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Just to add to EU amphibious ships:

The Dutch navy has 2 Rotterdam class LPDs.
The Spanish navy 2 Galicia class LPDs. (Developed together with the Dutch.)
The Italian navy 3 San Giorgio class LPDs.

So that EU-only amphibious assault task force would be even larger than you mentioned. :)
Take the French Charles de Gaulle and you could deploy that amphibious group today.

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 12:42:12 PM EST
theres the two UK LPD's HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, and the LPH HMS Ocean as well

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 01:12:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Uh huh.
Add the 2 French Mistral and we´re already at 12. And that´s not counting the new Spanish "Juan Carlos I" mentioned in the post.

Robert Farley back in 2006 had a post about "the increasing focus of the world's navies on "expeditionary" ships".

The amphibious assault ship spree is somewhat reminiscent of the drive, around 1910, of a number of major and minor powers to purchase or build dreadnought battleships. Countries that had no business owning major modern units, like Brazil and Argentina, spent enormous sums on modern vessels for reasons of national prestige. However, the Defense News article suggests a more rational purpose to the purchases. As major warfare operations have increasingly become coalition expeditionary efforts, states with small militaries want a way to contribute. An amphibious assault ship gives a country like Spain, the Netherlands, or Canada a way to involve itself in an expeditionary operation without being excessively dependent on one of the major naval powers. Like their armies, the navies of these countries are becoming less focused on the traditional forms of territorial defense and more on the need for policing, peacekeeping, and other forms of expeditionary warfare. Also, amphibious assault ships are easier to sell to defense-spending averse European publics (and legislators) because they can be portrayed as more flexible and less "aggressive" than traditional naval vessels.

Still, I wouldn't discount a constructivist explanation focused on national prestige and "appropriateness". If Portugal has an LPD, then what does it say about Canada that they lack one?

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 02:04:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... docks, you couldn't argue that the Navy could engage in humanitarian relief without landing platform docks.

As with JakeS point in the parent diary:

Escort carriers can still do a lot of mischief, and frankly I don't see a role for them in defending our own territorial waters. I can't see a reason that we shouldn't be able to protect our territorial waters with land-based aircraft and light ASW squadrons.

Its not that light carriers cannot do a lot of mischief, but that the difference between wanting light and heavy carriers is precisely being dissatisfied with how much mischief can be accomplished with light carriers.

Similarly, its not the landing platform docks ... especially if supported by light carriers or helicopter carriers ... cannot get into mischief, but it looked to me like the chief reason for wanting an amphibious assault vessel instead is in order to be prepared to cause mischief.

But I'd been thinking of escort duties more in blue water terms ... the Horn of Africa, the Straits of Malacca ... I hadn't thought about the appeal of being able to be a fast missile boat carrier, in place of the landing craft they are designed for.

Nobody's talked me down yet on why y'all need heavy carriers (or why we need so many, but I take the insanity of the Pentagon-driven US foreign policy as a given).


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 03:22:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nobody's talked me down yet on why y'all need heavy carriers (or why we need so many, but I take the insanity of the Pentagon-driven US foreign policy as a given).

I see one of two possible options:

a) We don't, and are just building them because it makes the Pentagun go starry-eyed, and we really, really luv the Pentagun.

b) When the American hegemony comes to an end, we'll want to be prepared to make the most of it with a little smash-and-grab at some former US colonies. Think Panama, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and so on and so forth and etc. Kinda like the US-supported colour revolutions, except with CTFs...

Of course, the former could easily morph into the latter. In fact, I bet it will eventually do just that if we don't get our act together and develop an intelligent foreign policy doctrine.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 04:28:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
a) We don't, and are just building them because it makes the Pentagun go starry-eyed, and we really, really luv the Pentagun.

Why would there be any more than this?

The one thing the military hardware types are reliably bad at is strategy. There's very little evidence that they have even basic strategic skills and plenty of evidence that they make bad, stupid and expensive decisions.

These carriers are being built primarily for symbolic and political reasons, not strategic ones.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 07:19:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
for at least the last hundred and fifty years, the military of almost every nation has been planning to refight the last major war that it fought, The US navy is configured to fight a modern equivalent of the Japanese Navy, whereas European navies are mainly configured to fight Nazi Submarine fleets. The Coalition in Iraq, would be doing much better if the enemy fought like the Germans in WWII,

The fact that other countries have fought differently in conflicts since hasnt altered strategy because they havent been "serious" opponents

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 10:18:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US navy is configured to fight a modern equivalent of the Japanese Soviet Navy, whereas European navies are mainly configured to fight Nazi Communist Submarine fleets.

