Click to get your own widget

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Military Alternatives to Spending £400 Million on a Listed Building

  A couple of days ago I wrote of how to save £377.5 million from the military budget by building Scotland's new "superbarracks" from modular units rather than revamping an old building. As expected the MoD haven't responded to this even to the extent of acknowledging the option.

    I said then I would have fun suggesting how to spend this (I assume there are other barracks elsewhere abuilding but won't claim any more spare money).

    Britain has the 4th, possibly 3rd depending on counting, most expensive military establishment in the world after the US, Japan and China but we don't get much for it.We have nearly as many MoD civil servants administering as we have soldiers, sailors and airforce and I suspect we have an inordinate number of the latter as armchair officers and soldiers. Britain spends 3 times as much per soldier as America does. These MoD administrators regularly administer us to have the most expensive equipment developed in the most expensive way possible (eg eurofighter) when something better is already available off the shelf. We also see the military budget being openly used for porkbarreling (eg Gordon Brown ensuring much of the £4 billion+ wasted on 2 pointless aircraft carriers be spent in his constituency).

     If the defence budget was spent by patriots with care we would have a world class military.

     I also propose that any of this spending go through a new Ministry of New Military Projects. If we cannot fire everybody in the MoD  bureaucracy we should at least shunt it off  so that it does not foul up new projects. If the Israel can do procurement on 1/40th as much admin per $ such a new ministry need only take up one room far from any current Mod building - possibly Inverness.

     I have a patriotic desire that we have as good a military as we pay for, if not better. I have not changed my position on military adventurism. I don't agree with Madeleine Albright that the military is  no use "if you don't het to use it" to kill ordinary people. I still believe that the best thing Britain could do for our long term security would be to adhere to the principles of international law and to bring to trial and where appropriate hang the war criminals personally guilty of war crimes and genocide, not just Blair alone.

10 Ways of Spending About £377.5 Million

1 - HULC is an exoskeleton which will allow the wearer to tun faster and carry far more equipment than conventional soldiers can, or a shield. I have discussed it, with video, before. The only cost figure I can see is "more than $25000 per suit" (ie £15,000). If that is what they are quoting the price would certainly not be more than that for a long production run. So that would equip 25,000 soldiers which is in the area of all the truly front line troops available at any one time..

2 - Unmanned Aerial Vesicles (UAVs). Again something I have written on. These are smaller, less visible and far cheaper than conventional aircraft and more importantly expendable since there is no pilot. American UAV's were their relatively inexpensive contribution to the war against Libya and until they pulled them out, easily the most effective part of that "war".

3 - Tactical  High Energy Laser (THEL) again previously discussed here. Developed by Israel and the US (the latter's military don't seem very interested - apparently it is unpopular with any service whose current aircraft would be rendered obsolete. It is a mobile laser capable of shooting down incoming shells. This means they can also do missiles and aircraft.

This puts the average world cost as Nearly 8000 unmanned air-vehicles (UAVs) worth $3.9 billion" which is £300,000 a pop. That means we could buy 1250 of them which certainly gives us capacity only slightly behind the world's superpower.

  I can't find a unit cost but it is said to be "$3,000 per kill". I think it would be pessimistic to say the unit will cost more than 1,000 times that, so £1.9 million. That gives us 200 of them which would far more than cover any front line we are going to be defending. Weld 70 of those onto the ships we have and we also have a navy invulnerable to air attack or missiles.

4 - Pay for the development of a considerably scaled up version of THEL, possibly in collaboration with Israel. I would hazard a guess that Israel is smart enough to be already working on this. A handful of these. scaled up 100 fold and able to draw on as much power from the national grid, would be as effective an SDI programme as one can reasonably hope for. Cost is entirely a guess but a guess based on simply scaling up what already exists I I guess it would be less than that of a "superbarracks".

5 - Military X-Prize unit. The American DARPA has acknowledged that offering $3 million in prizes allowed them to develop a purely robotic driving system that went 100km without hitting anything & that they developed in house would have cost  $100 million and might not have worked. DARPA have a good reputation not just for developing weapon systems but for keeping America at the technological cutting edge. One such prize I would suggest is for ever smaller or cheaper or stealthed UAVs.

