrated their seeming importance.
Very true, also sticking with CATOBAR gives them options in terms of where they buy their planes, a Harrier carrier means your stuck with AV-8's or Sea Harriers only and that means your beholden to the British or the American's and if you annoy them...well Argentina is a prime example of what happens under an arms embargo.

Well they could try to get hold of Yak-38's but given they are more than a bit crap its probably a waste of time and money....
 
it might not be too late for someone to invest in the Yak 41 (yak 141)
Unfortunatly the project died just before the fall (the chop actually fell around the time of the August Coup) at that time investing in a Soviet Military project was still a no-no for western companies and obviously the Chinese were still in the Soviet bad books. By the time the Union fell the project was to far gone to properly revive without lots of money which led Yakovlev to Lockheed who took the VTOL tech for what became the F-35B and discarded the rest. Shame really as it could have been a good plane if it had been just a little further along in development. Could also have let the Federation keep the Kiev's in service a little while longer if they actually had something to fly off them, which might have taken some of the pressure off the Admiral Kuznetsov. That said without access to the yards in the Ukraine that still won't see its many design flaws fixed anytime soon.
 
It would have probably been a better fighter for the Admiral Kuznetsov than the SU-27 too I had though it was further along than that when the axe fell.
They had three flyable prototypes but that's a long way from combat ready. If Lockheed had actually invested in the 141 it could have been operational and getting international sales in the mid 90's. Instead it got asset stripped and used as the base for the F-35 which is only now in full service.
 
I heard another story (maybe on this here forum) where a Gurkha officer had to rapidly intervene when his men had misinterpreted his order to 'deal with the prisoners'.
I recall a story from WW2 where a group of Gurkha's were ordered to go into a basement of a house in Italy and take the ten dead germans out and bury them. They go in and take out eight dead germans into the backyard. The ninth, when they get him upstairs, suddenly wakes up and starts screaming. Well... they were ordered to bury TEN dead germans so the Kukri come out... Fortunately for Hans, a couple scotsmen were passing by the backyard at that exact moment and intervened.
 
Or you develop the P1216 (dropped mid 80s) which was in all likelihood the ancestor of the YAK141....
I doubt it as both projects ran at around the same time. There may have been some cross pollination but late cold war military projects didn't leak quite that badly. In any case both seem to have contributed to the F-35B.

Not that it matters as its a British design so again your stuck with a single supplier of aircraft and if you annoy them your suddenly having Argentina's issues with keeping birds flying after the arms embargo.

Without a viable Russian project anybody non aligned is going to want to use Catobar so you can go buy French, Chinese or Russian birds if the Limeys and gringos stop liking you and won't sell you new Harriers or parts.
 
I recall a story from WW2 where a group of Gurkha's were ordered to go into a basement of a house in Italy and take the ten dead germans out and bury them. They go in and take out eight dead germans into the backyard. The ninth, when they get him upstairs, suddenly wakes up and starts screaming. Well... they were ordered to bury TEN dead germans so the Kukri come out... Fortunately for Hans, a couple scotsmen were passing by the backyard at that exact moment and intervened.
An old friend of my father in law was in the RN during the Indonesian confrontation, serving on a minesweeper at the time. He and another colleague had the opportunity to join a Gurkha patrol in the jungle guarding against Indonesian infiltrators. HAving set up a base the Gurkha's disappeared so the two sailors, being a bit out of place, made themselves comfortable. A couple of hours later the patrol returned and they returned to base where they deposited a sack of heads in front of the commanding officer. When he asked where the bodies were they told him they had been offered $20 a head and heads he got so could they have their reward please. The two sailors got their share of the 'bounty' as they were on the same patrol.

Brilliant chap - as with any old sailor an absolute fund of stories including being run over by HMS Centaur and various exploits as a naval policeman in Singapore in the 60's
 
The 1983 Defence Whitepaper
In the year following the Falklands conflict much had happened on the British political stage. The Defence Secretary John Nott had initially attempted to resign when the Falklands had been invaded. However, the Prime Minister had refused to accept all of his attempts to step down. Though she would never confirm or deny it it was strongly felt that this was in order to have a scapegoat to absorb the political all out and shield her. Finally, in January 1983 after the PM felt that Mr Nott had served his purpose, she had summoned him and much to his surprise told him that she had decided to accept his most recent resignation letter (Which he had not actually written yet). Nott’s last act in office was to retrospectively write and backdate his resignation letter and also to sign a statement handed to him by a member of the PM’s staff announcing that he would be standing down as an MP at the next election.

His replacement as Defence Secretary was Michael Heseltine who was charged by the PM to implement the lessons learnt as a result of the Falklands Conflict and to conduct a strategic defence review which would be reported in a Whitepaper.
The previous defence review had been conducted by Mr Nott in 1981 and resulted in a Whitepaper titled: The UK Defence Program: The Way Forward. This review had sought to implement large scale cuts across the armed forces but particularly to the Royal Navy in an effort to save money. This review had been blamed for directly causing the Falklands Conflict and was thus now discredited. In light of the lessons learned from the conflict and the new strategic realities which blew many of the previous theories and assumptions completely out of the water it was felt at the highest levels of government that a full review of all aspects of defence was required. This review had begun in February of 1983 and had initially been expected to report in June. However, it had been somewhat delayed by the disruption caused by the PM’s decision to hold a snap general election.

