Friday, 4 December 2009

Dauntless joins Daring!

Another T45 has been delivered! We now have two excellent new destroyers, the first ships to join the RN for some time. Quentin Davies was quoted as saying:

"The six Type 45s will be the largest and most powerful destroyers ever operated by the Royal Navy. With the second of class now in the hands of the MOD, we are forging ahead to deliver an unparalleled air defence capability to the Royal Navy."

Well, largest is pretty much meaningless, Steel is cheap and Air is free. We could probably buy an old supertanker, stick a cannon on it and call it a Destroyer to get a "larger" vessel.
On that point, can anyone really see this ship performing Torpedo attacks on Enemy Ships of the Line? That's what a destroyer was originally supposed to do. Accurately, it's probably a cruiser, T45s are only 4m shorter than the Dido Class Anti-Air Cruisers and have a larger displacement. Actually, lets use the Dido Class as a point of comparison, they're built to do the same job and are about the same size.

The main armament on the Dido class was 10 5.25 inch, with 2 40mm Bofors and a couple of Vickers machine guns.

The main armament on the T45 is Sea Viper, with up to 48 missiles, 1 4.5 inch gun and 2 30mm Oerlikons.

The quote above talks about the T45 being the "most powerful". Well, at the moment, it doesn't appear that Sea Viper works.

So, what we have for our £1Bn is a ship that carries ten times less heavy weapons than a ship built before WWII. Sure, the Sea Viper System will work eventually, and I'm sure the C&C Capabilities of the T45 are excellent. In fact, they were even mentioned in the report:

"With the ability to integrate both land and air forces, HMS Dauntless truly is a joint asset and will carry out a wide range of operations, whilst remaining a highly effective air defence ship. Dauntless is a magnificent feat of engineering."

Wasn't the job of the T45 to guard the carriers we're now building? Won't they pretty much be in charge of integrating air operations? If Sea Viper is the answer to all our prayers, wouldn't it just have been cheaper and easier to put it on the carriers themselves? Afterall, they're going to have plenty of room, seeing as there won't be any planes on them.

I've no doubt that these ships will be excellent once they're up and running properly. I'm sure they'll do the job they're designed to do perfectly. I'm equally sure that they'll do the jobs they weren't designed to do pretty damn well, that's just what our Forces do.

However, I'm pissed off that we've gone from buying 12, to 8, to 6. I'm pissed off that the money isn't there to fit them out properly (Fitted for but not with Tomahawk, CIWS and god knows what else). I'm pissed off that we won't be able to export them to anyone, even we've not got the money to buy them. I'm pissed off that we didn't build something a quarter of the price, but with most of the capability and build more of them. I'm pissed off that we're spunking money on capabilities for them that probably won't be used.

The engineering and the equipment is no doubt top rate, the men and women on board will be equally so. But can't we sort out our procurement to get a bit more bang for our buck than one measly little popgun for £1Bn!

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