Being a poodle of Washington doesn’t pay off – it’s dangerous and expensive

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76 thoughts on “Being a poodle of Washington doesn’t pay off – it’s dangerous and expensive

  1. I’ve been wondering if Canada has similar problems – it probably has to due to geography, but yeah being too close to Washington has it’s drawbacks, something I think Canada ignores at it’s own peril.

    This is especially true because of the mistakes that the US has made over the past couple of decades.

    • Eh, take a look at how US are browbeating different countries into buying their sh*tty weapons (F-35 being the shining example). And in some cases they don’t even have to resort to it.

    • “I’ve been wondering if Canada has similar problems – it probably has to due to geography, but yeah being too close to Washington has it’s drawbacks, something I think Canada ignores at it’s own peril. ”

      The Avro Arrow comes to mind. An interceptor at lest 10 years ahead of its time, terminated due to US pressure. It’s termination lead to Avro going out of business and practically the destruction of Canada’s independent aircraft building capacity.

      • My parents worked at Avro. My dad was a lifelong Liberal (name of the political party, not necessarily how they governed.)

        I know some of the back story, that started coming out in the 80’s. The governing party was the Progressive Conservative with John Diefenbaker as Prime Minister. The Americans cancelled the development of the intended missile system. The Avro Arrow was an untenable cash sink after that.

        The Liberals lead by Lester Pearson (later Prime Minister) acted as the opposition and felt honour bound to criticize the government. The argument in caucus had the Pearson side to claim that the Conservative had destroyed Canada’s aviation industry. The alternate line of attack was proposed by C.D. Howe, the consigliere of the Liberals, that the Conservative had wasted money in a cash sink. The Pearson narrative won out, and has been revealed wisdom since then.

        BTW, my dad and grandpa were big fans of C.D. Howe, but as an ex-pat American, he could never become Prime Minister.

        • Here, in the 90’s, we had Sarkozy, long before he became prez, trying to kill the Rafale and push France into buying the F-18, then al least having carrier-based F-18…
          Note that he put us back into NATO integrated command except for our nukes and reduced the Rafales orders then cancelled the 2nd aircraft carrier project…

    • Yeah that has been something of a national mistake in my opinion. It makes me wonder what might have happened had Canada kept it’s industry.

      I still think that even today, something like the FLX or Gripen could be built by Canada.

  2. I have not been able to read full-post (my computer at work is blocking me for some reason) but I can add that being a poodle of anyone is not normally a recipe for success.

    Each nation has its own interests and its government should be focused on the intersts of its people.

    That being said, many of the issues the US has taken on and has expended much blood and resources on are issues for Europe, Israel, and rest of ME.

    instability and war in Middle east effects Europe and Israel more than it does US. It effects nations like Japan and China as well.

    US is worlds largest producer of both natural gas and oil. The oil coming out of middle east is more needed by UK, Germany, France, Japan, China, etc. than by US.

    Fact is that UK and rest of NATO are unable or unwilling to take on missions of “national interest” that US ends up taking up.

    Whenever there is a large world emergency (militarrily or otherwise) the US is always the one to have to step-up.

    going back to WWII Western Europe has relied on US support to be able to maintain its current form of existance.

    Situation in Balkans in 1990’s. This was a problem for EU not US but who stepped-up and took lead (financially, militarily, logistically)?

    Situation with Current Russian agression is not a real issue for US but who is taking lead against Russian agression?

    And if it comes to fighting who will bear brunt of blood and financial costs?

    Who’s navy ensures worlds sea trade routes?

    Everyone likes to complain about US. But, if US were to give you what you want and completely pull-out of world stage, the rest of the world (EU being most hurt after Israel and GCC) would quickly come begging for US inteference. As was case in WWII.

    Being world cop is more of a burden than a benefit. We pay the costs and rest of civilized world gains as much benefits as we do.

    Maybe not so much internally but when it comes to international affairs US and EU usually share common interests. In fact most of the civilized world shares mostly common interests in Intenational affairs. That includes the BRICS.

    But, if you look at it who is the one protecting and fighting for those interests?

    Also want to add this. Make a list of nations that are allies of US or as you might say are American poodles. Than make a list of the nations who have resisted American influence and/or actively been Enemies of US.

    I bet the nations who you would call American Poodles are doing much better in almost every measure than none allies.

    What happened in Japan and S. Korea after coming under american control? Especially Japan that was completely under American control after surrender in WWII.

    What happened in Germany as well? My family is mostly from Cuba (and before that from Spain & France) and I can tell you my families greatest hope would be for Cuba to one day become an American state (or atleast territory like Puerto Rico, Samoa, etc.) Compare Canada and Mexico. Canada has for 100 years been an American ally/poodle. Mexico has always resisted US involvement (until recently and watch Mexico progress now). Which nation is doing better?

    Being an American Poodle has not turned out to be too bad I guess. compared to being anyone elses poodle historically.

    • Just a few notes:

      “That being said, many of the issues the US has taken on and has expended much blood and resources on are issues for Europe, Israel, and rest of ME. ”

      True. But US have in many cases made situation worse, not better, by failling to realize that HE are *not* an answer for everything.

      “instability and war in Middle east effects Europe and Israel more than it does US.”

      US removing Saddam has not made things better due to their lack of experience (and interest) in nation-building.

      “US is worlds largest producer of both natural gas and oil. The oil coming out of middle east is more needed by UK, Germany, France, Japan, China, etc. than by US. ”

      Europe can substitute with oil from Russia, however. And US are extremely inefficient in their oil usage.

      “Situation in Balkans in 1990’s. This was a problem for EU not US but who stepped-up and took lead (financially, militarily, logistically)? ”

      Problem there was for both EU and US, as Balkans is an area of interest for just about every world power (which is a major reason for why Balkans are so fucked up). Reason why US had to take lead is that no country of EUs big four significantly outweights others, so when they have differences, entire EU can’t make up its bloody mind.

      “And if it comes to fighting who will bear brunt of blood and financial costs?”

      Depends on what do you mean under “fighting”, and where it takes case. If it comes to war with Russia, it will be Europe to bear the most of it – at least most of blood cost. In fact, historically speaking, European countries and especially Russia have proven willing to suffer far greater casualties than US ever did. If it is against China, US will have to take the brunt of fighting.

      “Maybe not so much internally but when it comes to international affairs US and EU usually share common interests. In fact most of the civilized world shares mostly common interests in Intenational affairs. That includes the BRICS. ”

      For the most part, yes. But that depends on what you define under “US” and “EU”. Both of them are empires controlled by capitalists. What is in interests of big business is rarely in interest of common people.

      “What happened in Japan and S. Korea after coming under american control? Especially Japan that was completely under American control after surrender in WWII. ”

      Problem is that US of 1950s are not the same as US of 1980s and later. Ever since US have embraced Milton Friedman’s neoliberalism, everything has taken a turn for worse.

      • Yes US policy has been stupid and has failed at times. But so would any other nation in its posititon.

        Intervention in Iraq was an example of stupid policy. But the problem is who are what is now driving policy. Its not Public/popular will, its special intersts. and not just domestic special intersts. Interests from all over world are now buying Washington political power brokers.

        Point is many major players (including EU) have more to suffer if ME falls into chaos. US (even with waste and inefficiency) can supply most of its enrgy needs with domestic production. Japan, China, EU can’t say that. They all want US to keep ME open for trade but dont want to get hands dirty. EU NATO countries are exception cause they do partner with US militarily.

        Area of interest yes. US would prefer to have stable Balkans participating in new EU. But, US has no serious intersts there. While EU clearly had heavy intersts in a region on its borders. Same goes for Ukraine now.

        I meant fighting if Putin pushes further into Ukraine or possibly Baltics and Moldova. If it comes to war. US would have to provide the largest share of war meterial and equipment and maybe even manpower. While this region is not a US Interest as much as it is for UE.

        The caveat to all this is that as you stated it is important to state that when we speak “national interests” we actually mean business interests and special interests.

        Most of what happens in international affairs and most of the reasons for military operations are related to business and special interests not interests of the people.

        I respect the bravery and courage of military men and women but I always argue with them (to include my best friend) that although they may be doing it with right intentions, none of the wars they have fought since atleast WWII have been to protect our country or our freedoms. with exception of some SOC missions. It has been to protect business interests of some wealthy group mostly.

        But, this is not just issue in US but everywere.

        US government policy both domestically and externally has been going from bad to worst for many decades now. Milton Friedman had some inteligent ideas (most of which I disagree with and beleive to be wrong) biggest problem was that elites in US took hold of his theories and used them to justify their national policy aimed not at bettering the nation but increasing their own power and wealth. Friedman became a plutocrat puppet. As the wealth and power (along with greed) of business special interests have grown the nation has declined.

        Economically US is fine compared to rest of world but it could be so much better. If the concentration of wealth and power were broken and government were reformed to return power to people and remove power of monied interests think about how much better things would be.

        Same goes for rest of the world. Powerful few make decisions that are in their interest not in interest of the populations. Fee market does work but it must be worked and regulated cause it creates concentration of wealth over time.

        • Saddam was open for trade… one of reasons why he was removed was that he wanted to start trading in Euros as opposed to USD. Entire invasion of Iraq was solely for US profit – or more specifically, for profit of US oil and armaments industry, as while US themselves actually lost money in the invasion, oil companies, armaments industry and private military contractors profited handsomely.

          http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,998512,00.html
          http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1095057.html
          http://www.theguardian.com/business/2003/feb/16/iraq.theeuro

          “But, US has no serious intersts there.”

          Actually it has. It wants to remove Russia from Balkans in order to get pipeline from Middle East to Europe under control. Mostly for political as opposed to economic reasons.

          “But, this is not just issue in US but everywere. ”

          True. EU is just as imperialistic as US, except it goes about it in a rather different way (“soft power” as opposed to the “big stick”).

          “Milton Friedman had some inteligent ideas (most of which I disagree with and beleive to be wrong) biggest problem was that elites in US took hold of his theories and used them to justify their national policy aimed not at bettering the nation but increasing their own power and wealth. Friedman became a plutocrat puppet. ”

          Actually, the entire idea behind his theories was to empower plutocrats. You have to know his personal history to understand that – you see, his father was a capitalist (factory owner, IIRC) who had major problems with powerful syndicates and state regulation. Consequently, Friedman made it his life’s mission to empower capitalists and take power away from anything capable of regulating capitalists and capitalism – be it state, syndicates, international organizations etc. All his theories are created with that goal in mind, and elites are using them precisely in the way Friedman intended his theories to be used.

          “Economically US is fine compared to rest of world but it could be so much better. If the concentration of wealth and power were broken and government were reformed to return power to people and remove power of monied interests think about how much better things would be. ”

          Agreed. But that is the problem everywhere. Maybe even worse in the EU than in the US due to democratic deficit of supranational state.

      • I’d like to ad my two cents:

        “Fact is that UK and rest of NATO are unable or unwilling to take on missions of “national interest” that US ends up taking up. ”

        Mostly unable, the EU countries have be given very specialized roles in NATO mostly due to US pressure: UK has had the anti-submarine and bomber intercept role to close the North Atlantic Gap with a great emphasis on ASW assets and interceptor aicraft, Germany has had the bullet sponge role with great emphasis on heavy tanks and infantry and not much else, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Denmark have had the reserve role being equipped with mostly the same equipment as US units, and Italy had the Mediterranean naval reserve role, being allowed to field their own ships but mostly in support roles, and Turkey just like Germany has had the bullet sponge role but is actively trying to move away from it and also has been encouraged to keep Greece in check which has been a borderline Trojan horse ( funny ) ever since the Communist revolts of the late 40s and it’s historic very friendly relations with Russia.
        The only country in NATO that has kept and built it’s capability to conduct the full spectrum of operation like the US but at a lesser scale has been France, and for this the US have called them everything from ungrateful, to pricks, to traitors.
        So it’s unfair of you to bemoan the fact that the US ends up taking missions of “national interest” when it was the US that made sure it was the only country capable of this. Despite this, for its part France has taken it’s share of missions of “national interest” all over Africa, the recent successful intervention in Mali being the last in a series of such missions stretching back to the end of the French Colonial Empire. Here is a short history of them: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/01/18/gabon-to-mali-history-of-french-military-interventions-in-africa/ The article observes also that thees interventions have not been accompanied by protests like the US ones have, mostly because the French were less brutal and went with clear goals that were very hard to be confused with corporate interests like most US interventions are (Panama and Iraq come to mind)

        “What happened in Japan and S. Korea after coming under american control? Especially Japan that was completely under American control after surrender in WWII. ”

        Those two examples actually hurt your point not help it. I wlll elaborate:
        1) After coming under American control South Korea was a brutal military dictatorship under US patronage, like many other countries protected by the US at that time (Iran and a host of Latin American countries come to mind). It was also an underdeveloped mostly agrarian country. This situation changed in the 80s when because of popular pressure the last US backed dictator allowed free elections. With the democratic regime South Korea also started its economic development, but only because the lessening of US control and in spite of it, not because of it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_South_Korea
        2) Japan didn’t come completely under American control. The original US plan for Japan was to dethrone the Emperor and create a Japanese Republic that would probably had turned into another dictatorship just like South Korea. The fact that this plan didn’t come to pass was due to one man: General Douglas MacArthur, which had been named military governor of Japan. He alone realized that the key to pacifying Japan was to not dethrone the emperor and impose a foreign set of ideas on them. He allowed the Emperor to remain head of state and encouraged the Japanese to develop their own democratic form of government the only imposition being to abandon imperialism. which the Japanese were more then glad of doing, and they put their resourcefulness into economic development instead of military one.

        So you see Japan and South Korea didn’t get to where they are because of US control but mostly in spite of it.

        “Compare Canada and Mexico. Canada has for 100 years been an American ally/poodle. Mexico has always resisted US involvement (until recently and watch Mexico progress now). Which nation is doing better? ”

        Again you are over simplifying things. First of all Canada has been a American poodle starting in the 60s. Up until that time it had been an UK colony and then ally. Second off all the difference in economic development between Mexico and Canada has nothing to do with their status as US allies or not. Latin America is full of US puddle/allies like Colombia, Venezuela (up until Chavez), Panama etc. even Cuba under Batista and they are not and have never been very nice places to live in. They share something with Mexico thou: the mentalities of the population regarding property and free enterprise which they inherited from the Spanish empire along with their class structure. Canada and the US on the other hand share something more deep then the influence of US; that is the British colonization model in North America, which unlike the Spanish model in South America, was based on the individual right of property regardless of class and on free enterprise. You see a pauper immigrating to the 13 colonies and then to the United States of America and Canada would leave the class system in Europe behind and be given equal rights and opportunity to property and bussiness. A pauper emigrating to Mexico or any other Latin American country would just replace the Barons, Counts, Marquises and Dukes of Europe with the Dons of the Americans, they were denied property rights and free enterprise and received serf status which is little more then slave. The only way one could prosper in Latin America was if one brought a lot of money. This was the key difference between the development in Anglo-heritage territories in North America and Spanish heritage territories in the rest of the Americas: in the US and Canada everybody worked and received the fruits of prosperity in Latin America the poor worked and the rich prospered.

        • After end of WWII (at that time Stalin Soviets were as much a threath to Europe as Hitler had been) and the formation of NATO it was agreed that the nations of Europe where better served by focusing on key military capabilities (and I totally agree) that would make the whole stronger.

          The US on the other hand was not willing to give up capabilities (US and France share some interesting aspects as much as we both don’t want to admit) and had resources to maintain said doctrine. It was best tactical/strategic decision for NATO. France (for better or worse) has always been unwilling to fall in line with team goals. Unless they lead the team. Call it the Kobe Bryant complex.

          Problem with France is that in their minds they beleive they should be on-par with US in NATO. And, they are not and should not. They also have issues in EU because they don’t want to accept that Germany is the key power player in that organization.

          Ragardless (thats why I said incapable or unwilling) Fact is, EU/NATO has always (Since 1941) relied on US to do the heavy lifting when it comes to military/geopolitical. As always world wants to benefit from US world actions but jumps on US when they take any benefit for themselves or make any mistake.

          The world has not prospered more at any other time than when US has been the leading power. I won’t take full credit for that but I beleive some credit is due. although, I don’t expect it.

          More than during English/Spanish/French emperial dominance, more than when Mongols ruled (in Asia/Eurasia), more than under Alexander, and Romans. Romans don’t get enough credit though. but, thats a different argument. Most surely more than in the Soviet sphere when Soviets were superpower.

          The US (as is always the case when you are the biggest, riches, most powerful, in anything) is always blamed and attacked for everything that it does. Others make mistakes and are ignored. US makes a mistake and rest of world is quick to jump on it. US does something well and its rationalized as being in spite of US.

          The reason why France does not see protests is because it is not the superpower (although they still think they are). If US did exactly the same, rest of world would find reasons to find faults.

          I give you this, France has been very good at avoiding involvement in anything that can get hairy. France is very good at picking its fights. I say that (honestly) more as praise than as critisicism. I wish US would do the same. But, it also explains a lot.

          So when we succeed, its in spite of us and when we fail its because of us. Sounds like the normal mode of thinking worldwide.

          Compare Colombia and Panama to its neighbors. Colombia and Panama are now looking pretty good huh.

