Defence CommitteeWritten evidence from Admiral Sir John Woodward GBE KCB and colleagues

Executive Summary

(i) The Defence Committee remit to “inquire into the effectiveness of the operation and the UK Forces’ role in Libya” is understood to embrace cost as well as operational effectiveness. This submission will provide an objective assessment of each measure of effectiveness responding to the specific questions that the Committee ask and will propose “Changes in The Way We Do Things” in order to increase capabilities, effectiveness and efficiency.

(ii) Given that Libya has been the first new challenge to UK’s Armed Forces since the SDSR, it is inevitable that the answers to the Committee’s specific question must also express wider arguments concerning the state of UK’s Armed Services consequent upon the SDSR.

(iii) It will:

(a)Examine the cost effectiveness of the current Operation in Libya and the significance to future Defence assumptions, indicating any penalties of cost to the nation and or of declining Defence capabilities.

(b)Examine the utility and effectiveness of air power when deployed as a force separate from a maritime or land strategy.

Introduction to the Submitters

(iv) This Submission has been prepared by Members of the Phoenix Think Tank:

Admiral Sir John Woodward GBE KCB—Commander Carrier Battle Group, Falklands, 1982.

Commander N D MacCartan-Ward DSC AFC—Air Warfare Instructor.

Captain Michael Clapp CB—Commander Amphibious Task Group, Falklands 1982.

Commander Laon S G Hulme OBE—MiD Falklands War—Two Sea Commands.

Dr Paul Arnison-Newgass—Royal Dragoons, Army Air Corps, CMP RAF, RAMC (TA), Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

And is supported by:

Admiral Sir Ian Garnett KCB—formerly Chief of Joint Operations and Chief of Staff, SHAPE.

Admiral Sir John Devereux Treacher KCB—formerly CINC Fleet and Vice CNS.

Major General Julian H A Thompson CB OBE Royal Marines.

Rear Admiral Terry Loughran CB FRAeS—Command of HMS Ark Royal (Bosnia) and Flag Officer Naval Aviation.

Dr Harry Bennett—Associate Professor History, University of Plymouth.

Alexander Clarke—MSc, BA, PhD Candidate Kings College London (War Studies).

C J A COPE—Political Editor, Warship World magazine.

Lieutenant-Commander Lester May RN.

Subject

(v) This submission will address the following areas of interest iterated by the Committee:

A.The effectiveness of the on-going mission to protect civilians in Libya—the extent and success of coordination of efforts with French and US forces in particular.

B.The costs of the operation and its implications for other UK operations.

C.How capability decisions taken in the SDSR and subsequent policy documents have affected our contribution in Libya.

D.The implications of this operation for the outcomes of the SDSR.

E.The effectiveness of NATO command structures in the preparation and conduct of operations in Libya.

F.The “end game”: what would a successful outcome look like and how do current operations contribute to achieving this?

G.The broader implications of the intervention in Libya in the context of reacting to instability in the wider region.

And then propose:

Any changes required to the “Way We Do Things”.

Introduction

1. The Committee is wise to undertake this review of the response of UK’s Armed Forces to Libya but also, crucially, to heed the wider implications for the nation’s defence forces and priorities unmasked by this particular deployment—and the consequences of the SDSR.

2. Libya represents precisely the kind of unpredictable, untidy mix of a humanitarian/combat mission to which British Armed Services have been hitherto supremely well able to commit. They have had robust resources to deploy flexibly, adapting to the special circumstances and above all they have had the capabilities and attitudes generic to British service personnel. It is now questionable whether the UK has retained such capabilities.

3. Libya fits well into Donald Rumsfeld’s category of known unknowns: that is “predictably unpredictable, but entirely certain to happen”. That neither Libya nor the so-called “Arab Spring” (instability across the Middle East) was predicted as Strategic Assumptions by the SDSR must ask grave questions of the National Security Strategy (NSS) planners who apparently chose to ignore such hidden risks. It calls into question therefore the very basis of the SDSR and most crucially its decision to place the Armed Forces effectively in limbo until 2020.

4. It is therefore, respectfully submitted that in addition to the specified areas of enquiry the Committee will wish to note the relevance of relating the UK’s response to Libya to future defence capabilities and also the resultant risks taken/accepted together with any degraded national defence capabilities and expectations. A further question that over-arches the specific areas of review is: “How can we ensure a more cost-effective and operationally effective capability for our Armed Forces in the future?”

The Areas of Interest

A. The effectiveness of the on-going mission to protect civilians in Libya—the extent and success of coordination of efforts with French and US forces in particular

The Protection of Civilians/Rebel Forces

1. It may be noted that Resolution 1973 specifically authorised the protection of civilians and the imposition of a no-fly zone. It excluded direct materiel support for the “rebels” and the contribution of land forces. Any advantages to the rebel cause resultant upon allied actions were purely co-incidental. A wider definition of “civilians” might have included the rebel fighters who were after all not a part of an established army.

2. Until the Libyan conflict is resolved, any final judgement on the effectiveness of the mission to protect civilians/rebel forces might be considered premature. However, the civilian population and rebel forces under siege by Colonel Gaddafi’s military offensive have regularly stated that the NATO offensive air support effort has been insufficient and less than effective in those areas where they are under most pressure.

3. The “disconnect” between those planning the air strike missions and the “rebel forces on the ground” has doubtless resulted from the obfuscation in the UN Resolution and unspecified political objectives and intentions. Closer integration with the rebel forces and “real time” kinetic responses would have greatly improved the allied ability to protect civilians—particularly after the first stage of bombardment. This lack of tactical cohesiveness has arguably resulted from the deliberate lack of integration between the two parties and this forms the basis of a major strategic lesson to be learned from Operation Ellamy/Unified Protector.

4. It demonstrates clearly that, when operating in isolation, air power lacks that dynamic effectiveness necessary for the rapid projection of power and fulfilment of a military mission in the national interest—compared to air power that is cohesively integrated with and operationally controlled by the combat forces on the ground (Army) or from the sea (Navy).

Coordination of Effort

Initial Phase of Operation

5. The UK Government deserves credit for its prompt and successful influence in galvanising the Security Council into Resolution 1973—accepted by 34 nations of whom 16 promised material support eg aircraft, ships, use of facilities. This was an achievement notwithstanding the military variability of delivery. Reversion of command and control to remote Naples may have been inevitable given the complexity of assets and resources but seems to have diluted and blunted the response. The unanswered question that may emerge is “had the right mix of assets been available from fewer nations from the outset would tighter and more responsive operational control have resulted?” While the dramatic entry of RAF fast jets and their huge logistical train may have been unnecessary (See “B”, below), the political benefits of wider participation, especially of Arab nations cannot be overlooked—although it is not clear whether they needed to be swept up into a NATO operation or if as in the Indian Ocean alliance they could not have been more simply established under definable “in theatre” command.

6. Immediately following the declaration of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 it was clear that the United States, France and Britain had already made appropriate preparations for the enforcement of the desired No-Fly Zone. The United States Navy and the Royal Navy had prepositioned appropriate warships within weapons’ range of Libyan air defence targets but President Obama decided not to commit the strike carrier that was available in the Red Sea to the Operation; ostensibly because he did not wish the United States to be seen to be the primary enforcer of the No-Fly Zone. However, he did commit three important elements of the United States Navy and these played a most important part in gaining and maintaining military momentum:

(a)Carrier borne United States Marine Corps Harrier AV-8B+ aircraft from the Assault ship USS Kearsarge conducted more than two strike missions per aircraft per day from the very moment that United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 was approved.

(b)United States Navy F-18 Growler aircraft had been transferred from the Iraq Theatre and successfully jammed all Libyan air defence radar and surface-to-air missile systems.

(c)United States Navy Tomahawk-fitted warships acting in concert with the F-18 Growler aircraft and the Royal Navy submarine, HMS Triumph, destroyed the majority of the Libyan air defence network within some 35 minutes of the commencement of the operation and by doing so made possible unhindered subsequent air strikes.

7. This was a textbook example of excellent coordination and extremely rapid response with command and control of integrated air power projected from the sea by two major NATO navies acting in concert while then under national command and control in theatre. (This command and control was subsequently transferred to NATO and executed from a remote headquarters in Italy).

8. Shortly after the destruction of the Libyan air defences, the French were able to launch land-based combat strike missions against the Libyan mainland thanks to their geographical proximity to that country. They also mobilised their aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle which remained offshore and dedicated to projecting airpower from the sea.

Sustained Phase of Operations

9. After the initial and successful destruction of Libya’s air defence capability by maritime air and surface units, land-based fighter aircraft with supporting tankers and AEW/EW aircraft were deployed by various nations to airfields in the Mediterranean. Control of Operation Unified Protector (including the British element under Operation Ellamy) was transferred from the United States Navy to NATO—and principally to NATO’s land-based air representatives.

10. De facto, this transfer of control removed operational decision-making from the in-theatre naval commander with full command, control and integrated intelligence facilities to an isolated “committee” far removed from the scene of action and without the benefit of “real-time appreciation of” or “the ability to respond sufficiently rapidly to” any on-going combat situation. This command and control weakness was further exacerbated by the withdrawal of the USS Kearsarge and its Harriers from the combat theatre. Without the Harriers and prior to Charles de Gaulle and its Rafale fighters being available (and later HMS Ocean with embarked Army Air Corps Apache attack helicopters), the ability to attack and destroy mobile Libyan military threats before they had inflicted significant damage on the Libyan population and rebel fighters was greatly diminished. Distant land based airpower was proving less responsive and less effective than sea-based from the outset.

11. After the successful first phase destruction of major Libyan military targets requiring maximal target penetration, the operational requirement quickly changed to real-time kinetic tactical targeting in response to recce identification—particularly when smaller moving targets were actually in contact with the rebels. Distant land based airpower which often required a 24 hour delay to respond, quickly proved far less effective than sea-based organic air power in dynamically changing battle situations. While the UK’s fast jets undoubtedly contributed to maintaining total air supremacy, they were not best suited to this kind of engagement (see “E”, Para 8 & 9, below) for which US Harriers were purpose-built (as were UK’s) and as later were UK’s embarked Apaches.

Discussion

12. The maritime forces of the United States, France and Britain (including integrated surface and sub-surface units and sea-based airpower) were co-ordinated successfully to destroy the majority of Libyan air defence capability within hours of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 being agreed.

13. However, although the coordination of prepositioned naval assets was exemplary during the initial phase of operations, more than 95% of the effective strike power was provided by the United States Navy. Britain’s contribution, in isolation, would have had little effect on Libya’s air defence infrastructure. The visible demonstration of this successful sea-based power projection that resulted in the destruction of the Libyan air defences calls into question the rationale of SDSR 2010 which has a clear bias in favour of land-based aircraft versus sea-based aircraft.

14. While late in theatre, the UK found it necessary to deploy major logistical support and infrastructure resources to Gioia del Colle, Akrotiri and other air bases “relatively” close to Libya to demonstrate land-based air capabilities. This, together with the necessary over-land resupply convoys, resulted in significant expense to the UK taxpayer at a time when severe austerity measures were being put in place by the Government. These major logistics support costs could have been significantly reduced through sea-based airpower. It is apposite to note the Italian viewpoint on this point: Vice Admiral Giuseppe de Giorgi (Inspector of the Italian Navy Schools, formerly Chief of Staff of the Commander in Chief Fleet, Italian Navy) said at RUSI recently that the Italians had deployed their carrier because flying a Harrier from a carrier was 1/8 cost of Tornado and 1/10 cost of Typhoon.

15. With land-based air units operating from different airfields throughout the Mediterranean (fighters from Gioia del Colle; air-to-air refuelling tankers, AWACS and ISTAR aircraft from Sicily and Akrotiri), the planning and execution of coordinated combat strike missions was a much slower and less effective process than that clearly demonstrated by sea-based air: where all command, control and replenishment functions are immediately available on site/within the carrier group thereby enhancing the effectiveness of power projection missions against mobile Libyan armour targets.

16. As a clear demonstration of constant readiness to act in accordance with the UK’s foreign policy and national interests, it should be noted that all maritime forces involved in the Libya mission were standing naval forces that had already been deployed for their normal tasks of defending trade routes and overseas interests and other peacekeeping operations. As such, the additional maritime cost to the taxpayer resulting from their deployment off Libya was largely related to weapons expenditure.

17. It is said that:

“The benefit of experience is to be able to recognise when one is making the same mistake for a second time”.

It is worthy of note that a similar situation occurred in 1956 during the politically ill-fated Suez campaign. While the French Air Force did manage to operate aircraft from Israel and were relatively close to the target areas the RAF had to fly long distances from Cyprus. The most effective sorties were therefore those made by carrier-borne aircraft. (See Phoenix Think Tank paper, “History of the Fleet Air Arm”.)

18. In summary: coordination, command and control and intelligence integration whilst tight and effective during the initial combat phase of the Libyan operation (as a result of 95% of air effort being provided by the US) this became significantly less effective during the second phase when under NATO control from Naples at the very time that the Libyan people’s humanitarian and combat requirements were for closer more responsive and much more timely support.

B. The costs of the operation and its implications for other UK operations

Costs of the operation

Official costs

1. Statements by Government Ministers, the MoD and the Treasury have yet to give a realistic empirical cost to the taxpayer of Operation Ellamy. Parliament has been told that the costs of this Operation are being covered by the Treasury Contingency Reserve Fund (CRV) but, to date, the National Audit Office (NAO) has not been provided full details on this matter.

2. When the NAO is able to address this issue, it would be prudent for that office to look at the “full picture” including:

(a)Administrative Support Costs of all elements involved in Operation Ellamy including UK base support costings.

(b)Deployed Air Units Airframe costs per hours flown; fuel usage costs including air-to-air refuelling of combat aircraft and the logistic support of deployed land-based air units; weapons transport and storage costs; hotel costs, allowances and subsistence costs of deployed units; rental costs associated with the use of foreign sovereign bases such as Gioia del Colle; etc.

(c)Sea. Additional costs incurred by involvement in Operation Ellamy over and above those that would be attributable to the normal operation of such platforms when conducting standing operational commitments.

3. Only with such complete costings available will the true cost of Britain’s land-based air initiative over Libya be known and the relative costs of sea-based air determined to conclude the additional costs being borne by the UK taxpayer.

Estimated costs

4. Some official cost figures have been made available through various answers given in the House of Commons and House of Lords. In depth aviation expertise is able to provide realistic figures for fuel consumption of various aircraft types whether sea-based or land-based. The number of missions flown by attack aircraft can be deduced from various MoD Updates as well as a reasonable estimate of the number of supporting missions flown by air-to-air refuelling tankers, AEW and EW aircraft and logistic support flights.

5. A reasoned compilation of these estimated figures for six months duration of Operation Ellamy has therefore been conducted to arrive at a suggested overall cost of the land-based air initiative. A further cost has been estimated to show what might have been achieved cost-wise if sea-based air had been available instead. These figures are given at Annex A and B to this Area of Interest for ease of reference and, although certain details may be questioned by official MoD sources, they demonstrate a major disparity:

(a)A land-based air cost for Operation Ellamy of approximately £900 million.

(b)An equivalent sea-based air cost of approximately £150 million.

