"Reducing the military budget and the British armed forces means that the country is no longer a full military partner of the United States."
With such a strong statement last week by ex-Pentagon chief Robert Gates on the radio station BBC.
“We have always expected that there are British troops on the other side of the Atlantic that could carry out a full range of combat operations. However, a significant reduction in defense spending deprives the UK of the status of a full partner, which it was before. ”
Among the most questionable decisions British leadership Robert Gates sees a reduction of naval forces.
"For the first time since World War I, Her Majesty’s fleet does not have operational aircraft carriers"
According to Gates, this deprives the UK opportunities to conduct operations without the use of air bases on the territory of other countries.
Also made a statement on the inadmissibility of the reduction of naval strategic nuclear forces.
The loud interview of the ex-Pentagon chief was not left unanswered - the very next day was followed by denials from British officials.
“I do not agree with the views of Gates. I think he is wrong. We have the fourth largest military budget in the world, we are constantly upgrading our military capabilities. We are a first-class country in the field of defense capabilities, and as long as I am the Prime Minister, it will be so. ”
- British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Another senior official of Ministry of Defense of the United Kingdom said that his country has the most trained and well-equipped armed forces outside the United States.
Let me remind you that the cause of the heated debate was the program for reforming the armed forces of Great Britain, according to which by 2020 the number of personnel in the army, aviation и fleet will be reduced by 30 thousand people (in exchange there will be a slight increase in the number of reservists). By the beginning of the new decade, 147 thousand people should remain in active military service.
How true are the concerns of Robert Gates and what does the UK expect in the near future? About this - in a short dossier, representing an independent view of the situation with the reform of the armed forces of Her Majesty.
Facts and figures
By 2020, the British army will have only five multipurpose brigades with 200 main combat tanks Challenger 2.
Even taking into account the high-class equipment and the introduction of the most modern technologies in the field of high-precision ammunition, vehicles, communication systems and command and control, such insignificant forces will be incapable of independent combat operations. The British army, as before, will play the role of the “second” of the United States in all local conflicts of the near future.
However, this situation is more than enough for the British: a compact army of the “European type” for solving auxiliary tasks in local wars ... The heirs of the once great British Empire are no longer claimed. And they cannot claim for a number of objective economic and geopolitical reasons.
No less serious criticism for the Royal Air Force. By the beginning of the XXI century British military aircraft finally degraded and turned into a small provincial structure, without any hint of the solution of global problems.
The complete absence of long-range bomber aircraft. The combat core of the Air Force is made up of one hundred lightweight Eurofighters and the same number of Tornado fighter-bombers.
The situation is more than comical. In its present form, the Royal Air Force is repeatedly inferior in combat power even to the Air Force of its former colony, India. And roughly correspond to the Singapore Air Force. Talk about any serious comparison of the British Air Force with the Israeli Air Force (Hel Avir) is not at all necessary.
The logical result - the British Air Force to match the ground forces. Small "pocket" army with disabilities.
First F-35B built for the Royal Air Force
On the positive side for the British: by the 2020, the outdated Tornado will be replaced with the new VT-series F-35 modification “B”.
There is a full range of support aircraft: AWACS, tankers, aircraft and other RTR. Specialized machines, without which the effective use of military aircraft would be impossible.
A large number of rotary-wing aircraft are in service, including Over 60 attack helicopters "Apache" (licensed assembly of the company Westland).
An increase in the number of “UAVs” is expected - by now ten reconnaissance-impact UAVs Miperderless Reaper MQ-9 have been acquired in the USA.
In general, the potential of the Royal Air Force will remain the same, and even win due to the emergence of a new generation of vehicles. Future reduction in the number of personnel (in 4000 people.) Will obviously come from the rear and staff positions. Number of aircraft will remain unchanged.
If the overt weakness of the land and air forces can be attributed to the traditional "maritime" specialization of Great Britain, how does the situation with the Royal Navy look like?
Mistress of the seas. Useless to argue
Robert Gates, with his accusations against the British Admiralty, fell, to put it mildly, "with a finger to the sky." As of 2014, Her Majesty’s fleet is in a better position than in all of the last 30-40 years. The fleet is the only type of armed forces of Great Britain that is capable of independently conducting military operations without resorting to the help of “Uncle Sam”.
If in the 1982 year, the British admirals were able to win the 12 war thousands of kilometers from their native shores, it is difficult to imagine what they are capable of today with submarines with Tomahawk SLCM, unique Daring-type air defense ships and an armada of high-class auxiliary equipment.
Mr. Gates’s concerns about the lack of aircraft carriers and the need to use air bases in their place in other countries sound at least ridiculous. Who, if not the former head of the Pentagon, knows better than others about the methods of waging a modern war? Any major military operation is carried out with the participation of ground-based aircraft. In preparing for Operation Storm in the Desert, the US Air Force and dozens of their allies flooded not only all military bases, but also most of the civilian airports in the Middle East — from the UAE to Egypt!
To declare the inability of Her Majesty’s fleet to conduct combat because of the absence of aircraft carriers is pure populism, which has no relation to reality.
