Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Updates to Navy's frigates and destroyers

Type 42 destroyer HMS Liverpool will live on for another 4 years after a £6 million contract was signed to maintain her.

Meanwhile Type 23 HMS Montrose will receive a new command system, DNA(2), which is based on the system employed on the new Type 45s and relays sensor and tactical information to the crew and to "direct weapon engagements" (shoot the guns and missiles in other words). The ship will also receive the Seawolf mid-life update. The ship's small calibre guns and IT system will also be upgraded.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Common missile launcher component for next generation UK and US SSBNs

General Dynamics Electric Boat Corporation has been contracted to design a Common Missile Compartment (CMC) for the Vanguard replacement SSBNs for the Royal Navy and the USN's Ohio replacement. Both future boats are to use the same Trident missile so it makes sense to pool design costs, the CMC will design the missile tubes and launch systems for the goodies that will be carried in those tubes.

Although both navy's current SSBN fleets won't need replacing until the 2020s the work needs to begin now to develop the next generation, hopefully the mess-up that has surrounded the Astute programme won't happen again.

Monday, December 22, 2008

New support deals for UK Gazelle, Puma and Sea King helicopters

A number of support contracts have been signed to keep parts of the UK helicopter fleet going for the next few years. Royal Royce will provide 10 years more service for the Gnome turboshafts powering the 96 Sea Kings used by the RAF and RN. The contract covers overhaul, servicing and replacement. Eurocopter will provide support for the Puma HC1 and Gazelle AH1 and may also upgrade some of the Pumas to HC2.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

UK sells stake in AWE

The government has sold it's remaining stake in the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston to the US company Jacobs Engineering who join fellow Americans Lockheed Martin and UK Serco in owning the facility that builds the warheads for the UK nuclear deterrent. An interesting move, the government arn't saying how much they are getting for this. Opposition parties have criticised the move saying it weakens the UK's independent nuclear deterrent though lets be honest if the evil Americans said they were not going to build nuclear warheads at the AWE any more the government wouldn't just say "Oh OK then!" Well you would hope not anyway. The MOD say "strategic interests" were taken into account such as "if the President of the US says he can launch then we launch, this makes things easier!"

"Don't touch that button!" "This one? Too late!" "Oh sh-"

The always excellent Arms Control Wonk site has some interesting information about the independent British nuclear deterrent.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Endurance engine room flooded

HMS Endurance has suffered an engine flood whilst off the coast of Chile and has been left without main power or propulsion. The flooding has been stopped though and the ship is currently anchored in the Strait of Magellan. The Chilean Navy is assisting including evacuating a civilian film crew. The cause of the flooding is currently being investigated.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Confirmation : CVF delayed

I already reported it but the government has confirmed that the new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy will be delayed by a year or two. Construction will start on time but will proceed more slowly. What annoys me is crass stupidity like this though, yes the current fight is in Afghanistan but who knows where the fight will be tomorrow. For example how many people before 1982 had ever heard of the Falklands?

Anyway other details in the defence review were largely as expected, 12 Lynx Mark 9s will be upgraded with new engines for use in Afghanistan, Future Lynx survives and priority will be given to the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme and the FRES Scout vehicle in favour of the FRES Utility Vehicle (i'm not all that familiar with Army stuff, these guys are the place to go for that kind of thing). What didn't pop up before was the likely delay in the fleet tanker part of MARS and it looks like the whole programme will be looked at again.

Paveway IV deployed in Afghanistan

Following it's entry into service last month with the RAF the Paveway IV guided bomb has now been deployed to units serving in Afghanistan. The weapon has already been used against insurgents according to the MOD. The bomb has a 500lb/227kg warhead which is half the size of the Enhanced Paveway II already used. Paveway IV has been delayed for a year because of problems developing a new fuse.

The new bomb will also be more resistant to jamming, lower drag and be safer (though not to people it is dropped on of course).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Daring to be handed over to Royal Navy

The first Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring will be handed over to the Royal Navy next month after successfully completing sea trials.

Monday, December 8, 2008

First Sea Lord threatens to resign over FAA

The First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, the head of the Royal Navy, is threatening to resign over RAF plans to "get rid of" the Fleet Air Arm. The RAF are trying to save money by scrapping the 75 Harriers in the joint-force shared between the RAF and RN early in 2013. The RAF is arguing that most military operations in the next decade are going to be over Afghanistan so carrier-borne aircraft are not needed. A decade is an epoch in international affairs though. Scrapping the Harriers 5 years early would save £1 billion apparently.

