25 May 2012
In future reports re the 'big deck' aircraft carrier project why couldn't the House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee:
- provide a written comparison of the projected number of man-hours required during 2018- 2030 for maintenance, servicing and repairs of BOTH the F-35C and F-35B for each hour of flight time of EACH variant of the F-35 fighter/bomber?;
- stipulate in easy-to-understand terms what are the design requirements & technical hurdles that would have to be surmounted in order to fit the UK's 2 undergoing construction aircraft carriers with aircraft launch catapults and landing equipment?;
- inform the public whether the UK's planned carriers have the energy generation capabilities required to operate electromagnetic aircraft launch catapults- particularly in combat situations- while the ship's engines are still providing power for the ship's propulsion?;
- inform the public whether the fitting of electromagnetic aircraft launch catapults and landing equipment to the UK's planned carriers would have so adversely affected these vessels' centre of gravity and at-sea-stability that their sea worthiness would have been reduced to an unworkable level??...
- inform the public what the differences in operating costs per flight hour are between F-35B, F-35C and F-18 E/F fighter/bombers??...
- inform the public how many man-hours of maintenance, servicing and repairs are required CURRENTLY for each flight hour of the F-35B, F-35C and F-18 E/F fighter/bombers??...
- inform the public how many man-hours of maintenance, servicing and repairs are PROJECTED TO BE REQUIRED DURING 2018- 2030 for each flight hour of the F-35B, F-35C and F-18 E/F fighter/bombers??...
- inform the public what the differences in capabilities are between the F-35B, F-35C and F-18 E/F fighter/bombers??....
- inform the public what the differences in purchase prices are between the F-35B, F-35C and F-18 E/F fighter/bombers??....
The aircraft carrier designs that were agreed to and paid for by the previous Labour govt between January-2003 and July-2008 (when the then UK govt approved construction-funding) had provisions that would make the 2 new 'big deck' carriers 'adaptable' in future- after construction- to be fitted with aircraft launch catapults and landing equipment 'cats and traps' )...
Now- it seems as a way of making their recently alleged 2 billion pounds per-ship cat and trap conversion cost claims appear believable- MoD and UK govt representatives are claiming that the carriers' designs don't have and never had provisions for the fitting of cats and traps + landing equipment:
On May 15-2012 Peter Luff MP, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology and Bernard Gray, Chief of Defence Materiel testified before the House of Commons Defence Committee about the aircraft carrier project and cat and trap issues-
UK Defence Committee hearing, May 15-2012 (Video):
Carrier project mainly from 2:09 ... adaptable carrier design evidence from about 2:21 ...
UK Defence Committee hearing, May 15-2012:
... "Q153 Thomas Docherty: The concern is that a vastly significant decision was taken... to change the carrier- not just the carrier itself, but the things that rolled on from it, which I will not list because of the time- without... firm, solid numbers. Please tell me that you are never doing that again.
"Peter Luff: ".... If I am honest with the Committee, and I must be, I think the fundamental misunderstanding that many of us had (CAUSED BY WHAT??!!!! rvl) was that these carriers would be relatively easy to convert and had been designed for conversion and for adaptability...
"That is what we were told (BY WHOM??!!!!- rvl) . It was not true. They were not.
"They were physically big enough to accommodate conversion, but it came at a higher price than was apparent at the time when the decision was taken...
"Q154 Chair: Having been 'designed for conversion', and conversion having proved far more expensive than we expected, do we have any comeback against those companies that did the design?
"Peter Luff: It is not my belief that they were genuinely designed for conversion, or that the contract allowed them to be designed for conversion (BELEIFS ARE IRRELEVANT... WHAT ARE THE FACTS??!!! MAKE THE CONTRACT PUBLIC!!- rvl).
"It was an assertion that was probably unfounded. That is my view (MP's 'VIEWS' ARE NOT RELEVANT, FACTS ARE!!- rvl)...
"Bernard Gray: They had the physical space. They are, as we all know, very large. However, because the decision to go STOVL was taken in... 2002, no serious work had been done. It had been noodled in 2005, but no serious work had been done on it.... (GRAY's TESTIMONY DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS LUFF's TESTIMONY ABOVE!!- rvl)
"It was not a contract-quality offer; it was a simple assertion that that could be done, but nobody said, 'It can be done at this price', and certainly nobody put that in a contract..."