The immediate aftermath had seen a surge in patriotic feeling and support for the PM’s actions in the conflict which had been dubbed the “Falklands factor”. This coupled with a noticeably improving economy and reduction in unemployment had seen the PM and Conservative Party’s popularity rise. The opposition Labour Party was at the time struggling with an ineffective leader, some of its own MP’s splitting off from the party and a general swing to the hard left.
It was felt by the government that this current surge in its own popularity combined with the struggling opposition was the perfect time to call an election.
The Conservatives had played to their strengths by running a campaign based on employment, economic growth and defence. The Labour Party had willing obliged the PM by putting forward a manifesto that had been dubbed by one of its own MP’s as the longest suicide note in history. Their manifesto had included things like scrapping the UK’s nuclear weapons capability, abolishing the house of lords, withdrawal from NATO and withdrawal from the EEC. All of these had played right into the hands of the Conservative party.

The result had been a decisive victory for the Conservative Party who came away with well over 400 seats. The Labour Party was crushed and for a while after the election it was said that Britain was effectively a one party state as Labour spent many years infighting before they were able to begin the long process of getting themselves organised into something that would appeal to the electorate. They would remain out of power for almost 15 years.

The disruption caused by the General Election meant that the Defence Review was not in a position to report until July 1983. While a large part of the delay was down to the Defence Secretary being busy campaigning and uncertainty over the make up and whims of the future government there was another reason for this. The defence of the realm had been a major part in the governments re-election campaign. With the election out of the way service chiefs and senior MOD officials wanted to make the most of this extra political will to invest in defence.

The driving force behind the 1981 review had been the need to cut spending across the board owing to the state of the nation’s finances. While the economy had improved a little bit and there was now a new appreciation of the armed forces the MOD would still need to trim its budget. The problem facing defence chiefs was how to implement cuts while funding the various new equipment programs that were now considered necessary. The result was a review that was described by one commentator as “A compromise that satisfied no one”. While on the face of it cuts were being made in reality the money saved was being absorbed by new programs. The treasury naturally was not happy with this but were absolutely furious when it became apparent that in many cases extra funding would have to be allocated. The Chancellor of the Exchequer Geoffrey Howe had complained to the Prime Minister but was stunned when she had come down on the side of the MOD and warned him against trying to be obstructive or difficult. He had privately considered resigning in protest or leaking the story to the media but his political instinct indicated that doing so would be playing right into the hands of others. Public opinion was still on the side of the armed forces and it wouldn’t be very hard for certain vested interests to paint the treasury and himself in an extremely damaging light. He still remembered the day when the First Sea Lord Admiral Leach had pretty much single handily convinced the PM to go to war over the Falklands. Since then he had an appreciation for the Admiral’s skills at political manipulation and had been silently relieved when the Admiral had retired. All the same for the same reason he was still very wary of tangling with Leach’s successor Admiral John Fieldhouse.

The overall strategic aim of the new review was mostly unchanged from the previous one with the strategic focus being on combatting the USSR. The only difference was that unlike the previous one this review would allow for the possibility of out of area and independent operations such as the Falklands.
Another thing that hadn’t changed from the previous review was the vulnerability of each service to downsizing. The British Army’s commitments to NATO in Germany made it politically very difficult to make any meaningful reductions without disproportionately harming Britain’s standing within NATO. The RAF was involved in multiple major equipment programs but these were often in partnership with allied nations meaning that again it would be extremely politically and diplomatically difficult to make any significant cuts. Therefore, the navy once again found itself the first in the crosshairs.
The review was described within the RN as a “Jam tomorrow” review with the service agreeing to make cuts now in order to free up resources for major future equipment programs.

The review read as follows:

ROYAL NAVY

Aircraft Carriers

· The Royal Navy would procure two new conventional aircraft carriers with an option for a third.

This was the headline item and centrepiece around which the rest of the navy’s plans had been made. The performance of HMS EAGLE in the Falklands had convinced the navy of the continuing need for big deck aircraft carriers operating large, fast and capable jet aircraft. Furthermore, the intelligence agencies were increasingly frequently quacking up little snippets of information about a new Soviet carrier program. Therefore, the navy had pushed hard for new aircraft carrier construction even going to the point of sacrificing numerous other vessels in order to free up resources for what everybody knew would be an extremely expensive program.
Naturally the proposal to build new big deck aircraft carriers had run into immense opposition. The treasury were almost incandescent with rage about the fact that the navy seemed to have ignored the bit about cost cutting and were now pushing for gigantic ships that would cost a fortune to build and then run at a time when the economy and nations finances were barely able to hold things together as they were without this added burden. Many politicians from both sides of the spectrum had voiced their opposition to such a program believing it to be little more than an unaffordable and unnecessary vanity project. The Army and RAF were also opposed as they realised that their own programs would likely be scaled back in order to help pay for these ships.
The previous aircraft carrier program CVA-01 had been cancelled owing to interservice rivalry and unaffordability. Even before it had gotten off the ground the new carrier program had found itself having to essentially fight the same battles almost 20 years later. Many within the MOD were unhappy about the fact that years of defence policy and planning (which had been for the RN to abandon large conventional carriers in favour of light STOVL carriers) was essentially being ripped up.

