Home » Aviation » U.K., France and U.S. Agree to Increase Submarine Warfare, Aircraft Carrier Cooperation


U.K., France and U.S. Agree to Increase Submarine Warfare, Aircraft Carrier Cooperation

Aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) (Ike) transits the Mediterranean Sea alongside aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R91) on Dec. 6, 2016. US Navy Photo

Naval leaders from the U.K., France and the U.S. have signed a trilateral cooperation agreement that will allow the three navies to work more closely together – especially in the realms of submarine warfare and carrier operations, a Navy official told USNI News on Monday.
The agreement – signed in London on Monday – marks the start of the three navies working together as the worldwide maritime security has grown more complex in the last several years, read the text of the agreement.

“Our navies share the same global reach and full-range capability from nuclear submarines to power projection. We believe that freedom of navigation and a rules-based international order are fundamental to peace and prosperity. We also share many national security challenges, including the threats posed by violent extremism and the increasing competition from conventional state actors,” the one-page agreement reads.
“More than ever, these threats manifest in the maritime domain. Given these common values, capabilities, and challenges it makes sense for our navies to strengthen our cooperation.”

Left to right, Adm. Christophe Prazuck, Marine Nationale’s Chief of Navy; Adm. Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC, The First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff; and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson sign the 2017 Trilateral Maritime Talks document at the Ministry of Defense in London. U.K. MoD Photo

While the details included in the one-page public agreement are thin, the bulk of the effort will be put toward developing a coordinated strategic picture, aircraft carrier cooperation and anti-submarine warfare operations, the official said.

“It’s first time the three navies have met for a trilateral meeting, discussed maritime instability and friction created by increased competition, regional and international cooperation on [anti-submarine warfare], and opportunities to work closer on future aircraft carrier operations,” the official said.

Both the U.S. and France have deployed carrier assets in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. has conducted regular strikes on ISIS units from the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.

“It was an opportunity for the three high-end navies to identify areas where they can work together and improve,” the official said.

The French Navy has sent its nuclear carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91) to the Persian Gulf in support of the anti-ISIS coalition. The Royal Navy has sent several surface ships in support of the French and U.S. navies.

HMS Queen Elizabeth following her naming ceremony conducted at Rosyth Dockyard in 2014. Royal Navy Photo

Additionally, the U.K. and France have agreed to cooperate in carrier operations until the first of two Royal Navy carriers enter the U.K. fleet. The first, Queen Elizabeth (R08) is set to commission later this year, and the Prince of Wales (R09) carrier is set to join the fleet in 2019.

The three countries are also concerned with increased submarine activity from the Russian Navy, primarily in the North Atlantic.

As part of the agreement, the navies have set in motion a timetable of cooperative actions and milestones.

“These types of agreements are important for ensuring that western navies and NATO nations will be able to maintain their warfighting and technological edge into the future. Enhancing collaboration between trusted allies will permit better information-sharing and help bring about advances in technology, capabilities, and interoperability for each of the countries’ armed forces,” Eric Wertheim, naval analyst and author of U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets of the World.
“When done correctly, collaboration helps bring the experience, technology advances and overall strengths of each nation to the forefront while hopefully minimizing weakness.”

  • muzzleloader

    The single French carrier De Gaulle is offline for RCOH, and the British QE is not slated to operationally deploy until 2021.It would seem that carrier cooperation is going to be low scale event.

    • Rob C.

      French backed out of the plan to jointly build a successor ship using the QE as basis of the new french ship. Now they have nothing but the De Gaulle, when she down…they got nothing.

      • Hugh

        Back in the 1970s the French had planned for 2 nuclear powered carriers, (some higher voltage equipment being trialled on their Durance replenishment ships when built then,) the 1st carrier was completed some time later, but funding for the 2nd……..

    • H__K

      I think this will actually accelerate carrier collaboration at the air wing level. Expect to see French Rafales deploy aboard a USN CVN in 2017/18, and USMC assets help the RN complete QE aviation trials in 2018/19.

      • E1 Kabong

        Wanna bet?

        • H__K

          Well right this moment you have US Marines being transported by RN helicopters deployed aboard a French LHD operating in the Westpac…

          So carrier cooperation and cross-deployments is the next logical step. Discussions are underway and the French, UK, and USMC have all expressed interest… I’d give it at least 50/50 odds.