6. If administrative support costs are added to these figures as suggested at paragraph 2 above, the resultant overall costs would be as follows:

(a)Land-based air cost for Operation Ellamy of approximately £1.35 billion.

(b)An equivalent sea-based air cost of approximately £0.245 billion.

Implications for other UK operations

7. The major disparity in cost between contingency operations overseas conducted by land-based air and sea-based air as given at paragraphs 4 to 6, above, calls into question the way ahead determined by SDSR 2010. The figures clearly show that sea-based air operations offshore are significantly more cost-effective than land-based air operations—even for operations such as Ellamy where Allied sovereign air bases relatively close to the theatre of action can be relied upon.

8. It is of significant relevance and importance that Operation Ellamy has demonstrated that we in Britain can no longer rely upon the air defence and offensive air support “umbrella” of the United States Navy carrier fleet. Should the UK be required to protect our national overseas interests beyond the Mediterranean theatre:

(a)United States Navy air support must not be assumed,

(b)There may be no Commonwealth or Allied sovereign or “friendly” air bases available to support the deployment of UK Land-Based Air assets and overland resupply may not be possible,

(c)If available, any such foreign sovereign base might be at risk of attack by those that would wish to do the UK harm (making the deployment of land-based air assets a major risk), or

(d)Such a base is likely to be at extended range from the UK and the combat theatre thereby incurring logarithmically increased costs of deployment, logistic and combat support. See Figure 1 and 2, below.

9. In Figure 1, below, the mission costs for land-based air at 600 miles (Libya) are four times that of sea-based air. The mission costs from Akrotiri, Cyprus to the Strait of Hormuz (1,500 miles) would be 40 times that of sea-based air.

Figure 1

LAND-BASED AIR VERSUS SEA-BASED AIR COSTS AT 1,500 MILES

10. Figure 2, below, demonstrates that land-based air strike missions flown from Ascension Island to the Falklands would be more than 100 times the cost of equivalent sea-based air support assuming the massive air-to-air refuelling effort became available.

Figure 2

LAND-BASED AIR VERSUS SEA-BASED AIR COSTS AT 4,000 MILES

Deterrence

11. The ability to project effective and balanced military power worldwide is a very cost-effective tool for deterring those that would harm our interests and for preventing escalation of any “disagreement” into “full-blown combat operations”. Sea-based airpower is an important element of any power projection capability, along with attack submarines, amphibious naval units and mobile ground forces (eg the Royal Marines). And it becomes the vital element of power projection capability when there is no other cost/operationally effective ability to deploy land-based air power.

12. Prior to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 being declared, the land-based air assets of the UK and other nations arguably presented Colonel Gaddafi with no immediate threat and did not deter his actions in any way at all. The presence of a full British carrier air group (and the transfer of the US strike carrier air group from the Red Sea) in Libyan waters would have provided a much clearer declaration of intent and a clear visible deterrence.

13. SDSR 2010 removed Britain’s ability to demonstrate such intent and deterrence. Soon after the start of the Libyan campaign, President Obama demonstrated a reluctance to become too involved in the leadership of Operation Unified Protector and, by failing to move the Red Sea carrier group into Libyan waters, failed to demonstrate US intent and thereby failed to deter. His lack of understanding of the value of deterrence through visible military presence is apparently mirrored by SDSR actions.

Discussion

14. The Defence Internal Brief, SERIAL: 2011DIB/72 DATE: 3 August 2011, “Publication of the House of Commons Defence Committee Report on the Strategic Defence and Security Review and the National Security Strategy” circulated by the Secretary of State appears to take no account whatsoever of such implications. At the top of page 3, second paragraph, Dr Fox states:

“As we are proving in Libya, our Armed Forces have the capability to project power across the globe—demonstrating the SDSR’s emphasis on taking an adaptive posture in the uncertain world we live in was right.”

15. In the light of the facts stated above and the Committee’s own report on the SDSR 2010 recommendations, this statement is strange. The short paper, “2. Avoiding an Exaggerated Appreciation of Land-Based Air in the Libyan Operation”, attached, questions the validity of this statement (which was mirrored earlier by the Minister for the Armed Forces). It suggests that without sea-based air, we cannot guarantee to be able “to project power across the globe”.

16. In the context of our maritime heritage and our need to protect the U.K.’s trade routes and overseas interests, the Committee might wish to acknowledge that Britain can no longer be classified as a major military world power. Perhaps, if Britain maintains in service adequate sea-based air power in the form of carrier air groups, it would be more pertinent and accurate now to describe Britain as “a significant maritime power with the ability to protect its overseas interests and dependencies”.

Annex A

“THE COSTS OF THE OPERATION AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR OTHER UK OPERATIONS”

Cost of Land-Based Air Operations—Libya—Includes the following:

CLOSE AIR SUPPORT AIRCRAFT MISSIONS PER WEEK (ESTIMATE)

No.

Fuel Cost

Airframe cost*

Weapons Cost**

Sub Total

6 months

Tornado

56

£960,000

£6,860,000

£4,000,000

£11,820,000

£307,320,000

Typhoon

28

£480,000

£7,350,000

£2,000,000

£9,830,000

£255,580,000

* See Note 2, below, for calculation basis.

** MoD statement gives the cost of weapons delivered per week to be £6 million.

AIR TO AIR REFUELLING TANKER MISSIONS PER WEEK (ESTIMATE)

No.

Fuel Cost

Airframe cost

Weapons Cost

Sub Total

6 months

20

£300,000

£1,800,000

£0

£2,100,000

£54,600,000

SENTINEL R1 AIRCRAFT MISSIONS PER WEEK (ESTIMATE)*

No.

Fuel Cost

Airframe cost

Weapons Cost

Sub Total

6 months

8

£120,000

£1,200,000

£0

£1,320,000

£34,320,000

AWACS AIRCRAFT MISSIONS PER WEEK (ESTIMATE)

No.

Fuel Cost

Airframe cost

Weapons Cost

Sub Total

6 months

8

£120,000

£1,600,000

£0

£1,720,000

£44,720,000

 

Sub-Total for 6 months

£696.540 million

ACCOMMODATION AND ALLOWANCES PER WEEK (ESTIMATE ***)

No. Personnel

 

Accommodation

Sub Total

6 Months

Gioia Dell Colle *

550+

£250,000

£250,000

£6,500,000

Trapani

150

£75,000

£75,000

£1,950,000

Naples

50

£15,000

£15,000

£390,000

Poggia Renatico

50

£35,000

£35,000

£910,000

Akrotiri **

400

£40,000

£40,000

£1,040,000

Longer Separation Allowance

£150,000

£3,900,000

Local Overseas Allowance

£12,000

£312,000

* MOD, MA, 15 June 11: “The average monthly cost of all UK personnel at Gioia dell Colle is around £1 million.”

** Akrotiri already has an RAF personnel establishment in excess of 1,500 to support aircraft operating through there or from there (AAR tankers, Sentinel, AWACS and logistic support aircraft). A further 100 personnel have been deployed for Operation Ellamy (MA, 14 June 11)—Ellamy costs should therefore include a proportion of standing personnel. Only this will give a reliable overall cost estimate.

*** Minister for Armed Forces costs in Parliamentary answer to Jim Murphy, MP. (Hansard/Commons/bydate/20110614/writtenanswers/part007).

Sub-Total for 6 months

£15,002,000

LOGISTIC SUPPLY AIR FROM UK—MATERIALS, SPARES, ORDNANCE (ESTIMATE)

No.ReturnFlights

Fuel Cost

Airframe cost

Sub Total

6 months

14

£350,000

£2,400,000

£2,750,000

£71,500,000

LOGISTIC SUPPLY LAND FROM UK (ESTIMATE)

Per Week

6 months

£50,000

£1,300,000

Sub-Total for 6 months

£72,800,000

PERSONNEL TRANSPORT AND CHANGE-OVER—SIX MONTHS (ESTIMATE)

No.ReturnFlights

Fuel Cost

Airframe cost

Sub Total

6 months

80

£2,000,000

£19,200,000

£21,200,000

Sub-Total for 6 months

£21,200,000

ADDITIONAL COSTS EG BASING RENTAL, ROTATION OF FIGHTERS FOR MAINTENANCE, ETC

Sub-Total for 6 months

£100.000 million

Estimated Total Bill for   6 months Land-Based Air Deployment

£905.542 million

Notes:

1. Aviation Fuel cost estimated to be £4.00 per gallon—as for civil airlines.

2. Airframe cost given = Government Figures per hour (eg Tornado: £35,000, Typhoon: £70,000 per hour) multiplied by length of mission multiplied by the number of missions.

3. Weapons cost per week taken from MoD news release: £6 million.

4. The estimated number of missions flown by 12 Tornado per week (56) equates to 1.3 missions per aircraft every two days. United States Marine Corps Harriers were flying two missions per aircraft per day (three times as many as the Tornado). MoD reports would appear to indicate a higher flying rate (and therefore, greater expense): Tornado and Typhoon flew numerous patrols over Libya during the past two days. (MoD, 18 June 11.)

5. Various MoD statements/statistics as given by Defence News Analysis.

Annex B

“THE COSTS OF THE OPERATION AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR OTHER UK OPERATIONS”

Equivalent Cost of Sea-Based Air Operations—Libya—includes the following:

CLOSE AIR SUPPORT AIRCRAFT MISSIONS PER WEEK (ESTIMATE)

No.Sorties***

Fuel Cost

Airframecost*

WeaponsCost**

Sub Total

6 months

Harrier

28

£161,000

£1,036,000

£3,000,000

£4,197,000

£109,122,000

Apache

14

£28,000

£210,000

£1,400,000

£1,638,000

£42,588,000

* See Note 2, below, for calculation basis.

** Weapons cost per week less than land based. No Storm Shadow. Hellfire less expensive than Brimstone.

*** More than half Tornado/Typhoon sorties did not result in target attack

AEW SEA KING AIRCRAFT MISSIONS PER WEEK (ESTIMATE)

No.Sorties

Fuel Cost

Airframe cost

Weapons Cost

Sub Total

6 months

Sea King

14

£28,000

£70,000

£0

£98,000

£2,548,000

Sub-Total for 6 months

£154,258,000

Estimated Total Bill   for 6 months Sea-Based Air Deployment

£154.258 million

Notes:

1. Aviation Fuel cost estimated to be £4.00 per gallon—as for civil airlines.

2. Airframe cost given = Government Figures per hour where available (eg Harrier: £37,000) multiplied by length of mission multiplied by the number of missions.

C. How capability decisions taken in the SDSR and subsequent policy documents have affected our contribution in Libya

Introduction

1. The attached paper, “4. Air Power Projection Options—The Logical Choice is Clear”, summarises the capability and associated mission fuel costs of the Close Air Support capable aircraft in the UK inventory prior to SDSR 2010. The Review team had to decide whether to retain a sea-based air power projection capability or a purely land-based one. Their considered opinion and recommendation was to retain sea-based air power in the form of HMS Ark Royal and the Harrier GR9. At the last minute, this recommendation was reversed following pressure from the RAF Chief of the Defence Staff who arguably had single service interest at heart rather than the national interest. The lessons of Suez appear to have been forgotten and the benefit of military experience lost.

2. In consideration of UK’s overall defence capabilities (as invited by this question), it emerges that defence planners had indeed concluded that, for fully enabled combat, defence, projection and deterrent forces, strategic assumption required both RAF fast jets primarily for defence of UK air space and a powerful (well tried) sea-air component of the Royal Navy, clearly envisaged for the new Queen Elizabeth class carriers (and historically an invariable component of the Fleet). It follows that both RAF fast jets—in apparently substantial numbers albeit originally developed for the cold war—in combination with RN sea-air would provide the necessary flexibility and timeliness of response to best serve the UK’s national interests and defence. Such a combination would certainly have provided the Government with significantly more political and military options while achieving the flexibility of an immediate rapid response and deterrence of readily available sea-based air and an expeditionary potential later of RAF fast jets (along with the unavoidable heavy logistical tail and the necessary political/diplomatic enablements of over-flight and overseas bases). Such a combination would have achieved the kind of adaptability and flexibility for UK’s Defence Forces that had been accepted as a core principle – ref. Defence Green Paper.

3. The abandonment of defence planning of such a vital component of national defence along with accepted core principles surely requires reversal or a comprehensible explanation. The Libyan operation has demonstrated the consequences of the inexplicable bias in SDSR and the Government’s placing all its eggs in the land-based air basket.

Cost-Effectiveness

4. The decision to withdraw HMS Ark Royal and the sea-based Harrier GR9 force from service and to retain the land-based Tornado GR4 force instead has unnecessarily cost the UK taxpayer upwards of £750 million for the Libyan operation alone. This is in addition to the £6.1 billion of taxpayers’ money (forecast lifetime cost differential) that could have been saved if this decision had been reversed—as originally planned.

Operational Effectiveness

5. Within a few short hours of the launch of Operation United Protector (that coincided with the signing of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973), sea-based platforms and aircraft from the United States Navy, Royal Navy and the French Navy destroyed Libya’s air defence system with a barrage of missile and air strikes. The majority of the strikes were carried out by the U.S. Navy.

6. The SDSR decision to withdraw HMS Ark Royal and the Harrier GR9 from service prevented Britain from playing a more effective and immediately responsive role from the outset.

7. This decision further prevented Britain from playing a more meaningful part in sustained operations in support of rebel forces. As submitted in section A of this submission, sea-based airpower in the form of Harriers launched from the USS Kearsarge and Rafale Fighters launched from the Charles de Gaulle provided the bulk of close air support missions in support of rebel forces until the USS Kearsarge was withdrawn for political reasons. Even then, Reuters reports that approximately 40% of all strike missions were flown by Charles de Gaulle fighters. The availability of HMS Ark Royal and the Harrier GR9 would have significantly increased the percentage of missions flown by sea-based air and more effectively and responsively than the more costly Tornado/Typhoon combination.

8. The operational effectiveness of land-based aircraft operating from ranges of at least 600 miles has been widely criticised. As given at paragraph 11 of Area of Interest A, above, the planning and execution of coordinated land-based combat strike missions was a much slower process than that achievable and already demonstrated by sea-based air (where all supporting functions are available on site/within the carrier group)—thereby limiting the effectiveness of such missions against mobile Libyan armour targets.

Discussion

9. It must be beyond any reasonable doubt that SDSR 2010 failed to acknowledge the possibility of Britain becoming engaged in contingency operations such as Unified Protector.

10. It is also not unreasonable to suggest that the SDSR team were beguiled into total reliance upon the perceived capabilities of the RAF’s fast jets to the exclusion of complementary Fleet Harriers; unwarranted reliance was assumed concerning United States Navy carrier air power being readily available for the U.K.’s political purposes and an unreliable dependence upon allies for the support of all British Expeditionary Force operations.

11. These two errors of judgement have resulted in:

(a)The taxpayer having to fund an exorbitantly expensive land-based air operation over Libya that is far less cost effective than an equivalent sea-based air operation.

(b)A need for the Coalition Government to re-examine its decision “to gap the British sea-based air capability until at least 2020”.