Fixed it for ya.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Oct 17th, 2008 at 11:01:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was the appeal of the Soviets as an adversary in the Cold War ... if you squinted, it was possible to wargame it as WWII, Take 2. Talking the Soviets up as an adversary that would be fighting to dominate a major Ocean was harder than talking up the Soviet sub threat, but the argument for enough carriers to make a continuous air cover force across the Atlantic for supplies from the US to Europe did the trick.

But it was written as intended, no correction needed. "Re-fighting the last war" is often the last Great  Power hot-war, and there wasn't anything in the Korean War or the Second Indochinese War to knock the Navy out of re-fight WWII mode.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Oct 17th, 2008 at 12:15:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bruce, please...

In a "worst" case scenario we are talking about - maybe - 3 or 4 future EU (British and French) "heavy" aircraft carriers capable of carrying 40-50 airplanes. Plus the Spanish "Juan Carlos I" capable of carrying around 30 airplanes in its carrier configuration. Plus 2-3 light carriers carrying 8-10 airplanes each.

That´s not comparable to 12 US aircraft carriers capable of carrying 80-90 airplanes each. Not to mention that the EU simply doesn´t have the world-wide bases like the USA.

Simply put, if the EU - disregard the UK ties to the USA here - wanted "to cause mischief" on its own it could maybe deploy the equivalent of 1-2 US aircraft carriers. Plus maybe in a best case 10000-12000 soldiers and their equipment in their amphibious ships.

You can´t invade and secure a country with 12000 soldiers and maybe 100 - 200 airplanes. Won´t work unless its Monaco or Andorra. :)

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 05:10:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can´t invade and secure a country with 12000 soldiers and maybe 100 - 200 airplanes. Won´t work unless its Monaco or Andorra. :)

"Invading and securing a country" can hardly be considered the threshold level for military mischief making, wherein anything shy of that is just ordinary argy bargy between good mates.

As far as:

That´s not comparable to 12 US aircraft carriers capable of carrying 80-90 airplanes each. Not to mention that the EU simply doesn´t have the world-wide bases like the USA.

Regarding the the world-wide bases like the USA, I agree that the EU is far less likely to be dragged into pointless international confrontations in defense of a global base network, and by the same token is not carrying that economic dead weight around.

But why the need for an offensive strike capability at all?

As far as the shipbuilding, the shipyards could be building all manner of different things ... why offensive strike vessels?

Aside from US instigation, I think the prestige factor is something. The Royal Navy's carriers were basically demoted to helicopter carriers in the Iraq invasion ... oh the ignominy.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 08:17:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as the shipbuilding, the shipyards could be building all manner of different things ... why offensive strike vessels?

Because military procurement is exempt from the EU's restrictions on "State Aid".

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 08:28:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... sure, but there's lots of military procurement that would not involve kitting up for an amphibious invasion or overcoming the "flaw" in vessels that they are more useful in defensive roles than offensive roles.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 09:11:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you're still trying to look for a rationale for this beyond "let's build us a really big ship" (possibly also to temporarily satisfy the US that we're spending enough on NATO).

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 03:38:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... its not my area, and just because I can't see a rationale does not mean the rationale does not exist. Hence posing the question. Posing it a little provocatively, well, it does seem to get people talking.

As the US loses the capacity to project force on a global basis over the next two decades, the question of how Europe should comport itself as in independent power will emerge as a policy question that cannot be ducked, and that then ties in with the question of the shape of strategic threats that Europe faces in the tumultuous thirty years ahead.

So, yes, I was trying to push for an expression of a rationale beyond, "let's build the biggest ship we can, using US pressures for what they would like to see for leverage" ... because that's all I can see, and I don't know if I'm missing something.

Its obviously not a rationale for the acquisition, but one thing about the amphibious assault ships is that they could indeed be provided with a complement of fast hydrofoil patrol boats, which would seem to make for a better match to the strategic threats ahead than an amphibious assault force. So while the military might have to be dragged kicking and screaming, maybe there's a retrofit there that can make it less of a waste of resources.

But the big carriers ... the expression from the 90's of "why they are needed" reads like officialspeak for "the stuff we got isn't great for trying to stand offshore and blow shit up". I can't see any reason to have them other than trying to sink somebody else's ships, or for trying to stand offshore somewhere and send sorties in to try to blow shit up.