Falklands left "undefended"

The Falklands are being left undefended by any RN warship for the first time since the Falklands War in 1982 apparently. A RFA ship will be there instead (i thought HMS Endurance is at South Georgia too annoying the penguins plus don't forget HMS Clyde, the Falklands patrol ship). The lack of a warship though is cited as the result of the run down of the RN to just 22 destroyers and frigates which means, with only a third of the fleet available at any one time, there simply arn't enough ships available to cover commitments. This is where the patrol boat the C3 is badly needed though as a frigate or destroyer is probably overkill for the Falklands job. RFA Largs Bay is the ship that is there instead.

2 of the Tornadoes currently based at the Falklands

Before we go too over the top though lets remind ourselves that the Falklands, even with forces reduced as they are now, are still far better defended now than they were in 1982. And if you think the RN has suffered over the years just wait till you see the current state of the Argentinian armed forces.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pic of a penguin

On a more light-hearted note while reading the Jack Speak RN blog site i came across this story of HMS Endurance in South Georgia with this rather endearing picture. Looks like a great place to be, even though i do hate the cold!

CVF to be delayed

The government are out to save money again (well the country is hurtling towards bankruptcy anyway so why bother?) The new aircraft carriers due to arrive in 2014 and 2016 may now be delayed for a year or two. JSF is already going to delayed so this might not be too big a problem considering Harrier will be on it's last legs by the end of the next decade there might not be any aircraft around anyway. The scary thing is what else might be in the "cost cutting plans". Future Lynx apparently will survive but may be cut in numbers "slightly".

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Protester Removal Team (PRT) vehicle

The MOD police at HM Naval Base Clyde have taken delivery of a specially designed Protester Removal Team (PRT) vehicle. Its apparently not just an everyday patrol vehicle but optimised for countering the blockade tactics of protesters. Unfortunately it does not seem to be covered in spikes or have tear gas cannister launchers.

Instead "[I]t has an electrical inverter which powers tools without the need for a generator, purpose-built storage racks and an array of external spotlights to illuminate the area around the scene of an incident. It will be a great advantage to our team and will help keep the base free from disruption and better able to achieve our day-to-day business." I feel somewhat disappointed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

End game approaching for Mugabe in Zimbabwe as soldiers fight police?

Could the writing be finally on the wall for Bob Mugabe and his Zanu-PF regime as the sole power in Zimbabwe? The country has been gradually collapsing in chaos over the last few years but there are signs now the end point has been reached beyond things cannot get much worse if the country is still to operate. Cholera is rampant in the country, not helped by the fact the capital Harare has had it's water supply cut off because the authorities do not have the chemical to treat the water anymore.

However these things do not spell a possible end, the economy has been so bad for so long that inflation cannot be measured in any meaningful way and the currency has to be reprinted every few days as notes become worthless. What could finally spell the end are signs that the loyalty of the army is beginning to unravel and without the army even Mugabe will struggle to remain in charge. In Harare troops who had queued all day for money were denied it by the bank and then joined civilians in protest. When riot police turned up to disperse the protest the soldiers then fought the police. Groups of soldiers have also been looting shops and robbing passers-by.

First high power test for USAF laser cannon

The Boeing YAL-1 airborne laser laboratory has carried out it's first high power test, albeit parked in a hangar at Edwards AFB. The laser is a megawatt class chemical laser fitted in a Boeing 747-400F. Boeing are seeking funds to build a second YAL-1 based on the 747-8F (well they need every sale they can get) and also increase the role for the airborne laser to "multirole" though the USAF are only interested in the ABM role so far, that may change after an actual "shootdown".

Sapienta Vincit Tenebras

A little known part of the Royal Navy is 792 squadron, responsible for aerial targets (though i have covered UK aerial targets before). This article on Navy News offers a glimpse into the squadron's work. The title of this blog posting? Its the squadron's motto, which means "Wisdom Conquers Darkness". Indeed.

More information on the Mirach 100/5 as used by 792 (and pictured above) is here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

More British troops to be sent to Afghanistan next year?