The Whitepaper confirmed that the CVF 90 (Future Aircraft Carrier 1990’s) program would indeed be going ahead. It was extremely early days yet and so far, pretty much all of the efforts had gone into securing funding for a carrier program and getting it green lit. However, some preliminary research had been done in order to work out the very rough specifications of the vessels.

1. The first of the class was to enter service by 1994 with the second ship arriving in 1996

2. The ships were to be conventionally powered

3. The ships would have a displacement of between 55,000 and 65,000 tons.

4. The airgroup would be comprised of up to 50 aircraft.

5. The ships would be CATOBAR configured vessels with at least two aircraft catapults.

It was estimated that it would take until mid 1986 at least to carryout the necessary R&D work needed to come up with a viable design. At the moment the closest thing to a design were some artists impressions of a very generic aircraft carrier. That meant that the first ship probably would not have its keel laid until early 1987.

The option for the third ship was in reality a political dodge rather than a serious proposal and was the brainchild of the Defence Secretary. Knowing that at some point during the course of the decade long program the treasury would be certain to at least once demand cost cutting and downsizing. The option for a third vessel had been included for this eventuality as it would be an easy bone to throw to the bean counters without actually affecting the MOD’s plans.

· HMS EAGLE would remain in service until 1986.

HMS EAGLE had done sterling work in the Falklands Conflict and had seared her name into the public consciousness. Indeed, the ship now ranked with other British icons such as the Spitfire and Concorde. This however didn’t change the fact that the ship was old and worn out. It was estimated that with a major overhaul that would probably last for well over a year and cost nearly as much as building a new TYPE 22 Frigate EAGLE could probably remain in service until the early 1990’s. However, with a new and expensive aircraft carrier construction program to fund the navy had taken the decision not to overhaul HMS EAGLE. In the long term it was felt that the costs in terms of paying for the work and then running and manning EAGLE couldn’t be justified by the extra 4 or 5 years of life that she would gain and that the money would instead be better spent on the CVF 90 programme.
Without the overhaul and with a reduced operating tempo it was calculated that HMS EAGLE could remain in service until 1986 at which point the supply of spare parts would be exhausted and much of the ships machinery would be at the end of its lifespan.
Keeping the ship until 1986 would allow for the third INVINCIBLE class ship HMS INDOMITABLE to be commissioned which would mean that the RN would still have a minimum effective carrier force.
At this stage EAGLE’s fate after her decommissioning was undecided. Already an EAGLE preservation society had been formed however they had yet to come up with any serious and viable proposals.

· The sale of HMS ILLUSTRIOUS to the Royal Australian Navy would go ahead as planned

Before the Falklands Conflict it had been intended to sell HMS INVINCIBLE to the RAN. However in the immediate aftermath the sale of INVINCIBLE had been cancelled for political reasons as the government had not wanted to be seen to be disposing of such a high profile and still nearly brand new ship.
Three ships of the INVINCIBLE class were under construction and it had been decided that with new large carriers potentially on the horizon operating all three vessels was just not feasible in terms of manpower and cost. The Australians had instead been offered the choice of the brand new HMS ILLUSTRIOUS which was available right away or if they were prepared to wait a bit longer HMS INDOMITABLE. The RAN’s previous aircraft carrier the MAJESTIC class HMAS MELBOURNE had already been decommissioned due to the ships age and inoperability. THE RAN had favoured purchasing the still under construction HMS INDOMITABLE as this would allow for the ship to be completed to their own specifications. In particular they were not keen on the idea of the Sea Dart SAM as having only one such equipped vessel in their fleet would be disproportionately expensive. However, the decision had been made by the newly elected Hawke government to go with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS. The ship was already complete however owing to manpower shortages within the Royal Navy caused by extending HMS EAGLE’s service apart from her builders trials the ship had next to no mileage on the clock. This combined with her immediate availability had swayed the Australian government. They had convinced the RAN by pointing out that if they felt they could get by the next few years without a carrier while they waited for INDOMITABLE then perhaps, they didn’t need one at all.

Already RAN personnel were in Britain conducting training both ashore and at sea aboard HMS INVINCIBLE and forming a crew aboard HMS ILLUSTRIOUS. The intention was for the ship to complete another round of trials followed by commissioning into the RAN and an intensive training and work up period under the supervision of Flag Officer Sea Training before sailing for her new home in Sydney. The plan was for the ILLUSTRIOUS which was to be renamed HMAS AUSTRALIA to arrive in her new homeport before Christmas. At this point the Australians had not formally inquired about purchasing Sea Harrier although they had made it clear that their intention to do so in the near future. For the first few years of her life HMAS AUSTRALIA would operate as a large helicopter carrying ASW platform much like the role that the class had originally been intended to carry out.