And of course a heavy carrier is a hole in the water that you pour aviation fuel into when you want it to be replaced by hot air. If pressed into service in secondary roles, its far from the most energy efficient way to serve those roles.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 09:19:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, yes, I was trying to push for an expression of a rationale beyond, "let's build the biggest ship we can, using US pressures for what they would like to see for leverage" ... because that's all I can see, and I don't know if I'm missing something.

It doesn't look like you are...

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 10:26:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One book I was reading last year had a theory that the Three services in the UK armed forces had since the 1960's had an even slice of the Defence budget, and by this theory, the Navy needed a couple of large ships to ensure its slice of the pie, and maintain the Status of the Admirals against the equivalent ranks in the Army and Air-force.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 10:31:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An equal expenditure in smaller SCS vessels and a large number of new corvettes for "anti-terrorist at sea capabilities" would give plenty of flag rank positions to hand around.

But it seems likely that in the late 1990's and early 2000's, "going along with the yanks" was the easier path to walk.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 10:38:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... (eventually ... see the video clip ;) ... its the RAF that flies off the decks of RN carriers, right? So that might have been part of getting the RAF on board for the ships. Even the larger jump jet complement that can be put aboard the Príncipe de Asturias is not great for getting the RAF onside, if the precedent is that the yanks would still only want them to be used as "mere helicopter carriers".


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 10:42:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is another possible reason: the Juan Carlos class must be bigger than the Príncipe de Asturias.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 10:45:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... for the landing hovercraft to disembark, and the landing hovercraft themselves look so kewl and HiTek.

The Italians when they went for a bigger ship just went for a SCS carrier with capacity for more jump jets and helos. So obviously if you just want a bigger ship, just edging up the size of the Sea Control Ship is the other road to go.

OTOH, maybe they figured that the export market was bigger for an amphibious assault ship ... after all, they sold the design to Australia, who is building not one, but two.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 11:06:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, who is Australia plannning on invading?

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 11:23:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well theres a lot of oil at islands round their north coast.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 11:50:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... Bouganville, some coastal town in Papua New Guinea that is taken over by hoodlums not legitimized by an election, like that.

Or, of course, counter-invading the Northern Territory coast if Indonesia invades Darwin.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 12:39:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You may or may not think you jest, but every strategic document out of Canberra basically runs on the assumption that one of the prime purposes of the AU forces is to fend off an Indonesian invasion. It's the root of a lot of their strategic planning.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 02:11:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I lived in Oz for a decade ... I was half kidding about invading Fiji, and completely kidding about invading Bouganville or Guadalcanal ...

... but a counter-invasion in case the Indonesians invade Darwin? That one is a lot more plausible. In a country of 20m next to a country of 100m+ with a history of invading places in their neighborhood, the military, at least, of the less populous country smaller country will not ignore that prospect in its strategic planning.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 02:46:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well the airfields throughout the south of England for the Battle of Britain were all constructed in the 20's and 30's after an Imperial general staff report that said that War with France was likely before the 1950's

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 02:47:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be a very good idea to start mapping the EU's combined global base network. Because I think it's underrated.

Also, Africa.

That is, the EU is not gearing up to fight a naval war in the straits of Taiwan. But it (well, France and the UK and at times on opposite sides) still has a large and not always benign influence on politics in Africa, with a lot of interventions.

Which doesn't require more than a few thousand troops plus overwhelming firepower at a time.

More aircraft carriers will mean more interventionism in Africa and parts of the Middle East.

I'm optimistic that the carrier plans are going to be scaled down and postponed, though. The money has to be spent on banks right now...

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 05:14:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Its different money being spent on banks. The money being spent on banks is replacing dud assets, and its just newly created fiat-currency purchasing power to replace the credit-money purchasing power that is vanishing as banks accept loan repayments without extending new credit. IOW, it IS "money" being spent ... not income.

The "money being spent" on the military is a diversion of national real income ... and given the collapsing phony-economy sector in the UK, it seems highly likely that the MP's "representing" y'all in the UK will forget to consider whether or not to continue with building the QE class ships. These ship-building projects are like boulders rolling downhill ... they are a lot easier to stop before they get moving than when they are on the move.

But there seems to be very good prospects for France backing out of their penciled in plan to buy one or two of their own, so that's good news at least.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Oct 16th, 2008 at 09:47:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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