          When were things better in Venezuela? When they were operating under US influence or now that they don’t?

          Colombia and Panama are not really in our sphere. They do work with us on many issues. US is worlds primary world power in almost every aspect still so it is necessary and usually beneficial for many countries to play ball with US. does not make them poodles, just realistic.

          I generally agree with your assessment of colonization models and role it has and still plays in the Americas.

      • @Andrei

        Basically the problem is for the Anglo world, culture – and in Canada’s case, geography. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK are all “poodles”.

        The US as you’ve noted has been less than benevolent.

        – At one point, it even supported the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
        – Many of the dictators in South America as you’ve noted are supported by the US and many got in with US-backed coups.
        – Regime change has been used regularly as a policy tool

        I think that many Americans are quite misguided in the role that their nation has played.

    • This reminds me of an article in TIME about, “What’s the Right Role for America in the World?.”
      The focus of the article was that the US must chose either:
      Continue exerting our influence in every possible way and area (Indispensable)
      Intervene only when it threatens our economic interests (Moneyball)
      Or focus on the country at home (Independent)

      The author included a survey which was something like
      36% Independent
      36% Moneyball
      28% Indispensable
      I’m not sure if those were the exact numbers, but I remember for certain that Independent and Moneyball were tied for the lead.

  3. This is my first time to post on this outstanding website, but I must say for the first time that I have come across a post which I comprehensively disagree with, though I recognise that it’s a linked article.

    “It is the only Western nation capable of conducting major military operations well away from home independently of the US.”

    “While Britain loves to think and claim it’s a world power equal to – or even greater than – France – in reality, it is not a world power at all, merely a useful vassal of the United States. Period.”

    It is hard to know where to begin. This is a grossly deficient analysis of French military capability relative to the UK, and I say that as someone with a keen interest in the military history of the French Fifth Republic. To begin, one might point out that France no longer has the capacity to produce small-arms ammunition, which it now imports from China, hardly an ‘independent great power’. While I openly admit that the Dassault Rafale is the world’s finest fighter aircraft today, and have in many ways preferred France’s determination to maintain strategic independence to the UK’s ‘pragmatic’ and budget-driven approach, and while the Defence policy of British governments in recent history is almost stupefyingly retarded (due to the primacy of the Treasury over the Ministry of Defence in modern cabinets), this article’s comparison of the UK and France is considerably wide of the mark.

    As to the points mentioned;

    – The Special Relationship in practice is primarily the unique Five-Eyes intelligence agreement. While Obama was quite an unfriendly US President in his early years towards the UK, the revelation of the serial numbers of the UK’s Trident-II launch vehicles, while mortifying, does not really impact the effectiveness or independence of the UK nuclear deterrent. The entirely of the UK’s nuclear arsenal is of UK design and manufacture, like that of France, even if the ballistic missiles are not. While France maintains a completely national nuclear SLBM capability, the sheer cost of a completely national deterrent had a deleterious effect on the conventional French armed forces (more on that below), while the UK achieved SLBM capability at a fraction of the cost. Retaining a very modest aerial nuclear strike capability offers no real advantage over full submarine-based deterrent.

    – Publicly the US has maintained neutrality on the Falklands dispute, partly due to the conflict within the State Department between the Latin American branch, who are keen to maximise ties with Argentina, and the rest of the State Department, which regards the UK alliance as far more important. While US interests in Latin America have made open support of the UK impolitic, US support has not really been in doubt; the US expressly reserved in the Treaty of inter-American Reciprocal Assistance that it regarded Britain’s South Atlantic territories and Antarctica as outside the scope of the treaty, and when Argentina and Chile came close to war with the UK in 1948 over the Falklands and Antarctica and pressed the US to declare its affiliation publicly, the US administration advised them not to push the issue, “due to the probable effect on public opinion of such a US declaration in Argentina and Chile”, a clear indication that whatever US interests in Latin America, if push came to shove it would only back one side. While disappointing to UK governments perhaps, there is no pressing need for the US to undermine its own interests in its backyard unless the issue becomes critical. The US also provided satellite intelligence during a specific daily ‘window’, I am not aware of refusal to provide save when they were in use by the US. ‘US’ hesitation was more that of Secretary of State Alexander Haig, who was swiftly overruled once it was clear there would be a fight.

    – As to France’s supposed capability to conduct major military operations well away from home independently of the US, this is strictly limited to its strategically marginal sphere of influence in Francafrique. While France has conducted routine unilateral military interventions in its former African colonies in North and West Africa, such interventions have solely been due to France’s continued maintenance of combat units in Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Chad, Central African Republic, Cameroon and Djibouti since independence, often reinforced with a battalion-sized regiment or two of Paras or Marines from the metropole, and a handful of aircraft, and involve rolling small Groupes Tactiques Inter-Armes into ex-colonies against negligible resistance. These are not ‘major military operations’, and while the possession of a sphere of influence in which Paris maintains a unilateral military hegemony enhances French prestige, France’s ability to conduct major military operations without such prepositioned forces is no greater than the UK’s, and has not been unilaterally attempted. In the summer of 2014 the UK was in the midst of deploying a battalion-sized battlegroup from the Yorkshire Regiment on the ground in Erbil to fight through to the trapped Yazidis on Mount Sinjar when the operation was aborted on the Yazidis being discovered to have escaped, when the US was unwilling to fight on the ground and outside of its sphere of influence France was not present. Such an operation is on roughly the same scale as what France is capable of in the time-scale without forward basing, even after the crushing Cameron-Osborne 2010 SDSR chicanery, and in a more testing situation. In the same vein, while France launched independent airstrikes on ISIS positions in Northern Iraq shortly after the US began bombing, and Cameron’s government took absurdly long to begin striking, the RAF has carried out five times as many strikes against ISIS in Iraq as the Armee de l’Air, for which it possesses sovereign bases in Cyprus and other facilities in the Gulf. The Hollande adminstration has also considerably eroded France’s military power-projection capability.

    – While France has proudly maintained a determination to produce her armaments independently, as befitting a great power and as the UK ought to have done, as touched upon earlier this policy in France had enormous costs, both fiscal and operational, and Dassault in general and the Rafale in particular are the exception that highlights the rule; French armaments have generally been late, hugely expensive to the State and frequently outdated on arrival. The effect of France’s determination to maintain a unilateral nuclear triad were particularly ruinous to France’s conventional forces, which were neglected by de Gaulle and his successors, and the army in particular was confronted with near-obsolescence in comparison with other NATO forces during the mid- to late-Cold War. The French Navy received its first nuclear hunter-killer submarines twenty years after the Royal Navy, the Rubis-Class, which were noisy, utterly obsolescent, and nearly two-generations behind the UK’s sovereign submarine development (at that stage on the Trafalgar-Class). The UK has now introduced its 4th-Generation SSN’s, the Astute-Class, very arguably the best in the world, and the French Navy still operates upgraded first-generation SSN’s. France’s first spy satellites were likewise a generation behind their US contemporaries. The Chief of Staff of the Armee de l’Air regarded France’s airpower, and particularly close air support and interdiction capabilities as outdated next to NATO’s by the late 1980’s, and the article fails to recognise the extent to which the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War was a shocking humiliation for France domestically. The French Army of 277,000 men struggled to deploy a lightly-equipped force of 11,000 men to Saudi Arabia in the time it took the 155,000 man British Army to deploy a full armoured division with RAF support totaling 43,000 men. The French were forced into a peripheral role away from the main US/UK force, with which they could not effectively cooperate. The French Air Force was also unable to operate effectively at night. In the Gulf, the Royal Navy operated a well-equipped surface squadron as the foremost units of the Coalition, while the French Navy sent a carrier and cruiser and was relegated to monitoring civilian shipping at the far end of the Gulf. France’s humiliation and sense of impotence over Desert Shield and Desert Storm particularly impressed themselves on Jacques Chirac, who re-organised the French Army on British lines and professionalised it. While the Rafale is a true French success story, it is not typical of France’s independent armaments industry. The main lesson of France’s determination to compete with the United States has been until recently that it could not compete with the United States, with enormous expense accrued and generally being left clearly behind the technological and performance curve, often by a generation (Dassault apart). The UK side-stepped this to a considerable degree.

    – This also touches on the UK’s widespread use of US components in its armaments. While I would tend to criticise this myself and would prefer much greater independence, it can be said of this that it does save considerable money and avoid pointless duplication, while encouraging specialisation in certain areas, rather than general emulation and re-invention of the wheel. While this does of course affect UK arms exports vis-a-vis France’s, armaments are first and foremost designed for the producer’s armed forces. From the point of view of purchasing armaments, the dependence of spares remains an issue anyway, whether from the US or France. In addition, the UK has its fingers in the pies of many western armaments and controls spares supplies itself; for instance, with regard to Spain over Gibraltar the Typhoons of the Spanish Air Force and the Spanish Navy’s surface fleet all rely on the supply of UK spares to continue to operate, as do (with regards to the Falklands) the Brazilian, Argentine and Chilean Navies, etc. With the introduction of the WR-21 turbine so will the US Navy, and the US in fact uses UK components as well, which is a degree of control France lacks there.

    – The UK turned down repeated requests to join the US in the Vietnam War, refused to back America’s stance during the Yom Kippur War, defended Oman and Belize independently during the 1970’s, effectively halted intervention in Syria during 2013, gave little backing to shrill US response to Russian annexation of Crimea, ignored strident US opposition to join the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Bank in 2015 without consultation with the US, leading in a host of other countries in its immediate wake…. not bad for a poodle.

    – In terms of Britain or France being compared as world powers, this is quite a debatable topic. However, the fact that France possesses the Charles de Gaulle is more show than substance in my opinion. As the UK recognised from the 1965 Defence Review, unilateral overseas military interventions post-Empire would generally be in defending independent, predominantly Commonwealth or allied states, which does not require a forceable entry capability. Major strategic threats would in the post-1960’s world inevitably involve the US, in which the UK would best secure its power and influence by being the most powerful and capable of US allies. De Gaulle’s decision to turn France into an independent ‘Third Force’ only saw France reduced to strategic irrelevancy outside of its West African sphere of influence short of its role as an international arms-dealer. In the post-imperial era the UK has fought three major conventional campaigns in the Falklands, Persian Gulf and Iraq, and major unconventional intervention in Afghanistan (2001-02 and 2006-14). In the same period France has conducted small-scale unilateral operations in Africa but otherwise only much more limited contribution in the Gulf War and a smaller contribution in Afghanistan, in much less intense campaigning. The UK has Commonwealth ties with 50 other countries, including Canada, India and Australia, involvement in the defence of Malaysia and Singapore through the FPDA as well as maintaining Brunei as a near client state, defence guarantees in the Middle East, not to mention soft power influence. For all of its supposed power projection capability, whether in its permanent forward deployed presence in its former African colonies or in its carrier group, the reality is that in most of the world France is strategically not relevant (save in the UN Security Council), while the UK has a much greater range of strategic relevance, if not outright power. While she is a major exporter of arms worldwide, so is Israel and the Federal Republic of Germany, neither of which are world powers, so this doesn’t suffice alone. None of this even begins to touch on the French military’s (particularly the Army’s) often considerably lower readiness and training levels and frequently dire shortages of equipment. All in all it would seem that the contention that France is a world power capable of conducting “major military operations independently of the US” is nonsense, as is the assertion that the UK is a lesser power.

    “I could go on and on, but these examples suffice”. Quite.

    • “To begin, one might point out that France no longer has the capacity to produce small-arms ammunition”

      Just… WTF? That is probably the most important capability when it comes to defense industry.

      “– As to France’s supposed capability to conduct major military operations well away from home independently of the US, this is strictly limited to its strategically marginal sphere of influence in Francafrique. While France has conducted routine unilateral military interventions in its former African colonies in North and West Africa, such interventions have solely been due to France’s continued maintenance of combat units in Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Chad, Central African Republic, Cameroon and Djibouti since independence,”

      Just like US interventions have relied heavily on a series of bases all around the world. Fact is that one needs close bases to conduct a major military intervention, and both France and US have relied heavily on preexisting bases in all interventions to date.

      “The Chief of Staff of the Armee de l’Air regarded France’s airpower, and particularly close air support and interdiction capabilities as outdated next to NATO’s by the late 1980’s”

      Even today they are limited, but that is hardly surprising seeing as most NATO countries rely exclusively on helicopters for CAS – fixed-wing CAS, while being far more capable, is almost completely ignored by most NATO militaries.

      “– The UK turned down repeated requests to join the US in the Vietnam War, refused to back America’s stance during the Yom Kippur War, defended Oman and Belize independently during the 1970’s, effectively halted intervention in Syria during 2013, gave little backing to shrill US response to Russian annexation of Crimea, ignored strident US opposition to join the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Bank in 2015 without consultation with the US, leading in a host of other countries in its immediate wake…. not bad for a poodle.”

      I believe that “UK is US poodle” impression was left first and foremost by 2003 intervention in Iraq. UK was the only country which backed US in that “excursion”, despite invasion being both illegal and, in UK, illegitimate.

      “None of this even begins to touch on the French military’s (particularly the Army’s) often considerably lower readiness and training levels and frequently dire shortages of equipment”

      I can’t comment on the France vs UK, but French (and British) training tends to be superior to US. Has to do with the fact that US places too much emphasis on hardware and too little on people. RN submarine commanders are skippers, USN submarine commanders are nuclear engineers.

      Agreed with the rest.

      • Helo are excellent for most types of CAS in a defensive role, or offensive if your ground forces are staying ahead. Helo will have serious (even more serious than A-10 types) survivability issues if operating over enemy ground without it being surprise.

        Biggest issue would be in COIN role. It cannot get to the area of need fast enough. Would need to be pre-positioned if that is possible. You would probably need supersonic jet to get there fast and hold line until A-10 arrives and than finally here comes Apache.

        • “Helo are excellent for most types of CAS in a defensive role, or offensive if your ground forces are staying ahead. Helo will have serious (even more serious than A-10 types) survivability issues if operating over enemy ground without it being surprise.”

          Excellent compared to fast jets. But they are far inferior to fixed-wing CAS aircraft.

          “Biggest issue would be in COIN role. It cannot get to the area of need fast enough. Would need to be pre-positioned if that is possible. You would probably need supersonic jet to get there fast and hold line until A-10 arrives and than finally here comes Apache.”

          Actually, no. Only way to have fast enough response time for CAS (COIN or not) is to have aircraft either colocated with ground troops, or loitering nearby. Neither helos or fast jets can do either of these, and fast jets can’t do CAS anyway. Only options left are dedicated CAS/COIN aircraft, such as A-10, Super Tucano and similar.

        • I agree that ideal situation is to have CAS already in the air and nearby and dedicated CAS like A-10 can do that best. But, Helo can be colocated with ground troops better than any fixed wing.

          Helo can loiter, Helo can hide behind terrain, helo can pop up out of anywhere (almost), Helo can fly very low, Helo can land and take off from basically anywhere (including my backyard) helo can carry Maverick, TOW, 30mm gun, rockets, etc.

          Helo Can Not fly in or out as fast as jet (surprise on enemy and decreased reaction time for defender if A-10, SU-25 used correctly), Helo cannot cover as large an area, Helo can’t carry as heavy weapons load.

          As with anything, I would utilize both to their strenghts and try to hide their weaknesses. Both are better than just one or the other.

          Every weapon has weaknesses. The best way to hide that weakness is to not utilize it in ways not suited by having more types of weapons with specific strenghts. Thats if budget allows.

        • “But, Helo can be colocated with ground troops better than any fixed wing. ”

          Questionable. They have better ability to land near troops, but are also hard to maintain.

          “Helo can loiter”

          It can’t. Not enough fuel.

          “Helo can hide behind terrain, helo can pop up out of anywhere (almost), Helo can fly very low, Helo can land and take off from basically anywhere (including my backyard) helo can carry Maverick, TOW, 30mm gun, rockets, etc. ”

          So can properly designed CAS aircraft, what is your point? Only advantage that helos have is VTOL capability, but they trade that for disadvantage in unit cost, sortie rate, loiter time, cruise speed, maximum speed, maneuverability, damage resistance, payload and firepower.

          “As with anything, I would utilize both to their strenghts and try to hide their weaknesses. Both are better than just one or the other. ”

          That is true… but helos have very large number of disadvantages with little to show for.

      • “Just… WTF? That is probably the most important capability when it comes to defense industry.”

        – It is extraordinary. France decided to shut down production of its own 5.56 mm small-arms ammunition in line with standardising with NATO and planned to purchase it from European members, probably Belgium. Only afterwards did they discover that the violent Lever-delayed Blowback action of the FAMAS F1 assault rifle shredded brass-cased ammunition, so France had to employ NATO 5.56 mm with steel casings, but the only source to be found was (and is) a Chinese factory. On top of that, the NATO 5.56mm round has different muzzle velocity and ballistics from the prior French one for which the barrels and rifling of the FAMAS were designed, but as France has also lost the capability to design or produce assault rifles a re-designed FAMAS barrel has not been acquired. French troops therefore only fire on automatic in bursts, as they can not fire the NATO 5.56 mm ammunition with any dependable accuracy beyond 30 yards or so. The UK produces all of its own small arms ammunition.