· The former HMS ARK ROYAL would be scrapped

The rust covered and rapidly decaying hulk of the former ARK ROYAL had after four years been essentially stripped bare of any useful spare parts. One last survey of the ship would be undertaken to identify and remove any remaining parts that could be used to support ARK ROYAL’s sister HMS EAGLE. These parts would be stored in a warehouse ashore in Devonport Dockyard. The hulk of the decommissioned aircraft carrier would then be sold off for scrap.


The overall plan for the RN’s carrier fleet was for HMS EAGLE to carry on until 1986 at which point she would decommission and the pair of INVINCIBLE class light carriers HMS INVINCIBLE and HMS INDOMITABLE equipped with upgraded Sea Harriers would take over and cover for the decade it would take to get the CVF-90’s into service. At this point it would be likely that the still relatively young INVINCIBLE class would be sold off as the newer and bigger carriers took over.


Amphibious Warfare Vessels

· HMS HERMES would be decommissioned by 1984
HERMES was an elderly, large, manpower intensive and expensive to run ship. Due to the ships age she was judged to have little life left in her and offered to little capability to justify the high cost of continuing to run her. She would be decommissioned and disposed of. This would free up a significant amount of manpower for other areas and relieve a burden on the navy’s finances. The ship would be made available for sale although it was recognised that there was unlikely to be much interest in purchasing a large LPH. To make the ship more attractive to a foreign buyer a study had been done into the costs and work package required to refit the ship to operate the Sea Harrier reverting her back to her original role of a light aircraft carrier. The only potential buyers for such an elderly aircraft carrier would probably be India and Brazil. However, the cost of purchasing the ship and then carrying out the necessary work (which as a condition of the sale would have to be completed in a British shipyard) to enable her to operate the Sea Harrier which would themselves have to be purchased would in all likelihood make HERMES unaffordable to these nations. In the likely event that no buyer was forthcoming the ship would be stripped of parts to support HMS EAGLE before being sold off for scrap.



· HMS FEARLESS and HMS INTREPID would be retained in service for the foreseeable future

The 1981 defence review had discounted the possibility of out of area operations and thus the need for LPD’s. While it had not explicitly mentioned disposing of FEARLESS and INTREPID the implication of doing so in the near future was clear. With the government now wishing to retain the ability to carryout amphibious warfare the future of the LPD’s was now secure. Resources would be made available to overhaul these ships in order to extend their lives and to retain them in service for at least the next decade.



Destroyers

· The remaining COUNTY Class Destroyers would be decommissioned

The four remaining COUNTY Class destroyers were large ships that were expensive to run in terms of both money and manpower. During the Falklands Conflict the Sea Slug SAM which was the primary armament of these vessels had proven to be worse than useless. These ships were now judged to be obsolete and a drain on resources. HMS KENT, HMS FIFE and HMS GLAMORGAN would be decommissioned and disposed of via sale or scrap. HMS ANTRIM which had been heavily damaged in the Falklands had been rebuilt as a training and trials vessel and would be retained in service in this role for the foreseeable future. The time she would remain in service would depend upon the fate of her sisters as any of the other ships that were not sold overseas could be used to provide spare parts for ANTRIM and thus keeping her going for longer. The destroyed stern end of the superstructure which included the Sea Slug SAM system had been rebuilt into cadet accommodation. HMS ANTRIM would spend the rest of her days fulfilling the role of training ship for the cadets of the Dartmouth Naval College.

Regarding the TYPE 42 Destroyers the only decisions taken were to refit the entire class to carry the Phalanx CIWS system and not to procure another ship of the class to replace the lost HMS GLASGOW.



Frigates

· A Third Batch of TYPE 22 Frigates would be built to an updated design

At present there were four TYPE 22 Batch 1 frigates in service with the first three vessels of Batch 2 under construction. Three more Batch 2 vessels (HMS BLOODHOUND, HMS BRUISER and HMS BOADICEA) were already on order and due to begin construction in the next year. A third batch of six ships was to be procured to replace the ships five lost in the Falklands conflict (including HMS ANTRIM). These six ships would be built to a greatly improved design intended to incorporate the lessons learnt in the conflict. Whereas the earlier ships of the class were high end ASW escorts the third batch would be more large general purpose frigates while retaining their cutting edge ASW capability. The only major weapon system shared with their older sisters would be the pair of six cell Seawolf launchers. The Exocet SSM’s would be replaced by the more capable Harpoon which would be positioned on the superstructure aft of the bridge. The space freed up on the foredeck would be used to accommodate a 4.5 inch naval gun to give the ships NGS capability. Finally, the ships would be fitted with the Goalkeeper CWIS.

· The ten remaining 4.5 inch gun turret equipped LEANDER Class Frigates would be refitted to carry the Sea Wold SAM System.