Frankly speaking, the British did not have full-fledged aircraft carrier ships over the past 35 years - after writing off HMS Ark Royal in 1979 year. But there was a victory in the naval Falkland War.
By 2020, the naval force of the Navy should replenish two large aircraft-type "Queen Elizabeth." The Quinas were conceived of as good ships controlling the marine zone — with a modern layout, a gas turbine GEM and an air wing based on F-35C fighters. Due to the continuous succession of budget cuts, the project has come to a complete decline. The ships under construction turned into terribly expensive structures with useless characteristics. Suffice it to say that the Queen air group will be limited to F-35B "vertical lines". DRLO aircraft are not and are not expected.
Hopes for the entry of these ships into service under the flag of the White Ensign are melting every year. The British Admiralty is increasingly thinking, but do we need such ships? Or is it worth preserving "Quinas" and subsequently reselling them to Yu. Korea or Taiwan?
Currently, aircraft carriers as part of the Navy there is not even nominally (elderly HMS Illustrious was renamed in the amphibious assault ship, its cancellation is scheduled for the current year). But the British not too saddened by their lack of ships of this class.
After all, they are:
- six destroyers of the Daring-type air defense system, whose appearance set new standards in the development of ship-based anti-aircraft missile systems. More detailed story about these technical masterpieces can be found here - http://topwar.ru/31074-drakony-na-sluzhbe-ee-velichestva.html
Destroyers of this level in any country in the world. According to the capabilities of its detection and anti-aircraft missile weapons Daring is superior to any of the existing (or under construction) ships. Even the inevitable distortions and frauds in the "advertising purposes" are not capable of spoiling the overall impression of the ship: today its systems have no analogues in the world, they simply have nothing to compare;
- 13 frigates such as "Duke". Multifunctional ships with a displacement of the order of 5000 tons and with unexpectedly large autonomy for its size. To date, the frigates of this type are noticeably outdated, but they are still able to effectively solve the tasks of anti-submarine defense and perform patrol / escort functions in any region of the World Ocean.
Next - a group of "amphibious" ships:
- Two transport docks such as "Albion";
- the landing helicopter carrier (UDC) of the “Ocean” type - the typical “Mistral” with a British accent.
The submarine forces are the “black pearl” in the lists of navy ships. Total is currently in service with the Navy Her Majesty are 11 submarines. All - atomic. The British fleet traditionally adheres to the "shock" concept of development; "Dizelyuhi" ineffective when acting on distant frontiers.
All British multipurpose SSNs have the ability to carry Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The most controversial element of the British submarine fleet are four Vanguard missile carriers with the Trident-2 ballistic missiles. The liberal part of the government proposes to quickly get rid of this "relic of the cold war." Objectively, four SSBNs will not play any value in a hypothetical nuclear war against the background of the nuclear arsenals of Russia, the United States or China.
Supporters of naval strategic nuclear forces, by contrast, are confident that the presence of a SSBN gives Britain some “confidence” in the games in the international arena. It enhances international status and contributes to national security. In May 2011, the British Parliament approved the allocation of funds for the design of new-generation SSBNs.
Finally, you can not ignore the RFA - Royal Fleet Auxiliary. Auxiliary ships and vessels, in peacetime, staffed by civilian crews. They are called upon to increase the mobility of squadrons of warships and ensure the rapid transfer of army units to any continent of the Earth. The Royal Auxiliary Fleet lists 19 ships and vessels - naval tankers and integrated supply ships, helicopter carriers, transport docks, floating craftsmen and container ships.
Landing Ship RFA Largs Bay
By the beginning of the next decade, outdated frigates should be replaced with new “global warships” (Type 26, GCS). All 7 planned multi-purpose nuclear submarines of the “Estyut” type will be commissioned. Perhaps the emergence of two aircraft carriers and the start of construction of new SSBNs.
The reduction in the number of personnel of the Navy is due only to greater automation of new ships (for comparison, the regular crew of the destroyer Daring is only 190 people, 2 times less than the destroyers of other states).
In the rest of Her Majesty's fleet will remain the same, the third power of the fleet in the world.
Truth and Lies of Robert Gates
In his interview with the BBC, the former head of the Pentagon did not say anything new. He just spoke in a rude and impolite way about what is not customary to speak out loud: no member of the NATO bloc can be a full-fledged military partner of the United States. All of them somehow depend on Uncle Sam - and the United Kingdom is no exception.
Future reduction of the armed forces are unlikely to affect the combat capability of the British Army, Air Force and Navy. Royal Armed Forces, as before, ready to defend the integrity of the overseas possessions of the Crown.
The main concern of the United States is the reduction of the British military presence abroad. Pentagon strategists understand that the key to reducing defense spending will be to reduce the size of the British military contingent in Afghanistan - up to the complete withdrawal of British troops from that country’s territory. Leaving the main ally, whose units have so far performed up to 20% of the tasks set in local wars, can be an unpleasant surprise and will result in additional expenses for the Pentagon.
That is why such a reaction and tough statements in the style of “if you are not able to maintain an army performing the same tasks with the same risk as our soldiers, we will not be able to achieve a full-fledged alliance.”