        “Just like US interventions have relied heavily on a series of bases all around the world. Fact is that one needs close bases to conduct a major military intervention, and both France and US have relied heavily on preexisting bases in all interventions to date.”

        – I’m not sure that there is a disagreement here. My original post was primarily aimed at the two quotations pasted at the top, in this case that France is a world power and “the only western nation capable of conducting major military operations well away from home independently of the US”. The first essential point I was making was that same point: that France’s apparently independent military capability was strictly reliant on its permanent bases, and these are geographically concentrated in what is a strategically marginal theatre, and that therefore its African expeditionary capabilities can’t be extrapolated into a general conclusion that France can conduct such independent policies, such as its most recent Mali intervention. as a general rule outside of that special contingency.
        However it goes further; that its general ability to conduct independent military operations as a world power is not greater than the UK in terms of projecting its main military forces from the home country to another theatre, and I think that this is the larger point. In terms of being able to conduct major military operations well away from home US interventions may have used pre-existing bases, but the major US forces, for instance in the two Iraq wars, were not pre-deployed but projected from the home country, as were those of the UK in those conflicts. France’s interventions in Africa use not merely pre-existing bases for deployment and logistics, but most of the forces, and thus the intervention capability, is vested in the pre-deployed garrisons located at those bases; in unilateral interventions France has never really deployed more than a couple of battalions from France as contingent reinforcements to these garrisons for an operation, so a supposed capacity to conduct “major military operations independently” is not really embodied by these.
        It should be pointed out with regard to the UK that it has long possessed its own sovereign SKYNET satellite network, now in its fifth generation, which gives it an independent, secure and cutting-edge global military communications network, as well as world-class SIGINT capabilities as part of its ‘Five Eyes’ responsibilities, surely a critical requirement to the ability to conduct military operations independently at strategic ranges. The only navy in the world which has the institutional mentality and staff experience to sustain the permanent global deployment of naval forces other than the US Navy is the Royal Navy; that’s it. This is the sort of intangible which nevertheless matters, for human and institutional quality decisive to combat, and it is why the European counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean were run by the RN. The UK also maintains basing facilities or arrangements in a number of ex-colonies from Jamaica to Kenya to to Jordan and the Gulf States and Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, but here is probably the major cause of a lack of equivalent UK interventionism in its former colonies; most ex-British colonies have on the whole been much more stable and with a greater adherence to the rule of law since independence, for all of their imperfections, and UK intervention contingencies have rarely arisen (Sierra Leone being the only recent example, which was conducted completely independently, and without either forward basing or pre-deployed forces, to the same general region as Francafrique).

        “I believe that “UK is US poodle” impression was left first and foremost by 2003 intervention in Iraq. UK was the only country which backed US in that “excursion”, despite invasion being both illegal and, in UK, illegitimate.”

        – Poland and Australia also participated, though of course the UK was the only major power to support the US. While somewhat off-topic, in terms of its ‘illegality’ it should be noted that as states are sovereign international law is only really those codes of conduct to which they by their declarations and actions they reveal themselves to be bound to adhere to. International law thus derives from historical precedent and opinio juris, and I read a fascinating study several months ago which makes the point that the conduct of UN member states with regard to the use of force since 1945 has been so frequently at variance with the restrictions of the UN charter that they have clearly revealed themselves as not in precedent being bound by its restrictions, and as states are only bound by the obligations they generally recognise themselves to be that the UN Charter can no longer really be said to be binding international law, as so many ostensible breaks of its parameters have taken place since its signing with little or no general protest or condemnation internationally. As to its being ‘illegitimate’ in the UK, I’m not sure what you mean; in the UK the only domestic legal criteria for the use of military force is the Royal Assent, circumscribed in practice by the willingness of the House of Commons to fund it.

        “I can’t comment on the France vs UK, but French (and British) training tends to be superior to US. Has to do with the fact that US places too much emphasis on hardware and too little on people. ”

        – French military training in the bulk of the army has tended to be well behind the British Army in both quantity and quality, though the British Army has tended to be at the forefront of such standards. This of course does not apply to the elite French units, which are superb. As to readiness, nightmarish cases of equipment held together with duct-tape, large amounts of equipment non-operational due to lack of spares etc., all due to bureaucratic penny-pinching, are legion.

        “RN submarine commanders are skippers, USN submarine commanders are nuclear engineers.”

        – Yes, the RN’s profound belief that it has, pound-for-pound, the best Submarine Service in the world is probably justified. USN readiness and training levels are also shockingly poor: more than half the aircraft on US carriers can’t fly due to lack of spares, ships are being cannibalised to keep those at sea running, it has far too few escorts now to actually deploy all of its carriers in a high-intensity naval war without unacceptable risk, and its anti-submarine warfare and mine warfare capabilities have remained mediocre and non-existent respectively for decades, forgotten about in favor of a glamorous carrier-centric fleet model which is arguably better suited to peacetime gunboat diplomacy in the Third World than fighting a competent and modern enemy fleet. Since 1974 no US aircraft carrier has made it more than 48 hours into a NATO naval exercise without being attacked by submarines, often multiple times, which ought to have set off alarm bells in the USN but has been suppressed instead..

        Recent USN appraisal of readiness:

        http://nation.time.com/2012/12/05/is-the-fleet-steaming-forwardor-backward/

        • “As to its being ‘illegitimate’ in the UK, I’m not sure what you mean; in the UK the only domestic legal criteria for the use of military force is the Royal Assent”

          There is difference between legality and legitimancy. “Legal” means “according to the law”. However, power of government in democracies comes (or is supposed to come) from the people. Therefore, anything that government does contrary to popular opinion, or even without asking for popular opinion (referendum) when it comes to matters of national importance, is automatically illegitimate.

          “it has far too few escorts now to actually deploy all of its carriers in a high-intensity naval war without unacceptable risk”

          Just to note, this is a doctrinal problem. US military has a rather idiotic tendency to focus on most expensive weapons while ignoring cheaper, but more crucial, weapons. US Army thinks about new MBT while still soldiering on with an assault rifle designed for airfield protection and not battlefield combat. USAF wastes money on the F-35 while trying to retire the A-10 (that however has multiple causes, I’ll elaborate on it in the article about the A-10 I’m writing). USN focuses on nuclear carriers while ignoring frigates, corvettes, brown water vessels, and submarines – both nuclear attack and especially conventional (DE/AIP) submarines. Had there been a WWIII between US and USSR, US Navy would not have lasted long, as Soviet submarine force outnumbered US one somewhere around 2:1 or even 3:1. Currently, USN has 18 missile and 57 nuclear attack submarines, while Russia has 26 submarines.

          “Since 1974 no US aircraft carrier has made it more than 48 hours into a NATO naval exercise without being attacked by submarines, often multiple times, which ought to have set off alarm bells in the USN but has been suppressed instead..”

          IIRC, a US admiral said that in a war between US and USSR, US carriers would not have lasted more than 48 hours.

      • “There is difference between legality and legitimacy. “Legal” means “according to the law”. However, power of government in democracies comes (or is supposed to come) from the people. Therefore, anything that government does contrary to popular opinion, or even without asking for popular opinion (referendum) when it comes to matters of national importance, is automatically illegitimate.”

        – This may be the difference between Basic Law in Continental Europe and Common Law. In the British Constitutional system popular sovereignty does not exist, as it remains Europe’s last medieval parliament on class basis or Estates. The Government’s actions remain legitimate so long as they are within the law and the Government retains the confidence of both the Sovereign and the House of Commons. The law and democratic institutions are there to uphold the rights of the Monarch, privileges of the Lords and the liberties of the Commons, such as no taxes can be levied without the consent of the Commons of England or their elected representatives, but the people’s sovereignty is vested in their Crowned Head, the Monarch, and is thus exercised by the granting of the Royal Assent in this case. There is no concept of popular sovereignty under Common Law, as this derives from the principles of the French Revolution, which did not touch the evolution of Common Law.

        “Just to note, this is a doctrinal problem.”

        – Yes it is. It is in part due to the USN’s instinctive reliance on the methods that won the last war, even though supercarriers are ultimately to fight supercarriers and were it not for their outstanding usefulness in gunboat diplomacy I think that the supercarrier would be going the way of the battleship after 1945 as a vessel with no enemy to fight. It is also the USN’s acute risk-aversion; it is no Royal Navy “engage the enemy more closely” type of fighting navy, and it is hesitant of fighting doctrinally without a clear superiority in terms of mass and firepower, not an impressive state of affairs. Frankly the Royal Navy fleet constitution envisaged after the run-down of the fleet-carrier fleet from the late-60’s onwards was far superior for fighting the Soviet Navy to that of the USN, even if it was too small to do so wholly independently; the emphasis on the world’s finest ASW surface fleet in the Invincible-Class CVL’s and successive classes of potent frigates, hunting under the covering umbrella of the Invincible’s Sea Harriers and Sea Dart, and backed by possibly the world’s best equipped and trained nuclear and conventional submarine force, predominantly concentrated in home waters like the WWI Grand Fleet instead of scattered worldwide like the USN, was a more potent obstacle to Soviet control of the Atlantic than USN supercarriers task forces steaming through submarine-infested shipping lanes at 30 knots. A leading US admiral did admit that if the Cold War had turned hot in the early 1970’s the US Navy would have been defeated in the Atlantic.

        • “– Yes it is. It is in part due to the USN’s instinctive reliance on the methods that won the last war, ”

          That is quite disputable, actually. When you take a closer look, you’ll see that strategically submarines had far greater impact. Even before the Phillipines were lost, Japanese were unable to effectively supply their industry with resources as submarines intercepted most of the shipping. So I’d say that US submarine service did more for winning war in Pacific than US carriers did, though they did play an important role. But US seem to focus on big, flashy weapons while ignoring importance and contributions of “boring”, cheap weapons. They can’t seem to realize that weapon’s performance, and importance, is unrelated to price tag. Consequently, carriers got all the glory – and funding.

          “It is also the USN’s acute risk-aversion”

          That’s problem of the entire US military. And not just military – in many cases when I have a discussion of US equipment and doctrinal choices with an American, I notice that they seem to consider minimizing casualties to be the most important goal, to the exclusion of everything else. Hence overreliance on PGMs, drones etc., even in cases where they are counterproductive.

      • “That is quite disputable, actually. When you take a closer look, you’ll see that strategically submarines had far greater impact. Even before the Phillipines were lost, Japanese were unable to effectively supply their industry with resources as submarines intercepted most of the shipping. So I’d say that US submarine service did more for winning war in Pacific than US carriers did, though they did play an important role. But US seem to focus on big, flashy weapons while ignoring importance and contributions of “boring”, cheap weapons. They can’t seem to realize that weapon’s performance, and importance, is unrelated to price tag. Consequently, carriers got all the glory – and funding.”

        It is true that the USN had essentially deprived Japan of the ability to sustain itself by the end of 1943 through its submarine campaign. That is not how the Pacific War is chiefly remembered in the US, however, and the instinct of the Navy I believe has been rooted in the carrier as the basis of the strength of the fleet. I believe it to be the submarine and correspondingly ASW surface capability in blue-water naval warfare, but I believe the USN’s carrier centric doctrine is rooted in its conception of the Second World War experience, which revolved around carrier operations above all else. I agree with you and believe the carrier to have been over-rated then and since, but that is not how the institutional memory of the US Navy sees it.

        “That’s problem of the entire US military. And not just military – in many cases when I have a discussion of US equipment and doctrinal choices with an American, I notice that they seem to consider minimizing casualties to be the most important goal, to the exclusion of everything else. Hence overreliance on PGMs, drones etc., even in cases where they are counterproductive.”

        Completely agree.

        • “I agree with you and believe the carrier to have been over-rated then and since, but that is not how the institutional memory of the US Navy sees it.”

          Grandma dreams what grandma wants. There is an endemic idea-reality disconnect in US military thought.

      • “IIRC, a US admiral said that in a war between US and USSR, US carriers would not have lasted more than 48 hours.”

        That was Admiral Rickover the “Father of the Nuclear Navy”.

      • More independant from US and more dependant on Germany, France, Italy, etc. Not sure which one is best for UK.

        It would be nice to be totally self-reliant but realistically for UK and all of NATO they have to focus on niches and rely on each other. Even for US it would be realistically militarily beneficial to rely on allies for certain capabilities. Its the old jack of all trades master of none issue. Economically speaking issue is a bit different but if exchange is equal still beneficial.

      • @Duviel Rodriguez,

        The USN in particular is not a wholly self-reliant universal force, and it has relied on allies, particularly the RN for both Anti-Submarine Warfare and mine warfare. The RN was regarded as NATO’s primary ASW force during the Cold War and has frequently deployed to Western Hemisphere to assist the USN in hunting for Russian submarines even off the Eastern Seaboard of the US itself, and during Desert Storm the USN simply could not have operated in the western reaches of the Persian Gulf without the RN squadron, which commanded the entire coalition’s mine warfare operation and was the only coalition navy able to systematically detect and clear the more sophisticated mines. Also, due to the insistence on having every escort be a several-billion dollar AAW vessel in the Arleigh Burkes, the USN can often only provide two or three escorting warships to its carrier and amphibious groups, and even these are not outstanding in detecting and attacking submarines; the presence of allies’ escorts is often not mere tokenism or PR, but a real requirement for the USN, whose admirals have chosen to focus on the maximum number of big-ticket items at the expense of a balanced fleet capable of actually operating independently in a war at sea.

    • What you say seems true ( was it usefull though to use some personal words as “proudly”, “Prestige”?) but it’s only true for the period described. Things have changed alot since then, you must have a look on those changes(French submarine technology, for instance: http://en.dcnsgroup.com/news/major-dcns-innovations-improve-submarine-capabilities/)
      On the first Gulf War, seeing that map: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e0/DesertStormMap_v2.svg , I’m not quite convinced that the UK’s tactical role was far ahead from the French’s one.

      Maybe What you have not understood about the French military policy is that whatever be the cost, they have to be able to build alone most of their stuff to stay independant. Remember that the limit of an alliance is the specific interests of each country, so this policy is more pragmatic than you seem to think. There is no arrogance or snobbery at all in that, its an expensive crucial “no choice” as they have the second maritime territory on Earth and not a single “commonwealth tie like” because their influence has always been much more cultural than economic or military. In fact, France is only a now little share in a famous buisness academy named European Union so they must rely only on themselves to have just hoping not to be pushed around.

      Finally, UK may have a couple of things to learn with France (and the opposite is also true) and I believe it’s why they choose to cooperate in the nuclear and aerial domains recently.

      • I meant no criticism of France! I was perhaps juxtaposing the author of the policy (de Gaulle) with France’s stance. I think that I also tried to make clear that I have a considerable admiration towards France’s independent policy and in many ways would have greatly preferred it in a host of examples from the British space program to TSR-2. Nevertheless my post was a response to the original tagged article, which I thought was more rooted in anglophobic gloating than fact, and its errors I thought justified a response. Indeed, France’s arms industry has done very well since the 1990’s, but in that same space of time it has become substantially less independent, with increasing reliance on pan-European multi-national projects, which perhaps makes the point on France’s inability to fund and support a truly independent and universal armaments industry.

        – Nevertheless in terms of perceptions of pride or arrogance they may not be wholly undeserved either, the Horizon AAW warship project was a remarkable case of such French irrationality; to develop and produce a projected tri-national warship program of 16 ships, divided between the UK, France and Italy in the ratio of 12;2;2, France demanded a 50% workshare and leadership of the whole program. The UK did the right thing to leave and build the Type 45 Daring Class destroyer, now the world’s most advanced and capable AAW warship, independently. Likewise, France’s insistence that it should have an independent naval command during Desert Shield and Desert Storm saw it well-away from the action monitoring civilian maritime traffic, and the French Navy thus deployed a potent force yet played no significant role, the consequence of its inability or unwillingness to closely cooperate. The fact that France would prioritise such posturing over operational effectiveness in a fit of pique has often appeared to Anglo-Saxon observers to be an astonishing, almost silly arrogance.

        – BAE has produced a similar AIP upgrade package for conventional submarines to the link you provided. The technologies you allude to above are for conventional SSK’s, not SSN’s, of which France has been one of the world’s largest exporters alongside Germany, even if the most potent SSK’s ever built may still be the often overlooked British Upholder Class, which are now operated by the Royal Canadian Navy. Nevertheless, the general Cold War rule of thumb was that Soviet submarines were the fastest and deepest-diving but noisiest, the RN’s slower and shallower but the most silent and with the best sonars, and USN submarines fell in between the two design emphases. Since the critical factor in victory or defeat in submarine warfare is to detect first without being detected, the RN’s submarines can be seen to have arguably been the most dangerous of all. The British expertise in submarine silencing has been the product of a continuous process going back to 1945, and has been a generation ahead of the USN, partially as Admiral Rickover was bizarrely opposed to silencing. This is vested in research and knowledge in submarine shaping, a wide variety of machinery-isolating and quietening techniques, and above all propulsor technology. The UK invented and first fielded submarine propulsors on the Swiftsure Class SSN, and Swiftsure propulsor technology was passed onto the USN a decade later, therefore and since US submarines’ propulsors have remained a generation behind the UK. In addition with similar leads in sonar technology the reports that HMS Astute amazed the USN CNO by holding a Virginia Class SSN at unprecedented ranges are credible and consistent with known facts. I have no doubt that the Barracuda Class SSN’s will be excellent boats, and very quiet, but I simply don’t believe that French industry will be able to match the sustained UK lead over even the US in this field for 60 years by leapfrogging three generations of research and experience from the relatively backward Rubis-Class to equal the Astutes in a single generation.

