The UK Armed Forces should be spearheaded by the Royal Navy via three (3) Strike Aircraft Carriers and an array of amphibious units that allow sustained Air, Sea & Land operations at any location. The RAF will provide home air defence, strike and surveillance duties plus also be deployable in-theatre with a rapid reaction capability via air-to-air refuelling. The Army and Royal Marine numbers must be retained at their current levels, and will not be covered on this page.
Importantly, the Armed Forces must be set up to fight a modern Falklands War type scenario, against modern high performance aircraft, submarine and missile threats as well as participate in multi-national operations.
The Future Royal Navy should be centred around three 50,000 ton CATOBAR strike carriers with a flight deck area matching or exceeding that of the Charles De Gaulle. The two STOVL Queen Elizabeth Class carriers will act as LHAs and provide close air support, amphibious-commando and ASW capability. The submarine service is also of vital importance and priority must be given to its expansion. Increased numbers of submarines are intended to provide for enhanced shore bombardment using Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles targeting airfields, air defence systems, and other high value assets.
All Navy capital ships must employ advanced SAMPSON-type radar, IR systems, CIWS/RAM, surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, UAVs*/USVs, plus have strong ASW capabilities with bow sonar and torpedoes as standard.
Strike Aircraft Carriers (3)
These 50,000 ton Strike Carriers will initially operate 22 RafaleM or Sea Gripen Multi-Role fighters. Other aircraft will include E-2D Hawkeye, S-3 Viking (new built in ASW plus Tanker roles), ASW Merlins, and aircrew rescue helos. Future aircraft will include the FA-XX, a long range strike bomber (the A-64A Intruder II), UCAVs (X-47B and V-247s), UAV AEW Airships, and coaxial rotor helos (see Future US Navy Air Wing). For more on the flight deck layout see this link to a smaller 35,000 ton CATOBAR design.
Queen Elizabeth Class LHA/ASW Carriers (2)
The Queen Elizabeth Class STOVL carriers will act as both an LHA, in the support role for amphibious operations, and as an ASW platform in defence of these operations. The vessels will have intense anti-missile defence systems with Aster missiles, four RAM systems, and four CIWS. The ships will each field 12 F-35B Lightning or AV8B Harrier aircraft, 12 V-247 Vigilant tiltrotor combat drones, Apache AH-64Es, troop carrying Chinooks, Merlins, plus ASW Wildcat and Merlin helos. UAV AEW Airships will be added to the air wing when they become available. Displacement 70,000 tons.
Astute Class SSNs (10)
Astute Class submarines will continue in their present roles with a greater emphasis on providing a land attack strike capability using cruise missiles. There must be an addition of three boats from the present seven on order. A production run of up to twelve vessels would allow for a continuous submarine building program. As the first of these boats are retired a new type (a modified or 'advanced' Astute class) should begin production. Displacing 7400 tons
Type 212 Submarines (2)
Daring Class Frigates (10)
The numbers of Daring Class vessels are to increase and must be fully fitted out with Harpoon anti-ship missiles, ASW systems plus torpedoes to compliment the ship's anti-air capabilities. Sufficient numbers of fully equipped surface ships are necessary to protect the 'flat top', amphibious and sea lift transports. Displacement 8,000 tons.
Type 26 Frigates (22+)
The Type 26 Frigate, like the Daring Class ships, must be ordered in numbers that can defend a large amphibious task force including the supporting strike carriers. All of these vessels must be configured to effectively engage in anti-submarine warfare with bow and towed sonar systems. Displacement 5400 tons.
Damen 2400 Offshore Patrol Vessels (14+)
An evolved Damen 2400 OPV design, featuring a 76mm gun, will replace the existing River Class boats. Half of this class will also be equipped with a RAM system and fitted with the ASW mission module (or modified for that role). All the OPVs will be fitted out to carry these weapons systems plus also be able to employ the Exocet anti-ship missile.