D. The implications of this Operation [Libya—Operation Ellamy] for the outcomes of the SDSR

Introduction

1. Libya operations may well be proclaimed a successful vindication of the SDSR Defence cuts—already claimed to demonstrate UK’s continuing ability deploy with flexibility and agility and make a difference on the world stage. The truth is the very opposite. It is essential that this Committee recognises the degraded capabilities of the Defence Forces directly due to the SDSR that have in effect put the Defence of the Realm at unnecessarily increased risk. It is no reassurance that all will be reversed by 2020.

2. The SDSR seems to have two over-riding considerations

(a)to sustain Afghanistan at all costs and then to inflict a further swathe of Defence cuts; and

(b)to justify the reduction of all non-Afghanistan essential forces by skewing Defence Assumptions to the least likely—so as to allow ministers to claim that the nation has retained armed forces sufficient to respond to all reasonable risks—until 2020.

3. Libya has quickly and embarrassingly demonstrated the false premise of the SDSR that UK could safely reduce its Armed Services to a bare minimum (until 2020) and that the risks were acceptable. Libya has further demonstrated that the UK does not have the capacity to act unilaterally or even effectively in the Nation’s interests—albeit where these are shared—nor can reliance be placed upon allies. A main plank of Defence Strategy appears to have been the acceptance not so much of allied assistance as a force multiplier but of near total reliance upon allied military assets. The altogether unreliable response of NATO partners in Afghanistan ought to have forewarned Defence Planners of this delusion; further proof of this unjustifiable reliance is the brief participation off Libya of the French carrier Charles de Gaulle for over five months before having to withdraw temporarily in adverse weather and now for essential maintenance. Yet, notwithstanding these limitations, Defence planning has claimed that the French carrier will be a credible alternative to UK in the absence of RN sea-air capabilities (until 2020).

4. The SDSR has created significant and serious gaps in the national defence structure of the armed forces (on top of 13 years of persistent cuts and reductions already suffered). It would have been surprising if such deficiencies had not restricted political and military options in Libya, degrading UK’s response and resulting in very significant increases in cost implications.

5. Given that the Libya operations are on-going with likely changing objectives it must be accepted that UK’s options are severely restricted by the reduced state of our Armed Forces and particularly the severely restricted ability to project power from the sea. The Government has for example stressed rightly from the start that operations are only sanctioned by 1973 to protect civilians—that is to exclude “boots on the ground” in direct or even air support of the rebels. However, now that the “rebels” have been recognised by the UK as the legitimate representatives of the people of Libya there is arguably no reason why (out-with the UN) they should not request direct military support from the UK or any other ally.

6. The SDSR has very materially restricted UK’s military options to pursue national interests.

7. Operation Ellamy/Unified Protector has demonstrated that land-based air power:

(a)Is vastly more expensive to deploy overseas in support of military operations than sea-based air—even within the NATO area. This Operation will have cost the British taxpayer approximately £1 billion over a six-month period.

(b)Is not as responsive as sea-based air for initial (First Echelon) Expeditionary Force/Peacekeeping combat operations.

(c)Is not as flexible or as effective as sea-based air for the continued support of Ground Force operations because of its distance from the active combat zone and the difficulties it faces in coordinating diverse land-based air assets for the efficient conduct of tactical strike missions.

8. As a result of the SDSR, UK is rapidly becoming a different nation by default and one less likely to be respected by friends and foes alike. Our strategic reach has been severely curtailed because we will no longer be able to support the United States militarily in the key way which the UK has done for decades. This might put in doubt our position as a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council if we become unable even to protect our own dependent territories.

The Role and Configuration of UK’s Land-Based Air Power

9. It is for consideration therefore that the role and configuration of UK’s land-based air power within Britain’s National Defence Strategy should be urgently reviewed.

Physical Constraints

10. The physical constraints of UK’s land-based air power as configured today make it non-cost-effective and inappropriate for overseas operations. It relies entirely upon:

(a)The availability of land bases close to the theatre of action—and such availability is questionable with Britain’s diverse overseas interests (including the British South Atlantic Islands).

(b)Over-flight and overland transit rights for its logistics support—such rights being controlled by other nations who can therefore have considerable influence upon the sovereign will and intentions of the British government (vide Pakistan and Russia controlling logistic support routes into Afghanistan).

(c)Major air to air refuelling support en route to the target area and direct support of combat strike missions over the target area.

(d)Air superiority and airspace denial within the combat zone in order to ensure the safe operation of refuelling tankers and supporting ISTAR assets.

(e)The safety and security of the overseas air bases to which it deploys.

11. These constraints place strict limits upon the ability of the British Government to project military and political influence overseas with land based air in support of the national interest.

Adaptability

12. It is difficult to understand why the government of the UK, aware of our proud history as an Island Nation whose prosperity will always depend upon global maritime trade, continues to procure fighter aircraft for the Royal Air Force that cannot deploy to or be operated from aircraft carriers.

13. The SDSR 2010 team might well have taken into account such compelling logic. Their initial recommendation to retain the Harrier in service rather than the non-carrier capable Tornado bears testament to this. But the final decision to withdraw Harrier from service was illogical and wrong.

The National Interest

14. The Committee might wish to address the root cause for this misguided SDSR 2010 final recommendation. In doing so, the Committee might also wish to investigate why the Royal Air Force continues to insist on the procurement of a non-carrier capable Joint Strike Fighter for the limited role of the air defence of the United Kingdom (against which there is no threat in any case).

15. In the light of Britain’s global maritime interests, logic and common sense would appear to dictate that all fighter and fighter ground attack aircraft procured for the Armed Services should be capable of embarkation in and operation from the new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. This would allow the cost-effective and operationally effective deployment of under-utilised land-based squadrons in a time of need. (Please see attached paper, “5. Expeditionary Force”.)

E. The effectiveness of NATO command structures in the preparation and conduct of operations in Libya

Introduction

1. It has become apparent that the decision by Britain and France to promote a No-Fly Zone over Libya was not part of a cohesive maritime or land strategy. There appears to have been inadequate planning for Operation Ellamy/Unified Protector either by the UK or by NATO. It appears that the assumption was made by the British and French governments that a simple offensive air campaign would provide the intended result:

(a)Protection of the Libyan civilians and rebel forces from Colonel Gaddafi’s forces.

(b)The removal of Colonel Gaddafi and his regime from power.

2. The “need to do better in the future” has already been addressed by Vladimir Socor, a contributing editor for the Atlantic Council, who has presented “An Interim Assessment of the Mission In Libya”. In his assessment, he remarks that:

(a)France and Britain are mainly in charge of this war, operating as a tandem but basically in their respective national capacities. President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister David Cameron each embarked on this intervention as a short-term political project, only to see it turn into stalemate and the expected political rewards turn into liabilities.

(b)This intervention’s political objectives remain undefined notwithstanding the show of force: almost 7,000 air-bombing sorties thus far, a naval blockade, and underwriting operations by rebel forces on the ground. Any “responsibility to protect” populations from violence is a humanitarian not a political objective; and cannot in any case become a NATO goal in its own right, divorced from larger political and strategic objectives.

(c)Western belligerents hobbled their operation from the outset by ruling out the use of ground troops.

(d)NATO had expected to fight for a few weeks; it set a three-month deadline for the combat and post-combat phases; it had to prolong the combat operation by three more months; and is now facing the distinct possibility of a further prolongation of combat operations by September.

(e)Along with the costly failure in Afghanistan, another failure in Libya would make NATO look irrelevant to American and West-European publics.

(f)If NATO fails again, not in a distant expeditionary operation as in Afghanistan, but this time in its own immediate neighbourhood, then proposals to dilute NATO into some “common European security architecture” with Russia would gain traction.

(g)Who is going to treat NATO seriously after that?

3. Effective Planning Procedures would have assessed:

(a)Which of Colonel Gaddafi’s military assets should be targeted.

(b)How they should be targeted (with what assets).

(c)What weapons platforms were available for the efficient conduct of offensive air operations.

(d)Which of these weapons platforms would provide optimum operational results against the desired targets.

4. It appears that such a detailed assessment was not satisfactorily completed and this led to the command and control of Operation Unified Protector being vested in a predominantly land-based air oriented NATO team. Close Air Support missions in support of Libyan rebels were therefore planned and conducted from a location far removed from the target combat area. This arguably led to a slow and cumbersome response to targeting requests/intelligence.

Planning Procedures

Which of Colonel Gaddafi’s military assets should be targeted?

Mobile Armour/Artillery Targets

5. An in depth review of the offensive air campaign over Bosnia/Kosovo has indicated the following:

(a)The claims of mobile armour/artillery targets destroyed by interdiction and Close Air Support missions were considerably exaggerated;

(b)This was a result of extensive camouflage and deception by the Serb ground forces.

6. Libyan forces appear to have been aware of these offensive air deficiencies and have certainly employed extensive camouflage and deception in order to attract a wasteful delivery of expensive weaponry by NATO forces.

Fixed and Hardened Targets

7. A balanced assessment should have been made concerning the level of strike action to be devoted to fixed and hardened targets such as headquarter buildings used for intelligence and other military purposes. This assessment should have taken into full account the initial aim of Operation Unified Protector which arguably was “the close air support of Libyan rebel forces under direct fire from the Libyan military”.

8. From the official MoD Libya updates, it would appear that a disproportionate amount of effort has been expended upon attacking structures that may or may not have contained Libyan military planning/intelligence units. The operational effect of such missions appears to have been marginal at best because it does not appear to have diminished Colonel Gaddafi’s onslaught against the rebels. The following MoD updates support these remarks:

27 July

Major General Nick Pope, the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Communications Officer, said:

“Royal Air Force aircraft, under the auspices of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector, have during recent days inflicted numerous losses on those of Colonel Qadhafi’s forces who continue to threaten the Libyan people.”

“Overnight Sunday through to Monday, RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft maintained a close watch on regime forces mustered near Gharyan and Zlitan. A tank and another military vehicle were spotted near Gharyan; both were destroyed. At Zlitan, NATO surveillance assets had identified seven buildings in use by the regime as military command and logistics facilities, including two being used to maintain Qadhafi’s tank force, and all were successfully attacked by our aircraft. One armed truck was also destroyed. Meanwhile, patrols also continued over Brega in the east, where RAF jets destroyed another of Qadhafi’s storage facilities, as well as an additional five armed trucks.”

“On Tuesday, RAF aircraft successfully targeted five military facilities in and around Al Khums. In the early hours of this morning, Tornado GR4s conducted a further precision strike on a large regime barracks and command centre in Tripoli.”

One should question how many of the eight “armed trucks” and “other military vehicles” were actually engaging rebel forces and rebel held positions. The 15 non-dynamic buildings and facilities that were attacked were well away from the fighting between Gaddafi’s forces and the rebels.

11 August

“And last night, [6] Tornado GR4s launched from RAF Marham in Norfolk. Supported by VC10 and Tri-Star tankers, they flew south across Europe and the Mediterranean to launch a large salvo of Storm Shadow precision guided missiles at command bunkers near Sebha, 700 kilometres south of Tripoli, out in the Sahara. They landed at Gioia del Colle after a mission lasting seven hours, and will in due course recover back to Marham.”

Six Storm Shadow (Approximately £5.4 million): Aviation Fuel (Approximately £1 million): Airframe Cost—Tornado (£2.1 million)—Refuelling Tankers (Estimated £1 million). Total: £9.5 million for attacking non-dynamic targets hundreds of miles away from rebel force positions.

How they should be targeted (with what assets)?

9. The deployed UK fast jets Tornado and Typhoon do not have any substantial advantage in weapon delivery capability over a combination of Harrier and Apache. The necessity to task a Tornado and Typhoon pair so as to achieve accurate weapon delivery for the latter seems wasteful of expensive resources. It smacks of using a sledge hammer to crack a nut—and at significant cost penalty.

10. Table 1, below, demonstrates the firepower available from the sea-based/carrier capable aircraft and from the land-based aircraft (Tornado):

Table 1

COMPARATIVE WEAPON LOADS—SEA VERSUS LAND-BASED AIR

GPSGuidedBomb

GPSBunkerBusterBomb

Maverick

Brimstone/Hellfire

2.75"/CRVRockets

20mm/30mmCannon

StormShadow

ALARM

Tomahawk

Sea-Based Air

×

×

Land-Based Air

×

×

×

The two weapons that are not carried by either Harrier or Apache are the Storm Shadow missile and the ALARM anti-radar missile. However, ALARM has not been deployed to either Libya or Afghanistan and the Storm Shadow capability can be adequately covered by the GPS Bunker Busting Bomb carried by the Harrier (now being used by Tornado in Libya for precisely this purpose instead of Storm Shadow).

11. The advice given to Secretary of State, Dr Liam Fox, on this subject and presented by him in evidence to the Defence Committee (April 2011) needs to be challenged:

Q64. Thomas Docherty: Secretary of State, I am sure that you are learning valuable lessons from the current air operations, both for the on-going Libyan events and for contingency planning—following on from Mr Glen’s question—perhaps elsewhere in the region or for other parts of the world. Have any of those lessons caused you to regret or reconsider the scrapping of the Harriers and the carrier-based capability of either Ark Royal or Illustrious?

Dr Fox: No, Tornado gives us capability that Harrier could not [How so, when Tornado is not carrier capable?]. In addition to the Paveway IV laser or GPS-guided bombs that both Harrier and Tornado can carry, Tornado gives us the stand-off, deep-penetration capability with the Storm Shadow missile [questionable results in Libya and not deployed at all to Afghanistan] and the Brimstone missile [the equivalent, Hellfire, is being successfully used in Libya], which is a low-collateral weapon for use in urban areas, such as Misurata.

In addition, Tornado has a gun, which Harrier did not [the Apache has a better gun]; Tornado has a longer range than Harrier [not enough to justify 600 nautical mile missions from Italy requiring air to air refuelling]; it needs to be refuelled less frequently [the Harriers off Libya did not need air to air refuelling]; and it has a two-man crew, which helps with better mission control from the air [Harrier professionals would question that remark]. I remind the Committee of the logistics legacy: there would not have been enough Harriers for Afghanistan [absolutely not the case. The Harrier has a far greater Force Elements at Readiness than Tornado] and for what we have been asked to do in Libya had we taken the alternative decision and kept Harrier but not Tornado. If Mr Docherty is asking whether, had we had another £3 billion, we would have liked to have kept even more aircraft, the answer is obviously yes. But he will also remember that we are trying to deal with the Government’s primary objective of a £158 billion deficit.

12. If indeed the principal aim of Operation Unified Protector was to provide the close air support of Libyan rebel forces under direct fire from the Libyan military, the planning process for NATO missions should have taken into account the following:

(a)The armour/artillery units bombarding rebel-held towns and positions enjoy considerable mobility. Attacking such units therefore requires rapid response from NATO air units.

(b)Close Air Support aircraft stationed 600 miles away from the Theatre of action do not have the ability to provide the required rapid response (particularly if the bureaucratic planning process for such missions can take up to 24 hours). Just the flight time to the target area is of the order of 1.5 hours—in which time the targeted units could be many miles away.