In their current configuration the only missiles systems carried by these 10 ships was the Sea Cat which was now hopelessly obsolete and was to be phased out across the fleet. There was little place in the modern world for escorts equipped only with guns and subsonic missiles. However, the RN couldn’t afford to weaken itself by disposing of these 10 frigates. Therefore, to keep these ships relevant in the modern age they would have their twin 4.5 inch gun turret removed and replaced with a six cell Seawolf launcher. This would involve each ship being given deep refits to equip them with the modern computer systems and sensors necessary for operating the cutting edge Seawolf. While this would not be cheap the RN felt that it had no choice. The ships to be refitted were to be HMS ACHILLES, HMS DIOMEDE, HMS JUNO, HMS ANDROMEDA, HMS HERMIONE, HMS JUPITER, HMS APOLLO, HMS SCYLLA, HMS ARIADNE and HMS CHARYBDIS.

· The Sea Cat missile system was to be phased out

Sea Cat had proven itself to be hopeless as a point defence system when faced with fast moving threats. Therefore the system was to be removed from service and replaced with either modern CWIS such as the Phalanx or Goalkeeper or by conventional gun mounts such as the 20mm mounts which were to be fitted to the Ikara and Exocet carrying LEANDER Class Frigates.

· The Type 81 TRIBAL Class Frigates would be Decommissioned

The five remaining ships of this class were old and obsolete and were already laid up as part of the standby squadron with only caretaker crews. Even if reactivated they would provide little in the way of capability. Therefore, they were to be scrapped as an economy measure.

· The Type 12 ROTHESAY Class Frigates would be phased out by 1988

Like the Type 81 Frigates the nine ships of the ROTHESAY class were obsolete and unsuitable for modern warfare. Their withdrawal from service would be more drawn out so as to preserve force levels. HMS LONDONDERRY and HMS TORQUAY were in service as trials ships. They would be withdrawn from service immediately as with the introduction of HMS ANTRIM in this role they were now surplus to requirements.

· A new class of General Purpose Frigate, The Type 23, would be procured to replace the Leander’s and Type 21’s

This program had initially started life as a result of the 1981 defence review. Originally intended to be a class of small and cheap vessels equipped with ASW weapons only (nicknamed Towed Array Tugs) this class had been extensively redesigned as a result of the Falklands Conflict and had evolved into larger General Purpose Frigates.
The design had grown in size and complexity to encompass a Vertical Launch (VLS) Sea Wolf system with an extra tracking system as a defence against low-flying aircraft and sea-skimming anti-ship missiles such as Exocet. With the addition of Harpoon surface-to-surface missiles and a medium calibre gun for naval gunfire support, the Type 23 had evolved into a more complex and balanced vessel optimised for general warfare, which introduced a host of new technologies and concepts to the Royal Navy. These included extensive radar cross-section reduction design measures, automation to substantially reduce crew size, a combined diesel-electric and gas (CODLAG) propulsion system providing very quiet running for anti-submarine operations along with excellent range, vertical launch missile technology and a fully distributed combat management system.

These vessels would be cheaper than the TYPE 22 Frigates and the intention was to procure between 15 to 25 ships with the first to enter service by the end of the decade.


Submarines

· Trident

The Trident SLBM and future SSBN programs were explicitly exempted from the review. These were judged to be national assets and thus were not funded by the defence budget but by a separate ringfenced budget all of their own.

· The first batch of four Type 2400 SSK’s would be ordered.

The Type 2400 SSK was the much delayed replacement for the OBERON class SSK. A total of 12 boats were planned to enable the OBERON’s to be replaced almost on a one in one out basis. There were high hopes that the Type 2400 would be an export success as the OBERON’s had been.

· HMS SEALION & HMS WALRUS would be withdrawn from service

The final two remaining boats of the PORPOISE class SSK’s would be retired as a cost cutting measure. Keeping only two vessels of a class in service was disproportionately expensive and the Submarine Service was keen to free up the crews for the nuclear powered boats.

· The SSN building program remains unchanged

As it said on the tin. Though they had played a vital role in the Falklands campaign the SSN’s were arguably the only part of the RN not to be affected by the post Falklands changes within the service.

Fleet Air Arm

· The Fleet Air Arm would procure the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 to operate from the decks of the future aircraft carriers

It went without saying that the future of the FAA was going to be dictated by the needs of the future aircraft carrier. The FAA’s current combat strength was made up of Phantom interceptors, Buccaneer strike aircraft and Sea Harrier VISTOL multirole aircraft. The Phantoms and Buccaneers were already starting to show their age in terms of the individual airframes age and being left behind by advances in naval aviation as a new generation of jets began to render them increasingly obsolete. Once HMS EAGLE was retired the FAA would lose its Phantoms and Buccaneers (with the surviving aircraft being transferred to the RAF as previously planned) and be forced to rely on the Sea Harrier until a new aircraft could be brought into service.

The bean counters who had barely been persuaded to finance a new aircraft carrier program had had a significant role in the choice of a new naval combat aircraft. They had mandated that the new aircraft must be an existing “off the shelf” aircraft. The money required to finance the development of a new aircraft or navalise an existing aircraft (proposals for a naval variant of the Tornado and Jaguar had been examined and rejected for cost, performance and technical reasons) would simply not be forthcoming.
It had also been mandated that the new aircraft must be a multirole aircraft as operating numerous types with only small numbers of each was not going to be affordable in future.