British troop numbers in Iraq could be dramatically reduced from the current level of 4000 in Iraq soon but it is likely more troops will be going to join the 8000 odd already in Afghanistan fighting Terry Taliban. The UK defence chief has said there will be no 1-1 transfer though Obama is planning on an Iraq-like surge in Afghanistan and NATO allies including Britain will be expected to add more troops to the 20,000 extra the US are planning to send.

But just like the TV adverts used to say its not all fighting, British troops in Afghanistan have helped open an orphanage, a nursery and a women's centre. Now we guess the troops will be needed there to stop the Taliban from knocking them down.

ASTOR makes operational debut

The RAF's Airborne Standoff Radar (ASTOR) has made it's operational debut in Afghanistan after a 2 year delay. This is the UK's counterpart to the US' JSTARS and will support ground operations with it's synthetic aperture radar and ground moving target indication sensor. The 2 Sentinel R1s plus ground sites entered operational service today. The RAF has 2 other Sentinels with a 5th due to be handed over by Raytheon before the end of the year (which is close!) The system was supposed to enter service in November 2006 but has suffered a number of delays as is common with all MOD projects.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Chinese UAV developments

Some time ago i wrote an article on Chinese UAV development (the blog it was written on is now in archive mode i.e. no longer updated but you can still read the old article here).

Flight International has reported from the 2008 Zhuhai show where the latest Chinese UAV tech has been on display. The designs are very exotic (and some take... lets shall we say... plenty of inspiration from western designs) of course but then again UAV designs tend to be as you don't have to worry about it flopping spectacularly and killing someone (though of course those holding the purse strings might be less blase).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Vanguard could serve longer

Already the RN's Vanguard fleet of SSBNs have had their service lives extended from 25 years to 30 because of delays in designing and building a replacement now that could be extended further if there are more delays. The NAO says the current timetable is already challenging and if Astute-style delays occur then the Vanguard boats may have to stick around until later in the 2020s. Currently the fleet is due to start being withdrawn around 2023. The MOD are not counting on it but are looking to see what the implications might be. So it'll probably happen then.

UK to buy 3 JSF for carrier trials

The UK is expected to buy 3 early production F-35s for a joint test team for initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E). The UK is already preparing for when it embarks F-35Bs on it's new carriers, the CVF, which will begin building next year. HMS Illustrious is currently host to the VAAC Harrier (below) testbed to help develop a rolling vertical take off technique for the future JSF fleet.

An 11 day "visualisation and experimentation exercise" has recently been concluded to simulate the operation of the JSF on the CVF (say that 3 times fast, while drunk). The exercise saw 8-12 sorties "performed" a day to see how operations could be sustained with the type. This apparently allowed BAE to "de-risk" the applications, oh how i love that word de-risk!

USAF experimenting with synthetic fuel

The US Air Force are trialling synthetic fuel for it's aircraft based on natural gas. Aircraft from it's fighter, trainer and transport fleets have all been trialled or will be with the fuel, the F-22 recently conducting flight tests with the fuel and no anomalies were found. A T-38 is currently in flight test and a C-5 will begin trials next month. Trials will also take place with the C-130, A-10, RQ-4 and MQ-9. The USAF aims to have it's entire fleet certified by 2011 and by 2016 have half it's domestic fuel needs met by synthetic fuels derived from coal and natural gas by the Fischer-Tropsch process.

Syntroleum has produced over 400,000 gallons of fuel using the Fischer-Tropsch process and has been working with the USAF on the right fuel blend. It would be interesting to know what the RAF are doing on this, if anything.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

28 more years of Type 23s

A parliamentary answer by Bob Ainsworth, the Minister of Defence, has revealed the planned out-of-service dates for the Royal Navy's fleet of Type 22 and 23 frigates and they are going to around for longer than was thought. The Type 22s are now due for retirement between 2019 (HMS Cornwall) and 2022 (HMS Chatham) and the Type 23s between 2023 (HMS Argyll) and 2036 (HMS St Albans). Which means we have 28 more years of the Type 23 to come, personally as its my favourite ship i am not complaining about it!

HMS Cornwall, 11 years to go

As both types are going to be around for some time yet we can expect updates to their armaments and sensors in the years to come. Seawolf will be replaced by a new missile, the CAMM around 2018 (so the Type 23s are likely to receive it). The Type 23s are already due to receive / are receiving the BAE Systems Insyte Artisan 3D Radar.

