Wednesday, February 8, 2012

One rare good news

After the recent report on the request for Urgent acquisition of two BAE146 QC small cargo planes to support Afghanistan ops, there is now an announcement that the RAF is to get its 8th C17 cargo plane.
While a further expansion of the fleet was never ruled out, and while a requirement for at least another C17 was long standing and recognized nearly publically, it remains a true surprise to hear of this order.

Perhaps the fact that, by 2013 at the latest, Boeing will close the C17 assembly line according to current schedule and plans did force the MOD to speed thinking up.
Further details should be released later today, and i will update the article when they come.

A rare but very welcome good news, and an excellent enhancement to a very important capability of the RAF.
The 200 million pounds investment has been announced today by David Cameron.

According to the MOD:

The newest C-17 is currently being built by Boeing in the USA and is due to come off the production line next month. It is then expected to enter service with the RAF in July 2012.

This suggests that the UK bought it directly from the USAF last order. Almost certainly the USAF will not fund an additional plane to replace it, but we will know it in the coming period. The airplane is of course going to join the other 7 RAF C17s at Brize Norton, within 99 Squadron.
There will be no impact on the planned C17 production line closure at Boeing.

Meanwhile, today the Parliamentary Defence Committee released its report and analysis on Libyan ops.
Makes for an interesting read.
Main two points of interest, regarding equipment, are the very high praise for the Sentinel R1, which looks more and more safe despite the SDSR retirement rambling, and the confirmation of the Committee's warning and recommendation of proceeding with both CVF vessels, kitting both as aircraft carriers to ensure that carrier air is available around the clock.


  1. Hi Gabriele,

    Great news on the order of another C17. I had that on my shopping list!

    I see on the MoD site the news of the next deployment for Afghan.

    I notice that it did have 5 infantry battalions ear marked for deployment. (As normal)
    I point out that MRBs are only to have 4 infantry battalions.
    (I am aware that you know that Gabriele, but I think it’s worth mentioning)

    I do like your idea on 5 battalions for the airmobile brigade, each battalion group deploying in rotation.

    I am going to adopt it for my fantasy force 2025 Army, I hope you don’t mind!

    Keep up the good work.


  2. The MRB has four infantry battalions, but it is also 6500, not over 9000 strong. The SDSR made it clear that there would be a reduction in the sustainable force. It's not a surprise.

    And sure, go ahead with the idea.

    ANd yeah, C17 was high on my priorities, too.

  3. Gabriele

    The announcement about the eighth C17 is great news. That, together with the news about the two BAE146s is very cheering. There is also a very strong rumour that an announcement has been made about a decision to save the RAF Pumas from the axe. I can find nothing official but I was looking at the PPRuNe site ( other day and there was a reference to a fact that a decision to retain 22 of the Pumas had been announced. I could find no link but the RAF boys seemed delighted!

    These things, and the more minor news about some M3 Bridging rigs being kept in service after all, perhaps all lend some credence to the theory that the defence budget is now much more in balance. I have not changed from pessimism to optimism suddenly but there is some hope, I think.

  4. It would appear that the Puma is safe, indeed, even if i'd like a more official statement about it. I think it will be incredibly interesting to see what comes out in April, when the Planning Round should be completed, the new Army Structure announceed, and we will have a clearer idea of what is going on. For now i don't want to cheer, because i know that the Army is still having difficulties, FRES SV is still trying to squeeze into the budget, and all is quiet on the Merlin HC3 mid-life upgrade and navalization process, which should start becoming a serious thing from this year if the 2016 timeline is to be met. Otherwise, when the Sea King HC4 bows out in 2016, the Amphibs remain without helicopters.

    But i am moderately optimist for the future. I fear the elections and the change of government, but there are some hopes and lights on the horizon. People often fails to realize exactly what impact Iraq had on the MOD budget.
    As far as 2010, billions were going out of the core defence budget to fund the war. Other billions went out, at least until 2010, for Afghanistan as well, in NET additional costs definitely not covered by the Treasury.

    Removing this stranglehold, and putting order in the counts is going to have a truly benefic effect in the next years. Yeah, the budget will always be tight, but there shouldn't be another massacre.
    Regardless of what CVF haters ramble, it is not the carrier, and not even the horribly expensive Typhoon who caused the black hole.
    It was funding 2 wars AND trying to go ahead with the SDR98 shopping list at the same time and with the same budget that caused the tragedy.

    Another amusing fact is that technically the MOD was and still is supposed to eventually get back at least part of the Iraq money. So far it got zero, and it was a fight to even be allowed to keep the money made by, for example, selling the retired Harriers.
    When you think about all these things, some sympathy for who's had to keep the MOD running emerges. I for one think that many judgements on MOD doing have been way too harsh, considering the circumstances.

  5. Gabriele

    “For now I don't want to cheer” Agreed. It would be a tad premature!

    “Otherwise, when the Sea King HC4 bows out in 2016, the Amphibs remain without helicopters.” Well, in that case the most sensible thing to do would be to run on the Sea Kings for two or three years. Still damned good aircraft.

    “I for one think that many judgements on MOD doing have been way too harsh, considering the circumstances.”

    I agree but I would probably differ from you in that I blame the Government instead. Under the last administration, at one moment there would be money available for a particular programme, then suddenly there would be none, then some money would re-appear, then disappear equally quickly, etc. etc, Look at the whole FRES debacle, for a start. Programmes need consistency.


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