The choice of carrier capable aircraft available at the time was rather limited.
The Grumman F14 was without a doubt a highly capable interceptor and the Americans were continuing to produce the aircraft heavily investing in keeping it up to date. However, it came with a number of drawbacks that ruled it out as an option. It was a very large aircraft which would limit the number that could be carried aboard a carrier. While this wasn’t so much of a problem for the enormous US Navy supercarriers it certainly would be aboard the smaller proposed RN carriers. Another reason was the aircrafts high unit and operating cost. This would again limit the number of aircraft that could be operated. Finally, the F14 was an interceptor and would not ideal for ground attack and naval strike missions meaning that it would not be able to meet the Royal Navy’s requirements.

Some thought had been given to purchasing the French made Dassault Super Etendard. After encountering it during in the Falklands the RN certainly had a healthy respect for its capabilities as a strike aircraft. However, political considerations about purchasing this particular aircraft and the fact that it was not capable as a fighter ruled out this option. Being based on the original Etendard which was a 20 year old design it was felt that if the RN were to go down this route then probably even before it entered frontline service with them they would be looking for a new aircraft as they struggled with obsolescence.

The option of buying used older aircraft such as the A4 Skyhawk or F8 Crusader or continuing to operate the F4 Phantom had been examined. This option had only been entertained on the grounds that it would be vastly cheaper than any of the others. The problem with this however was again obsolescence and aircraft age. If they were beginning to look obsolete now then how would they look in a decade when the new aircraft was expected to be in service never mind another 20 or so years of service afterwards.

In the end that left only one realistic and in the option of many the ideal option. The US Navy was in the process of introducing the new multirole F/A-18 Hornet as a replacement for their Crusaders and Phantoms. The aircraft met the RN’s requirements in that it was able to carryout both air to air and air to surface missions and was carrier capable. It also met the treasuries requirements in that there would be no need to pay any development costs only those of purchasing the aircraft themselves which were cheaper than F-14’s. Being a brand new cutting edge of technology aircraft meant that the problem of obsolescence wouldn’t be an issue.
The RN were happy to go with the F/A-18 and were planning on purchasing 80 aircraft. They recognised the fact that realistically only one carrier would be available at one time meaning there would only be the need to provide one air group with the other aircraft being used in training and support roles.
The RN had a close working relationship with the USN so it was hoped that RN pilots could be seconded to the US to gain experience on the F/A-18.
As a sop to the British aircraft industry the possibility of trying to obtain a licence to build the aircraft in the UK was hinted at. With the aircraft not needed in frontline service for at least another decade there would be plenty of time to develop a variant suited to the UK’s particular needs as had been done with the Phantom. By then the Americans would probably be working on new variants of their own and if the British were purchasing the aircraft their might be the possibility of British companies manufacturing some components.



· The Sea Harrier would receive an upgrade

With an approximately 10 year gap between HMS EAGLE being retired and the new carriers coming online the RN would be forced to rely on the Sea Harrier as its only fixed wing naval aircraft. Many considered this foolish as the aircraft simply could not compare with the capabilities of even the aircraft that it was succeeding. It was short ranged and subsonic and carried only 2 short ranged AIM-9 Sidewinder air to air missiles. Its only air to air s in the Falklands had been successful but this was considered to be more down to luck and proper fighter control rather than a testament to the aircraft’s capabilities. Even the Australians who would ultimately need the aircraft to operate from the newly purchased HMAS AUSTRALIA had indicated that they were not happy with its capabilities.
To this end a new variant of the Sea Harrier would be developed and brought into service before 1986 when EAGLE would be retired. The new Sea Harrier was to feature a more powerful radar, the ability to carry a longer ranged missile, a new sidewinder launch rail enabling four of the missiles to be carried as opposed to a mere two and updated avionics. The Australians would probably wait for this new variant to become available before buying Sea Harrier and had been making positive noises about contributing towards the development costs in exchange for a share of the workload.

· The E-2C Hawkeye would be procured as a replacement for the Gannet

Airborne Early Warning had been vital in the Falklands and was not a capability that the RN was willing to lose. Even the civil servants in the MOD and Treasury could see how important early warning was to a fleet’s survival. The current AEW aircraft was the Fairey Gannet. This aircraft was old and pretty much obsolete meaning that a replacement was required. Again, budgets dictated that a new aircraft would have to be something that was already in existence as there wasn’t the money to develop a new aircraft which would only be built in small numbers anyway.
The only option available was the Grumman E2 Hawkeye. As with the F/A-18 there would be no need to pay any development costs and it was recognised that this aircraft was vastly more capable than the Gannet it would replace.