        – In Desert Storm the UK 1st Armoured Division was at the core of the Coalition plan, which envisaged it engaging the bulk of the Republican Guard to facilitate US divisions outflanking them. The British armoured division saw some of the most intense fighting of the entire campaign, and destroyed two Republican Guard divisions. The French 6eme Light Division screened the extreme left flank of the Coalition forces, where there were no major Iraqi forces. While the French performed competently and aggressively in assaults on several objectives, it was an important but far smaller-scale combat role. The 6e DL was employed in such a subordinate fashion for two reasons; firstly it was not powerful enough to participate in the main battle to the East, and secondly it was unable to operate in direct coordination with NATO forces. At sea as mentioned above France’s naval contribution was unwilling to contribute unless it was given a clear independent command and so was relegated to the demeaning role of controlling merchant shipping far away from the action while the USN and RN carried out all of the significant naval operations. It was all well and good to maintain independence from NATO or the Warsaw Pact, but the consequence of that was all too often military irrelevancy, and France’s elites judged that after Desert Storm to be too great a price to pay, rightly in my view.

        “Maybe What you have not understood about the French military policy is that whatever be the cost, they have to be able to build alone most of their stuff to stay independent. Remember that the limit of an alliance is the specific interests of each country, so this policy is more pragmatic than you seem to think. There is no arrogance or snobbery at all in that, its an expensive crucial “no choice” as they have the second maritime territory on Earth and not a single “commonwealth tie like” because their influence has always been much more cultural than economic or military.”

        – I am no critic of the French approach, quite the opposite in principle. However I think that France has proven the limitations as well as the advantages of it when applied in competition with a superpower, and one would have to question whether it is better to conduct such a policy if the result is increasing conventional military obsolescence. The independent policy did not ultimately result in France being an independent world power, the intended object, but rather a state which when push came to shove in Iraq and in Bosnia and Kosovo liked to take a lead diplomatically but could not act without the US nor (in Iraq anyway) act effectively with the US either. That is not so much the case in recent years, but France’s independence in its arms industry is also decreasing in terms of the increasing preference for European projects, demonstrating its apparent unaffordability for the small production volumes involved, and it must be said that the declining size of national defence markets in Europe may be a death-knell to the viability of such an approach. On the other hand, the UK defence industry has a substantial and growing participation in the world’s largest defence market, the US, to a degree which other non-US defence industries do not enjoy. The UK has secured its supplies from the US by US usage of its own components. It is a viable approach, though I would prefer greater UK independence there are acceptable trade-offs, and I think that mounting UK nuclear warheads on Trident is a very advantageous one for the UK’s conventional forces.

    • @The Admiralty

      Let me guess you are British? 🙂 Your reply while very well documented contains traces of that old favorite British sport: French Bashing. I admit I have a bias towards the French because of historical ties between our countries.

      “The French Army of 277,000 men struggled to deploy a lightly-equipped force of 11,000 men to Saudi Arabia in the time it took the 155,000 man British Army to deploy a full armoured division with RAF support totaling 43,000 men.”

      I will answer this with a series of questions: how much of that full armored British division was transported with British shipping and how much was piggybacked on US shipping? How many of the RAF fighters where stationed in joint bases with US fighters and benefited of the logistical tail of the USAF when it came to weapons and fuel?
      From what I recall from history the French partially withdrew form NATO and while they are members in the alliance they have not integrated their forces with NATO. So it’s not fair to compare the deployment the French army did on it’s own with that undertaken by the British with American help. In fact a fairer comparison of deployment capabilities would be what the British were capable to deploy to the Falklands on their own: that is a lightly equipped force of 9000 men and naval support. And not even that was all on their own: the aviation fuel was provided by the US.

      ” The main lesson of France’s determination to compete with the United States has been until recently that it could not compete with the United States, with enormous expense accrued and generally being left clearly behind the technological and performance curve, often by a generation (Dassault apart). The UK side-stepped this to a considerable degree. ”
      “The French Navy received its first nuclear hunter-killer submarines twenty years after the Royal Navy, the Rubis-Class, which were noisy, utterly obsolescent, and nearly two-generations behind the UK’s sovereign submarine development (at that stage on the Trafalgar-Class). The UK has now introduced its 4th-Generation SSN’s, the Astute-Class, very arguably the best in the world, and the French Navy still operates upgraded first-generation SSN’s”

      I will answer to these together. Yes indeed because of their focus on nuclear weapons during the 60s and 70s the French conventional forces where severely obsolete by the late 80s. You cite Dassault as an exception but not even they were an exception Mirage 2000 was a generation behind the F-16 and F-15. However during the 90s, with the nuclear issue behind them, the French recovered their technological lag and in several instances surpassed other NATO countries. Rafale like you admit is superior to any other aircraft. Not only that but unlike any other fighter today it was delivered on time and on budget and it’s upgrade cycle surprises everyone being sometime ahead of schedule. Meanwhile the Eurofighter is almost an embarrassment. Started before the Rafale it suffered from a change of mission which ironically started to resemble what the French were advocating to built, which delayed it by four years and made its price skyrocket to the point where none of the nations of the Consortium, save for the UK, want to commit to the Tranche 3 version. This leaves the UK in the unenviable position of not being able to complete its own fighter having lost independent aircraft building capacities.
      Meanwhile the French ground forces are being equipped with increasingly sophisticated and advanced gear, before the UK or other NATO countries: for example the French Future solider system FELIN was deployed starting from 2011 while the UK FIST is still in testing. In the vehicle department French vehicles, while unique to their fighting style show increasing levels of sophistication of their sensors and weapons surpassing in some instances other NATO countries.
      As for the Navy you call Astute the best nuclear attack submarine in the world, but you fail to mention that it was over budget and delayed by 47 months. Meanwhile the French Baracuda class, while being delayed, stays on budget and will deliver capabilities similar to the Astute, especially in regards to stealth, in a much smaller less crew intensive package (half the crew 2/3 of the tonnage more maneuverability and capacity to work in coastal waters ). Yes the program has a very long gestation period but like you said the French are jumping a few generations.

      What I want to illustrate is that while the French emphasis on nuclear weapons and independence starved they conventional military of funds, it also thought their military R&D frugality and efficiency. This is I think one of the reasons, why French R&D is so efficient this days compared to US or UK. Also their emphasis on nuclear weapons left them with a great deal of experience in regards to nuclear technologies, France being today the lead EU country when it comes to nuclear research.
      On the other hand UKs practicality, when it came to R&D and preference to buy American instead of developing on their own, caused then to slowly lose capabilities. Also the availability of funding in the 70s led to decrease in efficiency. This has led to the point today that the UK today has lost the capacity to build its own aircraft is dependent on the US for renewing it’s nuclear arsenal, and building its carrier aircraft.
      In other words France policy while not being very pragmatical in the short term was actually very pragmatical in the long term and leading to them being independent in term of military acquisition, and while not having as much influence on the world stage as the I wouldn’t hazard to cal them irrelevant seeing as they maintained their influence in the parts of the world where they had it. On the other hand Britain’s bigger world influence is just them maintaining influence in the parts of the world where they had but at the cost of their dependency on the United States for a big chunk of their military equipment to the point where the Prince of Wales class will be a joke build solely to justify the acquisition of F-35B’s, costing the British public what 10 billion pounds>

      • What about the favorite sport in France of gloating about the superiority of French everything?

        US (and most other countries to some degree) citizens are not much different than French in that aspect. Although, that false sense of American superiority is starting to decline in US. Maybe due to globalization of information domains.

      • Yes Gripen to. Actually I wanted to add in that long post that right now UK has less independence when it comes to military acquisitions then Sweden which may buy some tech from the US and UK but at least its able to research and build its own aircraft.

        • Yeah, Sweden did really well for its size. Probably overall the best air superiority fighter in the West (Rafale and Typhoon may be better one-on-one, but are also more expensive and harder to maintain), excellent coastal ships and submarines, good anti-ship missiles… list goes on.

      • “What about the favorite sport in France of gloating about the superiority of French everything?”

        True they gloat, but they never gloat about something that is not true.

      • I am not French bashing, indeed I tried to make clear that on the whole I prefer the French model of independence. However I certainly questioned whether France actually did very well at it, particularly during the Cold War period, and the original post was primarily in response to the linked article, which appeared to me to be a bout of anglophobe gloating far in excess of the facts, which deserved a clear rebuttal. I believe that British governments should have done as France did from the late 1950’s on, and I am certainly no defender of the performance of successive British governments on either defence or British industry, who have been largely abysmal.

        “how much of that full armored British division was transported with British shipping and how much was piggybacked on US shipping? How many of the RAF fighters where stationed in joint bases with US fighters and benefited of the logistical tail of the USAF when it came to weapons and fuel?”

        – The deployments to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf have the advantages of both major and under-used port facilities and unlimited fuel supplies in the immediate theatre of operations. These advantages intrinsic to projecting military forces to the Gulf were possessed by the UK, US and France equally and enabled all of them to bring to bear and sustain a greater force than they otherwise would have been able to. I don’t know whether a portion of the UK deployment was in US shipping but the bulk if not all was probably delivered by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. US shipping would after all have been heavily tied down in projecting their own vast multi-Corps deployment. If France’s lacking logistical compatibility with the US hampered her ability to project military power then that is in a sense my point; France’s independence and rejection of close cooperation with the US did not make her a greater world power than the UK, in practice to the contrary. In addition, the difficulty was not merely logistic or coalitional; the French Army was simply unable to generate the expeditionary military power that the British Army was, in large part due to conscription, but also due to substantially lower readiness levels. The Falklands is a separate issue, for you are comparing the UK’s shipping capacity in one or two lifts straight into action with zero forward facilities or supplies to a build-up in the desert with the logistical advantages mentioned above over the space of months. The question of deploying an armoured force to the Falklands also did not arise as it was not relevant to the campaign. France’s inability to project comparable military power to the UK into the theatre was viewed in France itself as shocking and unacceptable, and highlighted France’s failure to compete with the superpowers via strategic independence, which had been the purpose of the doctrine. As for the supposed failure of British industry in the Gulf War example, the RAF and British Army were both substantially better-equipped for the campaign; the AMX-30 was clearly inferior to the British Challenger I’s and Chieftains for instance, and the RAF could operate at night.

        “I will answer to these together. Yes indeed because of their focus on nuclear weapons during the 60s and 70s the French conventional forces where severely obsolete by the late 80s.”

        – Indeed. This is why the British mounting of their independently designed and manufactured nuclear weapons on Trident was a major advantage over France’s completely independent nuclear triad, which while prestigious undermined France as a conventional military power.

        “Not only that but unlike any other fighter today it was delivered on time and on budget and it’s upgrade cycle surprises everyone being sometime ahead of schedule. Meanwhile the Eurofighter is almost an embarrassment. Started before the Rafale it suffered from a change of mission which ironically started to resemble what the French were advocating to built, which delayed it by four years and made its price skyrocket to the point where none of the nations of the Consortium, save for the UK, want to commit to the Tranche 3 version.

        – Firstly this is exactly why I agree with the unilateral approach; multinational arms programs have a dismal record. However you are I think attributing failures to British industry which are entirely due to political meddling and incompetence and completely counter-productive fiscal penny-pinching, which has always demonstrably both dragged-out and driven-up development and production programs and costs. That is of course an apples and oranges comparison.

        “As for the Navy you call Astute the best nuclear attack submarine in the world, but you fail to mention that it was over budget and delayed by 47 months. Meanwhile the French Baracuda class, while being delayed, stays on budget and will deliver capabilities similar to the Astute, especially in regards to stealth, in a much smaller less crew intensive package (half the crew 2/3 of the tonnage more maneuverability and capacity to work in coastal waters ). Yes the program has a very long gestation period but like you said the French are jumping a few generations.”

        – This again confuses the deleterious and chaotic effect of serial political and fiscal obstacles of miniscule orders and penny-pinching with deficiency in British industry. Industry can only do so much; the counter-productive decision-making on non-military and industrial criteria routinely screws up industry, which I don’t think is the problem for the most part. None of that affects the Astute. As to submarines in general I made the point above with regards to the Barracuda Class; I have no doubt that they will be modern and very quiet, but I see no reason to believe that France can overtake the UK, which has remained a generation ahead of the US in SSN silencing and sonars for over 60 years in the leap of a single generation from its obsolescent and disappointing first generation Rubis-Class. One can’t simply jump well over half-a-century and four generations of continuous evolution and know-how in these specialised fields of submarine shaping, noise-reduction and propulsor technology just like that, leaping three generations when the USN has consistently been unable to close its generation lag behind RN SSN silencing and sonars. I do not regard the assertion that the Barracuda will equal the Astute (and thus surpass the Virginia Class) as likely in practice.

        ” This leaves the UK in the unenviable position of not being able to complete its own fighter having lost independent aircraft building capacities.”
        “On the other hand UK’s practicality, when it came to R&D and preference to buy American instead of developing on their own, caused then to slowly lose capabilities. Also the availability of funding in the 70s led to decrease in efficiency. This has led to the point today that the UK today has lost the capacity to build its own aircraft is dependent on the US for renewing it’s nuclear arsenal, and building its carrier aircraft.”

        This is an assertion which I have seen made repeatedly, and which I think is incorrect. The UK aerospace industry is nearly 1/5th of the world’s aerospace industry, and is the second largest in the world after the US. Much of the UK’s aerospace industry is vested in small and medium sized niche firms which participate as integral parts of the US and European aerospace supply chain, and these firms tend to be experts in specialised fields and at the technological cutting edge. This article in the Economist gives an illustrating anecdote with regards to the likes of Airbus; while other countries (read ‘France’) celebrate as the completed aircraft come off of the final assembly line in their countries, final assembly is the lowest-skilled part of aircraft production and only adds 5% of the value of the aircraft. Meanwhile, the UK is quietly coining it.

        http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21597903-can-britain-remain-planemaking-superpower-flight-plan

        I think that the UK’s aerospace industry is thus consistently underestimated. The UK remains at the cutting edge of aerospace technology with a highly-developed industry, it is fully involved in the prototyping, and produces many of the components; it possesses the knowledge and production capacity. The Typhoon’s EJ200 is a good example; it is a Rolls-Royce prototype engine which was farmed out as part of the multi-national workshare arrangements of the Eurofighter project. I vehemently oppose all such multi-national arrangements, but I think that the assertion that the UK has lost “independent aircraft building capacities” is bunk. The UK has the design and prototyping knowledge and can develop and produce the key components, as well as being one of the only countries in the world that can produce top-of-the-range high-performance military jet engines; organising production and physical assembly is the easiest part of the process, and is really optional in strategic terms. The UK has not lost the capacity to unilaterally develop its armaments, but it has sort of retained a full reserve or ‘mobilisation’ capacity, while attempting to cut corners in routine expenditure. I disagree with this, rue the blows of the 1957 and 1965 Defence Reviews and believe the savings to often be illusory, but I think that the loss of industrial capability is overstated; of the Eurofighter consortium, the UK is possibly the one indispensable member industrially.

        “it also thought their military R&D frugality and efficiency. This is I think one of the reasons, why French R&D is so efficient this days compared to US or UK.”

        UK Defence industry is in fact highly efficient and frugal for the very fact that there has been limited money for half a century. As D.K. Brown pointed out, nearly all of the major reductions in warship-building costs in the UK during the 1980’s were due to shipyards’ breakthroughs in production efficiency and techniques, such as plasma-welding underwater, cellularity and computer aided design and production processes, not as the Government claimed increased competition. There have been vast tales of money-wasting, inefficiency and nonsense; I would suggest that nearly everyone is due to political and fiscal factors inflicted on British industry, not Britain’s defence industry itself. Small production runs spread out to long for budgetary reasons and frequently cut dramatically as the project goes on, constant changes in specifications, constant demands for arbitrary cost-cutting; all of these things send overall and unit costs sky-rocketing and wreck time-tables, beyond the control of industry.

        “Yes Gripen to. Actually I wanted to add in that long post that right now UK has less independence when it comes to military acquisitions then Sweden which may buy some tech from the US and UK but at least its able to research and build its own aircraft.”

        – A good portion of the Gripen, and a full 36% of the Gripen E is made of UK components, indeed the fighter was marketed by Saab as a joint UK/Swedish fighter in the early 2000’s. The fighter cannot be exported anywhere without UK permission, as Argentina and Brazil have recently discovered. The Gripen is a classic example of how the UK aerospace industry works. Saab is moving an increasing portion of its operations from Sweden to the UK, and considered moving all Gripen production to the UK in the early 2000’s, a good example of how production is the easiest part of the aircraft industry to move and establish. Development of the Sea Gripen will take place in London, and the majority of Saab’s suppliers of components are designed and made by UK firms.

        http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmdfence/9/9vw10.htm

        The BAE designed its future fighter before the beginning of the Eurofighter project, which was a small close coupled canard single-engine fighter very similar to the Gripen and upon which I believe the Gripen may have been partly inspired. BAE has also done much of the design work for the Tranche 3 Typhoon, and I see no evidence that BAE lacks the expertise to design cutting-edge combat aircraft.