PROVE IT- MAKE THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER CONTRACTS PUBLIC!!!
Considering the high-public-interest, couldn't the Public Accounts Committee obtain and make-part-of-future-Committee-reports-about-the-aircraft-carrier-project evidence and information from sources other than UK govt and MoD officials??...
Why couldn't members of the Public Accounts Committee travel to the U.S. and speak directly to/take evidence from the manufacturer of the electromagnetic aircraft launch catapults and landing equipment- General Atomics; F-35 main contractor- Lockheed; US Department of Defense officials; etc???
Similarly, why couldn't several of the Public Accounts Committee's members and several US's elected officials form a joint UK/US F-35 project oversight committee- charged with evaluating and regularly reporting on the F-35 project??
As part of strategies to further develop & enhance the UK's defence & high-technology industries- & their capacities for exports- the UK govt/MoD ought to commission UK firms to design new models of economical-to-operate big deck aircraft carriers that are both nuclear powered & catapult-equipped + both bigger AND smaller in displacements than the currently underway carrier project's 65,000 tonne vessels....
THE UK SHOULD SELL BOTH OF THEIR 2 UNDERGOING-CONSTRUCTION 'BIG DECK' AIRCRAFT CARRIERS AND COMMISSION THE DESIGN OF BIGGER, BETTER, MORE IMPRESSIVE ONES->>> AIMING FOR THE EXPORT MARKET!!
Roderick V. Louis - Vancouver, BC, Canada
25 May 2012
Scrap the MOD and start again from scratch, its done with weapon systems and troops lives all the time, why not the people who cause the mess in the first place be thay civil or srvice MOD.
JC - UK
29 May 2012
If MPs are elected for 5 years, then MoD project managers should stay on that project for 5 years. That way they cannot run away from it when it goes wrong.
The 1977 Unfair Contracts Act should be a precedent for a new law that allows unfair PFI contracts to be disolved.
The Global economic crisis has made the World unstable. If we scrap/sell the mine resistant vehicles, then end up in another IED threat situation, good luck explaining to the public why their troops are being blown up in unsuitable vehicles.
John Hartley - Woking/Surrey/UK
01 June 2012
An 'Adaptable' Aircraft Carrier design' has been one of the carrier project's Key User Requirements- as established by the MoD- since before December-2002,
IE: the new carriers would be designed and eventually constructed with specific provisions that would enable and cost-effectively simplify their fitting in future- after construction- with cats and traps **
During 2002-2008 projected total costs for fitting the UK's 2 new carriers with aircraft launch catapults and landing equipment ('cats and traps') were regularly quoted by MoD representatives as between 100 and 150 million pounds:
"... there will be a capital issue of providing catapults and arresting gear. Probably with a couple of ships that might be 100 million... "
So how did the UK govt and MoD go from a situation where fitting both new aircraft carriers with cats and traps would cost 100 million pounds to today's situation where fitting both carriers with cats and traps would be expected to cost upwards of 40 times as much- 4 billion pounds???
Surely the outrageous incongruities and hyper escalating costs of the aircraft carrier project warrant a full public inquiry…
The House of Commons' standing and ad hoc committees should be calling for such or at the least demanding increased powers and expanded terms of references so that they could carry out such a role!!
** "Pride of the fleet", August 29-2003
Chief naval architect Simon Knight talks about the planned new carriers' 'adaptable-for-future-fitting-of-cats-and-traps' design AND about the immense cuts and deletions-from-the-originally-agreed-aircraft-carrier-design that had been occurring since January-2003 in order to meet unrealistic UK govt/MoD budget parameters and 'moving goal post' capability requirements:
"... The carrier is designed with a ramp to suit the STOVL jet, but the design includes space for a steam-driven catapult (which could be used by Conventional Take-off & Land (CTOL) fixed-wing aircraft such as the F-35C )..."