(c)Although sophisticated targeting intelligence can be gathered by AWACS, A/E-18 Growler and other ISTAR aircraft particularly for armoured formations in the open desert, the same is not necessarily true for targets in the urban environment. The latter requires “boots on the ground” even if just limited to Special Forces. UN Resolution 1973 did not authorise this and, as such, the urban targeting problem should have been one of the prime considerations affecting the decision to enter into this Operation.

13. The “planners” should have remembered the lessons of Suez and recognised from 12.a and 12.b, above, that sea-based air operating in close proximity to the Libyan mainland would provide the most operationally effective (and cost-effective) offensive air support.

What weapons platforms were available for the efficient conduct of Offensive Air Operations?

14. It is arguable that the two main protagonists supporting the idea of a No-Fly Zone over Libya, Britain and France, did not conduct a thorough assessment of the most suitable weapons platforms available for such a task. Instead of “proper planning”, “crisis management” appears to have been the order of the day. (From a purely British perspective, it would appear that MoD/RAF told Ministers, “Yes, we can do that!” and little more attention was paid to the matter.)

Proper Planning

15. The first initiative taken by participating nations did indeed reflect proper planning. That was the early deployment of maritime forces including sea-based air to Libyan waters.

16. However, with regards to the NATO Organisation as a whole there appears to have been an unfortunate lack of coordination. An emergency meeting of the NATO Security Council should have been convened well before the UN Resolution 1973 was declared. Such a meeting would/should have come to the following conclusions:

(a)Rapid and responsive offensive air support for the Libyan rebels was required.

(b)The Libyan air defence capability needs to be destroyed/thoroughly incapacitated immediately. This would best be achieved by Tomahawk capable warships and submarines in conjunction with sea-based air platforms.

(c)The most responsive and flexible weapons platforms for providing the necessary Close Air Support of the rebels were those associated with sea-based air: whether strike carrier (United States and France), Harrier carrier (Italy, Spain and Britain—if the latter was willing to reverse its SDSR 2010 Harrier withdrawal decision) or Attack Helicopter Platforms such as HMS Ocean which is also deploying the AEW Sea King helicopter.

(d)A NATO Expeditionary Task Force consisting of sea-based air platforms as given at paragraph 16.b and 16.c, above, needs to be established under naval command and control.

(e)Land-based ISTAR support aircraft should be deployed to appropriate airfields close to the theatre of action.

17. Such a coordinated planning effort by NATO might well have persuaded the United States to commit more for longer provided that European Member Nations were seen to be pulling their weight. Britain’s excessive and expensive individual contribution in the form of deployed land-based air assets would then have been unnecessary.

Crisis Management

18. The manner in which Britain took a firm lead in pressing for UN Resolution 1973 might, from a humanitarian point of view, be viewed as laudatory but militarily the operation appears to have become an embarrassment for the British government and a massive expense for the UK taxpayer who is struggling with personal finances in “Austerity Britain”. As covered under “Proper Planning” above, this Operation has suffered from a sustained inadequacy of operational management by NATO’s land-based air commanders.

19. Britain’s decision to gap its aircraft carrier capability for 10 years has been criticised by military organisations and other nations as being seriously misguided. Spending our limited resources on a questionably effective and very expensive land-based air initiative over Libya cannot be a good example of Britain’s aspirations to global military and political influence.

20. The rebel forces have complained about the lack of real close air support of their fighters where it is most needed. Such complaints have considerable validity in the light of the length of time it takes for land-based aircraft to respond to urgent situations on the ground in Libya.

Which of these weapons platforms would provide optimum operational results against the desired targets?

21. This question has been answered at paragraph 16, above.

Summary

22. On the evidence to date, the NATO command structure adopted for the preparation and conduct of operations in Libya was inadequate.

23. There was a lack of proper planning by individual nations and by NATO itself with no objective assessment of the most cost and operationally effective way to enforce the Libyan No-Fly Zone and to protect Libyan civilians and rebels from Colonel Gaddafi’s armour and artillery.

F. The “end game”: What would a successful outcome look like and how do current operations contribute to achieving this?

1. A successful outcome from a NATO point of view might be signified by:

(a)The guaranteed end of Colonel Gaddafi’s military operations against his own people.

(b)The complete desertion of Colonel Gaddafi’s forces to the rebel cause.

(c)The abdication of all power within Libya by Colonel Gaddafi, his family and his inner circle.

Whether such an outcome is possible in the light of the entrenched and partisan tribal interests within Libya and the thirst for revenge on all sides must be in some doubt.

2. Current offensive air support operations need to be concentrated upon the interdiction and destruction of those military units that continue to bombard rebel positions and rebel held towns. Bringing more intensive fire to bear on these active combat units of the Libyan army would signal to the latter that they are on the losing side and would encourage the necessary mass desertion of Gaddafi’s forces to the newly recognised interim Libyan government. Rebel forces could then advance upon Tripoli with immunity from attack and Gaddafi would be finished.

G. The broader implications of the intervention in Libya in the context of reacting to instability in the wider region

Introduction

1. The implications of the intervention in Libya and the lessons learned from that intervention are far-reaching particularly in the context of reacting to instability in the “wider region”. (Hopefully, the Committee is referring to the global stage and to those key areas that could have a damaging effect upon the British economy if threatened by instability, military confrontation and/or militant terrorist action.)

2. The Defence planners did not envisage either the so-called “Arab Spring” or the Libya uprising. This may not be a failing but what has been undoubtedly a failure of strategic planning has been to base UK’s defence planning upon the presumed absence in the foreseeable future of any such risks to national interests—having admitted that such turmoil has always been unpredictable. In any case there had been plenty of indications of instability across the Middle East—with persistent threats from Iran in the region to the Persian Gulf, failed or failing states in Yemen and Somalia, piracy across the Indian Ocean and the Falklands—before beginning to assess direct risks of terrorism to UK and coastal waters. To which may be added now serious instability in Syria.

3. It is incomprehensible how in the face of such evidence of global instability and threat UK’s Defence planners took what they claim to have been a “justifiable risk” to downgrade UK’s Defence Forces, their flexible capabilities (already stretched) and deterrent credibility. This was a conscious choice that has misdirected national priorities.

4. UK’s national interests are very much served by stability in the Middle East and across the Arab world—hence the Middle East is a prime concern. Failure in Libya will seriously undermine UK’s credibility and deterrent potential—it is vital both diplomatically and militarily that UK succeeds in ridding the region of such a malign influence as Gaddafi—not so as to impose upon Libya a western democracy nor indeed perfect governance but to ensure a regime at least closer to the precepts of enlightened values and a nation that can re-join the community of nations.

5. Primarily, it is diplomatic effort that achieves political, commercial and trading stability; indeed this may also be the only means of later coercion in the form of sanctions. Diplomatic choices are reduced especially in circumstances where there are no military options. UK has committed itself to global influence—and that, with our Commonwealth and Overseas Territories, rightly is a national expectation. Confusion will persist for a while about the degree of national interests served in Afghanistan but it will be important that UK does not revert into isolationism as did post-Vietnam USA. UK has taken the decision that national interests as well as defence are best served by not “opting out”. It is dishonest and a false reassurance therefore to so degrade the nation’s Defence Forces whilst claiming global potential. This has clearly been noted in the world press and has done little for the UK’s standing. It must be plainly stated that impotent Armed Services dramatically reduce diplomatic choices—such that we have been deprived of both “a loud voice” and a “big stick”.

6. The SDSR has rendered the armed services unbalanced. Politicians have failed to convince the nation that just because UK no longer faces the potential annihilation of all-out nuclear war, the lesser defence risks can be discounted—even if more likely and apparent. It is vital that Defence Planning should be shielded from such short term subjectivity and should serve national defence interests more honestly.

Discussion

7. Discussion of these implications/lessons should be placed in the context of:

(a)Unilateral action by Britain in defence of Britain’s overseas interests.

(b)Action as part of a coalition of forces, whether under the auspices of NATO or other international bodies.

8. Such discussion demands an answer to the question, “How much more costly will the projection of air power be using land-based resources rather than sea-based resources if required to be deployed at much greater range from the UK than Libya/Italy?”

Lessons Learned

9. The earlier part of this Submission has highlighted various lessons that need to be learned prior to Britain reacting to and becoming involved in further overseas interventions in pursuit of our nation’s national interest:

(a)Airpower in its own right and in isolation is not a panacea for the resolution of armed conflicts.

(b)The deployment of land-based air power independent of any cohesive maritime or land strategy is non-cost-effective and can suffer from severe operational limitations associated with that “independence”. As occurred in the Suez campaign, the principal limitation is an inability to react rapidly and responsively to the real-time needs of ground forces resulting from long transit distances to the target area and bureaucratic planning procedures.

(c)Sea-based air power is fully integrated within the cohesive structure of Carrier Battle Groups and of Amphibious Battle Groups. Its efficient command and control within the fleet organisation provides for rapid and effective reaction to the needs of ground forces ashore without reliance on third party organisations.

(d)NATO has been described today as an alliance of the willing. It is now evident that in the absence of overwhelming common threat (eg the Cold War) NATO members are influenced by their own (changing) political agenda and imperatives. Hence dependence upon allied support or assets as the means of projecting UK’s own national interests is delusional.

(e)The unwillingness of the United States to take the active lead in Operation Unified Protector or to provide one of its strike carriers to support the Operation has signalled the end to the automatic reliance placed by Britain and other nations on the U.S. Navy “air defence umbrella”. This ought to sound a stark warning of US opposition to such vital UK interests as the defence of the Falklands, if that is perceived to run counter to US interests in S America.

(f)Operation Ellamy/Operation Unified Protector was launched without proper planning by NATO or individual nations, including Britain, and without a balanced assessment of which military resources were best suited to achieving the aims of the Operation in the most efficient manner.

Unilateral Action by Britain in Defence of Britain’s Overseas Interests

“Whereas any European power has to support a vast army first of all, we in this fortunate, happy island, relieved by our insular position of a double burden, may turn our undivided efforts and attention to the Fleet. Why should we sacrifice a game in which we are sure to win to play a game in which we are bound to lose?”

Winston Churchill.

10. The Island State of Britain depends upon its global sea lines of communication and trade for its very existence. In turn, the protection of its trade routes and access to foreign markets depends upon the mobility and flexibility of its maritime forces and those of its allies. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) predict that, over the next 20 years, the U.K.’s imports delivered by sea will grow 287% by volume and exports by sea 119% by volume. Furthermore they show that Britain’s trade will shift from “short haul” origins and destinations across the Channel to “long haul” origins and destinations in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere around the world.

11. The increasingly troubled world economic and political scene has resulted in our principal ally, the United States of America, being overstretched and under resourced and it is now impractical to suggest that the world’s trade routes can be adequately protected by the United States alone. We cannot and should not therefore rely entirely upon our NATO allies for providing a sustainable umbrella of protection for our Global National Interests but should strengthen our Forces and enhance our Commonwealth co-operations.

12. Operation Ellamy has taught us that, following the implementation of SDSR 2010 recommendations, Britain’s armed forces are not adequately configured or equipped for independent Expeditionary Task Force or truly global operations—primarily because we have gapped our aircraft carrier/sea-based air capability.

13. Without the part played by the United States Navy during initial operations, the Libyan air defence infrastructure and weapon systems could not have been destroyed and made impotent. Without such destruction and airspace denial/air supremacy being achieved by the U.S., the U.K.’s land-based offensive air support aircraft, AWACS and ISTAR aircraft would have been vulnerable to attack and would have had great difficulty in providing adequate support for Libyan civilians and rebel forces on the ground.

14. For operations further afield than the Mediterranean, the availability and security of air bases needed for the deployment of land-based air is questionable. The Arabian Gulf is a case in point.

15. For the foreseeable future, the Arabian Gulf will remain a significant source of oil and gas. In terms of modern anti-ship weapons systems that are now proliferating throughout the developing world, the waters of the Gulf have become highly vulnerable to surprise attack. A key issue here is the significant and unpredictable threat posed by Iran and the arguable inability of other Gulf States to counter that threat effectively. The withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq only compounds the long-term problem (for decades now, Gulf States have lived in fear of Iran’s fundamental Shia desire for aggrandisement and control of the Gulf).

16. As briefly discussed in the paper, “6. Defending the UK’s Interests Worldwide—The Libyan Experience” (attached), a properly equipped Carrier Battle Group stationed in the Indian Ocean could provide a long range surveillance and air strike/attack capability that would deter Iran from precipitous aggression against neighbouring states and against international shipping within the Gulf. Such deterrence cannot be provided by land-based air assets sitting in the United Kingdom.

17. If Iran decided to blockade the Strait of Hormuz through military action, the deployment of land-based air to static airfields within the Gulf region would carry considerable risk of the missile attack—and sovereign base rights and over-flight rights might not even be granted by Arab states that have been accommodating in the past. Without a robust sea-based air capability, Britain would be unable to counter or deter the aspirations of Iran.

18. Similarly, Britain would be largely impotent if the Argentine chose to invade the Falklands. Without sea-based air, deterrence is severely weakened: we could not muster an effective Expeditionary Task Force capable of retaking the Islands.

Action as Part of a Coalition of Forces, whether Under the Auspices of NATO or other International Bodies

19. The Libyan operation should have taught us to be less enthusiastic and naïve when it comes to relying upon our NATO or other allies to support British led initiatives. We should be particularly aware that we can no longer fully rely upon the United States Navy Strike Fleet to provide an air umbrella for British Expeditionary Task Force operations.

20. Following SDSR 2010 and the Draconian cuts to the Royal Navy fleet and naval air power, we no longer have the ability to project significant military and political power upon the high seas. We should therefore be more conservative in our willingness to engage in military actions such as Libya that require us to “punch above our weight” and should restrain our moralistic desire to be one of the World’s Policemen.

Changing the Way We Do Things

1. It is for consideration that the Government should now be more objective in its prime duty of defending Britain and its overseas interests from harm. It needs to develop a cohesive Armed Forces Strategy that reflects the opinions stated by Winston Churchill as quoted within this Submission—which are as true today as when they were first uttered. The priorities of national defence interests need to be presented to the electorate honestly and openly and to be reflected in acceptance of the imperative of adequate funding of the Armed Services and not as “an optional, competing extra”. The first duty of government etc. has been stated conveniently but not with sufficient conviction or evidence.

2. Defence procurement priorities should be aligned to:

(a)The long-term operational commitments of our Armed Forces.

(b)A reasoned understanding of global unrest and the areas in which the latter might demand the projection of British military power and political influence in the future.

(c)Maintaining a technological advantage over our likely opponents.

3. Paying “lip-service” to these priorities but ignoring our fundamental military needs as an Island Nation can only diminish our ability to project such power and influence. SDSR 2010 was a prime example of this and, in very short order, has led to a non-cost-effective land-based air campaign in support of the Libya No Fly Zone that is not producing/has not produced the desired operational effectiveness.

Long-Term Operational Commitments

4. The attached paper, “7. Armed Services—Active Operational Commitments and Personnel”, reveals that the personnel strength of Individual Services is disproportionate to the standing active operational commitments of each service. Figure 3, below, demonstrates this.

Figure 3

5. The Naval Service has the lowest number of personnel but has the highest level of standing operational commitments. If properly manned and equipped, it would be able to satisfy the majority of our nation’s defence needs at home and abroad in a thoroughly flexible, responsive and operationally effective manner. It should therefore have the highest priority for defence procurement and expenditure and this should include measured and early investment in sea-based airpower.