        If the Queen Elizabeth carriers are failures, that will only be because of the JSF and governmental incompetence. In my view they should have a crash program to fit them with arrestor gear and a modern canard equipped fighter, possibly a Sea Gripen should be envisaged in an urgent operational requirement to be developed and modified to operate from them.

      • …”while other countries (read ‘France’) celebrate as the completed aircraft come off of the final assembly line in their countries, final assembly is the lowest-skilled part of aircraft production and only adds 5% of the value of the aircraft”…

        It is best to know well his opponent if one wishes to touch his nerve. The subsets of the Rafale are almost excusively made in France, even the Martin Baker ejection seat is produced under license in France by a co-owned company. About 500 companies and 7,000 workers are working on the Rafale program in the mastery of exclusive work of Dassault Aviation.

      • “As for the supposed failure of British industry in the Gulf War example, the RAF and British Army were both substantially better-equipped for the campaign; the AMX-30 was clearly inferior to the British Challenger I’s and Chieftains for instance, and the RAF could operate at nig”

        You miss read me on that I did not talk about failure of British industry in the Gulf War, I talked about how French industry took great steps in the 90s to recover it’s technological lag.

      • “– Firstly this is exactly why I agree with the unilateral approach; multinational arms programs have a dismal record. However you are I think attributing failures to British industry which are entirely due to political meddling and incompetence and completely counter-productive fiscal penny-pinching, which has always demonstrably both dragged-out and driven-up development and production programs and costs. That is of course an apples and oranges comparison.”

        You can not separate how effective an industry in in technology of the political a financial backing it is receiving. France might be behind in “mass” of industry but it is the financial and political backing it is receiving which allows it to perform better.

        ” One can’t simply jump well over half-a-century and four generations of continuous evolution and know-how in these specialised fields of submarine shaping, noise-reduction and propulsor technology just like that, leaping three generations when the USN has consistently been unable to close its generation lag behind RN SSN silencing and sonars.”

        Actually you can, by simply using another technology. French propulsor technology is not the same as UK/US/Russian i.e. a steam turbine, powered by steam generated by the nuclear reactor, turning the screws. French use the nuclear reactor simply to generate electricity and the propulsion is electrical. This means that noise from the nuclear reactors pumps, which is a major issue to US/UK/Russian boats, and the reason why you cited propulsor technology above all when it came to silencing, can be easily isolated and the whole problem reduced just to submarine shaping, and machinery-isolating and quietening techniques which are much more simple problems and with know-how developed also in civil engineering and other connected fields. Another advantage of using nuclear-electric propulsion is that the reactor uses civilian nuclear fuel which will greatlly reduce operating costs for the Baracudas, as the French have plenty of nuclear power plants and fuel producing facilities for them.

        “This is an assertion which I have seen made repeatedly, and which I think is incorrect. The UK aerospace industry is nearly 1/5th of the world’s aerospace industry, and is the second largest in the world after the US. Much of the UK’s aerospace industry is vested in small and medium sized niche firms which participate as integral parts of the US and European aerospace supply chain, and these firms tend to be experts in specialised fields and at the technological cutting edge. This article in the Economist gives an illustrating anecdote with regards to the likes of Airbus; while other countries (read ‘France’) celebrate as the completed aircraft come off of the final assembly line in their countries, final assembly is the lowest-skilled part of aircraft production and only adds 5% of the value of the aircraft. Meanwhile, the UK is quietly coining it.

        Well consider the source 😀 . The article lauds British industry and takes some jabs at the French but they are cheap ones because: France dose more then final assembly on the Airbus ( France produces fuselage sections and a big chunk of the avioniscs) in fact it dose significantly more the Britain which is no longer part of Airbus Industries, BAe having sold it’s 20% share to the Franco-Spanish-German EADS (now Airbus Group ) in 2006. So while the British factory in Wales makes profit to profit dose not go in British pockets but in French (40%), Spanish (20%) and German (40%) ones. In fact 11.96 % of Airbus Group is owned directly by the French State.
        Another piece of misinformation in the article is this one:
        “Britain is home to 30% of Europe’s aerospace firms, according to Martin Wright of the Northwest Aerospace Alliance, a trade organisation. Germany has only 10% but they are over twice as big on average and invest twice as heavily.”
        Two points to consider on this: 1) who has the rest of the 60% of aerospace firms in Europe. Even an even split between Spain, Italy and France would still give France about 20% of aerospace firms in Europe.
        2) It gives number of firms but even the author recognizes that the Germans firms are twice as large on average. Could it because of German part ownership of the Airbus group? Could it also be that that part ownership of Airbus would make French firms significantly larger also?
        Which brings me to the next point how can the UK aerospace industry be 1/5 of the worlds aerospace industry when in the top 10 of Aerospace firms : http://www.army-technology.com/features/featurethe-top-10-aerospace-and-defence-companies-in-2014-4386382/ there are only two British firms BAe and Rols-Royce and BAe is producing a lot more then aircraft ? Dose the author count the Airbus owned firms in the UK which should not be considered British, but belonging to Airbus? Airbus by the way is second in that top ten and even a three way split between Germany, Spain and France coupled with the presence of Safran (French) above Rols-Royce would still indicate that French aerospace industry is at least on par.

        “UK Defence industry is in fact highly efficient
        ….
        the project goes on, constant changes in specifications, constant demands for arbitrary cost-cutting; all of these things send overall and unit costs sky-rocketing and wreck time-tables, beyond the control of industry.”

        The biggest example of French frugality and efficiency is the CATIA software-suite, created by Dassault during the Rafale project. Is has become the standard Computer Aided Design and Product Life Cycle management tool in any industry you can think of and is used on every continent by any firm that has something to do with aerospace, automotive, defense, naval engineering and so fort.

        “I disagree with this, rue the blows of the 1957 and 1965 Defence Reviews and believe the savings to often be illusory, but I think that the loss of industrial capability is overstated; of the Eurofighter consortium, the UK is possibly the one indispensable member industrially.”
        “– A good portion of the Gripen, and a full 36% of the Gripen E is made of UK components, indeed the fighter was marketed by Saab as a joint UK/Swedish fighter in the early 2000’s. The fighter cannot be exported anywhere without UK permission, as Argentina and Brazil have recently discovered. The Gripen is a classic example of how the UK aerospace industry works. Saab is moving an increasing portion of its operations from Sweden to the UK, and considered moving all Gripen production to the UK in the early 2000’s, a good example of how production is the easiest part of the aircraft industry to move and establish. Development of the Sea Gripen will take place in London, and the majority of Saab’s suppliers of components are designed and made by UK firms.”

        I agree UK aerospace industry is formidable, but my statement has nothing to do industrial capacity but with research and development and political backing. The UK has not designed a fighter on it’s own since the 70s. It can handle parts of it very well on it’s own, it can handle developing a variant of a fighter like the Sea Gripen, but designing a whole fighter from scratch is a another matter entirely. The Swedes might buy a lot of components from the British, they might have outsourced production of components to South Africa and Britain and Thailand and the whole production for the American market to Brazil, but they retained the capacity to run a fighter program on their own from the beginning to the end. That is a very important capacity that Britain I don’t think has any more and it’s costing it a lot when it comes to carrier aviation for example. The simplest answer to the whole Queen Elizabeth debacle would have been to either a) buy the Rafale or b) develop an indigenous naval fighter.

        “The BAE designed its future fighter before the beginning of the Eurofighter project, which was a small close coupled canard single-engine fighter very similar to the Gripen and upon which I believe the Gripen may have been partly inspired. BAE has also done much of the design work for the Tranche 3 Typhoon, and I see no evidence that BAE lacks the expertise to design cutting-edge combat aircraft.”

        On the contrary the British fighter was more likely inspired by the Gripen probably through friendly leaks from SAAB, as the Gripen is clearly and evolution of the Viggen while the UK at that time had zero experience with close coupled canards.

      • @ Xplane

        “It is best to know well his opponent if one wishes to touch his nerve. The subsets of the Rafale are almost excusively made in France, even the Martin Baker ejection seat is produced under license in France by a co-owned company. About 500 companies and 7,000 workers are working on the Rafale program in the mastery of exclusive work of Dassault Aviation.”

        It is best to know the context of the statement, which was paraphrased from the article in The Economist and clearly in relation to multinational aircraft programs (like Airbus), and explaining how the UK aerospace industry operates today under such arrangements. It also made the point that the capacity of a country to produce aircraft is vested in its design and prototyping expertise and its ability to design and make the key components, wherein the technological and knowledge capital in the creation of the aircraft is found, which the UK retains, not in final production, and that a completely integrated vertical company is not required. It had nothing to do with the Rafale or France’s aerospace industry per se, though the example of the Martin-Baker ejection seat is an example of how the UK aerospace industry remains in action, even if it is not currently producing an all-UK aircraft. Dassault is thus primarily a design and production company, but the expertise of small and medium enterprises which work on programs like the Rafale are the foundation of an aerospace industry, and the UK possesses a large and cutting-edge base of this nature, so has not lost the ability to produce an all-UK aircraft.

      • “You miss read me on that I did not talk about failure of British industry in the Gulf War, I talked about how French industry took great steps in the 90s to recover it’s technological lag.”

        Yes, but abandoning an independent nuclear triad and an increasing turn towards multinational projects was the price of this, thus making the point that France could not maintain complete industrial independence and that compromises had to be made, which is fine, but evidence that the policy of de Gaulle of total independence was not either ultimately affordable or ultimately successful. The original article had criticised the UK for not maintaining a wholly independent nuclear triad like France, but I have argued that this probably was more of a liability to France vis-a-vis the UK than an asset.

        “You can not separate how effective an industry in in technology of the political a financial backing it is receiving. France might be behind in “mass” of industry but it is the financial and political backing it is receiving which allows it to perform better.”

        You can if you are talking about the capability of the national industry, which relates to competence and technological, design, prototyping and production capacity and expertise. You essentially agree that the French defence industry is more productive solely because it receives more state-funding and is less hampered by political meddling, which is inherent to political decision-making and beyond the control of industry, which can’t be held to account for it. Companies can only produce to fulfill demand. The UK government has essentially refused to support private industry while France views doing so as being in the national and strategic interest, and this is the aspect of the argument in which France is clearly right.

        “Actually you can, by simply using another technology. French propulsor technology is not the same as UK/US/Russian i.e. a steam turbine, powered by steam generated by the nuclear reactor, turning the screws. French use the nuclear reactor simply to generate electricity and the propulsion is electrical. This means that noise from the nuclear reactors pumps, which is a major issue to US/UK/Russian boats, and the reason why you cited propulsor technology above all when it came to silencing, can be easily isolated and the whole problem reduced just to submarine shaping, and machinery-isolating and quietening techniques which are much more simple problems and with know-how developed also in civil engineering and other connected fields.”

        Firstly you have confused ‘propulsor’, which is a form of pumpjet combining shaped ducts, rotor and stator, and ‘propulsion’ in general. The improvements which you refer to in quieting machinery noise etc. will no doubt be adopted on the Barracuda Class, which will be very quiet, but that is in a sense my point; the British spearheaded the now proven and well-known techniques of quietening machinery and pump noise by isolation and design largely on the Valiant Class in the mid-60’s, and comprehensively in the Swiftsure Class in the early-70’s, and this is thus legacy technology 40-50 years behind the curve. Silencing since focuses largely on the precise shaping of the propellor blades and the shaping of the propulsors, which is to both increase the quietness of the moving rotor and increase propulsive efficiency, which lowers power required to reach a certain speed and thus enables running at fewer revolution per minute, further quietening propellor noise in a virtuous spiral. This is a matter of continuous research and improvement in an evolutionary process, which is unaffected by electric drive and which I don’t believe France can suddenly equal the UK in. Hydrodynamics is a continually developing science in which much is not known, but France is unlikely to make up its major lag in this field vis-a-vis the UK and US in a single generation either, and this affects propulsor technology and shaping alike. Electric drive is also fully understood by UK industry, which were among the pioneers at the beginning of the 21st Century, is used on the Type 45 destroyers and Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, and is available for UK submarines, which will utilise it from Successor on. The cutting edge of UK submarine technology as of 2009 was embodied in the ‘Concept 35’ and ‘Advanced Hull Form’ concepts, which is beyond what has yet been envisaged elsewhere. Cutting edge examples of quietening machinery noise in the UK include electrodynamic shakers and ‘smart springs’, some of which is summarised in the article below from ’09.

        http://www.theengineer.co.uk/in-depth/nuclear-options/309538.article

        Overall, given that the UK has a major lead and continues to forge ahead, the assertion that the Barracuda Class will equal the Astute is in my view very unlikely.

        “France does more than final assembly on the Airbus ( France produces fuselage sections and a big chunk of the avionics) in fact it dose significantly more the Britain which is no longer part of Airbus Industries, BAe having sold it’s 20% share to the Franco-Spanish-German EADS (now Airbus Group ) in 2006. So while the British factory in Wales makes profit to profit dose not go in British pockets but in French (40%), Spanish (20%) and German (40%) ones. In fact 11.96 % of Airbus Group is owned directly by the French State.”

        I’m not quite sure what the point of this is. The point I made was that the large aircraft giants do not and probably cannot make the entirety of a modern combat aircraft, and that they are made up of components, many of which come from a large number of specialised small and medium firms which are an integral part of a national aerospace industries capabilities. Much integral know-how in the production of modern aircraft is held by UK companies. My point was also that assembly is a minor part of the process; the ability to produce aircraft, the know-how, lies elsewhere, and vertically-integrated giant firms are not the total measure of the ability to produce modern aircraft. The British firm GKN is for example a world-leading expert in the making of modern aircraft wings, and does so for Airbus and the US giants; it thus operates of a critical part of the ability of the giants to make the aircraft bearing their names. Much of the internal components are also designed and made by UK companies, so it would be difficult to say that France does significantly more, and of course the engines in airliners are either US or UK. The UK thus makes a profit on Airbus aircraft from further down the production chain regardless of formal participation.

        “how can the UK aerospace industry be 1/5 of the worlds aerospace industry when in the top 10 of Aerospace firms there are only two British firms BAe and Rols-Royce and BAe is producing a lot more then aircraft ? Dose the author count the Airbus owned firms in the UK which should not be considered British, but belonging to Airbus? Airbus by the way is second in that top ten and even a three way split between Germany, Spain and France coupled with the presence of Safran (French) above Rols-Royce would still indicate that French aerospace industry is at least on par.”

        Because the aerospace giants are not self-sufficient; they rely on hundreds of specialised sub-contractors, and UK sub-contractors and components are used in much of both the US and European aerospace industry. That fact is proof of the size of the British aerospace industry, in particular the numbers of small and medium sized specialised firms in the supply chain, largely below the radar, which are invaluable to aircraft production. Its a testament to the fact that one can’t judge the capacity of a nation to produce aircraft from the solely unilateral projects.

        “I agree UK aerospace industry is formidable, but my statement has nothing to do industrial capacity but with research and development and political backing. The UK has not designed a fighter on it’s own since the 70s. It can handle parts of it very well on it’s own, it can handle developing a variant of a fighter like the Sea Gripen, but designing a whole fighter from scratch is a another matter entirely. The Swedes might buy a lot of components from the British, they might have outsourced production of components to South Africa and Britain and Thailand and the whole production for the American market to Brazil, but they retained the capacity to run a fighter program on their own from the beginning to the end. That is a very important capacity that Britain I don’t think has any more and it’s costing it a lot when it comes to carrier aviation for example.”

        Britain doesn’t lack the capacity to go it alone; UK governments just won’t pay for it. That is in a nutshell my point. I suspect that BAE did most of the work on the design of the Eurofighter and Tornado; no German or Italian company had any remotely comparable experience in the field. The Typhoon was in fact based on BAE’s EAP, a technology demonstrator fighter aircraft produced in the early 1980’s; the Typhoon and its engines were thus both essentially UK designs which were modified and doled out with the other consortium partners under a workshare arrangement. Dassault produced just such a technology demonstrator, the ACX, as a prototype of the future Dassault Rafale; no apparent capability gap there. The statement that the UK, specifically BAE lacks the know-how to design a fighter is unsubstantiated; it appears to suppose that the Typhoon was designed and developed in a disjointed manner by uncoordinated companies in different countries to no overall plan. I don’t think that fighter design can be compartmentalised in the manner you suggest; the fighter was designed in total and prototyped before production, and BAE would have emerged retaining the full know-how of developing and building a fighter from that. as to a considerable extent would the others. A multi-national fighter project could not actually produce a fighter design if they were each only designing bits of it; the design is a single, cohesive whole. BAE has often produced technology demonstrators of everything from fighter aircraft to recently a directed-energy weapon to master the technology and demonstrate its capacity to produce; if later for political and funding reasons it must enter arrangements with foreign firms it nevertheless retains the knowledge and expertise. Saab hasn’t designed a completely new fighter since the Gripen, which was in development in the 80’s at the same time as BAE’s EAP, so the argument you have made against BAE can be equally made against Saab; if the upgrading of the Typhoon by (essentially) BAE, including all aspects of aerodynamics and wind-tunnel testing towards Tranche 3 doesn’t demonstrate continued fighter design capability, then developing the Gripen E cannot be held to demonstrate Saab’s continued capability either. Dassault has developed the Neuron UACV unilaterally, BAE has developed the Taranis unilaterally; there does not appear to be a gap between them in terms of the ability to carry out such a start-to-finish project of the most modern technology on a single-nation basis. None of those companies have initiated a major fighter design project since the early 1980’s, precisely the same point as BAE last did so. In the UK knowledge remains to design a fighter aircraft, and the aerospace industry to design and manufacture its components independently. The measurement is the expertise, infrastructure and technological know-how across the national aerospace industry as a whole, not one or two giants. The assertion that the UK’s aerospace industry has lost the capacity to design and produce modern fighters is, in my view, a strongly pessimistic conclusion to which there is much counter-evidence.