Indeed HMS Sutherland has just completed a refit and update which includes improved radar and sonar and Seawolf Mid-life Update.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Royal Navy to lead EU armada against pirates

An EU fleet under British command will, next month begin to tackle the piracy problem off the horn of Africa. The EU fleet, Operation Atalanta, will be led by HMS Northumberland though the rest of the fleet is currently unknown though should include ships from 10 countries. Originally the fleet was going to protect aid ships but now it will have a beefed up mandate and EU defence chiefs will work out rules of engagement. Presumably that means they shouldn't be too mean to the pirates who are merely misunderstood.

Merlin and Northumberland's helipad

Meanwhile pirates captured earlier by HMS Cumberland have been handed over to the Kenyan police. HMS Cumberland and RFA Wave Knight (which delivered the pirates to the Kenyan Old Bill) are in the region and so one assumes they will also be part of "Atalanta".

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Time for the media & public to ask about the Royal Navy

The timing was perfect, the story of the hijacked oil tanker off Kenya appearing in the same bulletin as news that the largest LNG tanker yet has arrived at the UK and will form an important future part of our energy supply. The timing perfect as hopefully many people would be able to add 2 to 2 and make 5. If tankers loaded full of energy from the Middle East are to be part of our energy future then surely it would be a bad thing if they are hijacked en route right? Well hopefully it was a brief thought before attention changed to Strictly Come Sequins.

And maybe members of the public might now think about the Royal Navy and whether it is capable of protecting our energy shipments. So the time has come for the media to reveal the state of the surface fleet, how much it has declined in numbers under Labour and to ask if it can still meet the needs of our future security and whether it is ready for it's vital future role (now of course i know and you should know it has always been vital but i fear the mass of the public do not appreciate that and think all those goods on the shelves of Tesco appear by magic from the far off lands where they are grown/made).

This would require politicians and the public taking defence seriously however. Which tends to only happen when something bad has happened and the horse has already bolted. Some people have also expressed the opinion that the money spent on the navy and projects like CVF was wasted and that money should instead be spent on the troops fighting in AFghanistan and Iraq currently. OK back onto X Factor then, truly important matters.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pirates seize oil tanker with British crew members

Pirates have seized the Sirius Star, an oil tanker with British crew members, in the Indian Ocean and are holding it near the Somali coast. Other crew members are from Croatia, the Philippines, Poland and Saudi Arabia. The tanker is carrying 2 million barrels of oil and is said to be the pirates "most audacious" attack for some time. The double shock in this is the size of the prize and the fact it was seized some way outside the usual pirate operation areas and shows the sophistication of the modern day pirate. No more peg-legs and hard tack, more like GPS navigation and satellite phones me hearties.

Eagle1's blog has excellent coverage of this and similar issues and you can check out a live piracy map here.

First FutureLynx airframe delivered

GKN Aerospace has delivered the first airframe of the FutureLynx to AgustaWestland. FutureLynx has apparently 80% less parts than the previous SuperLynx achieved by use of "monolithic machine components" which sounds rather disturbing but i assume just means "big bits". Three-dimensional digital modelling was also used, well it is 2008 but hey yes it does deserve a big-up.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

British and Russian warships chase away Somali pirates

While their governments might be at loggerheads Royal Navy and Russian Navy units repelled an attack by Somali pirates on a Danish registered freighter in the troubled seas off Somalia. HMS Cumberland and the Russian frigate Neustrashimy both sent up helicopters to chase away the pirates attacking the cargo ship but it is unknown if either opened fire on the pirates.

RFS Neustrashimy (FF 712)

Update : RM Commandos killed 2 pirates and a third later died. What is the FCO going to say now? Surely the pirates' human rights were infringed! The Times has some pics, interestingly it also says the RN were unaware of the Russians also taking part in this.

Real-time ship tracker

Now this is rather cool, a real time tracker of civilian ships using Automatic Identification System (AIS). Unfortunately not all areas of the globe are covered but those that are are very interesting, especially choke points like the Strait of Gilbraltar where you can see a real traffic jam of ships.