          By the way, French Rafales did fly ~150 sorties off CVN 71 during JTFEX 08-04… only a slight stretch to do this for a real deployment with real live weapons.

          • E1 Kabong

            Swing and a miss!

            “So carrier cooperation and cross-deployments is the next logical step.”

            When were Rafales BASED on a USN carrier?

            Were FAA Harriers “cross decked”?
            Ever?

            US Hornets? F-14’s?

            The USN and FAA visited each other’s carriers with F-4 Phantoms.

            So what?

            The French had to beg for US carrier time, when the CDG was in drydock, so their Rafale pilots could recertify /maintain their carrier quals….

          • H__K

            Rafales were based aboard CVN 71 during JTFEX 08-04. They’ve practiced engine swaps aboard. If they can figure out rearming and munitions/parts storage then a deployment would be possible.

            The USMC and RN have both stated that US Harriers will deploy at some point on the new British carrier.

          • E1 Kabong

            Hilarious!

            How often do they deploy?

            Right…. You believe everything you hear, “…at some point…”?

  • Curtis Conway

    Nuclear submarine capabilities between us and these Allies, this cooperative agreement makes a lot of sense, and some of us have been wondering why this asset stretching mechanism has not been exercised before.

    The carrier forces will be stretched as well, and an increased USS America (LHA-6) presence would provide similar capabilities as Allied carriers when employing the F-35B Lightning II. The F-35 Combat System capability is the primary aspect that flavors this equation. All that is needed is a VSTOL/STOVL AEW&C aircraft. Perhaps some AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin HM2 Crowsnest can cross-deck with Expeditionary Strike Groups, or perhaps the US Navy can acquire some of their own.

    • Duane

      Allies are hugely important.

      It should be noted that in ranking navies worldwide, based upon gross tonnage (a far better indicator of capability than high numbers of very little ships), the US Navy at 3.6 million tons (commissioned warships only – not including auxiliaries, which account for another 2 million tons) is larger than the next 9 largest navies combined. Of the top ten largest navies in the world, 7 of those 10 are comprised of the USN and the navies of our treaty allies or unofficial “friends” of the USA, including NATO, Japan, South Korea, Republic of China, and Australia.

      Any future war will never be a bilateral war – i.e., the USN vs. some other nation like Russia or China … it will be a coalition war, with the participating Allies not being limited to just their own region of the world.

      • Rocco

        Time for Canada to step up to the plate!!

        • Duane

          Agreed there. The Canadians have gone pathetically down in military spending and preparedness. They’re down to less than half their agreed NATO commitment in 2014 of 2% of GDP on defense. They just elected to buy fourth gen F/A-18s instead of our deadliest fighter, the F-35, which makes their air force inferior going forward. Apparently the Canadians feel safe.

          • Rocco

            Sure because we’re so stupid to take up the slack.

          • UKExpat

            I think you would be wise to remember that the Canadians have an excellent, well earned reputation, for standing by their allies in times of war. Certainly Canada can always rely on the UK for help if she becomes threatened.

          • E1 Kabong

            That’s what happens when the libtwats get elected….

      • I would wonder how many allies we can count on in major regional wars? Can we expect the French Navy to join us in the South China Sea? Or the Japanese Maritime Defense Force, the navies of S. Korea, Taiwan, and Australia to reinforce us in the Black Sea?
        BTW any NATO naval charge into the Black Sea against Russian active defense will make the Light Brigade look like a tactical masterstroke.

      • Curtis Conway

        “…the US Navy…is larger than the next 9 largest navies combined.” Of which I care little about, for most of those navies do not carry the tasking of the US Armed Forces as a whole, and the US Navy specifically. Some the Allied navies mentioned participate, and support the Unified Combatant Commander mission sets, but not all, and some that do, choose not to sometimes, because they feel it is not in their best interest.
        As far as your analysis on future wars, I agree 100%.

    • Rocco

      Agreed plus back up from Airforce’s AWACS.

  • aztec69

    Well, by then the Russians will have finished giving the Admiral Kuznetsov its face-lift, the Chinese will have the Shandong ready to go and the North Koreans will have won WWIII with their latest secret weapon.

  • Ed L

    S-3 Viking multi mission platforms. Long loitering on station time The Deal of selling refurbish S-3’s Lockheed was trying to make to the South Korean Navy has been dropped. in Favor of the Saab Swordfish or the P-8. So there are still at least (last time we heard) 90 S-3 intact airframes in the boneyard. But they will most likely remain there.

