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NAVY NEWS, APRIL 2009 5
Good – but at
Testing times
for new jet
THREE test versions of the
Fleet Air Arm’s 21st Century
fast jet have been ordered.
To date, all demonstration
a high price
models of the Joint Strike
Fighter (also known as the
Joint Combat Aircraft and
F35 Lightning II) have flown
only in the USA, where their
construction is being led by
defence giant Lockheed Martin.
771 earns a
Now British aviators will get
their hands on the jet after
L
ATE, over budget, a construction programme dogged in its early years by over- Defence Secretary John Hutton
optimism and the MOD and the defence industry locking horns, and with a
ordered the test models during
a visit to the USA.
blue nose
main armament not ready for another two years.
The JSF will replace the
Despite the fanfares programme has forced the lifespan Since Whitehall took these Harrier, forming the punch of
accompanying HMS Daring’s of the remaining Type 42s to be problems in hand, however, in the future carriers – and mark
arrival in Portsmouth in January, stretched to 2013 – when Sea Dart 2007, progress has been much a two-generation leap as RN
an offi cial report into the will be obsolete and when the last more smooth, costs have not risen pilots get their hands on their
WHILE the West Country was (briefl y) in the grip of snow and ice,
development and construction of the Type 45s, HMS Duncan, and there have been no additional first ‘fifth-generation’ fighter.
the rescuers normally in its skies were 1,500 miles away… in the
of the Type 45 destroyer and her enters service. delays. Relationships between the The UK version of the jet will
grip of snow and ice.
fi ve sisters says the fl agship project That stretching will cost the MOD and industry are “now on be a multi-role fi ghter/attack
Two Search and Rescue helicopters headed inside the Arctic
suffered substantial problems in taxpayer just short of £200m, the a much fi rmer footing”, says the aircraft with a short take-off
Circle for some extreme weather training.
its early years.
biggest single cost being paying for report. and vertical landing (STOVL)
How extreme? How does -52˚C grab you? Mercifully, that was
The National Audit Offi ce –
the sailors as the aged destroyers Dauntless, the second Type capability similar to the Harrier,
the lowest temperatures fell (aided by wind chill). For most of the
the watchdog of Government
are manpower-heavy (each ship 45, will be the fi rst of the class to and will be able to operate from
time it was a rather warmer -15˚C.
spending – says once fully
requires roughly 100 more sailors fi re the anti-air missile Sea Viper land bases or aircraft carriers.
771 NAS dispatched two Sea Kings to the Royal Norwegian Air
operational in mid-2011, the next-
than the 45s). (formerly PAAMS), the ship’s Unlike the Harrier, however,
Force base at Bardufoss – between Harstad and Tromso – so
generation destroyers will be able
As for the 42s’ replacements, principal weapon, late next year. the JSF is capable of
their crews could learn the art of winter survival.
to do everything expected of them
the NAO says the initial stages Daring will fi re a Sea Viper in supersonic fl ight, features
“If you can survive in the Arctic, you can survive anywhere,”
of procurement were plagued by the spring of 2011, shortly before stealth technology and has
said 771 CO Lt Cdr ‘Sharky’ Finn.
and will signifi cantly enhance
overly optimistic assessments of her inaugural deployment. increased range and payload.
But fi rst you have to get to the Arctic… and it’s quite a slog. The
the Fleet’s ability to fend off air
the costs involved – and what dates Defence procurement minister “Working alongside their US
SAR helicopters stopped off in Aberdeen and the East Brae oil
attack.
the ships could be delivered by. Quentin Davies acknowledged the colleagues, our pilots will gain
platform,165 miles northeast of the Granite City, as they hopped
But the road to that date has
When the order for six ships report’s fi ndings – and was pleased an unrivalled understanding of
from Cornwall to Bardufoss.
been strewn with obstacles, says
(of a class of 12) was placed back that the National Audit Offi ce had this awesome aircraft and its
Lt Cdr Finn and his three instructors – Lt Cdr Steve Hopkins,
the report, which have had a
in 2000, the anticipated cost of taken note of the progress made capabilities,” said Mr Hutton.
CPO(ACMN) Jonathon Clarke-Pickering and PO(ACMN) Jase
signifi cant knock-on effect on the
the sextet was £5bn with the fi rst with the Type 45 programme. “This is a vital programme for
Bibby – took four pilots and eight observers to train in Norway.
rest of the RN, not least the ships
destroyer, HMS Daring, joining “These are complex, UK Defence both for the military
And the students were thrown in at the deep end: three nights
which Daring and her siblings are
the Fleet in November 2007. sophisticated warships and where and for industry, with over 100
of survival training, living in tents for the fi rst two, before being
replacing.
Daring will now enter service problems arose in the early UK companies involved in the
kicked out on the third evening, living in brush wood shelters.
The audit offi ce report paints
at the end of this year, the cost of stages MOD gripped the issue, programme.”