· A naval variant of the British Aerospace Hawk would be developed and produced as an aircraft carrier capable training aircraft

The MOD and RN were very mindful of the high attrition rate naval aviators had historically suffered. Operating aircraft at sea from the deck of a carrier is an inherently dangerous business requiring a high level of skill. Unfortunately, the intensive flying required to reach this skill level meant that there was far too much opportunity for fatal mistakes to be made. Given the cost of the F/A-18’s that were going to be purchased such a high accident rate could not be allowed to continue. Part of the problem was the massive “step up” from the trainer aircraft to the frontline combat aircraft in terms of the pilots work load and capabilities. They would only once they were actually converted onto the frontline aircraft would they be taught how to land on a carrier which any naval pilot will tell you is one of the most difficult and stressful things you can do. The solution was to introduce an interim aircraft where pilots could learn the art of carrier landings in in a less demanding aircraft before transitioning onto frontline types. This would also have the added bonus of weeding out those who simply couldn’t do it before they got onto the very expensive part of training.

He most cost effective option was to navalise the current jet trainer the British Aerospace Hawk. The Americans were known to be in the market for a new carrier training aircraft. If they could be convinced to adopt the navalised Hawk then the sheer number they were likely to buy would likely cover the cost of development and mean that the Government may even make a profit off of the aircraft.

· A number of Sea King airframes would be converted to an AEW role

Aware of the severe limitations of even the upgraded Sea Harrier compared to the Phantoms that they would supersede the RN felt the need to make sure that the aircraft were able to be used as effectively as possible. To them this meant situational awareness and command and control. Unfortunately, as capable as the E2 Hawkeye it could not operate from the small decks of the INVINCIBLE class. As a stopgap measure Westland had been able to produce a proposal to convert a number of Sea King HAS.5 ASW helicopters by removing the ASW equipment and fitting a Searchwater Radar. While this radar had originally been developed as a surface search radar it did have the capability for air search. An AEW Sea King was by no means a perfect solution but it would be much better than having nothing.

· The EH101 Helicopter would be procured as a replacement for the Sea King

The need to keep up with advancing Soviet Submarine capabilities meant that the Sea King would soon need to be replaced. In 1981 the Government had allocated funding for a new helicopter developed as a joint project between Westland and the Italian company Augusta. This announcement merely confirmed that this project would continue (though its cancelation to free up funds had been considered but ultimately rejected).

Dockyards

· Chatham Dockyard would be closed

With the RN’s fleet getting smaller there was now a surplus of Dockyard capability and Chatham had found itself surplus to requirements. The closing of an entire dockyard and subsequent sale of the real estate would go a long way to balancing the MOD’s budgets. Apart from ending a centuries old association with Chatham the major downside of this would be the loss of the Nuclear Submarine refitting facility located there meaning this facility would have to be restablished elsewhere at great expense and having a knock on effect on the SSN refit cycles.

Personnel

The RN would incur a manpower reduction of 5000 people reducing the service to a strength of 70,000. The previous defence review in 1981 had planned for 10,000 redundancies. These had been put on hold when the Falklands Conflict had broken out. The post war decision to run HMS EAGLE on meant that there would be a need to provide sufficient manpower to crew her. To this end half of the previously planned redundancies had been cancelled.

Royal Air Force

· Procurement of the Panavia Tornado would be scaled back

The RAF were understandably extremely upset about this one. The money saved was being diverted to the CVF-90 carrier program which being a naval project made senior RAF officers very angry. In a repeat of 1966, the RAF had (unsuccessfully) argued that carriers were not needed. This time rather than producing doctored maps of the world they had pointed out that any naval conflict with the Soviets would take place near to UK waters where they would be in range of land-based RAF aircraft. In their opinion this was a much less risky option than putting a very expensive aircraft carrier and a lot of men in harm’s way. Unfortunately the RAF had suffered from the perception that they had only played a secondary support role in the Falklands Conflict meaning that they had been unable to win the argument against carriers and were now obliged to make sacrifices to pay for the new generation of carriers.
Originally it had been planned to purchase 255 of the ground attack variant of the new Panavia Tornado. This was to be scaled back to 200 aircraft. Worse was to come though.
An Interceptor version of the Tornado was in development and the RAF had been planning to purchase 180 of these powerful interceptors. The MOD had had a serious look at cancelling the interceptor Tornado program all together as the aircraft was still in development. In the end it wasn’t the RAF’s protests about the loss of capability and seriously detrimental effect on UK air defence that had saved the aircraft but simply the fact that doing so would have harmed the UK’s relationship with Germany and Italy the other partners in the multinational Tornado program. Despite this the RAF would have to content with the planned buy being almost halved to just 100 aircraft.

· The F/A-18 would be procured by the RAF to replace the Phantom and English Electric Lightening

This aircraft was to be jointly operated with the navy under a “Joint Hornet Command” to be able to consolidate and achieve best value for money on training and maintenance costs. A total of 200 aircraft would be produced with 80 going to the navy and 120 for the RAF. The RAF while not displeased with the fact that they would be receiving a cutting edge multirole combat aircraft were unhappy with the fact that this was not their choice but something that had been forced upon them from above.
There was some consolidation in the fact that the F/A-18 would be a more than capable replacement for the Phantom and Lightening and that not having to wait for carriers the RAF would be able to start receiving its aircraft first and start converting its squadrons off of older types sooner. The “Joint Hornet Command” concept meant that there would be a lot of cross training with the Navy with some RAF pilots being trained in carrier operations. When the RN retired HMS EAGLE their Phantoms and Buccaneers would transfer to the RAF. The Buccaneers would probably continue to fly seeing as the RAF already operated the same type but the Phantoms being of a different variant would probably be grounded and used as a source of spare parts for RAF Phantoms as an economy measure. RN pilots transitioning off of these aircraft would likely find themselves on secondment to the RAF’s first F/A-18 squadrons to gain experience on the type for preparation for its entry into RN service.


