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Does the R.A.N need an Aircraft carrier?

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posted on Oct, 24 2004 @ 09:19 PM
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There are operations with regional and political implications where we might not or would not want to see our US "protectors" showing up.

I think UK ops near Sierra Leone was an example Waynos could point at.

East Timor was perhaps Australia's.

Some of the uninformed at the time made much of the US not playing the role. However they ignored or downplayed the presence of a 40,000t LHA of the USN with her single escorting Spruance. She had landed all her Marines and most of her air wing back in Japan, bar a half dozen Sea Stallions, which assisted with the airlift. It provided vital communications links we (Australia) lacked in the opening days of the UN operation, and a gentle reminder to local pro Indonesian Forces that this op had the blessing of the USA.

That was the strength and the weakness of the Australian deployment.
The press labelled us as the deputy sherrif of the USA. We first appeared on the JI hit list in 1999 because we were seen to be oppressing muslims in Timor at the US behest. Never mind the op was largely peaceful and locally popular, they annexed the place in 1974, the population is like 95% Roman Catholic, and they voted for indepence.

Its an indicator that it is sometimes good to have your own capability when inviting the US might not be so appropriate?

I remember doing my recruit course for the Army Reserve in 1987 just as the first army coup in Fiji occurred. We had ARA instructors openly critical of the embarrassment the Hawke government was causing the nation by making it known HMAS Tobruk, a vessel based on the Sir Bevidere class LSLs was slowly steaming towards the Solomons with a company group of Infantry aboard. The general concensus was it was hardly anything that would make the Fijian Colonels reconsider thier actions. Unlike the announcement that a fast group consisting of the former Hermes and RAN and RNZN escorts would have (if it was loaded with Infantry from one of the Battalions). In fact it was thought we couldnt blame the Fijians from discounting an Australian response given we had given up the only symbol of real regional security commitment we possessed -the former carrier HMAS Melbourne. It was seriously doubted if we had possessed the lift capability of Hermes in 1987 the coup would have been seriously considered.

Wev'e had almost two decades of regional uncertainty since we lost our carrier and the number of times it wouldve been welcomed could keep me going for a week.

In 1983 the Hawke Government said we couldnt afford it. Five years later Bob Hawke opened up the new federal parliament building ( a case of statesmans disease my wife calls it) - the first $billion dollar plus building in Australia.

I know what we would have gotten more value out of.


Smaller nations like the UK and even Australia can make a case for an independent carrier (I also support an independent FAA....its been demonstrated before that the Air Forces will be relucant to deliver what they have promised to our Navies).

Australia is in the market for three new Amphibs in 2010-2020. At least one ship is listed to be a 25-30,000t LHA. The new French Mistral class and the Izars LHA are both on that wishlist. Izzar and Italy have specified the need to operate up to a dozen F-35 VSTOLs......If that falls through there will still be a market for Harriers.

In the scheme of things its a small global capability but like the saying goes "In the kingdom of the Blind the one eyed man is king".....Regionally and politically for countries like the UK and Australia its important....if we can address the manpower issues.




posted on Oct, 24 2004 @ 11:27 PM
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Sorry, references to commons obviously confusing. When I say "we" I mean John Howard and co. 14 FA 18 Hormets went to the Gulf to fly AWACS protections missions against...remind me again how effective the Iraqi Air Force was. Okay the A in FA stands for attack but we have a dedicated attack platform that spends all its time practicing surgical strike missions, wouldn't the F 111C have been a better choice given the mission profile?

Given the size restrictions of the Melbourne and its age what makes it more disheartening is the size similarity between Harriers and Skyhawks.



posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 01:59 AM
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When the US began operations in Afghanistan we flew a detail of F-18A/Bs to Diego Garcia in the Indian ocean, nominally for the AD role.

The Taliban AF was even less of a risk, but I suppose there was a chance of an airliner hijack. Slim,, but there. That was more political.

In Iraq our F-18s did fly CAP but principally they flew CAS and other strike missions. Being the only operator of the F-111 both parties supposedly thought it would be an un-necessary burden logistically deploying them to the Gulf, when our F-18s had more in common with USMC, USN and Canadian F-18s in theatre.

We did not so much keep F-111 to send it off on coalition missions but because it has a unique series of attributes within our own region.

The US also discovered what effect hi tempo operations had on it over the Balkans. Where the equipment was common to all, every hand helped over Iraq. It was also largely political. We aussies deploy to our best ability, but in the scheme of things our contribution is mainly political...the good ally, to be remembered when we need help.

But as the US guy said on another site it takes them 19-25 persons to help get each body they deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if the ratio is lower for Australians that is still a massive effort on our part.