Suitably acclimatised, the fl iers could get to grips with operating
a bleak picture of the state of the
the vessels has risen to £6.46bn – renegotiated contracts where The fi rst conventional
in such conditions. With Cornwall covered in snow, why go to
ageing Type 42 destroyer fl eet,
and the order book was closed at required and got the programme variants of the jet are due
Norway? Because the precipitation in the West Country was
which has increasingly suffered
six ships. on track,” he added. to enter service with the US
the ‘wrong type of snow’ if you want to teach the art of a snow
from defects since 2000 – despite
“Project control and decision- “I have been following this military in 2011-12.
landing.
the best efforts of their sailors –
making were poor, governance programme closely since my The version bought for the
“The snow has to be powdery so that it ‘recirculates’,”
and its availability for operations
structures were ineffective appointment, and I am pleased to UK will not be operational
explained Lt Cdr Finn. “The pilot cannot see anything beyond the
has suffered accordingly.
and relationships between the be able to say that progress with before the arrival of the fi rst
rotors and he must use a bush or rock close to the aircraft as a
The report says some 42s were
department and BVT broke both building and sea trials is new carrier, HMS Queen
hover reference.
axed prematurely – notably HM
down,” the report states. currently going very well.” Elizabeth, in 2014.
“This can be a diffi cult skill to master, particularly at night
Ships Newcastle, Glasgow and
using night vision goggles – the blowing snow can cause
Cardiff in 2005 – to save upwards
disorientation.”
of £120m, and deep maintenance
And while snow is, thankfully, a rarity in Cornwall, there are
programmes for still-serving ships
lessons from Norway which will serve the 771 team well on their
have been culled, shaving another
rescues around the county.
£93m off the budget.
Just before Christmas, one of the squadron’s Sea Kings
Paid-off and mothballed 42s –
whipped up the sand ferociously while landing on Penhale during
Southampton and Exeter are now
a training mission.
also laid up and HMS Nottingham
“It’s important that the pilots are trained to cope with these is winding down – have also been
conditions,” said Lt Cdr Finn. “Unlike sitting in sand and dust – cannibalised for spare parts to
which erodes the blades and engines – snow does not cause any keep the rest of the destroyer fl eet
damage to the aircraft.” running and to keep costs down.
In spite of all these cost-cutting ■ Clockwork ice, page 20
measures, the delays to the Daring
Royals enjoy
summer ’chuting stars
retreat
THIS is the unmistakable outline of a parachute-dropped mine –
with the chute still attached though crumpled – on the seabed of
the Mediterranean.
THE Massed Bands of the
It was found by the Seafox mine disposal system of HMS
Royal Marines will perform
Brocklesby as 13 NATO nations converged on Sardinian waters
their world-renowned Beating
for a major naval exercise, Loyal Mariner 2009.
Retreat ceremony on London’s
Brocklesby is currently attached to NATO’s Standing Mine
Horse Guards Parade in
Countermeasures Group 1. The force linked up with the
celebration of the 88th birthday
organisation’s other mine warfare group (cunningly numbered
of their Captain General, the
No.2), plus other naval units including carriers, frigates, assault
Duke of Edinburgh, over three
ships and submarines for the ten-day exercise – 30 vessels in
evenings in June.
all.
The spectacle is only
Numerous dummy mines were located by the international
performed once every three
mine-hunting group, but the parachute mine was the first live
years.
ordnance (not part of the war games) located.
RM Bands from Portsmouth,
The ranges at Teulada in southern Sardinia have been used for
Plymouth, Scotland and
the past half century – and quite a lot of ordnance fell short.
CTCRM Lympstone will all be
“We were expecting there to be some ordnance around
taking part in this summer’s
the gunnery range, but this find demonstrates that our sonar
event, 200 musicians in total.
is performing very well. Coupled with Seafox it gives us an
Proceeds from the three
excellent capability,” said Brocklesby’s CO Lt Cdr Tom Tredray.
days of pageantry (June 9, 10
“Seafox is a big step forward – better than the old ‘yellow
– Prince Philip’s birthday – and
submarines’ we previously operated with.”
11) will go to Service charities
The mini red submersible is controlled from the Hunt-class
including Help for Heroes,
ship by a ‘wafer-thin’ fibre-optic cable. Its sonar and CCTV
Seafarers UK and the Royal
are used for a closer inspection of a suspicious object, before
Navy & Royal Marines Charity.
closing in for the kill (Seafox is expendable) if it’s a live target.
The ceremony of military
music and precision drill and
marina Return of a Z-lister, page 29
colour traces its roots back to
the 16th Century.
Tickets are available from
Ticketmaster; call 0844 8472504
or visit www.ticketmaster.
co.uk/Royal-Marines-Beating-
Retreat-2009-tickets/
artist/983800
Prices are £12 each or £40 for
a family ticket (two adults and
three children).
For more details about
the performances and the
RM Band Service at www.
royalmarinesbands.co.uk/
BR09
005_NN_Apr.indd 1 20/3/09 09:43:42
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