The Portsmouth Evening News for today includes an in-depth investigation into the problems that are plaguing the Royal Navy’s new Type 45 Destroyers.
Reportedly the Navy is planning to take old Phalanx close-in weapons systems from old Type 42 Destroyers as they are scrapped and fit them on the Type 45’s. Why they were not planned to have a close in system such as Phalanx or Goalkeeper in the first place defies logic and demonstrates the extent to which Ministry of Defence procurement policy is about cutting costs at the expsense of lives. The Falklands War demonstrated that even modern weapons systems are not 100% reliable, and was exactly the reason why close-in weapons systems were fitted in the first place.
Sources have also admitted that they are still no closer to establishing why the Sea Viper missile system has failed in 50% of its test-firings from a barge off the south coast of France. News that the Phalanx system is to be fitted to the Type 45’s might suggest that the Navy is planning to deploy the Daring’s without Sea Viper operational – given the shortage of escort ships there is a real prospect of a 7,500 ton, £1billion Air Defence Destroyer being used as a patrol boat, with an add-on close in weapon system in place of a defective missile system.
New reports have also surfaced regarding the Type 45’s new communication system, which is intended to allow them to see what other ships are doing and to co-ordinate action. Apparently the cut from 12, to 8, and then to 6 vessels was not important, we were told, as 1 ship could do the work of 2 or 3 anyway. Yet, unbelievably, a contract has not even been placed for the CEC (Co-operative Engagement Capability) system. The MOD procurement department is yet to decide whether the system will be ordered from British or American suppliers.
These new reports cast a dark shadow over MOD policy. That ships were planned without standard close-in weapons systems, that the main missile system is not yet operational, and that the ship’s main computer system has not even been ordered yet, beggars belief and could suggest that it will be a matter of years before they are able to perform their intended role in the Fleet.