Back on topic. F-18 was too heavy for the carrier and ops we could afford. I wouldve liked to see BAe and Boeing develop a Harrier II/Shar.2 hybrid, but I would settle for leased surplus Shar.2s to get the RAN used to fixed wing ops before JSF and LHA comes (ok hopefully comes) into service.

Hey, the Thais dont seem to be using thier Chakri Narubet CVL that much. Perhaps they'd be willing to lease/sell it to the RAN and make some money back. Its systems and propulsions are similar to our FFGs, Anzacs and the potential future LHA may come from the same Izzar/Bazan yards...ditto the Air Warfare Ship.......Just wishful thinking I guess.



posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 03:45 AM
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As a kid I remember watching brand new Fa 18s doig touch and gos on the Melbourne's deck. By then the announcement of its retirement had been made. It seemed only the ABC weren't belabouring the jinx bit (from memory anyway).

It seems F 111s have been the only forward-thinking purchase for the last thirty years, with the exception maybe of the Leos. Now we've bought M1s, after the Challenger 1 proved better in Iraq round 1.

The Navy is poor little brother it seems. When the rest of the world is going to FACMs we replace our FACGs with more FACGs. Although the Fremantles did look cool on Patrol Boat.

The convenient excuse with capital ships is like everything, if we'd done it then it would have been cheap but now it's too expensive. So sorry. This despite the fact that throughout the 90s Australia's military has operated at a higher tempo and on more deployments than at almost anytime that did not include a full-scale war ala Korea or VN...



posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 04:01 AM
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Couldnt be. Melbourne tied up and decommissioned 30 June 1982 and never reinstated.

First Australian F-18s didn't arrive until mid 1980s.

Decks of Melbourne not strong enough to take the weight of on F-18 touch and go and not long enough.

No way the USN or USMC or McDonnell would risk one of thier then new birds for it.

Perhaps a yank one did a slow and low fly by on a promotion tour?

Harriers have done landing practices on Melbourne I think. I'll find out.



posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 04:14 AM
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I would have been happier with latest gen Leopards....commonality and expereince with old leos established and theres not the weight issue or the difference with gas turbines (although given the army and services have a lot of experience with avo GTs maybe not so bad...still wouldnt want to foot the fuel bill). M1 would have been third choice after new Leos or Challengers.

Anzacs and Collins have not turned out to be bad choices. Remember F-111 had its critics too.

The biggest failings of Government going back to Hawke has it not replacing HMAS Melbourne when the funding was available (if Hawke wanted a monument he should have bought a statue - Keating could have put a clock in its belly)

Their current major failing, going back at least 15 years has been the failure to properly and realistically addressing the manpower problem, especially in the RAN.



posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 04:49 AM
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Memory is hazy admittedly, but it was program about Melbourne as she approached or had just decommissioned. A jet was doing touch and gos and I remember someone saying it was because the jet didn't have an arrestor to hook on with. I was all of 8 or 9 at the time.

I don't mind the new Parliament House, the old one was a fire trap...hmm, maybe no bad thing...but there was a lot of waste in the 80s and it wasn't all in Perth.

It seems that Governmets have the incredible ability to spend buckets re-fitting a ship and then only a couple of years later finding them surplus to requirements. ie Sydney. And then only a couple of years later suddenly finding they'd just decommissioned the only ship suitable for their new emergency. ie Tracy '74.

Take Jervis Bay, an essentially unmodified Incat that proved its worth on the Dili run. The Yanks were impressed enough to want to trial two of them with extensive defensive mods including CIWS. The government said thankyou very much and gave Jervis Bay back to Incat.

The next time there's a regionaly coup ala Fiji (and let's face it that's where the next one will be, again) an Incat can put damn near a Batallion on the ground in an awful hurry. With a twin to run helicopter ops you're looking at a lot of flexibility. Except in extreme weather, of course!

But you still can't supply your troops with fixed-wing aircover.

Do we need a carrier? Yes.



posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 06:14 AM
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Some infomation on the Collins class subs would be good because i have not heard that much good news about them really only about the major proplems they have or had. so any news on them would make a great read.



posted on Oct, 26 2004 @ 12:59 AM
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I'll see what I can find and get back to you in 48 hours. Most of what I read is print journals (not mass media) stuff and talking to Collins sailors at some RAN official and unofficial websites.

I had crewmen off the frigate HMAS Anzac (I picked them up in a cab straight off the ship when they were on shore leave) saying that the only thing wrong with the Collins now was that the bloody things kept sinking them and the yank escorts on exercises!

Thats a good recommendation in my book.



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