A Reasoned Understanding of Global Unrest

6. This Submission has revealed the folly of relying upon in the distant support of land-based air for Expeditionary Task Force Operations such as Operation Ellamy/Unified Protector. This Operation has cost the taxpayer dear, has been questionable in its operational effectiveness and should have taught us that land-based air alone is unsuited to the support of Task Force operations further afield, whether in the Strait of Hormuz, in the South Atlantic or elsewhere.

Recommendation

7. If, as our Island Nation, our Overseas Territories and Commonwealth status and responsibilities suggest that we should, we wish to regain the ability to project significant military and political power in defence of our overseas interests, a major U-turn on the findings of SDSR 2010 will be necessary and the Queen Elizabeth class carriers and their air groups will need to be brought forward rather than delayed. In order to finance this, the continued unjustifiable expenditure on the Typhoon programme and certain other land-based air programs (including Tornado and any land-based Joint Strike Fighter Option) should be curtailed.

8. It is urged that, notwithstanding a reluctance to revisit the SDSR, the lessons learned from the Libya experience will now be acknowledged and will generate the political will to act upon them, for the sake of the nation.

The Comparative Costs of Land-Based Air Operations over Libya

Executive Summary/Introduction

(i) This paper analyses various recent figures and statements given by MoD/Parliamentary agencies concerning Land-Based Air operations over Libya. These figures which compare well with those presented in the PTT paper, “Air Power Projection Options” are then used to update earlier estimates by the author.

(ii) The paper then provides a comparison between overall Land-Based Air costs of Operation Ellamy with those costs that would be realised if Sea-Based Air had been deployed instead.

(iii) Figure 1, below, reveals demonstrative cost differentials.

Figure 1

The Relevant Briefs/Updates

NATO Rolling Script Libya Brief 27 June, as at 17:30hrs

1. “Since the beginning of the NATO operation (31 March 2011) a total of 12,745 sorties, including 4,804 strike sorties have been conducted. We have damaged or destroyed more than 2,400 legitimate military targets. This includes around one hundred command and control sites—which Qadhafi used to organize attacks on civilians, several hundred ammunition stores, tanks, armoured personnel carriers and rocket launchers which were used indiscriminately against his own people.”

2. This indicates that:

(a)Damage or destruction of legitimate military targets has been achieved only once for every five sorties flown.

(b)Only 50% of the strike sorties flown have resulted in the successful release of weapons against targets.

(c)Two thirds of missions flown (7,941) have been non-strike sorties.

Op Ellamy media Updates DMC-Ops PR—25–28 June

3. “Throughout all these operations, NATO tanker and surveillance assets, including RAF VC10, Sentry and Sentinel aircraft, as ever provided essential support.”

“UK forces currently deployed on this operation include:

(a)RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft based at Gioia del Colle in Italy.

(b)RAF Sentry and Sentinel surveillance aircraft, based in Sicily and Cyprus.

(c)RAF VC10 and Tristar tankers, based in Sicily, Cyprus and the UK.

RAF air transport aircraft provide extensive logistic support to the deployed bases in Italy, Sicily and the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus.”

4. These statements would appear to suggest that the 7,941 non-strike sorties were principally air to air tanking and logistic support sorties, indicating the huge reliance placed on these resources in order to enable land-based fighter attack missions. The costs in terms of fuel and airframe hours for this “supporting cast”, none of which is essential for sea-based air operations, has not been revealed by Ministry of Defence sources and expectedly will not have been disclosed to Ministers or the Treasury. (Hence, the apparent under-estimates in cost that the Secretary of State and others have publicized.)

Libya update 24 June

5. “Typhoon has performed extremely well, complementing the Tornado in what is a very effective ground attack partnership. The Typhoons alone have flown the equivalent of 24 times around the world* in this operation so far.”

6. *This equates to a distance of 576,000 miles or 1,152 hours flight time at 500 miles an hour. At a fuel consumption of 1250 gallons per hour, this equates to 1,440,000 gallons at a cost of £5,760,000. Over three months, this equates to £1,920,000 per month for Typhoon alone which calls into question the MoD/RAF figure given for aviation fuel consumption per month for ALL land-based RAF aircraft supporting Libya (£1.2 million per month). This amount of fuel would have provided for more than 1,100 carrier-borne Harrier attack missions—which is more than twice the number of effective attack missions flown by Tornado and Typhoon to date.

7. 1,152 hours flight time equates to 330 aircraft missions of 3 hours 30 minutes, indicating that, on average, the Typhoon has flown 110 aircraft missions per month over Libya—or 28 missions per week. Please see Annex A for the modified listing of the overall “Cost Of Land-Based Air Operations over Libya”.

Discussion

8. According to NATO/MoD UK releases, attack aircraft flying ground attack missions from land bases have only released weapons against prescribed targets on less than 50% of those missions. It is assumed that UK Land-Based Air attack aircraft are no exception.

Attributable Typhoon Costs

9. The cost per flying hour of the Typhoon aircraft has been stated in parliament as £70,000 per hour. With 1152 hours flown over Libya, this equates to £80,640,000 for three months. (If aviation fuel cost is not included in this figure given to Parliament, the total figure for Typhoon hours flown over Libya would be nearly £86,400,000—and this does not take into account significant air to air refuelling and logistic support costs.)

10. Contrary to what one would expect when looking at such costs, the Typhoon’s role in Libya is very limited. There is no air threat, the aircraft has no air to ground surveillance or targeting capability and is only capable of delivering Paveway Mk II laser guided bombs which do not have GPS precision guided capability (thereby restricting target options to those that do not have a risk of collateral damage).

Question

11. Why is the limited capability Typhoon being operated over Libya at all and at such huge expense (more than £80 million in three months) when we are told by MoD/RAF that the Tornado GR4 is such a capable and reliable Close Air Support vehicle—with a much lower cost per airframe hour?

Suspected Answer

12. There is probably more than one answer:

(a)There are not enough serviceable Tornado aircraft to do the job properly.

(b)The presence of Typhoon in the Libyan Theatre is a Public Relations exercise by the Royal Air Force to attempt to provide some justification for the existence of this very expensive fighter aircraft.

Question

13. Why do at least 50% of Typhoon (and Tornado) attack sorties result in no weapons being deployed against the target?

Answer

14. This is probably the direct result of the 24 hour delay in responding to Close Air Support requests (atrocious tasking procedures) as well as the long transit time from take-off to being over the desired target area.

If Sea-Based Air had been Programmed Against the Same Number of Targets

Attributable Apache costs

16. For each mission sortie, the Apache will fly for one hour as opposed to 3.5 hours for Typhoon/Tornado. The cost per flying hour of the Apache aircraft is estimated at £15,000 per hour. Being close to the scene of action and much more responsive to urgent close air support requests, it is likely that the Apache attack helicopter would be able to strike its chosen target more effectively on each mission as in Afghanistan. That is to say, 50% of Apache attack sorties would not be wasted as with Tornado/Typhoon.

17. Attributable Apache airframe costs for three months are estimated to be £2.73 million plus £0.364 million in fuel costs. See Annex B for more details.

Attributable Harrier costs

18. For each mission sortie the Harrier will fly for one hour as opposed to 3.5 hours for Land-Based Air. The cost per flying hour of the Harrier aircraft has been stated in parliament as £37,000 per hour (this figure is strongly contested by operators as being far too high—according to US Naval Air Systems Command, the Harrier costs no more than US$22,000 per hour—that is, £13,750 per hour. Where did Peter Luff MP get his figures from?). Being close to the scene of action and much more responsive to urgent close air support requests, it is likely that the Harrier would be able to strike the chosen target more effectively on each mission.

19. Attributable Harrier airframe costs for three months are calculated as £13.47 million plus £2.09 million in fuel costs. See Annex B for more details.

Comparison: Overall Land-Based Air Costs versus Overall Sea-Based Air Costs

20. The revised overall cost of both options as given at Annex A and Annex B is given in figure 2 below:

Figure 2

Conclusions

21. The Land-Based Air Support of No Fly Zone operations over Libya is approximately six times more expensive than the equivalent Sea Based Air Support would have been—for the same weapons effect.

22. For offshore operations where Land-Based Air is positioned even more than 600 miles from the target area, the differential in cost will logically increase exponentially.

23. In this financially constrained climate, our political masters should recognise this fact and ensure that Sea Based Air is properly funded in the future—at direct cost to Land-Based Air funding, if necessary.

24. Dr Fox’s suggestion that support for the Harrier is based on sentiment is demonstrably wrong.

Annex A

COST OF LAND-BASED AIR OPERATIONS

Cost of Land-Based Air Operations—Libya—Includes the following:

CLOSE AIR SUPPORT AIRCRAFT MISSIONS PER WEEK (ESTIMATE)

No.

Fuel Cost

Airframe cost*

Weapons Cost**

Sub Total

6 months

Tornado

56

£960,000

£6,860,000

£4,000,000

£11,820,000

£307,320,000

Typhoon

28

£480,000

£7,350,000

£2,000,000

£9,830,000

£255,580,000

* See Note 2, below, for calculation basis.

** MoD statement gives the cost of weapons delivered per week to be £6 million.

AIR TO AIR REFUELLING TANKER MISSIONS PER WEEK (ESTIMATE)

No.

Fuel Cost

Airframe cost

Weapons Cost

Sub Total

6 months

20

£300,000

£1,800,000

£0

£2,100,000

£54,600,000

SENTINEL R1 AIRCRAFT MISSIONS PER WEEK (ESTIMATE)*

No.

Fuel Cost

Airframe cost

Weapons Cost

Sub Total

6 months

8

£120,000

£1,200,000

£0

£1,320,000

£34,320,000

AWACS AIRCRAFT MISSIONS PER WEEK (ESTIMATE)

No.

Fuel Cost

Airframe cost

Weapons Cost

Sub Total

6 months

8

£120,000

£1,600,000

£0

£1,720,000

£44,720,000

Sub-Total for 6 months

£696.540 million

ACCOMMODATION AND ALLOWANCES PER WEEK (ESTIMATE ***)

No. Personnel

Accommodation

Sub Total

6 Months

Gioia Dell Colle *

550+

£250,000

£250,000

£6,500,000

Trapani

150

£75,000

£75,000

£1,950,000

Naples

50

£15,000

£15,000

£390,000

Poggia Renatico

50

£35,000

£35,000

£910,000

Akrotiri **

400

£40,000

£40,000

£1,040,000

Longer Separation Allowance

£150,000

£3,900,000

Local Overseas Allowance

£12,000

£312,000

* MOD, MA, 15 June 11: “The average monthly cost of all UK personnel at Gioia dell Colle is around £1 million.”

** Akrotiri already has an RAF personnel establishment in excess of 1,500 to support aircraft operating through there or from there (AAR tankers, Sentinel, AWACS and logistic support aircraft). A further 100 personnel have been deployed for Operation Ellamy (MA, 14 June 11)—Ellamy costs should therefore include a proportion of standing personnel. Only this will give a reliable overall cost estimate.

*** Minister for Armed Forces costs in Parliamentary answer to Jim Murphy, MP. (Hansard/Commons/bydate/20110614/writtenanswers/part007).

Sub-Total for 6 months

£15,002,000

LOGISTIC SUPPLY AIR FROM UK—MATERIALS, SPARES, ORDNANCE (ESTIMATE)

No.ReturnFlights

Fuel Cost

Airframecost

Sub Total

6 months

14

£350,000

£2,400,000

£2,750,000

£71,500,000

LOGISTIC SUPPLY LAND FROM UK (ESTIMATE)

Per Week

6 months

£50,000

£1,300,000

Sub-Total for 6 months

£72,800,000

PERSONNEL TRANSPORT AND CHANGE-OVER—SIX MONTHS (ESTIMATE)

No.ReturnFlights

Fuel Cost

Airframecost

Sub Total

6 months

80

£2,000,000

£19,200,000

£21,200,000

Sub-Total for 6 months

£21,200,000

ADDITIONAL COSTS EG BASING RENTAL, ROTATION OF FIGHTERS FOR MAINTENANCE, ETC

Sub-Total for 6 months

£100 million

Estimated Total Bill for  6 months Land-Based Air Deployment

£905.542 million

Notes:

1. Aviation Fuel cost estimated to be £4.00 per gallon—as for civil airlines.

2. Airframe cost given = Government Figures per hour (eg Tornado: £35,000, Typhoon: £70,000 per hour) multiplied by length of mission multiplied by the number of missions.

3. Weapons cost per week taken from MoD news release: £6 million.

4. The estimated number of missions flown by Tornado per week (40) equates to one mission per aircraft every two days. United States Marine Corps Harriers were flying two missions per aircraft per day (four times as many as the Tornado). MoD reports would appear to indicate a higher flying rate (and therefore, greater expense): Tornado and Typhoon flew numerous patrols over Libya during the past two days. (MoD, 18 June 11.)

5. Various MoD statements/statistics as given by Defence News Analysis.

Annex B

EQUIVALENT COST OF SEA-BASED AIR OPERATIONS

Equivalent Cost of Sea-Based Air Operations—Libya—Includes the following:

CLOSE AIR SUPPORT AIRCRAFT MISSIONS PER WEEK (ESTIMATE)

No.Sorties ***

FuelCost

Airframecost*

WeaponsCost**

Sub Total

6 months

Harrier

28

£161,000

£1,036,000

£3,000,000

£4,197,000

£109,122,000

Apache

14

£28,000

£210,000

£1,400,000

£1,638,000

£42,588,000

* See Note 2, below, for calculation basis.

** Weapons cost per week less than land based. No Storm Shadow. Hellfire less expensive than Brimstone.

*** More than half Tornado/Typhoon sorties did not result in target attack.

AEW SEA KING AIRCRAFT MISSIONS PER WEEK (ESTIMATE)

No. Sorties ***

Fuel Cost

Airframe cost

Weapons Cost

Sub Total

6 months

Sea King

14

£28,000

£70,000

£0

£98,000

£2,548,000

Sub-Total for 6 months

£154,258,000

Estimated Total Bill for  6 months Sea-Based Air Deployment

£154.258 million

Notes:

1. Aviation Fuel cost estimated to be £4.00 per gallon—as for civil airlines.

2. Airframe cost given = Government Figures per hour where available (eg Harrier: £37,000) multiplied by length of mission multiplied by the number of missions.

Avoiding an Exaggerated Appreciation of Land-Based Air in the Libyan Operation

Reference

Letter from Nick Harvey MP, Minister of State for the Armed Forces to Sarah Wollaston MP, dated 15 June 2011, covering correspondence from Dr Paul Arnison-Newgass

1. In this world of the Internet and real-time communication, it is for consideration that the MoD scriptwriters who provide our Minister of State with information (for his responses to enquiries from the public) are prone to misleading error. I refer to the following sentence from the second paragraph:

“And as events in Libya show the agile and flexible force that we concluded we needed in last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) make a profound influence on the world stage.”