The Amphibious Assault Force:
Mistral Class Extended-Deck LHDs (3)
The Mistral Class LHDs are intended to act as the core amphibious assault ships able to embark heavy equipment. They will be built with an extended flight deck (potentially with a ski-jump) so each can be used as an emergency launch platform for STOVL aircraft. The vessels will provide heliborne and amphibious troop deployment through 12 to 16 Merlin helos and landing craft (LCMs). Apache AH-64Es will be included with four (4) per ship. These 21,000 ton vessels will also be modified to have standard shafted propellers in place of the azimuth thruster pods.
Albion Class LDS (2)
Albion Class vessels are to operate in their current roles with the addition of a RAM anti-missile system (or similar) to compliment the present Goalkeeper CIWS. Displacement 21,560 tons.
Bay Class LDS (3)
Bay Class landing dock ships are to continue in their present roles. Displacement 16,160 tons.
Point Class RFA (6)
All Point Class RFA ships must modified to accept 'roll-on' independently operating anti-missile defence systems that would be added during a time of conflict. Displacement 23,000 tons.
Unmanned Surface Vessels
Two Classes of USVs will be required for surveillance, mine detection, special operations and fleet defence:
# Ship-Deployable Inshore USVs - are intended for reconnaissance in littoral waters. They will have a multi-day loitering capability being able to launch small recon UAVs (two per boat) for closer inspection of inland targets. The boats should be equipped with a FLIR system, have sonar (mine detection), and be radar equipped - plus capable of firing both Hellfire (surface attack) and Stinger (anti-aircraft) missiles. These 'lightweight' drones come in two types - a larger 7 ton launch, the Fleet Class USV or similar, for use off capital ships, and a smaller RHIB version for use on offshore patrol ships.
# Blue Water USVs (8) - these larger 300+ ton ships are intended for picket line Air Defence and Anti-Submarine warfare; primarily to protect the Aircraft Carriers and amphibious assault vessels. Featuring a VLS they could be modified to conduct surface warfare also in the (amphibious) fleet defence role. And, being unmanned, they can be built cheaply to commercial standards. These drones will have a two month long endurance, needing only to refuel to remain active. They will also be equipped with an anti-missile system, either RAM or CIWS.
ROYAL AIR FORCE
F-X or FA-XX (68) - to completely replace the F-35 and gradually replace the Typhoon.
Tornado GR4 (44) - used primarily in strike and recon operations (replaced by FB-23s, with twelve of the forty four configured in the electronic warfare role).
UCAVs (18+) - for strategic bombing operations against radar and command and control installations in high threat environments.
Reaper UAVs (30+) - high numbers of these aircraft can provide near continuous surveillance for ground forces and also perform light attack duties.
Hawk 128s (86) - currently replacing the Hawk T1 trainers. These aircraft must be able to operate as light attack aircraft in the COIN role.
Embraer Super Tucano (46+) - dual purpose training and light attack aircraft to replace existing Short Tucanos, fitted to carry their full range of weapons.
E-3 Sentry (6) - AWACs aircraft currently in service.
Sentinal R1 (5) - airborne battlefield and ground surveillance platform to be retained rather than retired as currently planned.
P-8A Poseidon (16) - upgraded with technology from the cancelled Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol aircraft.
Airbus Voyager MRTT (11) - currently replacing legacy tanker aircraft.
C-17 Globemaster III (10) - increased from 8 currently in operation.
Airbus A400M Atlas (22) - on order to replace C-130J transports.
Armed Forces Helicopter Composition
Navy Wildcat (28+) Merlin (56+)
Air Force Puma (31) Chinook (46)
Army Wildcat (72+) Apache (66)
UK Strategic Posture - Expansion
The UK should engage with former Commonwealth territories and offer their inclusion into the Government through genuinely beneficial economic and security ties. The UK Parliament should be altered so that it operates in the same manner as the French Overseas Departments where:
These territories have varying legal status and different levels of autonomy, although all (except those with no permanent inhabitants) have representation in the Parliament of France, and consequently the right to vote in elections to the European Parliament.The same system would apply to former British territories allowing them to benefit from the UK's 1st world institutions, economy and industrial capabilities. The goal is to provide advantages to these people in terms of entry into the 1st world and to provide a broader strategic platform for the UK Armed Forces.
[This page was significantly updated in April 2017. For the original entry see this LINK.]