Nuclear leak from RN submarine

280 litres of toxic coolant has leaked from a faulty hose as it was being pumped from HMS Trafalgar. The liquid, which includes tritium, leaked into the River Tamar as the coolent was being drained from the submarine at Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth. The incident was said to be the worst spillage of contaminated material at the base for 23 years. A spokesman said "The environmental risk is assessed to be negligible and analysis of river water has not shown any detectable contamination." but i doubt he'll be swimming in the river any time soon.

The worst aspect of this is that the leak occurred on November 7th but the council was not told until the 11th.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Old meets new on the Clyde

Type 42 destroyer HMS Edinburgh sailed up the river Clyde as part of the Remembrance Day events in Glasgow and encountered it's replacement in the guide of Type 45 destroyers HMS Dauntless and Daring. The difference in size is easily apparent in this picture.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

We will never forget

Nice and safe in our comfortable skinny latte western world let us remember the sacrifice of those who fell and suffered to give us the peace we have enjoyed since 1945, in the west at least. Those who fell on foreign fields in the cause of freedom and not just those who fell, those who survived yet were changed forever more. Those also who kept the home fires burning. Those who served and continue to serve. We will never forget.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Georgia busted over South Ossetia attack?

Accounts by independent observers appear to cast doubt on Georgian claims that it was acting in self-defence against Russia and South Ossetia in the Summer's short war which left Georgia's military crippled by Russia. The accounts suggest Georgia attacked the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali with indiscriminate shell and rocket fire and not the surgical strikes the Georgians have claimed. The claims that the attack was in response to attacks on Georgian villages earlier has not been able to be verified. Needless to say the Georgians dispute the observers. They also dispute the findings by a human right's group that Georgia used cluster bombs against civilians, as did Russia.

As a reminder that the region is a powerkeg in neighbouring North Ossetia 12 people were killed by a female suicide bomber in the capital.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Risk of delay to Vanguard replacement?

The National Audit Office is warning that the MOD needs to keep a tight control of the development and budget of the next generation Royal Navy SSBNs to replace the Vanguard class in the mid-2020s. Otherwise they warn the massive project worth up to 20 billion pounds could face delays and cost overruns (but surely this is a MOD tradition?) Personally i don't believe the Astute problems (which have seen a delay of 41 months according to the article) will occur again as that was largely due to the too large a gap being left between submarine building programmes that saw the skill base decline.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fire at ICBM silo rages undetected for 5 days

A fire at a Minuteman III ICBM silo in the USA raged undetected for 5 days. The fire was caused by a faulty battery charger in an equipment room and was only detected by repair crews later on. The USAF say there was only a minuscule chance of the missile as the fire did not reach the launch tube. If it had then the missile could have exploded which would have been rather unpleasant. Although the warhead itself would be unlikely to detonate it would likely be badly damaged and could have released radioactive material into the environment. Of concern to experts is the admission that duct tape is being used on cabling and other sloppy activity.

Monday, October 27, 2008

New support contract for RAF Tristars

Marshall Aerospace has been awarded a support contract to maintain the RAF's fleet of Tristar tanker transports until they are replaced (hopefully) by Airbus A330s from 2011. Marshall have also been awarded a separate contract to develop a fuel tank inerting system for the Tristar C2s.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Everyone is on about nuclear missiles

Following the fall of Communism (and hence the end of the Cold War) and then the "War on Terror" that following 9-11 the ICBM and it's submarine launched cousin appeared to be as obsolete as the mace, at least to the uneducated and especially journalists but the fact is they are the ultimate guarantor of sovereignty. What was the first thing the Russians put money into and started to revamp once they got over the chaos of the fall of the USSR (hint : it wasn't tanks)?

No not phallic in the slightest

So a few articles on nuclear missiles to look at. Firstly Russia is looking to counter US anti-ballistic missile systems by improving it's Strategic Missile Forces. New types of silo and mobile ballistic missiles will be deployed including the 5th generation RS-24 and RS-12M2 Topol-Ms. The new generation of missiles will presumably include penaids designed to defeat missile defence systems.

The RS-24 is an interesting missile, which will be one of the main types of Russian ICBM up until 2050 replacing SS-18/19s and able to carry up to 10
independently targetable warheads and can be launched from a mobile launcher. Deployment will begin next year.