2. Prior to the advent of real-time news being available through the Internet, the scriptwriters could say almost anything they wished without fear of substantial rebuttal. This is no longer the case and some of the information emanating from MoD does that organisation a considerable disservice and arguably lays Ministers open to public questioning. The statement referred to above can most kindly be described as “A Generous Interpretation of Libyan Events”. Less kindly, it might be thought a “Gross Exaggeration”.

3. Where and how is this Agility and Flexibility being demonstrated in the Libyan Theatre? Contrary to the MoD-provided statement:

1.Land-based air power is proving “less responsive” and “cumbersome” and this has been remarked upon at all levels within the international community. The only “profound influence” being generated on the world stage is a negative one: European NATO nations are:

(a)unable to hold up their corner,

(b)short of weapons, and

(c)un-responsive to the needs on the ground.

2. The majority of effective strike power has been provided by the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, the United States Marine Corps Harriers (until withdrawn for political reasons by President Obama—too visible involvement for the American public to stomach) and, quietly and with no fanfare, by United States naval and air force aircraft (3,475 sorties—approximately 1/3rd of the total).

4. SDSR gapped the United Kingdom’s Sea-Based Airpower and in doing so prevented the UK from responding to the Libyan crisis in a truly agile and flexible manner (as with Charles de Gaulle).

5. Significantly, the Minister remarked upon the overriding need for fiscal constraint but, equally significantly, failed to mention the large and unnecessary cost of Britain’s Land-Based Air contribution to Operation Ellamy compared with what it would have cost utilising the Sea-Based Air assets that were removed by SDSR 2010.

6. If the future constitution of our armed services is going to be based in part upon the Libyan experience, we must assess the true costs of that experience. Over a six-month period direct Land-Based Air Costs are realistically estimated to be approximately £900 million. The more responsive, agile and flexible Sea-Based Air Costs would have been approximately £150 million. If the costs of the UK infrastructure supporting Libyan air operations (RAF airfields and Naval air stations and carrier) are taken into account, the Land-Based Air costs would rise to £1.35 billion compared with £0.245 billion for the same period utilising Sea-Based Air.

7. The SDSR recommendations will therefore have caused Britain to spend approximately £1 billion more than it would have needed to in just a six-month period—if the right decisions had been made in SDSR. This extravagant and wasteful expenditure will only be increased for any operations further afield than Libya if we continue to rely on Land-Based Air.

UK Airfield Costs and Sea-Based Air “Mobile Airfield” Costs in support of Task Force Operations

Introduction

1. When comparing Land-Based Air costs against Sea-Based Air costs for task force operations offshore, it is not unreasonable to take into account the cost of running the air bases in the UK (and, for example, Akrotiri, Cyprus) from which the RAF and the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm deploy their aircraft.

2. This paper addresses these costs and draws appropriate comparisons. Official Government figures are used/extrapolated as given (unless otherwise stated): for example, by Nick Harvey MP (Minister of State (Armed Forces), Defence; North Devon, Liberal Democrat) in Parliamentary Written answers and statements, 2 December 2010 in response to a question by Sir Menzies Campbell CBE QC (North East Fife, Liberal Democrat) on the subject.

Airfields Supporting Operation Ellamy: Land-Based Air

3. Annual running costs for the principal airfields providing Land-Based Air support for Operation Ellamy are as follows:

Table 1

ANNUAL AIRFIELD RUNNING COSTS 2010–11—LAND-BASED AIR

Aircraft

Total £millions

RAF Akrotiri

Support Base

£100*

RAF Brize Norton

Logistics

£220

RAF Coningsby

Typhoon

£101

RAF Kinloss

Nimrod

£76

RAF Lossiemouth

Tornado GR4

£115

RAF Lyneham

Logistics

£121

RAF Marham

Tornado GR4

£144

RAF Waddington

E-3 Sentry AWACS

£113

Total

£991

* Estimate.

All of these airfields except Akrotiri are dedicated to supporting a particular type of aircraft deployed for Operation Ellamy: Akrotiri is continuously manned and maintained as a contingent capability for the support of offshore operations, eg Afghanistan, Libya. (Aircraft carriers also provide contingent capability but with greater flexibility, mobility and deterrence).

Airfields/Platforms that could have Supported Operation Ellamy: Sea-Based Air

4. Annual running costs for the principal airfields and/or operating platforms that could provide Sea-Based Air support for Operation Ellamy are as follows:

Table 2

ANNUAL AIRFIELD RUNNING COSTS 2010–11—SEA-BASED AIR

Aircraft

Total £millions

RAF Cottesmore/Culdrose

Harrier GR9/AEW Helo

£107*

Army Air Corps

Apache

£30**

Royal Fleet Auxiliary

£10

Illustrious class carrier

£25

Amphibious Assault Ship

HMS Ocean Air Group

£15**

Total

£187

* It is likely that RAF Cottesmore would not be the home base for Royal Navy Harrier aircraft; but rather, Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose which would also be the base for the AEW Sea King Mk7 helicopter.

** These figures are estimates.

Discussion

5. The above assets are directly concerned with providing air support for offshore contingency operations. Other Royal Naval surface warships and submarines are not included in the equation because:

(a)They are not directly concerned with the physical provision of Close Air Support missions.

(b)They are in place and providing operational services irrespective of whether Land-Based Air or Sea-Based Air is used.

6. Figure 1, below, provides a graphical presentation of the comparison in cost terms between “the airfield requirements for the permanent basing of air assets that are deployed in support of offshore operations”.

Figure 1

COST OF SUPPORTING AIRFIELDS

Conclusions

7. There is an extremely large and expensive infrastructure of RAF airfields and aircraft supporting Britain’s ability to deploy Land-Based Air for offshore contingency task force operations.

8. The infrastructure for supporting the deployment of Sea-Based Air is very much smaller and less expensive—yet delivers the same or better effect.

Recommendation

9. Bearing in mind the fact that Sea-Based Air contingency operational deployments are better tactically, cheaper and once the carrier is deployed, faster (achieving at least as good combat effectiveness), Whitehall should now reconsider the wisdom of reliance upon Land-Based Air and concentrate future resources on the Sea-Based Air option.

Air Power Projection Options. The Logical Choice Is Clear

Introduction

1. 90% of the world’s population lives within 100 nautical miles of the ocean shore. It follows that 90% of the possible trouble spots in the world also lie in littoral areas. It should be noted that for target areas well inland, Sea-Based Air support still has an extremely good range capability but the advantages in cost-effectiveness start to diminish as the range increases. Nevertheless, for example, in Afghanistan approximately 35% of all Close Air Support missions are flown by F-18 aircraft launched from United States aircraft carriers. It should be further noted that in Iraq 80% of all strike missions flown were conducted by carrier borne aircraft.

2. Prior to SDSR 2010 Britain had available four main aircraft types that have an ability to deliver weapons independently of other aircraft in support of own ground forces within an overseas theatre of combat:

(a)Harrier GR9. A specialist Close Air Support aircraft (Royal Navy/Royal Air Force). Carrier capable.

(b)Apache attack helicopter. A specialist Close Air Support aircraft (Army Air Corps). Carrier capable.

(c)The battlefield Lynx. A specialist Close Air Support aircraft (Army Air Corps). Carrier capable.

(d)Tornado GR4 (RAF). A low-level interdiction bomber. Non-carrier capable.

(The Typhoon not yet fully modified for the ground attack role.)

3. The first three types above are fully capable of operating from aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships and can therefore normally be positioned close to the scene of required action as in Libya. The Tornado (and the Typhoon) can only be operated from airfields on land and require significant logistical support to do so away from their home base. The logical option for air power projection (Sea-Based Air versus Land-Based Air) should therefore be defined by:

(a)operational effectiveness,

(b)cost effectiveness, and

(c)the risk factor associated with the presumption that secure land-based airfields will be available for UK aircraft deployment close to the Theatre of action.

Capability and Cost

4. Table 1, below, demonstrates the firepower available from the Sea-Based/Carrier Capable Aircraft and from the Land-Based Aircraft (Tornado):

Table 1

COMPARATIVE WEAPON LOADS—SEA VERSUS LAND-BASED AIR

GPSGuidedBomb

GPSBunkerBusterBomb

Maverick

Brimstone/Hellfire

2.75"/CRVRockets

20mm/30mmCannon

StormShadow

ALARM

Tomahawk

Sea-Based Air

×

×

Land-Based Air

×

×

×

The two weapons that are not carried by either Harrier or Apache are the Storm Shadow missile and the ALARM anti-radar missile. However, the Storm Shadow capability can be adequately covered by the GPS Bunker Busting Bomb carried by the Harrier (now being used by Tornado in Libya for precisely this purpose instead of Storm Shadow).

5. The fuel cost per mission is markedly higher for the Land-Based Aircraft because of the long transit distances to the target area and the resultant need for Air-To-Air Refuelling. Figure 1, below, demonstrates that Land-Based missions from airfields 600 nautical miles away (which achieve just the same weapons effect) cost more than four times as much as Sea-Based Air missions. If Land-Based Air has to operate from a range of 1,500 nautical miles, each mission costs approximately 40 times as much as the equivalent Sea-Based Air mission.

Figure 1

FUEL COSTS PER MISSION—SEA VERSUS LAND-BASED AIR

6. 300 weapon delivery missions flown by Sea-Based Air costs £1,450,000 in aviation fuel (Harrier: £5,750 per mission—200 missions. Apache: £3,000 per mission—100 missions).

7. The same 300 weapon delivery missions flown by Land-Based Air from 1500 miles costs £60 million in aviation fuel (Tornado and Typhoon: £200,000 per mission).

Discussion

8. Based on fuel costs alone, Sea-Based Air is the logical cost-effective choice for the delivery of weapons in support of ground force operations overseas.

9. On the face of it, there is little difference in weapon carrying capability between Sea-Based Air and Land-Based Air. The only real option that current Sea-Based aircraft do not presently deliver is the ALARM anti-radar missile (which some, but not all, Tornado aircraft can carry—this weapon has not been deployed in Operation Ellamy and should not therefore be considered a decisive priority).

10. However, it is important to note that the Harrier is a specialist Close Air Support aircraft (as is the Apache helicopter) and is more flexible and capable in that role than the Tornado. (Tornado shortfalls in this role have become apparent in Afghanistan with the Apache helicopter taking on more of the Close Air Support missions.) Reasons for this include:

(a)The time delays involved in long transits to targets using Tornadoes rather than locally sea-based aircraft—making tactical response against mobile, transient targets markedly less effective.

(b)Relatively poor downward visibility from the Tornado twin cockpit configuration.

(c)The reliance of Tornado on extremely long runways due to the aircraft’s power deficiency on take-off.

11. Contrary to the advice given by the Royal Air Force to Ministers, therefore, the Tornado has no significant weapons delivery advantage over the Harrier for Close Air Support and it costs much more to place the Tornado over the target than it does with Harrier or other Sea-Based Air vehicles. Fuel costs are markedly higher but these pale into insignificance when the logistics air support costs of deployed Land-Based Air are also taken into account.

Immediate Way Ahead

12. In the light of the above, it would have been financially and operationally advantageous for the Royal Navy Harrier GR9 squadrons to have been immediately re-commissioned and embarked in HMS Illustrious for service in the Mediterranean. This is still possible. The military and fiscal benefits of this would be matched by political gain—satisfying Sec Gates’ call for more capability and commitment to be demonstrated by European NATO nations.

The Future

13. Whilst the F35C is the aircraft presently planned for use on our new carriers, there remain some doubts as to its timely availability, cost and suitability. Indeed, with the fiscal crisis and debt problems now facing the United States, it is possible that the F 35 program as a whole might be cancelled or considerably reduced in scope. If the latter, the procurement cost per unit could “skyrocket”; putting it beyond the reach of the limited UK defence budget. It would be prudent, therefore, for military and government planners to take serious note of this possibility and consider alternatives.

14. A cost-effective, interim and possibly permanent option is readily available for the choice of aircraft. This is the 4.5 generation F-18 Super Hornet swing role fighter aircraft. It carries a greater variety of state-of-the-art weapons than either the Harrier or the Tornado and is the aircraft of choice for United States aircraft carriers up until at least 2035. Demonstrative Close Air Support weapon loads for this aircraft are given at Annex A. It should be noted that on all missions the F-18 also carries state of the art air-to-air missiles, thereby providing a continuous level of long range Expeditionary Task Force air defence and airspace denial (obviating the need for any form of Typhoon support).

Annex A

F-18 SUPER HORNET WEAPONS LOADS

Sea-based-Based AirGlobal Capability

F-18 Close Air support War loads

Always carrying at least two Sidewinder and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles.

Mk 82

AGM88

CBU87

CBU89

GBU10

GBU12

GBU24

JDAM

AIM 9

AIM120

20mm

6

2

2

500

2

2

2

500

4

2

2

500

4

2

2

500

2

2

2

500

6

2

2

500

2

2

2

500

2

2

2

500

2

6

500

8

500

Mk 82 500lb Bomb

AGM 88 HARM—anti-radar missile

CBU87

A cluster of 202 anti-armour, anti-personnel and incendiary bomblets that disperse over a discrete area and explode upon impact.

CBU 89 (78/B) GATOR

The Navy CBU-78/B is a 500-pound class cluster weapon that uses the Mk7 Rockeye dispenser. Rockeye has been in high-rate production for many years; the Mk7 dispenser is also a low-cost item.

GBU 10 2000lb Paveway

The GBU-10 consists of an MK-84 2,000 pound bomb with an added laser guidance package.

GBU 12 LGB Paveway

The Guided Bomb Unit-12 (GBU-12) utilizes a Mk82 500-pound general purpose warhead. The operator illuminates a target with a laser designator and then the munition guides to a spot of laser energy reflected from the target.

GBU 24 LLLGB Paveway

The Guided Bomb Unit-24 (GBU-24) Low Level Laser Guided Bomb [LLLGB] consists of either a 2,000-pound MK-84 general purpose or BLU-109 penetrator bomb modified with a Paveway III low-level laser-guided bomb kit to add the proportional guidance in place of the bang-bang type used in the Paveway II.

GBU 38 JDAM 2000lb

JDAM provides accurate delivery of general purpose bombs in adverse weather conditions. JDAM can be launched from approximately 15 miles from the target and each is independently targeted.

20 mm Cannon—500 Rounds

AIM 9 Sidewinder

AIM 120 AMRAAM

“Expeditionary Force”—Sea-Based versus Land-Based Air Power

1. Government [Labour and Coalition] policy on Defence since 1998 requires the capability to deploy military force globally, often called “Expeditionary Force”.

2. If this is to be done on anything but the lightest scales, sea control and transport is a prerequisite, along with the maintenance of an “adequate” air situation overhead.

3. This last may be obtained by land-based aircraft but land-based airpower rapidly becomes extremely expensive and slow to react to events on the ground or sea as soon as the scene of action is more than three or four hundred miles from its main base. Seaborne airpower does not become more expensive because its floating base and accompanying logistic support can be rapidly placed close to the scene of action.

4. Figure 1, below illustrates the disparity in fighter costs for the Libya operation—using data provided by the government and using Harrier as the sea-based fighter aircraft.

Figure 1

ATTACK AIRCRAFT COST PER WEEK £ MILLIONS

5. Figure 2, below provides estimates for the total cost of six months’ operations over Libya—again using data provided by the government and using Harrier as the sea-based fighter aircraft.