        “On the contrary the British fighter was more likely inspired by the Gripen probably through friendly leaks from SAAB, as the Gripen is clearly and evolution of the Viggen while the UK at that time had zero experience with close coupled canards.”

        The fighter prototype was the BAE EAP, designed entirely in-house, and contemporaneous to the early Gripen development and that of the Rafale.

        http://www.baesystems.com/enhancedarticle/BAES_165232/eap;baeSessionId=1nAhyjzf-6wgD6FoNPFI8f57nJqix703dSDmnx_GIwIba7_IunTy!1377069228?_afrLoop=2683379637127000&_afrWindowMode=0&_afrWindowId=null#!%40%40%3F_afrWindowId%3Dnull%26_afrLoop%3D2683379637127000%26_afrWindowMode%3D0%26_adf.ctrl-state%3D4rfqfyd2v_4

      • ” You can if you are talking about the capability of the national industry, which relates to competence and technological, design, prototyping and production capacity and expertise. You essentially agree that the French defence industry is more productive solely because it receives more state-funding and is less hampered by political meddling, which is inherent to political decision-making and beyond the control of industry, which can’t be held to account for it.”

        No I do not agree that the French defence industry is more productive solely because it receives more state-funding and is less hampered by political meddling. I didn’t discuss “competence and technological, design, prototyping and production capacity and expertise”. Just “mass” of industry i.e. size of it. If we are to bring “competence and technological, design, prototyping and production capacity and expertise into the picture”, then I’m sorry to say but the UK has less of it then France because those capabilities are maintained through political and financial backing. I’m speaking form experience on this, I have seen first hand how these capabilities degrade when there is no financial support. You might think that if the UK produces spars and wings it will be able to go in an instant to producing and aircraft. But I can tell you, again from personal experience, that that is not the case. The most important capabilities to have when building anything, is design and final assembly, there might be more money in making parts (I surely doubt it when it comes to aircraft), but having the know- how of how to build an wing spar or a whole wing cannot be translated to building a whole aircraft, you cannot maintain capacity to prototype or design if all you do is parts.

        “Electric drive is also fully understood by UK industry, which were among the pioneers at the beginning of the 21st Century, is used on the Type 45 destroyers and Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, and is available for UK submarines, which will utilise it from Successor on. ”

        Type 45 destroyer and Queen Elizabeth class might have used it at the beginning of the 21st century, but the Rubis and and Redoutable have been using them since the 70s, so while I concede that the British have a distinct advantage when it comes to pump-jet propulsion having them installed since the second boat of the Trafalgar class in the 90s, I hope you are graceful enough to apply the same measure to the French and admit that they might have a distinct advantage when it comes to the know-how of implementing nuclear-electric propulsion.

        “I’m not quite sure what the point of this is. The point I made was that the large aircraft giants do not and probably cannot make the entirety of a modern combat aircraft, and that they are made up of components, many of which come from a large number of specialised small and medium firms which are an integral part of a national aerospace industries capabilities. Much integral know-how in the production of modern aircraft is held by UK companies. My point was also that assembly is a minor part of the process; the ability to produce aircraft, the know-how, lies elsewhere, and vertically-integrated giant firms are not the total measure of the ability to produce modern aircraft. ”

        The point I was trying to make is that the article was biased and incomplete. France might have insisted on assembly but it was not for political or gloating reason but to maintain the most important part of the construction of anything. Final assembly might be a minor part but it’s the most important and the one that allows one to control not just production and revenue, but more importantly when coupled with design (which France also has) control technology and know-how. The UK firms building parts for Airbus do so based on designs received from France and Germany not the other way around. I also meant that France didn’t insist on this capacity, when it came to Airbus, at the expense of the know-how and work to build smaller parts, avionics and so fort, but in addition to it. So France has all the capabilities of the UK when it comes to part design and construction, but also has the additional capabilities of designing and putting the damned mess together. Also Airbus is not the only firm to employing this model. Boeing has outsource most parts production to China but has maintained final assembly at it’s Everett plant for the biggest sellers 747 and 787. I hope you are not going to submit that Britain has more know-how in building aircraft then Boeing? So the British gloating that the French are stupid for insisting on final assembly, because it’s only 5% of the work, are a little ignorant and foolish, because that 5% is the one which builds most experience, technological know-how and in the end brings most revenue. The A 380 might come in France in parts worth y million Euro, but it leaves as a product worth at least 2*y million Euro, at that is for only 5% of the work. In addition I might add that by concentrating solely on aviation parts the UK finds itself in a lower position then China which in addition to building and designing parts for Boeing and Airbus, also has a final assembly line.

        “Britain doesn’t lack the capacity to go it alone; UK governments just won’t pay for it. ”

        The capacity to go it alone is a muscle without being exercised is atrophying. The more the UK concentrates on parts the more it loose the capacity to design and put together assemblies of parts.

        ” I suspect that BAE did most of the work on the design of the Eurofighter and Tornado; no German or Italian company had any remotely comparable experience in the field. The Typhoon was in fact based on BAE’s EAP, a technology demonstrator fighter aircraft produced in the early 1980’s; the Typhoon and its engines were thus both essentially UK designs which were modified and doled out with the other consortium partners under a workshare arrangement.”

        BAe did indeed a lot of work on the Eurofighter and Tornado, but out of expedience and not wanting to sound French 😀 they gave final design decision to Germany. This hurt the Typhoon at least as it not based on the EAP but a modification of it, different wing and canards, which affects performance. The Double Delta wing of the EAP worked much better then the simple delta of the Typhoon. That modification originated with the Germans. Picard has more detail on it, it’s from him that I know.

        ” I don’t think that fighter design can be compartmentalised in the manner you suggest;”

        Yes it can. For example Britain handled the aerodynamics of the Typhoon, but Germany handled the overall design. So MBB submitted to BAe a design, BAe studied the aerodynamics of it and submitted it’s findings to MBB and MBB modified the design to take into account the differences and then submitted it to BAe again for aerodynamics study. Or for another way is for one company to handle design and aerodynamics of the wing and another of the fuselage and so fort. From what I know from my colleges that worked on the Yugoslavian-Romanian collaboration J-22 Orao/IAR-93 its a very difficult and convoluted process, and it dose not build any know-how in the parts of the design which the company dose not handle. In the case of my colleagues, they knew how to design parts of the aircraft but not put the whole mess together (Yugoslavs maintained final design), so they had to design another aircraft, the IAR-99 advanced trainer, to get that expertise.

        “Saab hasn’t designed a completely new fighter since the Gripen, which was in development in the 80’s at the same time as BAE’s EAP, so the argument you have made against BAE can be equally made against Saab; if the upgrading of the Typhoon by (essentially) BAE, including all aspects of aerodynamics and wind-tunnel testing towards Tranche 3 doesn’t demonstrate continued fighter design capability, then developing the Gripen E cannot be held to demonstrate Saab’s continued capability either.”

        I’m sorry to say but you are wrong. The upgrading of the Typhoon is not the same thing as the Gripen E. Tranche 3 Typhoon is the exact same Typhoon as Tranche 2 all the design and testing that was required was certifying new external stores, new marks of equipment of the same dimensions as the ones replaced and software upgrades. The Gripen E is a whole new aircraft, based on the Gripen A/B/C/D in much the same way as the Gripen was based on the Viggen, the only difference being that the dimensions of the engine remained the same unlike the pass from Viggen to Gripen when Engine shrunk by 200% and lead to a significant decreases in volume of the whole airplane. Just like the Gripen compared to the Viggen, the Gripen E has a new wing, new engine, different equipment, different internal arrangements, new avionics and uses completely different materials (some rumors state that it might be the first aircraft to feature carbon nono-tube composites). It requires a full design work in aerodynamics, flight dynamics, gravimetrics, avionics, software development etc. It while have significantly different performance compared to the Gripen A/B/C/D, more range due to higher fuel fraction (40% more fuel), but better Thrust to Weight due to lower Empty Weight (rumored to be about 1 ton lower) etc. Comparing complexity of work done on the Tranche 3 Typhoon with work on the Gripen E is like comparing the sound of a water drop withe sound of a waterfall.

        “Dassault has developed the Neuron UACV unilaterally, BAE has developed the Taranis unilaterally; there does not appear to be a gap between them in terms of the ability to carry out such a start-to-finish project of the most modern technology on a single-nation basis. None of those companies have initiated a major fighter design project since the early 1980’s, precisely the same point as BAE last did so. In the UK knowledge remains to design a fighter aircraft, and the aerospace industry to design and manufacture its components independently. ”

        I’m sorry but you are wrong again. While BAe initiated a fighter project in the 80s they did not finish it alone, unlike Dassault which did. This in-itself lead to loss of know-how and expertise. Also Unlike BAe Dassault also has the Falcon line of business jets which it designs and builds on it’s own. These will not as complex as fighters allow Dassault engineers to maintain skills and know-how. Also Neuron was not the only UCAV built by Dassault but the third having been preceded by the Petit Duc and the Moyen Duc. So I say that Dassault dose a little bit more design on aerospace projects then BAe. Also Neuron was not built unilaterally by Dassault but in cooperation with SAAB, Airbus Group, Thales etc. You might say that this proves you point. It dose not. Because the collaboration was not the same as on the Eurofighter with all partners equal but, an experiment on what the French wanted the Eurofighter project to be. Dassualt has the lead when it comes to designing, with SAAB acting as a second in command, so all design and management decision goes thru these two, and the rest of the consortium obeys. SAAB went along with it without a problem and without the pissing contest the British and French started on the Eurofighter, and so far the Neuron project vindicates the French, because the Neuron projects is going along smoothlly without the problems that the Eurofighter has and it’s proving French views that in international cooperation one has to lead and the rest follow.

        Here is form the wikipedia page work-shares on the NEuron. As you can see Dassault has the lions share and is practically exercising and maintaining all the skills needed in an aircraft project. SAAB dose the same on a lesser scale. The rest are concentrating on what they do best:

        Dassault Aviation

        Master builder
        Overall architectures & design
        Flight control system
        Final assembly
        Global testing (static & flight)

        Dassault claims 50% of development and is responsible for the standalone LOGIDUC programme. The nEUROn (2010) will be the third Dassault stealth UAV prototype following the AVE-D Petit Duc (2000) & AVE-C Moyen Duc (2004). The nEUROn project replaces the LOGIDUC final phase AVE Grand Duc.[8][9]

        Saab AB: (joined on December 22, 2005)

        Overall design
        Equipped fuselage
        Avionics
        Fuel system
        Flight testing

        Saab claims 25% of development and is also the coordinator for the other Swedish corporations involved.[10]

        Alenia Aeronautica: (joined in mid-2005)

        Weapon firing system
        Smart Integrated Weapon Bay
        Air data system
        Electrical system
        Flight testing

        Thanks to the technologies developed for the UAV prototype Sky-x (2003) Alenia Aeronautica was the first industrial partner and claims a 25% share of the entire programme.[11]

        EADS CASA: (joined on February 7, 2006)

        Wing
        Ground control station
        Data-link integration

        Hellenic Aerospace Industry: (joined on January 11, 2006)

        Rear fuselage
        Tail pipe
        Integration bench
        Engine
        Air to Air Missile
        Communication System

        RUAG: (joined in mid-2005)

        Wind tunnel tests
        Weapons carriage

        Thales: (joined on June 14, 2005)

        Data-link (STANAG 7085 compliant)
        Command interface

        EADS France: (joined in June 2003)

        Undisclosed

        “The fighter prototype was the BAE EAP, designed entirely in-house, and contemporaneous to the early Gripen development and that of the Rafale.”

        That dose not suggest that they didn’t have help from SAAB. BAe didn’t have any experience with close-coupled canards at that time so, in accordance with your views on submarine design and my knowledge of British design practices, I don’t see how they could have come up with such a revolutionary design on their own.

        • Actually, Gripen E is 7.000 kg. And British wanted a close-coupled canard on Typhoon, their design was most similar to Gripen. Germans however insisted on ventral air intake and consequently long arm canards, and they prevailed. End result was better cruise performance but inferior dogfighting performance.

      • “Type 45 destroyer and Queen Elizabeth class might have used it at the beginning of the 21st century, but the Rubis and and Redoutable have been using them since the 70s, so while I concede that the British have a distinct advantage when it comes to pump-jet propulsion having them installed since the second boat of the Trafalgar class in the 90s, I hope you are graceful enough to apply the same measure to the French and admit that they might have a distinct advantage when it comes to the know-how of implementing nuclear-electric propulsion.”

        The combination used in the Rubis and Redoutable of a combination of turbo-alternators and an electric motor for quiet running with the nuclear propulsion was introduced by the UK with the Valiant Class (commencing in 1966), and is not quite the same thing as the current submarine plans for podded electric motors replacing conventional propellor shaft altogether, nor of the somewhat intermediate all-electric drive arrangements of the Type 45 and Queen Elizabeth Class. I can’t find anything explicit but I don’t see any evidence that either French class used shaftless propulsion. It should be noted that the main source of noise in nuclear submarine propulsion is not the steam turbine propulsion itself but the coolant pumps for the reactor, and as all French nuclear boats to date have used Pressurised Water Reactors there does not appear to be any reason to view their overall propulsion arrangements as being any quieter. Given that the Rubis-Class are known to have been unacceptably noisy, the proof is in the pudding. The UK also introduced pump-jets part-way through the Swiftsure Class during the mid-70’s, not the Trafalgars.

        “Final assembly might be a minor part but it’s the most important and the one that allows one to control not just production and revenue, but more importantly when coupled with design (which France also has) control technology and know-how.”
        “because that 5% is the one which builds most experience, technological know-how and in the end brings most revenue.”

        For what this is worth each of the members of the Typhoon consortium undertake the complete final assembly of the Typhoon on a national assembly line, so the UK would not have lost any capacity to the extent to which your contention is true. However I must say that it seems akin to saying that the greatest expertise in producing a Lego set is held by the boy who gets it for Christmas. Final assembly is the process of putting together all of the constituent parts on an assembly line, which is the lowest skilled part of the process once the assembly process has been designed, and the part which is increasingly frequently established and set up in different countries, which would indicate that it does not require a developed and advanced aerospace industry to maintain an assembly line, which would tend to militate against the argument that that is where “most experience and technological know-how resides, but rather to the contrary.

        “You might think that if the UK produces spars and wings it will be able to go in an instant to producing and aircraft.”
        “The most important capabilities to have when building anything, is design and final assembly, there might be more money in making parts (I surely doubt it when it comes to aircraft), but having the know- how of how to build an wing spar or a whole wing cannot be translated to building a whole aircraft, you cannot maintain capacity to prototype or design if all you do is parts.”
        “So France has all the capabilities of the UK when it comes to part design and construction, but also has the additional capabilities of designing and putting the damned mess together.”

        I am going to replace the term ‘component’ with ‘facet’ of aircraft design; I was not simply talking about parts. That was a single example of a niche firm, GKN, which is a world-leader in the design and construction of aircraft wings, and meant to illustrate how the UK aerospace industry retains the gamut of aircraft construction capacity, for this example is replicated throughout the field of aerospace industry specialisations. UK firms are among the world leaders in expertise in virtually every area of aircraft development, including in avionics, Flight Control Systems, radars, QWIP, etc. but in a compartmentalised fashion for the most part, one is not arguing that GKN, Martin-Baker or Selex UK etc. will be able to produce a complete aircraft alone. When you have firms that are experts in each aspect of the aircraft’s design, prototyping, component technology and construction, then that can be put together under a lead contractor (presumably BAE for the UK). The point of emphasising the UK’s ability to design and produce the full range of components indicates its industrial capacity to produce aircraft independently of foreign suppliers if required, which was in response to the original linked article, which held that France had retained industrial independence while the UK purchased foreign equipment because it no longer can produce its defence equipment independently. The evidence on the breadth and depth of the UK aerospace industry would tend to disprove that particular argument. The UK conducts final assembly of the Typhoon, constructs the front fuselage, canards, canopy, dorsal spine, tail fin, inboard flaperons, rear fuselage section, unilaterally designed and built the prototype of both aircraft and engine, possesses the aerodynamic design expertise, designed and produced key components such as radars, QWIP IRST etc. BAE also designed, prototyped and was moving towards finalising the Nimrod MRA4 until cancellation late in 2010, so the capacity remained to that extent. The only part which I can detect that you hold to be missing is the program management; BAE successfully ran and runs a host of programs; so it can’t run a fighter program when it runs nuclear-submarine programs? Good program management practice is general across industry; engineers are not necessarily good program managers, its a particular skill set.