Russia has held test firings of the RS-18 ICBM, RS-12M and R-29RM SLBMs recently. India has begun a project to develop it's own missile that can travel over 5000km (which is into ICBM territory) known as the Agni-V project. Meanwhile China is looking into anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), conventionally or nuclear armed missiles that would be launched against high-value naval targets (such as aircraft carriers). Getting the required accuracy and terminal guidance sound like interesting problems.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

RAF receives first Tranche 2 Typhoon

Deliveries of the Tranche 2 Typhoon have begun to the RAF with the first of 89 (article says 91 though other sources, including the RAF's own site, say 89) aircraft being delivered to RAF Coningsby for final checks before flight trials begin. Tranche 2 aircraft will have new mission computers required for future weapons like Meteor and Storm Shadow.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vigilant begins overhaul

RN SSBN Vigilant has arrived at Devonport for a three-year long overhaul that will then allow it to remain in service until the 2020s. The overhaul will include refuelling of the submarine's reactor as well as a number of other improvements as the submarine is stripped and totally overhauled.

The future battlefield... in orbit?

I have written about space warfare before but it seems the Chinese may be getting interested in it. The recent Shenzhou-7 of course conducted the first Chinese spacewalk but maybe more interestingly the space ship passed very close to the International Space Station.

After launching a micro-satellite known as BX-1 Shenzhou-7 passed within 45km of the ISS. Worryingly BX-1 began drifting away from it's intended trajectory just after it was launched. Although still some way off this is close in space terms and the greater speed of BX-1 than the ISS makes it doubtful the ISS could react if BX-1 was sent on an intercept.

Photo of Shenzhou-7 taken from BX-1

There is speculation that the PLA, who co-run the Shenzhou programme with civil authorities, are testing BX-1 for it's suitability as a co-orbital ASAT weapon.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Farewell to Heron flight

The RN's Heron flight, the Fleet Air Army's operational support and communications unit, is being withdrawn in a cost saving measure. The flight's Jetstream T3 aircraft have been used for transporting personnel and equipment around the UK and Europe but now the MOD think they can save half a million pounds by personnel using commercial airlines instead. The aircraft have gone into storage pending disposal.

Turbulent returns to (hopefully calm) sea

Trafalgar class submarine HMS Turbulent has returned to the sea following a refit and upgrade. Turbulent received several key upgrades as part of the Warship Support Modernisation Initiative (WSMI) including new communications and IT systems. The communications update gratly improves interoperability with allied forces. Turbulent has also been fitted with Tomahawk Block IV and also has had improvments to it's sonar and command systems.

Lusty completes sea training

HMS Illustrious has completed her Operational Sea Training (OST) whch saw crews conducting training in aviation, warfare, damage control, seamanship and other operational duties. Illustrious will now take part in the NATO Joint Warrior exercise in the North Sea. In November she will go to London to take part in Remembrance Sunday.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Superb bows out

Swiftsure class nuclear submarine HMS Superb will de-commisson this week at Plymouth after 30 years of service. Superb entered service in 1976 and became well known during the Falklands War when it was supposed to be in the area after being spotted sailing from Gibraltar (though in fact was not in the area but the press speculation was useful to the RN). Superb also was involved in an accident in the Red Sea earlier in the year which probably prompted the slightly earlier de-commissoning than intended (was due to be in 2009 i believe).

Ocean returns to ocean

Royal Navy amphibious warfare ship HMS Ocean has returned to the sea following her £35 million refit. Intensive sea trials will be carried out to test the equipment and the personnel. Ocean has had her accommodation improved for crew and soldiers being carried. Communications, weapon defence and aviation handling equipment has also been improved to support types like the Apache.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New equipment shown off

New equipment procured for the British efforts in Afghanistan have been shown off on Salisbury Plain including UAVs, vehicles and small arms. The equipment has been procured using the Urgent Operational Requirements (UOR) process, a £3 billion fund for needed equipment that comes from the Treasury separate to the defence budget (which is likely to be pounded later on to get the money back, probably from the Navy). Equipment includes the Desert Hawk 3 UAV, the Mastiff patrol vehicle and new sniper rifles.

"No i don't feel daft at all..."

More drug busts, this time closer to home

The Royal Navy has caught another boat carrying drugs, this time of the Cornish coast however and not in the Caribbean. In a joint operation between the Navy and the Serious Organised Crime Agency HMS Argyll and 2 Customs boats caught the yacht Ronin carrying 100KG of cocaine. Pity they can't sell it to afford another Type 45.