Figure 2

COST IN £ MILLIONS

6. It follows that, where at all possible and in the interest of flexibility, cost and operational efficiency, all of the U.K.’s future fixed wing fighter aircraft should have full seaborne capability.

7. The tasks of both the RAF’s Tornado and Typhoon could be performed effectively in the future by the carrier capable F-35C. However, there continue to be development and funding problems for the F 35 family of aircraft and, indeed, as a result of the pressing United States debt management crisis it is possible that the program may be significantly curtailed—or even cut. Government/MoD planners should therefore consider an interim buy of an alternative, cheaper and readily available carrier capable aircraft such as the F18 E/F Super Hornet.

8. It is for consideration that an interim buy of this aircraft should be made before more cash is wasted on refurbishing old Tornado airframes and further Typhoons are bought. The main advantages of the F18 for the UK are:

(a)that it is available now

(b)that it is both land-based and carrier-based capable

(c)that it is one-third the price of a Typhoon or the F-35

(d)that it has more swing-role capability than Tornado and Typhoon combined

(e)that its performance as an interceptor is comparable to the Typhoon

(f)that it has tanker, EW/ELINT and Defence Suppression versions [F18G] that are not available elsewhere

(g)that it would allow for savings by having a Joint Headquarters and Training Squadron

(h)that either service operating the aircraft could support the other if required, and

(i)that savings would accrue in maintenance, training and spares which are plentiful as variants of the aircraft are operated by the USN, USMC, Canada, Australia, Spain, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia and Switzerland.

Defending the UK’s Interests Worldwide: The Libyan Experience

Executive Summary

1. The re-emergence of asymmetric swarm attack within modern military tactical philosophy has significant implications for our need to protect our Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) and trade routes. This paper examines the role to be played by the Queen Elizabeth class carriers and their air groups in anticipating, deterring and overcoming asymmetric swarm attacks at commercial shipping chokepoints around the world, using the Strait of Hormuz as an example. The paper also highlights how the effectiveness of the carrier groups could be greatly enhanced by fixed and rotary wing Unmanned Carrier Air Vehicles (UCAV).

Introduction

2. One of the prime threats facing our Sea LOC and trade routes is the ability of rogue states and, to a lesser extent, terrorist organisations to launch “asymmetric swarm attacks” against merchant vessels and warships. The obvious points at which to launch such attacks are the chokepoints on important international shipping routes, a topical example of which is the Hormuz Strait at the entrance to the Arabian Gulf. Other choke points are the Bab el Mandeb near Aden, and the Sunda, Malacca, Lombok and Sumba straits around the Indonesian archipelago. All can be dominated by land based or small craft based anti-ship missiles (ASM).

3. Asymmetric Swarm Attack can be by soldiers or aircraft, warships or smaller craft, or any combination of these. The Soviets planned to use it for attacking NATO fleets in the North Atlantic and the Chinese Navy plans to conduct any combat operations against the U.S. Navy using swarm attacks. Swarm attacks can only be successfully opposed by providing own forces with the right equipment and weapon systems on-site/in theatre to deal with the threat.

The Hormuz Strait

4. The most prominent expression of Iran’s naval warfare doctrine was a series of limited naval skirmishes with the U.S. Navy in April 1988 during the final phases of the Iran-Iraq War, when hopelessly outclassed Iranian forces battled U.S. naval units in the Persian Gulf. The experience taught Iran that large naval vessels are vulnerable to small boat operations and spurred interest in missile-armed fast-attack craft.

5. Iran has amassed a fleet of fast patrol boats in the Hormuz Strait under the control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Armed with cruise missiles, mines and torpedoes, they can reach a speed of 100 kph/62 mph. They can cross the straits in 30 minutes and attack shipping with very much less warning.

6. During hostilities, Iranian naval forces would seek to close the Strait of Hormuz and destroy enemy forces in the Persian Gulf; speed and surprise would be key. Iranian naval forces would seek to identify and attack the enemy’s centres of gravity as quickly as possible and inflict maximum damage before enemy counter-attacks degrade their capability. Because of the proximity of major shipping routes to the country’s mountainous 2,000-km coastline, Iranian naval elements can sortie with little chance of early detection. Meanwhile, shore-based anti-ship missiles can engage targets almost anywhere in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

IRANIAN MOBILE LAND-LAUNCHED ASM

7. To achieve the latter capability, and to improve the flexibility of its shore-based missile force, Iran has devoted significant efforts to extending the range of locally produced variants of a number of Chinese shore-based anti-ship missiles (ASM) such as the HY-2 Silkworm and the C-802 (from 50 to 300 kms and from 120 to 170 kms, respectively). It has also introduced the use of helicopter-borne long-range anti-ship missiles.

Does the United Kingdom need a Unilateral Capability against Asymmetric Swarm Attack?

8. There are at least three scenarios in which a blockade of the Hormuz Strait (or other strategic choke points) could directly affect British interests:

(a)A total blockade against all international shipping.

(b)A blockade to prevent oil and gas from Iraq or Kuwait from getting to their markets.

(c)A blockade specifically targeted against British shipping.

In the light of the strategic oil and gas supplies situated within the Arabian Gulf, the first would generate a major international response led by the U.S. Navy. The second would also most probably invite a response by the USA to prevent another war between Iraq and Iran.

9. The last, however, would be a specifically targeted blockade against British shipping enforced by the Iran government or threatened by terrorist organisations supported by Iran. It is clearly in the interest of Britain to be able to respond independently to the threat of such blockades in the Strait of Hormuz and at other chokepoints worldwide.

How should The United Kingdom plan to Deter or React to such a Blockade?

10. Deterrence is born from strength and visible/recognised capability. Carrier Battle Groups have the integral capability to bring overwhelming power to bear against those that wish to threaten us. Such deterrence has been very successful at preventing the need for escalation of UK combat operations in the past—and the Queen Elizabeth class carrier and air group will provide the same deterrence in the future.

11. The only alternative would be to maintain sovereign bases in foreign lands close to the chokepoints from which appropriate air and surface operations could be launched. This was the premise behind the 1967 carrier withdrawal decision, based on the Royal Air Force claim that it could protect the fleet from air attack anywhere on the high seas of the world. That claim was proved fallacious in the 1982 Falklands conflict.

12. We can no longer afford the luxury of building, supporting and protecting military air bases throughout the world, use of which may be limited by the political will of other nations, particularly if those bases are specifically for a single local purpose and do not contribute to our general national security interests.

Mobility

13. Carrier battle groups have the ability to deploy rapidly to any scene of rising tension. Their movement on the high seas is not constrained by the sovereign rights of other nations and their extraction does not leave a military footprint, and they are not obliged to remain in any position where they could easily be attacked. Whether reacting to littoral conflicts or threatened blockades, their very presence in theatre acts as a very strong deterrent, which often leads to de-escalation in tension and prevents the need for full military action. Air to air refuelling may allow land based aircraft to reach a combat theatre, but it cannot create the intensity of flying operations that a carrier close to the combat zone can provide.

Projection of Offensive Air Power by a Carrier Battle Group

14. The long radii of action of the Joint Strike Fighter (eg F-35C—700 nm) will ensure the capability to reconnoitre and attack threat positions without placing the carrier group itself in danger.

15. Significant as this capability is, an even more impressive capability is now available for deployment from carrier group decks; that is, the use of fixed and rotary wing Unmanned Carrier Air Vehicles (UCAVs).

16. The rotary wing A160 Hummingbird UAV is already proving its worth in combat operations in Afghanistan and can be operated from any small ship that is helicopter capable. The fixed wing X-47B UCAV, now in pre-production for the U.S. Navy (and specifically planned for integrated carrier operations with the F-35C), will have a combat radius for reconnaissance and surface/ground attack missions of approximately 3,000 nm.

17. Embarking a mix of F-35Cs and X-47Bs in the Queen Elizabeth class carriers would further contain the cost of the F-35C procurement and, at the same time, would endow the carrier air group with an almost strategic level of reconnaissance and attack, providing the capability to attack targets anywhere in Iran from a launch position in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The embarkation of the versatile Hummingbird in accompanying warships would provide for a significant increase in the battle group’s reconnaissance and attack capability.

18. In the context of the Hormuz Strait and deterring/combating asymmetric swarm attack, such capability would be invaluable. For example, if reacting to swarm attacks that have already taken place against merchant shipping, the carrier group could launch a continuous stream of stealthy and precise interdiction missions/attacks whilst in transit to and well before it arrived in the combat theatre.

The New Age of Unmanned Air Vehicles

19. Combat operations in Afghanistan have already demonstrated the extraordinary effectiveness of rotary wing UAVs on the battlefield. The A160 Hummingbird, controlled by the army on the ground, has proven its worth time and again in the tactical support of frontline combat operations, conducting some missions that might not have been possible with manned aircraft, at far lower cost.

20. These UAVs are fully integrated within the local ground force command structure and complement the tactical air support expertise and capability already demonstrated by Royal Navy Lynx helicopters and Army Apaches. Further to their hitting power and flexibility, they have the distinct advantage of not requiring expensive aircrew officers to operate them. Indeed experience has shown that a Weapons Operator with an affinity for computer games is the ideal candidate for controlling these vehicles in the air and on task.

21. With UAVs having such extended combat ranges and endurance time, other factors come into play. These include the distance to reload and the capacity of the home base to maintain and repair the units when they come back damaged. Future unmanned systems will be stealthy and maintenance of the skin and ECM gear will be crucial to their mission success. In the Royal Navy, embarked facilities would make it unnecessary to rely on third party land-based support, which would require expensive facilities to be created close to each new theatre of action.

Typical Reconnaissance Equipment for UCAVs/UAVs

22. The UCAV/UAV with the “Gorgon Stare” is a good example of available modern systems. It has approximately 300 lenses using sophisticated infrared and ultraviolet technologies to detect, record and identify even very small (human) targets by day or night at ranges of more than 10 miles. It can cover a four-kilometre radius beneath the UAV from 12 angles, permitting a combat controller on the ground, a commander at HQ and an intelligence officer back in the U.S. all to choose a different angle from the same UAV.

23. The A160 Hummingbird appears to enjoy even more “specialist” capabilities. Fitted for AEW with its Forester Radar it is purported to be able to:

(a)“See through” three to four layers of forest canopy and detect ground targets;

(b)Detect air targets at a reasonable distance; and

(c)Detect submerged submarines when they are close enough to the surface (within 100m or so).

Offensive Attack Power of UCAVs/UAVs

24. The Hummingbird can carry a greater ground attack load than the Apache gunship. It can also carry a sono-buoy package and torpedoes, making it a prime system for the interdiction of swarm attack by surface craft.

25. The X-47B can carry all ordnance destined for F-35, making it a very powerful, very long range attack vehicle.

Preparing for the Contingency of a Blockade of the Hormuz Strait

26. It is of course inherent in all warfare doctrine to be prepared when there is a likelihood of attack against own interests, and to reconnoitre the threat in detail. This could be best achieved by having stealthy “eyes in the sky” patrolling the threat zone on a daily basis and gathering detailed information on the position and disposition of threat forces, to mitigate the possibility of mistakenly engaging non-combatant targets.

27. The F-35C could carry out this task from moderately long range, but the longer range X-47B is even less vulnerable to detection or interdiction than the F-35. It would be more logical and cost-effective to use the UCAV capability with its extensive loiter time over the target area and its impressive array of visual and electronic intelligence gathering equipment. The rotary wing UAVs are also extremely stealthy and capable in their own right.

Countering an Attack against our Shipping in the Hormuz Strait

28. Given full prior reconnaissance of Qeshm Island, adjacent coastlines and other smaller islands, accurate action can be taken against any land or sea attack on a British merchantman. Missile air defence and radar installations would be high priority first strike targets. Iran might initiate attacks on merchant shipping with massive swarm attacks or begin with smaller scale actions. Britain must be prepared first, to deter such attacks with a robust military presence in theatre and second, to provide a graduated and effective response to any level of attack. The Carrier Battle Group would not enter the “killing ground” of the Arabian Gulf if there were any possibility of an Iranian attack, but would stand off and use its long range attack capability to destroy Iran’s inventory of swarm attack associated weapons systems.

Summary

29. There are several commercial shipping chokepoints around the world through which Britain’s vital trade must pass, which may be threatened by rogue nations or terrorist organisations with the ability to launch mass asymmetric swarm attacks against shipping. Examination of this threat in the Hormuz Strait indicates that it can be countered by deterrence, and by graduated response leading to overwhelming force.

30. In the light of Britain’s diverse global interests, she must be prepared to deal with this threat both unilaterally and in conjunction with Allies. This will require a detailed reconnaissance picture of the threat zone, an ability to distinguish between threat platforms and normal shipping, and an ability to interdict those platforms and associated land installations with overwhelming air attack power from long range.

31. The Queen Elizabeth class carriers and their air groups with their long range reconnaissance capability, their firepower, their inherent mobility and their rapid response time represent the most cost-effective and operationally effective options for dealing with this threat. Balanced investment in Unmanned Carrier Air Vehicles (UCAVs) and rotary wing Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) would significantly enhance this capability.

Armed Services—Active Operational Commitments and Personnel

Executive Summary

(i) This paper provides the reader with an understanding of the level of Active Operational Commitment and Responsibility enjoyed by each of the three Services.

(ii) It compares the Personnel Strength of each Service with associated Active Operational Commitments and draws conclusions.

Introduction

1. In the light of the on-going Defence Select Committee, Public Accounts Committee and Defence Reform Unit deliberations concerning the way ahead for our Armed Forces, it is considered necessary that such deliberations

(a)Should be able to take into account the Active Operational Commitments and Responsibilities of each of the three Services; and

(b)Should be able to assess properly the direct contribution being made by each Service to Active Front Line Operations.

2. For the purpose of this paper, “Active Operational Commitments” are those Commitments that require the deployment of military assets to deter or oppose a tangible or perceived threat. Standing Forces that continue to be maintained on the basis of the Cold War Strategy cannot be considered “actively committed” to operational activity. For example, the resources still maintained.

(a)to provide defence of UK air space against military attack; or

(b)to oppose a Soviet invasion of Europe

are not considered Active Operational Commitments—because in neither instance is there any perceived or imminent threat. (Please see Annex D for expanded comment/definition.) However, this paper is not suggesting and would not suggest that Britain can do without a well-equipped standing Army as a deterrent to those who might wish us harm. Such a standing Army would of course have to relate to current defence strategy and perceived threats.

3. The first three Annexes to this paper provide a breakdown of Active Operational Commitments and the numbers of Personnel directly associated with those Commitments.

4. Information from these Annexes is discussed and summarised below with a view to highlighting those areas that merit an increase in defence funding and other areas in which a revision in force levels and funding would be apposite.

5. The Commitments and Personnel figures may not be precise in all instances due to the lack of availability of certain statistics from MoD. However, they do provide a fairly accurate broad picture of how each service contributes to the frontline requirements facing the United Kingdom. Further input would be welcomed.