  OK from here on the proposals are all space based. Space is the ultimate "high ground" giving military superiority. The Kuwait war was described as the "first space war" since it was planned and run using visuals provided by space satellites and communications run, or jammed, by them. Space observation is perhaps the ultimate force multiplier, as the very low casualty rate, on our side, in that war proved. Britain starting something in this field 20 years later is hardly pushing the envelope but fortunately nobody else has pushed since then.

   Since radio transmissions are sort of line of sight satellites, which also cannot be jammed, greatly extend the range that UAV's can be controlled from. In fact it means that large numbers of them can be controlled from anywhere in the world.

6 - Pay SpaceX for one or more of the Heavy Lift Vehicles they they are developing, designed to put the equivalent of a 737 in orbit by 2013/14. The British launch site should be Ascension Island, which, with a little infrastructure and the tax and regulatory structure of some British colonies (Cayman Islands) could easily be turned into the world's largest commercial spaceport.

Since NASA are paying SpaceX $6 bn to develop this to resupply the space station 10%, or £400 million, seems a reasonable amount for 1 or 2 ships from the line.

7 - Thor - Project Thor is an idea for a weapons system that launches kinetic projectiles from Earth orbit to damage targets on the ground. Jerry Pournelle originated the concept while working in operations research at Boeing in the 1950s before becoming a science-fiction writer.
"The most described system is "an orbiting tungsten telephone pole with small fins and a computer in the back for guidance". The weapon can be down-scaled, an orbiting "crowbar" rather than a pole. The system described in the 2003 United States Air Force (USAF) report was that of 20-foot-long (6.1 m), 1-foot-diameter (0.30 m) tungsten rods, that are satellite controlled, and have global strike capability, with impact speeds of Mach 10, and strike 25-foot accuracy."

"You could have 40 "Rods from God" orbiting for the cost of" $0.5 bn) ((£300 million)  - so that would be over 50 for our price. If they were delivered into orbit by the Falcon Heavy Lift it should be possible to do more for the price.

8 - Taking the design of the British rocket plane of the 1950s, the SR53, but using modern materials Parliament has been informed it would be possible to build a suborbital space plane for £50 million. This would be considerably lighter and more powerful than was possible back then and should be able to launch rockets, on at least a daily basis, able to put very small satellites in orbit almost instantly.

There are limits to what very small satellites can do but, as with Moore's Law those limits are eroding fast. With 1 mobile phone having more capacity than all the computers in the world in the 1977 I assume, though it will be classified, that a few such satellites could detect more than all the spy satellites of 1977.

9 - If we don't want to buy a launch vehicle from America we could fund our own X-Prize. This would get us a smaller vehicle but, conceivably, could be better for our long term industrial future.

"I am rapidly reaching a conclusion, confirmed by a number of those in the rocket entrepreneurial community, and also several Pentagon people: if we stay outside NASA, the technology exists to build a reusable orbiter for under a billion dollars; probably far less than a billion.
This could be done by prizes, and at the moment there are two prize schemes to consider: a single prize of $1 billion..."
10 - Orion - this would give us the capacity to put 10s of thousands of tons into orbit or indeed far beyond. Britain's defence capacity would extend to the entire solar system. The entire cost of doing this, including flights to Mars and Saturn was, taking 1960 costs and correcting for inflation, £5.4 billion over 12 years. I would propose setting up a joint stock company to which the armed forces would contribute 7% of the capital in the form of the atomic fuel. No commercial company could provide the fuel but so vast are the potential profits I am certain that, once fuel and permission were available, the share offering would be vastly oversubscribed, even if, for security reasons, limited to British investors.
The full details of the Orion rocket are here.
Even the world's most eminent physicist says it would work, if tried.
Not bad as a series of alternatives to turning a drafty old building into a cramped barracks if I say so myself.
Kirknewton superbarracks building or the solar system - tough choice

Labels: , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

British Blogs.