        “The A 380 might come in France in parts worth y million Euro, but it leaves as a product worth at least 2*y million Euro, at that is for only 5% of the work.”

        I think that you misread the article; final assembly isn’t 5% of the work, it only adds 5% of the value of the aircraft. It is the least profitable part of the process taken in isolation. It is also the easiest part to move to other countries; opening assembly lines in buyer countries is now de rigueur, which would tend to cast doubts as to it being the part of the process in which the critical know-how and expertise to design aircraft and run an entire fighter program resides. You do appear to be greatly overrating the importance of final assembly, with no real evidence in support.

        “So the British gloating that the French are stupid for insisting on final assembly, because it’s only 5% of the work, are a little ignorant and foolish, …”

        I think that this is the problem; you are conducting a strawman argument. My argument, in response to the original linked article, was a refutation of the notion that a) France is the only western power able to conduct major military operations well away from home independently of the US, b) that France is a world power to a much greater extent than the UK, and c) that the UK has to acquire foreign equipment because it can no longer equip its own armed forces, while France has maintained a complete independence in its military equipment and thus remained world power while the UK is “a poodle”, all of which in my view are either questionable or false. I think that the first two contentions have been dealt with, but with regards to c) I have made the case that the UK has not lost the capacity to equip its armed forces and raised a number of issues with France’s independent defence and industrial policy since de Gaulle, arguing that the UK in practice gained a number of advantages over France as an effective military power through its approach, and that France’s policies had flaws and shortcomings, and did not result in France being an effective world power. I have not argued that a) the UK’s defence industrial policy was ideal or even, frankly, desirable; as I have made clear at multiple points I rue the overall approach, or that b) the UK’s defence industry is superior to France’s. I have introduced a few examples refuting the notion that the UK’s defence industry is moribund and questioned the arguments made in that vein, which I believe to be more superficial than real. You have introduced the notion that my arguments were partly “French-bashing”. The result has been that we are talking past each other, and you appear to be attempting to refute a case which hasn’t been made, As to the quote in The Economist, it made the point that final assembly is a minor part of an aircraft program which constitutes only 5% of the cost of the aircraft, and that final assembly of production aircraft is thus low-skilled and overrated.

        “BAe did indeed a lot of work on the Eurofighter and Tornado, but out of expedience and not wanting to sound French 😀 they gave final design decision to Germany. This hurt the Typhoon at least as it not based on the EAP but a modification of it, different wing and canards, which affects performance. The Double Delta wing of the EAP worked much better then the simple delta of the Typhoon. That modification originated with the Germans.”

        This would underline that in the multinational Eurofighter consortium the UK held the expertise but for political reasons allowed the Germans to take the decision, which was harmful and against the UK designers’ inclination. Thus there was no deficiency in BAE’s design ability as evidenced by the EAP prototype, which appeared to be better than the Germans; no lack of capacity there. It seems that the UK’s designers were the most expert of the consortium.

        “Yes it can. For example Britain handled the aerodynamics of the Typhoon, but Germany handled the overall design. So MBB submitted to BAe a design, BAe studied the aerodynamics of it and submitted it’s findings to MBB and MBB modified the design to take into account the differences and then submitted it to BAe again for aerodynamics study. Or for another way is for one company to handle design and aerodynamics of the wing and another of the fuselage and so fort. From what I know from my colleges that worked on the Yugoslavian-Romanian collaboration J-22 Orao/IAR-93 its a very difficult and convoluted process, and it dose not build any know-how in the parts of the design which the company dose not handle. In the case of my colleagues, they knew how to design parts of the aircraft but not put the whole mess together (Yugoslavs maintained final design), so they had to design another aircraft, the IAR-99 advanced trainer, to get that expertise.”

        This is all quite interesting. Firstly if a company can handle the design and aerodynamics of the wings or the fuselage, then presumably in theory they could also handle the other. If the Romanians were able to design the IAR-99 advanced trainer to get that expertise (which they thus lacked) then presumably such capacity can be generated by a capable design team without the prior experience, which would appear to tell against the argument that the UK aerospace industry has ‘lost’ the capacity to conduct a fighter program unilaterally because they participated in the Eurofighter program. Also I note that in the bi-national program the Yugoslavs did hold the final design. Do we know that the UK (or the others) do not hold the final design of the Typhoon? BAE designed, developed and built the EAP, were integral to the design of the Typhoon, built 5 of the 14 prototypes and run a Typhoon assembly line. Germany considered pulling out in 1991 and using the technology and experience from the Eurofighter program to develop a smaller, lighter and cheaper fighter, and only did not do so for contractual reasons; thus participation in the multinational consortium does not seem to have amounted to forfeiture of independent design program capacity. Lastly one would have to question whether the case-study of the Yugoslav and Romanian aerospace industry can be directly applied to those of the UK, France etc given the vast difference in mass and experience.

        “The upgrading of the Typhoon is not the same thing as the Gripen E. Tranche 3 Typhoon is the exact same Typhoon as Tranche 2 all the design and testing that was required was certifying new external stores, new marks of equipment of the same dimensions as the ones replaced and software upgrades.”

        This would nevertheless place BAE on par with Dassault in terms of neither having commenced a new fighter design since the 1980’s.

        “While BAe initiated a fighter project in the 80s they did not finish it alone, unlike Dassault which did. This in-itself lead to loss of know-how and expertise. Also Unlike BAe Dassault also has the Falcon line of business jets which it designs and builds on it’s own. These will not as complex as fighters allow Dassault engineers to maintain skills and know-how.”

        BAE runs assembly lines for the Typhoon and the Hawk, was well into the Nimrod MRA4 program until its cancellation late in 2010, and is currently well-advanced on the Taranis, so aerospace program expertise remains. Program management is not engineering or technological know-how.

        “Neuron was not the only UCAV built by Dassault but the third having been preceded by the Petit Duc and the Moyen Duc. So I say that Dassault dose a little bit more design on aerospace projects then BAe. Also Neuron was not built unilaterally by Dassault but in cooperation with SAAB, Airbus Group, Thales etc. You might say that this proves you point. It dose not.”

        I think that it does, though my point is not what you apparently believe it to be. BAE has done in the Taranis completely independently what Dassault did in the Neuron (albeit with a degree of cooperation), and has also completed several UAV demonstrators. This would appear to refute the contention that participation in the Eurofighter consortium left the UK or BAE today less able to conduct a unilateral cutting-edge aerospace program than France or Dassault. That is my point; the UK has not lost the capacity or the expertise to conduct a unilateral program, and has the aerospace industry to supply all such components domestically if this becomes desirable, and therefore the UK has not lost an independent defence industry, even if it has chosen often to purchase components or collaborate with the US and others rather than completely go it alone for fiscal reasons.

        “Because the collaboration was not the same as on the Eurofighter with all partners equal but, an experiment on what the French wanted the Eurofighter project to be. Dassualt has the lead when it comes to designing, with SAAB acting as a second in command, so all design and management decision goes thru these two, and the rest of the consortium obeys.”
        “so far the Neuron project vindicates the French, because the Neuron projects is going along smoothlly without the problems that the Eurofighter has and it’s proving French views that in international cooperation one has to lead and the rest follow.”

        I have no disagreement here. I have never liked anything about the Eurofighter consortium-type approach, and the French approach in terms of multi-national co-operation under one lead contractor is clearly superior. However in the example of the Horizon-Class AAW frigate the French insistence on leadership and 50% workshare when they were only buying two warships to the UK’s twelve and had no particular edge in expertise was clearly unacceptable to the point of being silly. The UK went it alone there and produced a substantially more capable destroyer, indicating that choosing to enter a multi-national arrangement does not mark the end of the line for a unilateral capability. I have only questioned the notion that the UK and BAE cannot conduct a unilateral aerospace program, and that the UK did not retain fighter design capability from the Eurofighter program.

        “That dose not suggest that they didn’t have help from SAAB. BAe didn’t have any experience with close-coupled canards at that time so, in accordance with your views on submarine design and my knowledge of British design practices, I don’t see how they could have come up with such a revolutionary design on their own.”

        There is no evidence that they did, and no reason to believe so. They were both at roughly the same point in the development at the same time, so Saab was not ahead. The British preference for the close-coupled canard layout in the Eurofighter is established fact. In terms of design evolution, that applies to tweaking and continual improvement, but does not rule-out such a step change. One can add propulsors where there were none before, but they won’t be as good as those which are already in their third generation of continuous development.

  4. Ha, ha, ha!

    Funny Andrei!

    Everyone thinks what they gloat about is true!

    Its not about empirical studies of available data its about excessive pride and nationalism.

    Are you sure you are not French? No one becomes this defensive about critic of a nation without being from that nation.

    I know the behavior becuase I experience it myself. I am the first to often blindly jump to defend my country (the US) when I feel outsiders are wrongfuly being critical.

    • I got used to browse the media all over the world and I see everywhere the same pride, the same enthusiasm for local production. Of course, when the next step is to compare with what is happening elsewhere, everyone, I mean everyone tends to ignore or devalue foreign productions and showcase its own products. Now, regarding the pride and nationalism in France, if I take for example the number of flags hanging in front of the houses, I am not sure that this is the most nationalist country as personaly owned national flag is an exception in France, which is not the case everywhere on Earth.

    • “Are you sure you are not French? No one becomes this defensive about critic of a nation without being from that nation. ”

      No, I’m not French. But my nation, just like yours, wouldn’t have existed as it is today, without the need of the French to have something to gloat over the British 😀 In fact if it were to the British your nation would still have been a colony and mine a vassal of the Ottoman Empire. Unlike the majority of both our countrymen I learned that part of history well and I haven’t forgotten it. That is were much of my admiration for the French comes from.

      • If its Ok to ask where are you from again?

        If it sounds like I am devaluing the French contribution to the world than I am not properly communicating myself. I am just simply playing other side of coin when I find nationalistic posts/comments.

        My maternal grandfather was a proud (extremelly proud) Frenchman who moved to Catalonia married a Catalan (with some Philipino blood im told) women and than in 1930’s moved to Cuba and gave birth to my mother.

      • I’m from Romania. In our recent history there have been three important moments that defined my country today and in which the French aided us: one was in 1856 when the Romanians of Wallchia and Moldavia elected the same prince in both countries and achieved a personal Union. This vote would not have stand and been formalized without Napoleon III personal intervention. So Napoleaon III might have been a foul in international relations but for us he did good.
        The next important moment came in 1877 when Romania declared independence and joined Russia in war against the Ottoman Empire. At the peace conference in 1878 without French and German assistance the Great Powers might not have recognized that independence.
        The third moment was WWI Romania joined in 1916 on the side of the Entente, with promises from the British of assistance and a second front opened in the Balkans. This did not happen. And Romania found itself in the unenviable position of having to fight both Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire with a very unreliable ally in Russia. The French again were the only ones to aide us. They sent about 1000 advisors to train the Romanian army and more importantly they sent weapons (which they had to escort themselves thru the Wild Wild East that was Russia). It was because of them that the Romania army was able to achieve 3 victories in the summer of 1917. Unfortunately the Russians left us alone and Romania was forced to seek a separate peace. Fortunately the peace treaty was never signed until the end of the war. But because of the seeking of a separate peace, Britain did not want to recognize the Union of Romania with Transylvania, a region with majority Romanian population, which they had promised they would in 1916. The Union by the way was freely voted by the population of Transylvania on December 1st 1918 (currently Romanias National Day ). It was again French support and obstinance that finally helped us.

        • Interesting, thank you.

          Its unfortunate but through history smaller/weaker nations, tribes, groups, have usually been the pawns of the powerful.

          The US played the pawn early in its history now it is on the opposite side of the coin. Im sure Romania has probably played both parts as well through its history.

          France and Britain have for most of their history (pretty much all of their history if you count from formation of current national identities) played the role of king on their board with most of the world serving as remaining pieces.

          Things are changing now in Europe with EU, and world wide with globalization. The kings on the board now are becoming shadowy and borderless organizations interacting both inside government and outside of it.

          Humanity has come a long way and we have overcome much but new challenges are always present.

          We have gone from tribal warlords to kings and emperors todays “representative” governments but now we have to keep it going build on top of what are forebearers have built.

          I like the idea of a global world with lessening national pride and identities but it also makes things more complicated than when we could name the kings and nobles.

        • “I like the idea of a global world with lessening national pride and identities but it also makes things more complicated than when we could name the kings and nobles.”

          Such a world would, I fear, be deadly for the prospect of democracy because it would lead to greater disconnect between the people and the ruling class. There almost seems to be an inverse relationship between country’s populace and democracy level for a given level of social development. Of course, entire point of the EU etc. is to take power away from the people.

        • I like the idea of people looking at the world as one place and humanity as one race, and of free movement of people. Although that creates safety issues.

          I would love to have one world language as well.

          In no way do I want one world government. Heck I dont even like national governments.

          I think government should only have those necessary powers clearly given it by the people and the people should have the right to remove any of those powers through vote.

          I think governments in order to remain democratic must remain local. National governments (if viable at all) only retain powers of national defense and foreign affairs and even those more limited than is common today.

          Maybe one day we wont need national defense industries or armies. But, right now we still do.

        • “I like the idea of people looking at the world as one place and humanity as one race, and of free movement of people. Although that creates safety issues. ”

          That is impossible to say at the least. Best that can be done is to prevent people from killing each other.

          “I think government should only have those necessary powers clearly given it by the people and the people should have the right to remove any of those powers through vote. ”

          Agreed.

        • “Best that can be done is to prevent people from killing each other”

          In our lifetime you might be right. But, look at Western Europe as example. 2000 years ago you could have said the same about the various peoples of western and central Europe.

          Other than Ukraine and Russia and some issues between ex-Yugoslav lands (you would know better than I) Europe is at peace. Who would have tought 2000 years ago that an EU would be possible?

          The EU has become one place.

          Just like the US. There are differences between states and regions but we work together in peace.

          Putting aside corruption on top and governance issues. thats another topic.

  5. I didn’t choose to be French, nobody choose where he was born, so how can we be proud of it?
    The human beeing is everywhere the same but if its flag is blue, he will only see the blue in the purple of the horizon, and if it’s red, he’ll see the other color but still not the true one.
    If there is a difference in the way of thinking, it is necessary to look for it in the goal that everyone wishes to reach. Although the lifestyles tend to become standardized all around the world, what an average Frenchman cannot understand, it is typically this English proverb: ” Life is a rat race “. In France, a personal success is not considered as a fulfillment and the success generally is not considered as a fundamental value. The French right wing would be one ultra left wing in many Anglo-Saxon country. I do not say that it is better, I just try to explain the differences between the Anglo-Saxon world and France.

    • Its OK to be proud of who you are, where you come from and mostly where you are going. As long as your pride does not turn into hate for another.

      In fact hate for others is usually rooted in your own lack of pride and self-esteem.

      It is important to be self aware of your pride and bias thats all.

      I for one grew up identifying as an American (My father made sure of that) and that has really stuck. It is also where I live and where my familes future lies. I was told by my maternal aunt who lives in Madrid that I can get Spanish dual citizenship if I wanted. I have not had time or desire to look into it yet.

      Depending of location and topic I sometimes identify as Cuban, or Spaniard, or French, or generally European. Its OK to be proud as long as you are not blind.

      I do agree that humans are generally very much tha same and the deeper you go into the mind the more alike we are.

  6. I’d argue it’s a combination of everything that’s important.

    Designing, the manufacture of parts, and final assembly. It’s being able to do it in your home nation that is important – especially the design.

    I think that there are benefits though to having the manufacturing and designing take place very closely – able to quickly work together in case something does go wrong. That’s something that is lost when you have a mountain of subcontracting.

    Certain parts of the aircraft are hard to make. The wings must be very thin and strong (hard to do well), and the blades on a jet engine turbine too are areas that are very hard to make. The problem is that with this type of expertise, previous experiences tend to build and improvements are incremental in nature.

    But in the case of the UK, i am inclined to agree that it has lost a lot of its manufacturing leadership – not just in the area of military, but civilian manufacturing too to the rest of the world. I think one of the greatest follies of neoliberal economics has been the loss of manufacturing, especially in the Anglo world. Manufacturing matters – that’s something that the post-industrialists struggle with.

    • “Designing, the manufacture of parts, and final assembly. It’s being able to do it in your home nation that is important – especially the design.”

      Both the capability to design an aircraft and manufacture all constituent components (or facets of that design) must be done in the home nation to maintain strategic independence. If this capacity is retained then assembly can be put together on a whim. However controlling assembly does not facilitate the other two; Brazil may control assembly of the Saab Gripen domestically; this gives it no direct ability to design a fighter (design is not just ‘know-how’ each thing is done, but ‘know-why’ each decision is made) and it remains completely reliant on the important of components to assemble each and every aircraft and to maintain them; assembly grants employment, but not independence.

      “I think that there are benefits though to having the manufacturing and designing take place very closely – able to quickly work together in case something does go wrong. That’s something that is lost when you have a mountain of subcontracting.”

