Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Military United Kingdom Government The Almighty Buck Technology

Royal Navy Giving Up Anti-Ship Missiles, Will Rely On Cannons For Naval Combat (telegraph.co.uk) 432

cold fjord writes: It will soon be a bit more difficult for Britain's Royal Navy to rule the waves as it gives up anti-ship missiles as a result of budget cuts. That will force the Royal Navy to go "old school" and rely upon naval gunfire for ship-to-ship combat. Cannon fire as the primary means of ship-to-ship combat has been largely obsolete since the 1950s following the invention of guided missiles in World War 2. Prior to that, cannon fire had been the primary means of naval combat for hundreds of years. Although the Royal Navy ranged up to 16" guns on battleships, the largest gun currently in active service is a 4.5" gun. That will leave the Royal Navy unable to engage targets beyond approximately 17 miles / 27 km, whereas Harpoon missiles provide an 80 mile / 130 m range. The loss of anti-ship missile capability will begin in 2018 and may last for 10 years for warships, and 2 years for helicopters. The Sun quotes a naval insider who said: "It's like Nelson saying, 'don't worry, I don't need canons, we've got muskets.'" The loss of missile capability heaps more misfortune upon a naval force that recently has seen its available frontline combat force drop to an unprecedented 24 warships.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Royal Navy Giving Up Anti-Ship Missiles, Will Rely On Cannons For Naval Combat

Comments Filter:
  • Rule the waves? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @09:51PM (#53302327) Homepage Journal
    When is the last time the British Navy fired an anti-ship missile from a ship? Almost 40 years? Seriously.
    • by rwven ( 663186 )

      My thought on it is that if the nation went to war in which naval battles were a possibility (or actually happening), the budget would be instantaneously available to them to do whatever necessary to protect their seas. I'm sure they also have a rather large stockpile they could draw on in the meantime as well.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @10:03PM (#53302413)

        You're perspective concerning the speed of government procurement is unique.

        • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @10:49PM (#53302711)

          All you need is 4 or 5 years notice to get ready for a shooting war. No problem.

      • Re:Rule the waves? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @10:17PM (#53302527) Homepage Journal

        "to protect their seas"..

        Which is what, exactly? Seriously? The party they have to do that against on their own is just Argentine.

        They don't have seas to protect anymore, All of the colonies have their own navys.

      • by Jzanu ( 668651 )
        Stockpile only lasts up to 2018 due to aged weapons becoming unfit for service and steady use during training. Lead time is a problem regardless of magic war-time budgets, that is why military prepares during peacetime to fight all wars it may be required to win.
      • Re:Rule the waves? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Wrath0fb0b ( 302444 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @10:27PM (#53302589)

        y thought on it is that if the nation went to war in which naval battles were a possibility (or actually happening), the budget would be instantaneously available to them to do whatever necessary to protect their seas. I'm sure they also have a rather large stockpile they could draw on in the meantime as well

        Where is this stockpile going to come from if you don't develop, test, build and train with it in advance?

        And how is the budget going to help when you've got a lead time in years to get something through the pipeline? I know PHBs are fond of the idea they can have 9 women make a baby in a month by throwing money at her, but that's just not how it works.

      • Re:Rule the waves? (Score:4, Informative)

        by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @11:07PM (#53302817)

        Providing money when you go to war is too late. It takes months to secure missiles and integrate them with modern warships (which will probably be on the bottom by then).

    • by Jzanu ( 668651 )
      I think you forgot the Falklands [bbc.co.uk]. As much as I dislike wikipedia for poor quality it has a decent breakdown of the weapons [wikipedia.org] used. French Exocet stockpiles were used by Argentina but there were not resupplied by France during the war so had limited use. British Sea Skua were also fired from helicopters disabling Argentinian warships and destroying cargo. Brexit prevents most EU military cooperation so this supply failure seriously weakens British power.
      • the guy said almost 40 years. I think soon to be 35 years is close enough to "almost 40 years" in most peoples eyes.

        • by Jzanu ( 668651 )
          Britain also used them throughout the first (real) Gulf War in 1991.
      • Brexit prevents most EU military cooperation so this supply failure seriously weakens British power.

        Spot on for the rest of the comment, but I think NATO is still alive and well (OK, maybe Trump something, for now I haven't the foggiest what he'll do with NATO and I'm betting he doesn't either) and is the primary conduit for military cooperation amongst the European states.

        In any event, Brexit,Natexit or otherwise, EADS isn't going to be split apart.