    • sferrin

      They’re all in the boneyard.

      • Rocco

        Yes!

    • Rocco

      Agreed need them back.

    • E1 Kabong

      Reactivating an entire fleet of aircraft?

      LOL!

      Not going to happen…

  • RunningBear

    LHA-6 America is progressing the MV-22B A/A refueling capability for the F-35B and hopefully the development of a radar sensor capability and a robust network enabled capability similar to the Australian E-7A Wedgetail. The current 25,000 ft. service ceiling could provide a 400 mile radar range with a MESA radar.

    • Rocco

      Yeah so much for that stupid idea as recently a fuel line was by the rotor blades from one refueling another!! Luckily nothing happened other than mild heart burn.

      • Donald Carey

        Teething problems – in-flight refueling has had them before.

        • Rocco

          Not like this!! You ever stand near an osprey when it running?

          • E1 Kabong

            Have you?

          • Donald Carey

            I served on a Marine Helicopter airbase – CH53’s have a LOT of rotor wash yet they refuel in flight (and yes, they have had issues with their rotors cutting probe hoses).
            The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer. – aerial refueling for the MV-22 will happen.

  • The Plague

    Making inferiors look like equals again – the US national sport since the end of WWII. Adm. Earnest J King must be keeling over in his grave…

    • Duane

      Not hardly … the US Navy in December 1941 under Admiral King was slightly inferior to the Royal Navy at the outbreak of World War Two in terms of combatant ships. King would have been vastly smarter to have listened to his RN allies, who told him how to conduct effective ASW against the U-boats, but King refused to listen or emulate the Brits … and as a result Operation Drumbeat nearly knocked the USA out of the war in just its first six months. King refused to employ convoys and escorts, and he refused to darken coastal cities, or to collaborate with the Brits in ASW tactics. Over those first six months of WW Two, the USA lost over 700 sunken ships and the loss of over 5,000 lives of merchant mariners, before he finally relented and did as the Brits advised him to do in December, 1941.

      During the war the US overtook the Royal Navy becoming several times its size, mainly in order to pursue victory in the Pacific.

      • HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Repulse? Were they Britain’s naval kamikaze team? Big guns were enough to cow the wogs, no? Air cover? We don’t need no steenkin’ air cover.

        • E1 Kabong

          Pearl Harbor…..

          Who needs to defend the biggest base, right?

      • The Plague

        I wasn’t referring to the WWII British Navy when I wrote “inferior”, but to that shallow force that exists today. And I wasn’t referring to the operational acumen of Admiral King, but to his general stance of non-entanglement with European affairs and European problems. If he had had his way, there would have been no assistance to anybody in Europe, neither to the Brits, nor to the Soviets and then there would have been no Soviet Empire at all – they couldn’t even drive out of the garage on their own power. It was US military aid extended under the pretext of “cooperation” which turned the grossly inferior Soviets into an “equal” superpower.

      • Rocco

        Kudos

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Is this code for:
    “we will send a Virginia your way when/if a carrier goes to sea because we know you struggle to have even 1 single submarine available for escort”?

    • H__K

      I doubt they would ever need the USN’s help for ASW. The UK and France have 15 of the world’s best ASW surface platforms bar none, plus some very capable ASW helos. Together they can be expected to flush out most submarine threats to their carriers.

      Plus the French carrier never deploys without an SSN escort as an added protection.

  • Rob C.

    Can the English even support their carriers? Their government been pretty irresponsible to properly funding their military, never mind the new Carrier project.

    • Duane

      The UK has been more than “responsible” in funding their defense – they are second only to the USA in defense spending within NATO, at 2.4% the UK spending well above the 2% of GDP mutually agreed in 2014. The UK provided the second most forces to the Afghanistan and Iraq War coalitions.

      France is lagging at about 1.8% of GDP as of last year, but after suffering a series of terror attacks on their homeland in the last couple years they are taking steps to increase their defense spending. The results of their national elections later this spring will also shed some light on French defense spending. Socialist President Hollande is not running for re-election, but current polling does not indicate a favorite. If a centrist or more rightist government is elected, then we can expect higher emphasis on national defense by France.

      • Rocco

        Not in agreement. I just spoke with current naval officers from the UK & let’s just say they need us!!

        • Duane

          Of course the UK relies upon the USA as an ally … just as they have since World War One. Nothing’s changed there at all.