Discussion

Annex A

ROYAL NAVY AND ROYAL MARINES

6. Based on the data available to date, approximately 25% of Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and the majority of our fleet warships are deployed in the front line, whether in Afghanistan, the South Atlantic, off Libya, in the Indian Ocean, in the Arabian Gulf or, indeed, in home waters. This global maritime military presence provides Britain with valuable political influence and is a visible deterrence to those who might wish to do us harm.

7. Other important Naval Commitments such as the Anti-Drug Patrols in the Caribbean have been discontinued as a result of the shortages of platforms and personnel inflicted by SDSR 2010.

Annex B

ARMY

8. Based on the data available to date, approximately 5% of Army personnel are deployed in the front line at the present time. As stated at paragraph 2, above, the value and the need for a robust, well-equipped standing British Expeditionary Force is not in question. However, the size and structure of this Service is considered to merit review.

Annex C

ROYAL AIR FORCE

9. Based on the data available to date, approximately 6% of Royal Air Force personnel are deployed on Active Front Line Duty at the present time. Logistic support for active land-based air operations offshore requires a further 7.5% of total manpower.

10. Figures presented relating to Afghanistan and to Libya clearly demonstrate that the logistic supply of land-based air resources offshore costs more in terms of personnel and equipment than the frontline forces themselves. There are also undeclared logistics costs such as the permanent basing of RAF and Army personnel in Cyprus (2,800 personnel) and RAF Movements Personnel based in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Ascension Island and the United Arab Emirates (totalling at least 1,000).

11. At a time of fiscal constraint, this is clearly not an efficient way to conduct our military business. For instance, it is possible that air power delivered from aircraft carriers or air transport provided by civil airlines may be less expensive.

Comparisons Drawn

12. The Annexes show that the Royal Navy and Royal Marines have far more Active Operational Commitments than the other two Services and yet have significantly lower numbers of personnel available for these important tasks.

Table 1

PERSONNEL ON ACTIVE OPERATIONAL COMMITMENTS

Personnel Numbers

Service

At 1 April 2011

On Active Duty

Percentage

RN & RM

35,430

8,677

24.49%

Army

101,300

5,300

5.23%

RAF

40,090

2,350

5.86%

Figure 1

GRAPHIC REPRESENTATION OF ACTIVE OPERATIONAL COMMITMENTS

LibyaOperation Ellamy

13. If we look specifically at the Libya campaign, Operation Ellamy, the comparison in personnel required to do the same job (with RAF Land-Based Air or with RN Carrier-Based Air) is given in Figure 2, below.

Figure 2

LIBYA—CARRIER VERSUS LAND-BASED AIR: PERSONNEL

14. Indeed, the Navy carrier option endows on-site operational advantages that are not available from the RAF option (including the ability to provide Command and Control and to deploy AEW Sea Kings, ASW Helicopters, Apache Attack Helicopters, Combat Search and Rescue, Hospital Care, Disaster Relief, etc). It would also save the taxpayer a lot of money as demonstrated in Figure 3, below.

Figure 3

LIBYA—CARRIER VERSUS LAND-BASED AIR: COST

Conclusion

15. The message is clear. In comparison with sister Services:

(a)The Royal Navy is undermanned and overcommitted.

(b)The Royal Air Force and the Army have far fewer commitments but relatively large manpower in relation to those commitments.

(c)Based on the figures so far obtained, offshore deterrence and intervention would be more cost effective and more operationally effective using maritime-based air power rather than land-based air power for any tasks beyond un-refuelled range of the UK.

Recommendations

16. It is recommended that:

(a)The Defence Select Committee,

(b)The Public Accounts Committee,

(c)Defence Reform Unit, and

(d)The Cabinet,

take note of the data provided within this paper and its Annexes and of the Conclusions at paragraph 14 above.

Annex A

THE ROYAL NAVY AND ROYAL MARINES

The Armed Services—Active Operational Commitments and Personnel

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines

Total Personnel (1 April 11)

Royal Navy & Royal Marines

35,430

[Royal Marines circa]

7,000

STANDING AND CONTINGENCY COMMITMENTS—WARSHIPS

Standing Commitments Aircraft Carriers

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Refit—returns to Fleet July 2011

One Invincible Class—HMS Illustrious

685

Air Group

366

Sub-Total

1,051

Contingency Commitments Aircraft Carriers

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

 

Standing Commitments Frigates and Destroyers

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

UK maritime security

One Type 45 destroyer

195

UK maritime security

One Type 42 destroyer

287

UK maritime security

Two Type 23 frigates

370

 

Atlantic patrol tasking (South)1

Two Type 42 destroyers

574

Pre-deployment leave

One Type 42 destroyer

287

OP CALASH Counter Piracy

One Type 23 frigate

185

OP ELLAMY—Libya

One Type 23 frigate

185

OP ELLAMY—Libya

One Type 22 frigate

250

OP CALASH Counter Piracy

One Type 22 frigate

250

 

Towed array patrol ship

One Type 23 frigate

185

Fleet Ready Escort

One Type 23 frigate

185

 

Sea Training

One Type 45 destroyer

195

Sea Training

One Type 22 frigate

250

Sea training

Two Type 23 frigates

185

 

Refit

Three Type 23 frigates

555

Assisted maintenance

One Type 23 frigate

185

Sub-Total

2,666

Contingency Commitments Frigates and Destroyers

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

OP TELIC—Iraq

One Type 23 frigate

185

Sub-Total

185

Standing Commitments Amphibious Forces

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

 

Contingency Commitments Amphibious Forces

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

OP ELLAMY—Libya

Amphibious Assault Ship

285

Air Group

180

Albion—class LPD (2)

650

Sub-Total

465

Standing Commitments Submarines

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Hunter Killers (SSN)

Tactical support of Fleet

Trafalgar Class (6)

780

Tactical support of Fleet

Astute Class (1)

98

Sub-Total

878

 

Trident (SSBN)

Strategic Deterrent

Vanguard Class (4)

540

Sub-Total

540

Contingency Commitments Submarines

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

 

Standing Commitments Mine Warfare

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

OP ELLAMY—Libya

OP TELIC—Iraq

Contingency Commitments Mine Warfare

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Hunt Class (8)

344

Sandown Class (7)

238

Sub-Total

582

Standing Commitments Patrol Vessels

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

South Atlantic Fishery Protection

River Class (4)

120

Sub-Total

120

Contingency Commitments Patrol Vessels

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

 

Standing Commitments Fast Patrol Boats

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Gibraltar

Scimitar Class (2)

14

UK Fishery Protection

Archer Class (2)

12

Sub-Total

26

Standing Commitments Survey Vessels

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Ocean Survey

HMS Scott

63

Inshore Surveys

HMS Gleaner

8

Sub-Total

71

Contingency Commitments Survey Vessels

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Submarine & Amphibious Support

Multi Purpose Survey (2)

144

Sub-Total

144

STANDING AND CONTINGENCY COMMITMENTS—PERSONNEL

Standing Commitments Royal Marines & RN Personnel

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Afghanistan

3,000

Sub-Total

3,000

Contingency Commitments Royal Marines

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Special Operations

200

Sub-Total

200

STANDING AND CONTINGENCY COMMITMENTS—AIRCRAFT

Standing Commitments Aircraft

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

OP ATALANTA EU Counter Piracy

Lynx

OP TELIC—Iraq

Lynx

OP CALASH Counter Piracy

Lynx, Merlin

Afghanistan

Sea King Mk 4, Sea King Mk7

South Atlantic

2 Sea King

Contingency CommitmentsAircraft

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

OP ELLAMY—Libya

 

Grand Total Active Operational Personnel

8,677

 

Percentage of Total Manpower

24.79%

Notes

South Atlantic

A standing naval commitment to the South Atlantic and West Africa.

OP ATALANTA EU Counter Piracy

EU counter-piracy

OP ELLAMY—Libya

In support of UNSCR 1973 (Libya).

OP TELIC—Iraq

Security of Iraqi territorial seas.

OP CALASH Counter Piracy

Counter-piracy

Personnel attached to platforms/warships in refit, on pre-deployment leave or Sea Training not included in Active Operational Personnel figures.

Annex B

THE ARMY

Armed Services—Active Operational Commitments and Personnel

The Army

Total Personnel (1 April 2011)

101300

STANDING AND CONTINGENCY COMMITMENTS

Standing Commitments

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Afghanistan

Ground Forces

3,000

South Atlantic

Ground Forces

800

UN Support

Ground Forces

500

Sub-Total

4300

Contingency Commitments

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Special Operations

300

Sub-Total

300

ARMY AIR CORPS

Standing Commitments Apache

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Afghanistan

0

South Atlantic

Sub-Total

0

Contingency Commitments Apache

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

OP ELLAMY—Libya

7 Apache helicopter

350

Sub-Total

350

Standing Commitments Lynx

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Afghanistan

Lynx

350

Sub-Total

350

Contingency Commitments Lynx

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

 

Sub-Total

0

Grand Total Active Operational Personnel

5,300

 

Percentage of Total Manpower

5.23%

Notes

South Atlantic

A standing naval commitment to the South Atlantic and West Africa.

OP ATALANTA EU Counter Piracy

EU counter-piracy

OP ELLAMY—Libya

In support of UNSCR 1973 (Libya).

OP TELIC—Iraq

Security of Iraqi territorial seas.

OP CALASH Counter Piracy

Counter-piracy

 

Personnel and families deployed to Europe/Germany/Canada facing no perceived military threat cannot be considered to be on Active Operations.

Annex C

THE ROYAL AIR FORCE

The Armed Services—Active Operational Commitments and Personnel

The Royal Air Force

Total Personnel (1 April 2011)

40,090

STANDING AND CONTINGENCY COMMITMENTS—AIRCRAFT

Standing Commitments Typhoon (60 Aircraft)

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Policing of UK Airspace

46 Typhoon aircraft

2,000

Falklands Air Defence

4 Typhoon aircraft

200

Sub-Total

200

Contingency Commitments Typhoon

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

OP ELLAMY—Libya

10 Typhoon aircraft

300

Sub-Total

300

Standing Commitments Tornado (107 Aircraft)

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Afghanistan

8 Tornado aircraft

150

Sub-Total

150

Contingency Commitments Tornado

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

OP ELLAMY—Libya

10 Tornado aircraft

300

Sub-Total

300

Standing Commitments Sentry AEW1 (7 Aircraft)

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Afghanistan

200

Sub-Total

200

Contingency Commitments Sentry AEW1

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

OP ELLAMY—Libya

1 AEW1

200

Sub-Total

200

Standing Commitments Sentinel R1 (5 Aircraft)

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Afghanistan

2

200

Sub-Total

200

Contingency Commitments Sentinel R1

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

OP ELLAMY—Libya

1

200

Sub-Total

200

Standing Commitments Merlin HC3 (28 Aircraft)

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Afghanistan

5

200

Sub-Total

200

Contingency Commitments Merlin HC3

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Nil

Sub-Total

0

Standing Commitments Chinook HC (46 Aircraft)

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Afghanistan

Chinook

400

Sub-Total

400

Contingency Commitments Chinook HC

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Nil

Sub-Total

0

Standing Commitments Puma HC1 (48? Aircraft)

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

 

Sub-Total

0

Contingency Commitments Puma

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Nil

Sub-Total

0

COMMITMENTS LOGISTIC SUPPORT

Standing Commitments Globemaster III (7 Aircraft)

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Afghanistan

?

400

South Atlantic

?

200

Sub-Total

400

Contingency Commitments Globemaster III

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

OP ELLAMY—Libya

200

Sub-Total

200

Standing Commitments Hercules C-130 (24 Aircraft)

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Afghanistan

?

800

South Atlantic

?

800

Sub-Total

800

Contingency Commitments Hercules C-130

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

OP ELLAMY—Libya

200

Sub-Total

200

Standing Commitments TriStar KC1 (9 Aircraft)

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Afghanistan

?

600

Sub-Total

600

Contingency Commitments TriStar KC1

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

OP ELLAMY—Libya

Sub-Total

0

Standing Commitments VC10 (6? Aircraft)

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

South Atlantic

1?

200

Sub-Total

200

Contingency Commitments VC10

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

OP ELLAMY—Libya

1?

200

Sub-Total

200

Standing Commitments Airbus Voyager (1 Aircraft)

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

 

Sub-Total

0

Contingency Commitments Airbus Voyager

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

 

Sub-Total

0

COMMITMENTS RAF PERSONNEL

Active Front Line Duty

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Afghanistan

1,150

South Atlantic

200

OP ELLAMY—Libya

1,000

Policing UK Airspace

2,000

Sub-Total

2,350

Percentage of Total Manpower

5.86%

Logistic Support of Front Line

Task

Platforms Involved

Personnel Involved

Afghanistan

1,800

South Atlantic

1.200

OP ELLAMY—Libya

600

Sub-Total

3,000

Percentage of Total Manpower

7.48%

Notes

South Atlantic

A standing naval commitment to the South Atlantic and West Africa.

OP ATALANTA EU Counter Piracy

EU counter-piracy

OP ELLAMY—Libya

In support of UNSCR 1973 (Libya).

OP TELIC—Iraq

Security of Iraqi territorial seas.

OP CALASH Counter Piracy

Counter-piracy

 

Personnel working from home and on standby for UK Airspace Policing are not included in Active Operational Personnel figures.

 

Logistics Support activities cannot be considered Active Operations in the front line—any more than the Logistic supply of the Fleet at Sea.

Annex D

“ACTIVE OPERATIONAL COMMITMENTS”

Frontline Forces

1. In this new world post-SDSR 2010 and with the Prime Minister arguing with Defence Chiefs over whether Britain still maintains a “full spectrum” of military capability, it is considered important to recognize the distinction between “standing forces” and “those forces deployed in the front line”.

2. There will be those who will whimsically claim that all our personnel in uniform are in the front line. That, of course, is not so! One would be justified in saying that all our personnel in uniform should be prepared for and capable of operating in the frontline—but that is very different from saying they are already there. Personnel living with their families on a day-to-day basis within the UK or in Germany or in Cyprus cannot be considered as being in the front line. Conversely, personnel deployed to Afghanistan for combat operations are most certainly in the front line.

Discussion

3. Individual Service Chiefs will undoubtedly wish to provide their own definition of what can be classified as “frontline” and what can be classified as “Active Operational Commitments”. In the same breath, we should be reminded that each Service operates under different harmony rules, the most demanding of which are those affecting Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel. It is invidious that Army personnel should have better and more relaxed conditions of service than Royal Marines personnel—especially when conducting exactly the same type of combat operations (vis Afghanistan). It is also unconscionable that Royal Air Force personnel should have better and more relaxed conditions of service than Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm personnel.

4. It would appear to be no coincidence that the Royal Navy has many more continuing active operational commitments offshore than either the Army or the Royal Air Force.

Definition

5. For the purposes of this paper, it is the commitments to formal tasks offshore/away from the family that define “Active Operational Commitments”—particularly when the personnel involved face the possibility of military action and/or are placed in harm’s way.

6. Some of these Commitments are standing ones such as Afghanistan, Antipiracy Patrols, Hunter Killer Submarine Operations and the Protection of the Falkland Islands and surrounding waters. Contingency Commitments are those that the government has not anticipated but feels compelled to react to; eg the Libya affair.

Prepared 7th February 2012