NAO's 2005 Major Projects Report:
Page 130 (135 in Acrobat Reader)
NAO's July-2011 Aircraft Carrier project report:
http://www.nao.org.uk/idoc.ashx?docId=D144D7D9-E564-4C67-AE6C-107A24E714C7&version=-1 (opens in new window) -
Page # 13 (15 in Acrobat reader)
Roderick V. Louis - Vancouver, BC, Canada
06 June 2012
It should be remembered that, up to 2009, the designs for France's planned new aircraft-launch-catapult-equipped aircraft carriers (PA2) were copies of designs for the UK's new without-aircraft-launch-catapults carriers**...
France's planned PA2 carriers were to share 90 percent commonality with the UK's new flat tops**...
France's apparently abrupt cancellation*** of the joint UK/France build arrangements for the 2 countries' 3 new carriers, in June-2008, came after France had successfully obtained UK agreement to alter the designs for the 2 countries' 3 carriers- with provisions incorporated to the ships' designs to improve at-sea stability, within-ship aircraft movement & storage and the eventual fitting of aircraft catapults, landing and related equipment...
In March-2007, an offer submitted by the business consortium contracted to build France's new AIRCRAFT LAUNCH CATAPULT EQUIPPED aircraft carriers put the price of each PA2 carrier at between 2.5 and 2.85 billion euros (2.0- 2.2 billion pounds):
On May 07-2007, France's defense ministry even signed a 50-million Euro contract for 2 American-made C13-2 steam catapults intended to be fitted to their version of the UK's CVF, the PA2 carrier***
So if France can build 'cat and trap' equipped aircraft carriers- that are virtual clones of UK's carriers' designs- for roughly 2 billion pounds each, what is the basis for the UK MoD's claims that if cats and traps are fitted to the UK's undergoing construction carriers that total costs will be over 5 billion pounds for each ship???!!! ( 1/2 the MoD's most recent 7-billion pounds cost estimates for building both carriers= 3.5 billion pounds. 3.5 billion pounds + the MoD's alleged 2 billion pounds for fitting cats and traps= 5.5 billion pounds!!...)
In order to counterbalance the UK MoD's recent, plainly absurd claims that fitting the 2 undergoing construction aircraft carriers with aircraft launch catapults, landing & associated equipment would cost upwards of 4 billion pounds- mainstream news media and interest groups should attempt to obtain documents and records from France- and the UK govt & MoD- regarding:
1) 'what were the estimates in 2008 of the costs of building the PA2 carrier??' and
2) 'of these estimates, how much was associated with the fitting of aircraft launch catapults, landing & associated equipment to France's PA2 carrier??'....
Surely the outrageous incongruities and hyper escalating costs of the aircraft carrier project warrant a full public inquiry!!!
Mainstream news media, interest groups and House of Commons' standing and ad hoc committees should be calling for such...
At the very least, the House of Commons' standing and ad hoc committees should be demanding increased powers and expanded terms of references so that they could carry out such a role!!
** "UK & France sign carrier deal", 06_03-2006:
"UK-French agreement on aircraft carriers", 24 Jan 06:
"Britain and France Develop New Carriers", Jun 13, 2007:
or printable version:
"...The French carrier (PA2) will be built with about 90% of the design of the British version. Differences reflect operational needs.
"The French catapult system will support operations with the Dassault Aviation Rafale fighter jet and Northrop Grumman's E-2C Hawkeye surveillance aircraft...
"An executive representing (the industry groups contracted to build France's PA2) MO-PA2 said a new offer submitted before the end of March put the price of each (PA2) ship between 2.5 and 2.85 billion Euros. 'What we are waiting for above all is the announcement of an industrial deal from the British side,' he said.
"To maximize the flexibility CVF offers over its potential 50-year service life, the (UK's) carriers will be built to an innovative adaptable design. Although catapults can be installed on the British ships, they will initially have a ramp for STOVL operations."
*** "PA2 deferment scuppers CVF savings", 08_07-2008:
France's 2008 Defence White Paper:
http://www.rpfrance-otan.org/IMG/pdf/Dossier_de_presse_Livre_Blanc.pdf - (pages 116-118):
"After analysis, the decision on the construction of a second aircraft carrier (PA2) is postponed (to 2012)....
"... Economic conditions have changed since the 2007 election... (the costs) of conventional propulsion for (France's) new aircraft carriers (has risen) and further studies are now needed to assess the balance of conventional and nuclear propulsion options ..."
(pages 20- 22)
Roderick V. Louis - Vancouver, BC, Canada