          The US also relies upon the UK, among other allies. The Royal Navy is still in the top 5 navies in the world in terms of both tonnage and capability. They were our top coalition partner in Desert Storm, the Iraq War, and in Afghanistan. The Brits are with us on upgrading their navy too, launching two brand new carriers in the next couple of years, and in adopting the F-35 – they’re buying 138 F-35Bs, by far the most purchases of our best fighter of any of our allies.

          • Rocco

            What I meant was they have no infrastructure. They are buying Ferraris but they can’t afford them let alone keep them going or the ship’s for that matter.

          • UKExpat

            The UK does not buy Ferraris we build our own Rolls Royce’s. The UK can well afford it’s new carriers, which are excellent value for money, and will also keep them in operation, The main problem the UK has with the carriers is that they are fundamentally reliant on delivery of the F35s which, as everyone knows, is years late, consequently RN has agreed with the US Marines to let them use their F35s on the UK carriers as a short term fix when the first carrier is commissioned, hopefully later this year.

      • muzzleloader

        The question that Rob.C posed is a valid one, and it is one that has been voiced many times in British defense articles. At present the RN has 19 surface combatants, two of which are in inactive status merely for lack of sailors to man them. Thier budget is such that the block 1 Tomahawk missles which are the main armament of RN combatents, is being removed without a replacement in 2018. Even minus this factor there are concerns that to formulate an all British combat group to escort the QE on a deployment would require the majority of thier assets and personnel. The National leadership of the U.K. Is taking steps to correct the deficiencies, but they are years in coming.

        • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

          You are thinking of the Harpoon Muzzleloader.

          And, yes you are correct.
          The UK ‘might’ put together 2-3 surface escorts with the Queen Liz…. but that would be the maximum.

          The Type 45’s will also be going in for their long drawn out repairs to enable them to work in warm water!

          • muzzleloader

            Thank you for the correction. And this is not to disparage our British cousins. Like any military in any democracy, the soldiers and sailors go in harms way on what the politicians give them.

      • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

        1/5th of UK defence spending is actually just foreign aid.

        The UK doesn’t meet the 2% defence spending treshold…. it hasn’t since the cold war.
        It is all accountancy shenanigans on the part of the Tories.

        • Duane

          That’s not what official NATO says. You’ll have to produced detailed spending categories to prove what you say, which is not true and does not gibe with any known sources of info. The UK has one of the strongest militaries in the world including one of the top 5 navies in the worldby tonnage (which defines both cost and capabilities). The Brits were our biggest ally in the Middle Eastern wars in terms of troops, weapons, and platforms actually dedicated to the various fights.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            Where do you think NATO gets their info?

            Can’t post links… so do a google for “uk defence expenditure” one of the resulting links will be to a site: “ukpublicspending-dot-co-dot-uk”…. and it lays it out very nicely.

            You will see that of the MOD’s £45bn budget for 2017 just over £9b will be foreign aid…. just like it is for the preceeding years too.

            Oh, and the Tories changed the rules on what counts as defence spending.
            Examples include moving pensions into defence spending, moving nuclear weapons into defence spending (it used to be counted separately). They even include MOD civil service redundancies in the totals now…. which they shouldn’t either.
            All thanks to George Osborne.

            As one of those UK taxpayers, some of us keep an eye on these things.

            If American’s feel pleased that the UK spend 2% then fine…. those of us paying for it know differently.

          • David Flandry

            George Osborne did more to weaken the Royal Navy than any Labour Minister.
            His defense policy, and it was his, was to multiply the existing defense budget and force strength by 0.8. Royal Naval personnel , not counting marines, is 22,400.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            You are right David.

            The Tories talk a tough game on defence yet have a terrible record on it & the media say nothing.

            If Labour had a leadership that wasn’t committed to scrapping the DOD altogether then they could hammer the tories on it….. alas that is not so!

          • E1 Kabong

            It’s the truth.

            The UK added the GCHQ and MI6 budgets, plus the pensions to the “defence budget”.

            https://www.ft DOT

            com/content/08e9e07a-c746-11e4-8e1f-00144feab7de

          • Duane

            MI-6 is military intelligence – their equivalent of our NIS or the Military Intelligence Corps – its part of national defense. MI-5 is their domestic spy agency.

            Whether pensions should be included in the NATO definition of “defense spending” that is up to NATO to decide. It certainly seems that military pensions actually are a defense expenditure – it amount to deferred compensation for active duty military members.

