Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Daring @ Portsmouth

HMS Daring, the first T45 is getting the press treatment as it arrives at Portsmouth for the first time. It even appeared in my local newspaper (and i live as far from the sea as its possible to get!) The occaision was used to officially announce the PAAMS missiles on Daring will be known as Sea Viper in RN service. Daring is hoped to enter full service with the RN late next year.

Daring's skipper Captain Paul Bennett is blogging about taking the ship to it's new home, i love web 2.0 social media.

Royal Navy in "isn't quite dead yet" shocker

To prove the RN isn't quite dead despite the best efforts of New Labour the largest deployment for several years, Taurus 09, is about to depart to the Far East until August. A 12 ship fleet, which includes a US and a French destroyer, will be led by HMS Bulwark and also include the recently refitted HMS Ocean, 2 Type 23 frigates, 4 RFAs and 2 Trafalgar class SSNs.

The deployment which includes a Royal Marines detachment will be conducting amphibious exercises in the Mediterranean and South East Asia.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Argus goes to refit

The Royal Navy Fleet Auxiliary and UK Primary Casualty Receiving Facility RFA Argus has begun it's latest refit and will have it's medical facilities upgraded including new "CT scanning equipment, used to assess casualties by 3D X-ray imagery, as well as new sterilising kit". Argus will also become "greener" with the sewage handling and air conditioning systems upgraded to use more environmentally friendly gases. Crew accommodation will also be improved in the £23 million refit.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Future Army Structure Next Steps

The head of the British Army General Sir Richard Dannatt has announced a number of changes to the structure of the army to better cope with the current strategic need (i.e. fighting insurgents) and also to try and retain experienced soldiers. The army's brigades will be reduced from 10 to 6 which will also be 4000 men each, larger than before. These changes will allow for greater time between combat operations which is hoped will reduce the strain on service personnel and their families.

Now what was this you said about me having to go back again already?

Under the new structure brigades will consist of "a battalion of Challenger 2 tanks, one of armoured reconnaissance, an armoured infantry battalion in Warriors, a mechanised infantry battalion in Bulldog armoured vehicles and two "light role" infantry battalions."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Russian link to MOD/RN cyberattack?

An internet virus that has attacked various MOD and Royal Navy computers has apparently sent e-mails from the computers to a server in Russia. Some RAF e-mails have also been sent to servers in Russia though there is no evidence of Russian government (or even Russian civilian) involvement. Russia do have a recent history of cyber warfare though.

You never had these problems back in the days of Big Iron

Georgia was subject to cyber attacks as part of the general Russian effort against them in last year's South Ossetian conflict. Back in 2007 Estonia came under heavy cyber attack, Estonia accusing Russia of being behind it, Russia confirmed that they had the ability to conduct such attacks though it was elements of a non-Russian organisation based in Transnistria that claimed responsibility.

A400M delays force look at alternatives

Further delays to the Airbus A400M are forcing the RAF to look to alternatives. The problem the air force has are it's ageing C-130K Hercules which are now due to expire before they can be replaced by the A400M. The UK defence secretary said a 3 to 4 year delay in A400M would not be accepted. EADS have proposed A330 as an interim measure, though the RAF already have some on order for it's future tankers. More C-17s would probably be the RAF's best choice though of course with any procurement this days the biggest problem will be finding the money for it.

Update (19/01/09) : the RAF is looking at "leasing or procuring" either C-17s and C-130s or extending the lives of the C-130Ks which need replacing around 2012. Some of the C-130Ks may be able to stretch to 2014.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Nimrod MRA4 service support, maybe R1 replacement

BAE Systems have been awarded a contract to develop and put into place a support system for the future fleet of Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol (& various other things aircraft). BAE already support the MR2 and R1 fleets of course. The 3 development MRA4s are being considered for the R1 replacement as an alternative to purchasing ex-USAF RC-135 Rivet Joints.

MOD & RN hit by computer virus

A number of Ministry of Defence systems have been infected by a computer virus including the admin networks aboard Royal Navy warships. NavyStar (N*) is the system infected, luckily it doesn't do anything too dangerous like launch Trident missiles but is used for "storekeeping, email and similar support functions". The virus was likely transferred as "N* ship nets connect to wider networks by shore connection when vessels are in harbour and using satcomms when at sea". The major impact has been the loss of the e-mail service which sailors use to keep in touch with family and friends.

Don't worry lads, this is fine. (Bridge controls from HMS Cumberland)

The MOD said "no command or operational systems had been affected". So now accidental nuclear war then. That's good. The RAF has also been affected.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Brave deeds of WW2 carrier pigeons remembered

In WW2 RAF bomber crews took carrier pigeons with them to send a distress message if the plane was shot down. (A very interesting book on all this kind of thing is "Shot down & in the drink" incidentally.) Sam the pigeon who rode with bomber crews from RAF Linton-on-Ouse has been honoured. Sam was injured over Berlin when a piece of shrapnel blew his beak off. The box Sam was in at the time still exists, as does the hole. Sam survived the injury thanks to care from the crew who were able to look after Sam as well as bomb the Hun. Well that is why the British won the war of course.

Harold Wood, who looked after Sam and other pigeons along with Sam's box. Pigeon is unnamed.

On a more serious note we should always remember the animals who died for the armed forces in warfare, unlike the humans (most of the time) the animals didn't have a choice in the matter!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Terrorists could use insects as weapon

Terrorists could apparently use insect-based weapons in future attacks bringing insects into a foreign country to spread deadly disease. Apparently it would be easier than creating a nuclear weapon, indeed. The problem for terrorists would be the unpredictability of the insect weapon. Never work with children or animals they say, or bugs carrying Rift Valley Fever.

Not quite like this, insecticon picture from here.