        • Trump was correct about NATO being based on an increasingly false premise, and most of the member states really aren't shouldering their fair share; that doesn't mean that there aren't new equally valid premises and I know there is metric but-loads of pork that can be cut without effecting military readiness.

          Making changes in bureaucracies the size of NATO is like steering a battleship, you turn the rudder and nothing seems to happen for a long long time, then when it does, it takes a long, long time to ge

      • by tsotha ( 720379 )

        Brexit prevents most EU military cooperation so this supply failure seriously weakens British power.

        Come on, now. Brexit does nothing to UK military power unless the UK decides to leave NATO as well.

      • Brexit prevents most EU military cooperation so this supply failure seriously weakens British power.
        BREXIT: UK leaving (perhaps) the EU. Note: this is a political "thing".
        NATO: UK cooperating with the rest of the NATO. Note: that is a military thing.
        World Trade: UK is free to purchase what ever they need/want from the EU or from anyone else. Note: that is a trade thing.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          NATO wasn't much help with Argentina. The French wouldn't even help us defend against their anti-ship missiles for fear or devaluing their defence industry.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      When is the last time the British Navy fired an anti-ship missile from a ship? Almost 40 years? Seriously.

      Or better yet, what potential enemies in the UK's sphere of influence will require anti-ship missiles?

      The only one I can think of is Russia, even then their navy is antiquated and would be facing every modern NATO navy. Almost all the opponents the UK has to deal with wont be able to defend against, let alone oppose a 4.5" QF cannon.

      The gist I got was that the UK is simply not buying any new ship to ship missiles. We've still got a stockpile of Harpoons, we're just not buying new ones. The anti-ship s

    • Who needs missiles anyhow? As long as they've still got rum, sodomy, and the lash they should be fine.
    • Re:Rule the waves? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @11:39PM (#53303043)

      When is the last time the British Navy fired an anti-ship missile from a ship?

      Ideally, you have a military, not to fight your enemies, but to deter them.

      Almost 40 years? Seriously.

      Tomahawks [wikipedia.org] are used by the Royal Navy as anti-ship missiles. They are also used against land targets. They were last fired in action by the Royal Navy against Libyan targets in 2011.

  • OK but why bother? (Score:5, Informative)

    by slaker ( 53818 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @09:51PM (#53302329)

    Is anyone seriously planning on attacking British warships with something besides rafts full of IEDs? What's the likelihood that Brits would be involved in a Naval engagement that didn't also involve the American Navy, a force that is nearly cartoonish compared to every other fleet on the planet? Is there some expectation that they'll be front-line in a shooting war beside an American carrier group?

    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @09:58PM (#53302379)

      A military is sort of like an insurance policy. It's a huge waste of money until you actually need it.

      • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

        A military is sort of like an insurance policy. It's a huge waste of money until you actually need it.

        You'll need a tiger stone [getelastic.com] long before you need a ludicrously large military like the UK's, much less the U.S.

    • Well, there was the Russian aircraft carrier in the Channel a few weeks back...
    • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @10:09PM (#53302459)

      > Is anyone seriously planning on attacking British warships

      Right now? No, they still have ship to ship missiles.

    • by Jerry ( 6400 )

      There seems little doubt that Britain is planning on being protected by American military might, just as Canada is.
      Dropping their defensive capability leaves them with only two options when push comes to shove: surrender or go nuclear. I suspect that they would opt for surrender.

      • You are an idiot.

        There is no navy on the world, except the US one, that is a thread to the UK's, or any other European navy.

        And the US are not a *serious* thread. if they would go rogue and try to attack Europe they need to get their carriers into strike range.

        Good bye Nimitzt, good bye Reagan, good bye what ever battle group they bring ...

        Unlike the US navy most European navies are designed for "home defense" ... the chance that a US battle group is able to detect a norwegian, danish, british, german or ev

    • In case if you haven't been paying attention, that's exactly the attitude that Trump has been complaining about. America alone can't afford to pick up the tab for defending all of Europe and Asia any more.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      people were saying the same thing in 1981, in fact the government thought it so unlikely that they were trying to flog off our brand new aricraft carriers.....

    • I wonder what happens in 10 years that brings back the missiles?