          • E1 Kabong

            LOL!

            You missed the point, COMPLETELY.

            Are the FBI, CIA, NSA, DIA, etc all under the DoD’s budget?

          • Duane

            I didn’t miss anything. Our military intelligence agencies most certainly ARE included in the defense budget. Always have been, always will be. Civilian agencies are not. Ditto in the UK.

          • E1 Kabong

            Oh, clearly, you did….

            Try doing some research.

          • UKExpat

            A lot of complete rubbish is being talked about the UK Defence Budget here. The truth is that the UK is not only meeting it’s obligations to too spend 2% of GDP on defence but is also in the process of almost completely replacing the majority of the RN’s fleet with larger modern up to date vessels. The next decade will show a very large increase in the size of the fleet.

            Also given that GCHQ and MI6 are very significant defence assets, so important in fact, that the US has become treaty obligated with the UK to equally share all it’s defence intelligence with the UK. consequently it is only right that they should be part of the UK’s overall defence budget

          • E1 Kabong

            Speaking of rubbish….

            “The truth is that the UK is not only meeting it’s obligations to too spend 2% of GDP on defence….”?

            Adding the civilian and military pensions, MI6 and GCHQ budgets to the MoD budgets is NOT what NATO would call “meeting” the 2% spending recommendation.

            https://www.ft.com/content/08e9e07a-c746-11e4-8e1f-00144feab7de

            http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-38971624

            “… is also in the process of almost completely replacing the majority of the RN’s fleet with larger modern up to date vessels.”?

            Hilarious!

            What vessels?
            Those Type 45’s that can’t operate in hot weather?
            Ships with NO anti-ship missiles?

            “Also given that GCHQ and MI6 are very significant defence assets,…”?

            According to WHO?

            I’ve never seen them in a NATO exercise, the Falklands, Desert Storm, Afghanistan…

      • Blue Boy

        With total defence spending you have to be careful as the 2% target does not just include actual combat troops and equipment. The UK figure includes pensions and real estate and so is not a true reflection of the real 2%. I am not sure if that was the intent of the 2% GDP target.

        • Duane

          Military pensions and military intelligence and real estate are also included in US defense spending and its spending as % of GDP. All nations do the same.

    • Rocco

      No!!

  • Do we really believe NATO can operate a fleet in the Eastern Baltic or the Black Sea against Russian active defense? I think not.
    So, by the same token Russia with a vastly inferior navy wouldn’t survive the first day of war in the Gulf of Mexico.
    Rather than pretend otherwise it would be better to have a tacit understanding with Russia: we keep our military out of the Eastern Baltic and Black Seas, you keep out of the Gulf of Mexico, of California, Caribbean and out beyond 200 (at least) miles from our oceanic shores.

    Let this be a private handshake. No media. No policy announcement. In fact since treaties mean little in this age of undeclared wars, all that can be hoped for is an operational guide outlining the above.

    • Duane

      You could not be more wrong in everything you wrote.

      NATO will never cede the Black Sea to Russia … about 3/4 of the shore of the Black Sea consists of our NATO allies (Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria) or friendlies/anti-Russians (Ukraine and Georgia). Turkey is in sole control of the only way in or out of the Black Sea. The Black Sea is literally a death trap for any Russian vessels, easily within range of land based aircraft and anti-ship missiles, plus NATO warships permanently on patrol in the Black Sea. The Russians know all that very well.

      As for treaties, they’re immensely important. You sound like one of Putin’s trolls, dismissing NATO and other treaties as worthless, when in fact NATO scares the absolute bejeezus out of you Putinists. Which is why you guys are desperate to discredit NATO.

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      You should consider a map Atilla.

      90% or more of the Baltic shoreline is not Russia.
      The “Eastern Baltic” as you put it is mostly either Finnish or the 3 Baltic states….. in comparison, the Russian shoreline is tiny.

      The seas of sovereign states won’t be ceded to Russia just like the skies over Finland won’t be ceded to Russia.

    • E1 Kabong

      What about Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and the Ukraine Black Sea territory?

      Should they just bend over for Russia?

  • Robert Bruce Horne

    We are thankful for British, France Friendship

  • Ed L

    Kaliningrad is a fortress in the Baltic. Last estimates were around 200,000 plus in military manning. The latest AAA, Ship Killer missiles, etc.