· The procurement of the second generation of Harrier would be going ahead

The RAF’s current Harrier GR3’s would be complemented and ultimately replaced by a new generation of new build Harrier II aircraft dubbed the Harrier GR5. These aircraft would essentially be licence built British variants of the McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II which was developed from the original generation of British Harrier’s.


· The number of Nimrod aircraft to be refitted to MR2 standard would be increased to 34 airframes

This increase of 3 over the originally planned 31 aircraft was in response to the navy’s reduction in the number of escorts to compensate for the lost ASW capability.

· The proposal to build a new air base on the Falkland Islands would not go ahead

In the aftermath of the Falklands Conflict Britain considered it necessary to maintain a strengthened permanent military presence on the islands to deter further Argentine hostility. The RAF had proposed to build a completely new airbase at a site called Mount Pleasant to provide QRA capability and an air link to the UK. With the damage the Argentines had sustained in the conflict such as the effective destruction of their navy and air force now known their ability to threaten the Falklands was considered negligible. Therefore, the proposal for a new air base had been rejected as unnecessary. Instead the RAF would establish a presence at Port Stanley Airport to act as a jump off point for reinforcements should the Argentines begin to pose a significant threat.

British Army

· The number of Challenger MBT’s to be procured was to be increased to 450

No one in the RAF or RN was quite sure where the army had found the money for an extra 30 MBT’s. The army’s official reasoning was that they wanted to be able to forward base more of the brand new cutting edge MBT’s in West Germany to enable them to free up a larger infantry contingent for rapid response operations. The Falklands had caught the army by surprise slightly and it had been a bit of a desperate scramble for them to pull together the force required. In doing so they had effectively had all of their units committed to taskings and duties meaning that if something else had kicked off such as an increase in violence in Northern Ireland that required troops, they would not have been able to respond without abandoning other commitments. Publicly senior army officers had stated that this was a situation they had felt very uneasy about finding themselves in and this was a measure to try and reduce the risk of that occurring again. Many suspected privately that the army really wanted some more examples of what they at the time were calling the best main battle tank in the world and had used the defence review to syphon money off from somewhere to pay for them.

· A new series of armoured fighting vehicle would be procured to replace the FV430

The FV432 vehicles were looking rather dated and the army was looking for a replacement. They also wanted a common vehicle to replace the wide variety of vehicles in the FV430 series that could still carry out all of the roles. The new vehicle rather than being a simple APC would be a much larger Infantry Fighting Vehicle with a 30mm cannon in a turret for fire support able to work with the infantry in battle rather than simply transport them there. Crucially it would have to be able to keep up the Challenger MBT’s something which the current FV430 was unable to do.
This project dubbed “Warrior” had been in the works before the Falklands conflict and was one of the few programs not affected by the conflict.

· Milan

The MILAN ATGM had proven a very effective tool in the Falklands for destroying hardened enemy positions. It was likely that it would be used in exactly the same manor in future conflict as well as for its design role of destroying armoured vehicles. In light of this the number of MILAN launchers and missiles on order would be increased and the number allocated to units increased to account for new higher usage estimates.

· War Stocks would be greatly increased

This was the one that had caused some in the treasury to have what the attending paramedics had described as a “cardiac episode”. The Falklands had proven all munition and supply consumption and usage estimates to be woefully underestimated. In fact, based on new calculations it was reckoned that in the event of conflict in Germany the British armed forces would only be able to operate for a matter of days based upon their current stockpiles. Clearly the amounts of stockpiled materials and munitions would need to increase vastly. This would come at great expense which some would sarcastically joke rivalled the Trident and CVF-90 programs. They were only a few million pounds away from making an accurate statement. Even after all of that expenditure it was estimated that the increased stockpiles would at most by a few more days of operations.

· Special Forces

This last point was not publicly revealed as the UK Government at the time had a policy of not openly discussing special forces operations. During the Falklands conflict Special Forces units had shown a remarkable capability for the small size of the units involved. Even away from the Falklands in the realm of counter terrorism SF units were the most effective asset. In Northern Ireland it had been noted that the SAS were the unit who had been able to inflict the most damage on the IRA in terms of operations carried out and casualties inflicted upon the enemy.
Because of this more resources were to be allocated to both the SAS and SBS to enable them to expand the size of the units. There were high hopes that this relatively modest investment now would pay large dividends in future.
 
I don't see why the RAF is so mad about this Defence Review, they will only lose the procurement of 15 modern aircraft because they're getting a order of some 120 Hornets as compensation for the loss of the part of the order for the Tornado variants and they get a shiny pile of war stock ordnance as well.
 
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