      Either way, these are regular Harpoon missiles they simply won't be carrying. It's not like they're dropping the launchers from ship designs and re-building the entire fleet. They just won't be carrying the missiles. If the red fleet steams south towards the GIUK gap, the launchers could certainly be re-loaded in short order; even if the Harpoons themselves had to be flown over from the US.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The UK planned for that until the Falklands became a reality. The UK had to find maps, ask the GCHQ to decode systems it had had total mastery of until the Argentinean fixed their cypher security a bit. Decoding then took hours. Argentina had crypto machines that did not stay secure. Double encryption did not help at all as the UK had a mastery of all common export grade networks..
      The only system to give the GCHQ any issue was Argentina's Air Force traffic as it used a new, better system that was not op
  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @09:51PM (#53302343)
    since the Falklands. now drones....that's more like it.
  • No wonder Trump has been incessantly complaining that America's allies do not spend enough on their own defense and rely on the American firepower. The situation is quite similar all over Europe.

    • Actually, the UK is one of the few NATO countries that does spend it's allotted proportion of GDP on defence.

      This is pure incompetence by the Admiralty and the government. In the past, there has been a desire to prioritize number of ships above the capability of those ships. It's a disastrous policy that is driven by people more interested in building their own empires than doing their job.

      • by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @10:53PM (#53302735)

        And they've been at it so very long, too...

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

        When Britain really ruled the waves -
        (In good Queen Bess's time)
        The House of Peers made no pretence
        To intellectual eminence,
        Or scholarship sublime;
        Yet Britain won her proudest bays
        In good Queen Bess's glorious days!

        When Wellington thrashed Bonaparte,
        As every child can tell,
        The House of Peers, throughout the war,
        Did nothing in particular,
        And did it very well:
        Yet Britain set the world ablaze
        In good King George's glorious days!

        And while the House of Peers withholds
        Its legislative hand,
        And noble statesmen do not itch
        To interfere with matters which
        They do not understand,
        As bright will shine Great Britain's rays
        As in King George's glorious days!

        (hey, it's not often I get to post a relevant Gilbert & Sullivan!)

    • The Europeans should really get to work together in terms of weapons standardization. Right now the situation with all those small Navies, like Spain, Germany, Poland, etc is that they are all amounting to very little. They should all have ONE standard destroyer ship that's produced by the dozens, one type of frigate, ONE type of Aircraft carrier, one type of each diesel and nuclear subs, one type of anti-ship missile, and so on. The situation where each navy is trying to procure a little bit of everything

      • Actually it is more or less like that. No idea why you are complaining.
        Most european weapon projects are joint ventures of various european states and then sold to the other ones.
        However "standard" destroyers make not much sense. Every few years we design/build a new destroyer or frigg or submarine class. And such a ship/boat is in service for 30 - 50 years. Often it makes no sense to refit the older ships to the new standard.
        E.g. a modern german frigg is designed to be off shore up to 24month with only the

  • This can easily be fixed with tax cuts, particularly if targeted at billionaires.

  • The UK has been doing "creative accounting" [dailymail.co.uk] to lie about the amounts they are putting into defense.

    At the same time, China is massively increasing their defense spending with both official numbers, and much larger unofficial numbers... [businessinsider.com]
  • " 80 mile / 130 m range", someone forgot a kilo in there..
  • by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @11:01PM (#53302781)

    One of the reasons Anti Ship missiles suck is due to time of flight and no discrimination systems to filter out what will effectively become a potential target once the platform reaches its designated area and begins its search pattern.

    Every target has what's known as an AOU or " Area of Uncertainty ". This is typically designated as a circle around the targets last known position. The size of the AOU is based on:

    Length of time since target update
    Platform that generated update
    Target Speed / heading / etc

    The more time that passes, the larger the potential area said target can be in and the larger the circle grows.

    Now assume you get really good positioning data on your target. Initial AOU size will vary based on what platform provided the data, but assume it's a solid hit.

    Ignoring the fact we'll never shoot just one missile and that it would take forever to coordinate a dozen shots across multiple ships, let's say we just send one off from a few hundred miles out.

    So not including super and hypersonic systems, most cruise missiles are subsonic so figure maybe half an hour flight time to reach the target area.

    That AOU is going to grow considerably in half an hour and if other ships are in the area, those AOU's can start to overlap. Meaning you can have more than just your target in the search area when the radar goes active and begins looking for something to kill.

    Bad news if you happen to be floating in the general area and are big enough to generate a radar return.

    Now picture this scenario in a cramped space like the Persian Gulf where hundreds of ships and their gigantic overlapping AOU's make targeting anything a downright pita.

    The newer platforms may be more intelligent ( LRASM is supposed to be ) but Gulf War era tech certainly was not. No mid flight updates. Once flying, the weapon was on its own.