      I think that this is more to do with prototyping or upgrading than manufacturing, and I agree that this should be maintained under a single lead-contractor. Manufacturing is a repetitive task and the major kinks ought to have been ironed out by this stage. In addition I think that this is more valid with regarded to the physical hardware (say the body of the aircraft) than with certain specialised components, like the blades of jet turbines and IRST systems, which probably must be subcontracted to specialist firms who amass the experience in the relevant R&D.

      “Certain parts of the aircraft are hard to make. The wings must be very thin and strong (hard to do well), and the blades on a jet engine turbine too are areas that are very hard to make. The problem is that with this type of expertise, previous experiences tend to build and improvements are incremental in nature.”

      Exactly, this is the essence of my argument that the UK retains the knowledge and infrastructure to undertake defence projects unilaterally and independently because it possesses the full spectrum of niche specialist firms in these cutting-edge specialisms, necessary for both design and production; I doubt that the program-leading defence companies can actually be the master-of-all-trades in-house today.

      “But in the case of the UK, i am inclined to agree that it has lost a lot of its manufacturing leadership – not just in the area of military, but civilian manufacturing too to the rest of the world. I think one of the greatest follies of neoliberal economics has been the loss of manufacturing, especially in the Anglo world. Manufacturing matters – that’s something that the post-industrialists struggle with.”

      This is what I fully agree with; the UK’s loss is in certain quite important intangibles like manufacturing leadership and prestige, the “Made in Great Britain”, even though the underlying situation is not as grim as it may appear. UK industry was undermined by political meddling and managerial complacency in the ’50’s and ’60’s, the ravages of inflation and the resulting collapse in industrial relations in the ’70’s, and Thatcher’s decision to privatise unprofitable and long-subsidised uncompetitive companies rather than make them viable first, resulting in the break-up and selling-abroad of the UK’s storied industrial heritage. Today France retains her big industrial names and great prestige therein; most of the UK’s are in foreign ownership, broken-up, amalgamated or extinct, and that is an unmitigated shame. Nevertheless and in spite of this, the UK’s economy has been larger than France’s since the 1990’s (save for the dip inflicted by the crash), and it is set to increasingly leave France behind in the coming years; there has also been the beginnings of a potential renaissance of UK manufacturing in the last few years, though only time will tell.

    • The UK has lost a lot of manufacturing though – shipbuilding for example. Northern England and Scotland have basically been in long-term recession since the 1980s because of that. It’s like the Rust Belt in the US. It saddens me to see it really. It’s just like where I live here in Canada, we’ve lost too much manufacturing and it’s hurt the well being of a lot of people.

      I’d only be optimistic if thee UK is able to mount a key challenge to the likes of Germany and the East Asian economies. Certainly in some areas, there is still some industry – aircraft parts, software, computing (ARM is a good example), but elsewhere leadership has passed I fear.

      Japan and Germany dominate much of the world in materials sciences, producers goods, machine tools, etc. The Swiss and the Nordic nations I think have also done very well in some regards as well, for nations their size. South Korea, Taiwan, and even Singapore do well amongst the smaller Asian nations. China is rapidly rising and I suspect in the coming decades will begin to challenge the rest of the world not just in terms of offering cheap labor, but someday in the quality of its goods. It’s made impressive progress in the areas of hard sciences and is moving up the value chain quickly. It’s possible that India might someday do so as well.

      The British should spit on Thatcher’s name, along with the other neoliberals. Sadly, as the latest election shows, this is not the case at all.

      I’d argue that France, whatever it’s other flaws, has done the right thing in protecting much of its domestic manufacturing. Some things, like it’s high speed rail, it should be proud of (perhaps only Japan really matches it, although China has been deploying HSR very rapidly). Elsewhere, policy wise, I will note that France (and arguably the Nordic nations) are some of the few that are at replacement rate for fertility.

      • “The British should spit on Thatcher’s name, along with the other neoliberals. Sadly, as the latest election shows, this is not the case at all. ”

        Indoctrination.

        “Elsewhere, policy wise, I will note that France (and arguably the Nordic nations) are some of the few that are at replacement rate for fertility.”

        Ireland as well. Looks like abandoning traditional values in favor of (neo)liberal policies has lethal impact on fertility.

      • “The UK has lost a lot of manufacturing though – shipbuilding for example. Northern England and Scotland have basically been in long-term recession since the 1980s because of that. It’s like the Rust Belt in the US. It saddens me to see it really. It’s just like where I live here in Canada, we’ve lost too much manufacturing and it’s hurt the well being of a lot of people.”

        Thanks for the response. I am somewhat torn by the Thatcherite/neo-liberal revolution; my heart loathes its outcomes as alluded to in previous posts but my head is more nuanced. Firstly, too much blame has been laid on Thatcher in my view, particularly by old Labour; British industry was in a terrible state when Thatcher actually got to No. 10. It was long in decline from managerial complacency and incompetence and major inefficiencies in methods and work-practices vis-a-vis the Germans, Japanese and others, inefficiencies which were exacerbated by nationalisations and underwritten by government subsidies, and industrial relations were dismal due to the ravages of inflation, brought about by Labour (and Heath) governments printing money to pay for their budget deficits. Britain’s car industry for instance may have already been beyond repair by 1979.
        Secondly some of the ‘decline’ may simply be loss of prominence. A very good example of this is the British steel industry. A vast portion of the British working-class worked in the coal-mining, steel and shipbuilding industries, and had done so since the Industrial Revolution. Today these industries are almost forgotten about and therefore are presumed to be extinct; apparently a huge loss to Britain’s industrial base. Britain’s steel industry has just 3% of the workforce which it employed in its heyday in the 1950’s. Yet Britain today produces 8x as much steel as it did in the ’50’s. This is the critical aspect which some overlook; thanks to technological changes the traditional working-class industries like steel were no longer capable of supporting the mass employment which they had done for so long. Was there a justification for keeping such a large proportion of the nation’s labour in those industries, given that there would be a vast inefficiency in preserving the then-prevailing backward, labour-intensive methods with huge wage-costs which could only be supported by subsidies and protectionism, and artificially high prices for steel? Such a policy would increase the operating costs and thus harm the competitiveness of other sectors which relied on steel, like shipbuilding. Shipbuilding was a similar phenomenon; could a UK with one of the world’s strongest currencies and a western European standard of living produce ships in competition with the Far East by the 1980’s? Would such an effort be worth the investment and commitment of significant labour resources into, or could better returns be found by the rise of new industries in their place? This is the question which has to be confronted when considering the period. Thatcherite neo-liberalism would be justified had it operated as a correction mechanism which shut down industrial sectors which were no longer a viable provider of mass employment or an efficient outlet for national resources or a worthwhile return on investment in favour of more productive outlets. The definite problem is as you allude to in Scotland and Northern England; when the old industries went, nothing was found to put in their place; there was no transfer to more efficient industries so much as a casting off of Britain’s working class communities altogether. That was in my view an inexcusable negligence of Thatcher and her successors, and a definite duty of the state to facilitate and oversee.

        “I’d only be optimistic if thee UK is able to mount a key challenge to the likes of Germany and the East Asian economies. Certainly in some areas, there is still some industry – aircraft parts, software, computing (ARM is a good example), but elsewhere leadership has passed I fear.”

        Germany is now at a peak of economic power which it will likely not see again; its demographics are disastrous; Japan is the same. The UK is indeed predicted to pass out Germany in GDP in less than 20 years. Germany is utterly reliant on exports, a vulnerable position to be in, and a full 25% of Germany’s GDP is derived from exports within the EU free-trade zone, whose long-term future is now beginning to come into question; without that its GDP would be smaller than the UK’s. There is still much more industry than many people think in the UK, but there is still room for far greater expansion. The real problem is that many UK banks no longer even have the expertise to invest routinely in industry, which I think is one of the major consequences of the UK’s loss of its industrial champions, unlike France; it is very difficult to compete with the rewards available for investment in financial services. However UK banks are now beginning to regenerate expertise in investment in manufacturing through Government encouragement and incentivisation, and the capital is certainly there for major industrial re-growth; much of the EU’s business and industry relies on the financial services of London.

        “The Swiss and the Nordic nations I think have also done very well in some regards as well, for nations their size. South Korea, Taiwan, and even Singapore do well amongst the smaller Asian nations. China is rapidly rising and I suspect in the coming decades will begin to challenge the rest of the world not just in terms of offering cheap labor, but someday in the quality of its goods. It’s made impressive progress in the areas of hard sciences and is moving up the value chain quickly. It’s possible that India might someday do so as well.”

        London has actually passed out Seoul as the world’s most important city for high-technology enterprises. China is a country which now does not impress me at all, even though it has shown some genuinely impressive advances up the value chain in some sectors and feats in science and technology. Its economic fundamentals appear disastrous in the medium-term (it should be remembered that all official statistics in China are fake and produced for foreign consumption), its GDP is almost certainly 33-36% smaller than its publicly maintained figures on the basis of important industrial ‘tells’ like electricity consumption and rail traffic, its growth on its own criteria is more like 2% than the official 7%, 90% of its population are as poor as Bolivians and cannot afford goods ‘Made in China’, so it has no domestic spending to rely on, two-thirds of its most wealthy businessmen say they may or will leave in the next 5 years and are already getting their wealth out, and its debt-to-GDP ratio may well be over 300%, which is insurmountable. Of the 14 trillion dollars it amassed in its decades of growth in reserves, even the government itself admits that half is already spent since 2009, wasted on excess infrastructure and other projects to avoid the Party’s nightmare; unemployment. I believe that the days of China being talked of as a future superpower will soon be gone, and not before time, and its days of rapid growth are gone for good.

        “The British should spit on Thatcher’s name, along with the other neoliberals. Sadly, as the latest election shows, this is not the case at all.”

        The only party which really offers an alternative in that sense is the United Kingdom Independence Party, and the majority of voters don’t see them as yet being fit for government. Anything other than the Conservatives would have seen the SNP holding the purse-strings, which is the stuff of nightmares.

        “I’d argue that France, whatever it’s other flaws, has done the right thing in protecting much of its domestic manufacturing. Some things, like it’s high speed rail, it should be proud of (perhaps only Japan really matches it, although China has been deploying HSR very rapidly). Elsewhere, policy wise, I will note that France (and arguably the Nordic nations) are some of the few that are at replacement rate for fertility.”

        I agree, though the UK has no use or demand for high-speed rail; its regionally compartmentalised economically and does not have a culture of long-distance commuting. I could be wrong, but I think that the UK is still around replacement rate for fertility as well.

        “Looks like abandoning traditional values in favor of (neo)liberal policies has lethal impact on fertility.”

        Yes. Interesting conclusions might be drawn in terms of natural selection as to social liberalism.

      • Thatcher in my mind deserves the blame because she basically was the final stroke for industries already in decline. She also set things in motion for the current set of problems, such as the excess financialization of the UK economy (which led of course to the 2008 crisis), and the current levels of inequality. The UK, compared to the rest of the OECD doesn’t fare that well in terms of social mobility. Combine that with high inequality and there’s a problem. The US does worse, but the UK isn’t in a good shape.

        But I agree the decline was due to:

        1. Poor management practices
        2. At times inefficient businesses due in part to the lack of capital investment
        3. The recovery of the rest of the world from the damage of WWII

        The other is that nations like Germany view their manufacturing as important to their national security and living standards. The UK did not. Northern England and Scotland paid the price for it. Same idea with the US and Canada – the Rust belt and where I live, Ontario, paid a heavy price for it.

        Another thing to remember is that especially in the cases of nations like Japan, they view a weak currency as important. Weak currency is good in that it makes imports more expensive (lessening domestic consumption) and exports cheaper (increasing competitiveness). The Euro is having a similar effect with the Germans – it allows them to export as well. For the UK, part of the problem is a misguided sense of patriotism towards having a strong Pound.

        The rapidly aging demographics in the manufacturing powers is a concern, but there is one consideration – it might not decrease their account surplus. The reason is because modern manufacturing is not a lot of men on an assembly line. Modern manufacturing is capital intensive and not as intensive on labour. As far as economy size, I have long believed that the GDP is a pretty flawed way to measure. The problem is that it’s the most common one too.

        I would agree that the UK has been making inroads though in basic research. The big issue I think is that a higher percentage of the nation’s resources (GDP for lack of a better term) should be spent on R&D and capital investment.

        I would have to disagree with your assessment on high speed rail though. Even nations that are small seem to have made use of it. That and the controversies around HS2 suggest that there at least some people who feel that the UK could benefit from it. I suspect that in the long run, it could have as big an impact as the TGV has on France.

        On China, I would disagree with you. Although they face considerable challenges in terms of demographics and environmentally (pollution along with resource shortages – especially water in Northern China), they have built up a very sizable manufacturing base in a very short period and have lifted huge numbers of people out of poverty. China has been increasing its domestic consumption. Although I agree that many of the growth figures are no doubt inaccurate, there has been a very real growth in the average living standards of hundreds of millions of people.

        They’ve been making some big advances though in terms of basic research and some project could exceed the US R&D spending by as early as 2019. It’s likely that China will move up the value chain – much like South Korea and Taiwan have.

  7. @Duviel Rodriguez

    “What happened in Japan and S. Korea after coming under american control? Especially Japan that was completely under American control after surrender in WWII.”

    I’m in disagreement with this quote in particular.

    Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and now China have not pursued America’s wishes. They have not embraced neoliberalism.

    Instead they’ve embraced their own model – export-oriented manufacturing based economies. There is a very high degree of state intervention in such economies, and although there’s lots of corruption, they’ve developed very quickly.

    I discussed this more in Picard’s other blog:
    https://analyzingworld.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/milton-friedman-on-john-maynard-keynes-commentary/

    Had they followed the American model, they probably would have faced many of the problems that South America and Africa do today.

    • I will respond more in depth at a later time to the article in the other blog. It is a lot to read and digest. It also requires a well developed response (not necessarily in disagreement) that does justice to the topic.

      I only do this blog thing on my free moments in-between clients at work. And, this will require a lot of time and some deep thought.

      My 3 biggest hobbies/areas of expertise outside of my profession are American football, military issues, and macroeconomics. International affairs is maybe 4th. You guys are hitting on 3 out of 4 for me.

      I will respond quickly now:

      My argument was a response (albeit a reflexive and defensive posture I often take when I feel wrongfully attacked) to the argument that the USA is a bad ally.

      The USA has proven to be maybe not the best ally if you want full support at all times no matter the circumstances (due to unreliability of changes in government and core principles that the people stand by and are hard to hide from the people. Large % of Americans now understand who Saudi’s are but alternatives are worse). But, the USA has generally not abused its dependents like most past powers. Britain, France, Spain, Russia included.

      Countries that have fallen under control of USA (and not violently resisted) have tended to progress mainly because the USA has not controlled its infrastructure to serve its own purposes. But, has instead given it many strong economic building blocks.

      Japan, S.Korea, Singapore, China have at their economic core embraced modern western economic ideas. Now each has used those ideas in the way that best benefits them (or at least is believed to best benefit them) in their particular circumstances.

      Most US allies are well of economically because the USA does not totally dominate them like past superpowers and because free markets (although with weaknesses if not managed well) are a better economic system than any other that has been yet used. Even when abused by elites.

      The USA’s economic system is not an American idea. It is a western concept developed by western economic theorists.

      Neo-Liberalism as you call it and conservative elitism as I call it, is not free markets. It is a manipulation groomed to benefit the elite.

      Political plutocratic systems are the core problem, as is the plutocrats control of information.

      Like I said being under control of any other nation is never good for nation being controlled at any time in history. Every superpower has used its power in ways most beneficial to itself. Most to much greater degree than USA has.

  8. @Chris

    For some nations strong currency is good. If you have to import most of your energy and raw materials you probably benefit from strong currency in relation to where you buy said goods. Most of the higher-end stuff UK exports goes to other developed nations that have strong currencies too.

    If you weaken currency you would be able to export more but you would pay higher prices for energy and raw material. You would need computer model with all the numbers fed to it to figure out what is best for UK.

    • That’s not a bad trade-off.

      Because with energy and raw materials, you will use them to make things. Sure, costs of raw materials may be higher, but the profits from exports would be even higher.

      If nation A has to import materials to add value.

      Strong currency
      Nation A does pay less for materials.
      But it also means the margins for the value-added will be lower and nation A will have to price goods higher.

      Weak currency:
      Nation A is paying twice as much for their imports (say)
      Nation A sells in its own currency and as a result, either exports are cheaper (thereby improving competitiveness) or profits are higher

      The big advantages of weak currency are:
      – Others cannot sell to you as competitively (so domestic consumption of foreign goods costs more, which in turn means that your consumers are more likely to consume domestically produced goods)
      – You can sell externally for less
      – This can offset costs like high labor within your own nation

      • Its complicated.

        Depends some on the market and margins.

        Its not just for exports.

        The goods your own consumers buy internally would be much pricier both if produced in-nation (higher cost of energy & meterials) or if imported.

        Does UK have excess manufacturing/labor capacity to produce all it now imports?

        If you have a service based economy with low unemployment you will need to import to supply consumer wants. Otherwise, again you have price pressure up and drop in goods consumers have access to.

    • There is one sector I admit that does benefit from the strong currency though and that unfortunately is the financial sector.

      That may be why there is a desire for a strong currency.

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