    Source: Ex Tomahawk Blk II/III TWCS Fire Control type

    • by srmalloy ( 263556 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @12:09AM (#53303189) Homepage

      Now picture this scenario in a cramped space like the Persian Gulf where hundreds of ships and their gigantic overlapping AOU's make targeting anything a downright pita.

      Some years ago, I was sitting in on an exercise a group of TAO students were running on the ENWGS (Enhanced Navy War Gaming System); each side had a small collection of patrol craft and/or frigates, and they were in an area that had a number of merchies sailing around. The blue side had sent up a helicopter to search, the orange group had sent a Petya forward. Both sides discovered the other at about the same time, and there was a brief flurry of anti-ship missile launches. When the smoke had cleared, the sole casualty from both sides was the Petya, which was an 'own goal' from a missile fired down its bearing that activated its seeker head a couple miles too soon... but the missile exchange cleared out 3/4 of the merchant ships that had been in the area.

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        Reminds me of Millennium Challenge 2002 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org].
        The enemy must to use its expensive ammo in small amounts and never ever have too many ships.
        "At this point, the exercise was suspended, Blue's ships were "re-floated""
  • What's the point of having a futuristic-ally armed ship anyway ? aside from its ability to transport a lot of supplies, fly the flag visibly and to do humanitarian missions in pirate infested seas all of which can probably work very well with regular naval guns.

    For any real war I would have thought the best way to take out a ship would be from a submarine or from a land- or space- or air-launched missile.

    and who's to say there isn't some clever way to make the guns more effective with "smart shells" or s

  • Grandstanding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @11:06PM (#53302807) Journal

    This is grandstanding to get the British people riled up and get popular opinion to support allocating more money for defense spending. They've set the doomsday date far enough in the future that they have time to let the bureaucrats allocate the money and save the day and keep the missiles on the ships.

  • "The Navyâ(TM)s Harpoon missiles will retire from the fleetâ(TM)s frigates and destroyers in 2018 without a replacement,"

    So don't retire them?

    Better to have a couple-year obsolete missiles (assuming they ARE obsolete, defense industry techs are pretty aggressive about selling upgrades) than NONE.

    This is like local governments that, when told their state funds are being cut, START by laying off cops and firemen - it's a sham to make *any* budget cut seem agonizingly painful.

    • by Jzanu ( 668651 )
      No, it's not "better" because end-of-life exists for reliability and safety reasons. Carrying old missiles means sinking your own ships with them.
  • by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @11:26PM (#53302953)

    There are lots of ways to sink a ship. When I worked in that business we took very seriously the threat of low-flying aircraft with modern ECM pods and laser-guided bombs. The Queen Elizabeth will be commissioned in May, so while the Royal Navy may not have anti-ship missiles that doesn't necessarily mean it won't have a way to sink ships. I suspect F-35s, with their low radar cross-section, will be well-suited to that role.

    And then there are submarines.

  • They will have operational F-35s in about.... ummm.... maybe 10 years

  • The world is getting ever more peaceful, right?

    No need to worry about the NATO collapsing in the wake of a Trump presidency either. After all, there are reliable European allies who are already planning for a stronger EU defence integration if NATO turns into a paper tiger.

    Oh, wait a second ...

    Never mind. Good luck!

  • computers came about as a result of artillery calculations. Don't think that they can't be used on boats to quickly point them towards moving ships. Sure they will miss every so often, but they're a lot cheaper than missiles.
    • computers came about as a result of artillery calculations.

      Not entirely, there were three contemporaries. American computers came about that way. British ones came about as the result of military code breaking. German ones came about for the hell of it.

  • Ram 'em and board, mateys.

  • History repeats (Score:5, Informative)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @02:00AM (#53303555)
    History repeats.
    People forget this due to the reversal afterwards, but one of the cost savings of the incoming Thatcher government in the UK was to scrap and sell all the aircraft carriers leaving a gap of some time with no aircraft carriers before HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal (R07) were completed. The Argentinians took note and occupied the Falkland Islands expecting to be safe from a toothless Royal Navy.
    They acted too quickly because while the sale of the HMS Invincible in February 1982 to Australia had gone through the aircraft carrier was still in the UK in April when the war broke out. The other operational carrier, HMS Hermes, was going to be scrapped some time in 1982 due to a decision made in 1981 but was still intact in April. The Argentinians got a bit of a shock in facing two aircraft carriers instead of the zero they expected. The carriers HMS Triumph and HMS Ark Royal (R09) had already been recently scrapped under the Thatcher government Navy reduction plan, but they were quite old ships anyway.

Remember: use logout to logout.

Working...