It’s been a long time, and to those who have written with good wishes my thanks and confirmation that the recuperation is proceeding more or less to plan. A quick return to blogging has been deterred by acceptance that with all the excitement of the Referendum eclipsing everything else of political importance, the Defence of the Realm is fairly low on the SA scale, but we can now announce that the anthology of 2012 Daily Mail blogs, Bullingdon Defences, is at last available as a Kindle book on Amazon, where it will soon be accompanied by a print version. All royalties from the Kindle version go directly to Help for Heroes to support the Flying for Freedom training of veteran amputees planning on becoming flying instructors.
The Bullingdon name used by the book’s title alludes to the cost and nature of several of the most expensive assets procured by the MoD with the approval of the highest levels of government. As the Forbes Blog wrote in the Daily Mail four years ago:
“A defence posture based on the claim that our defence spend is ‘the fourth highest in the world’ has no credibility, for even if that were true it would not be a measure of our strength. The immense size of the bill for a truly smashing night out with the Bullingdon Club would not necessarily mean a man had eaten the best dinner in Oxford, would it?”
And thus a defence assumed to be good only because it costs more than can be afforded became known as a ‘Bullingdon Defence’ – ostentatiously extravagant, and one in which the greater part of the expenditure produces nothing of tangible and lasting value, while the remainder is drunkenly trashed.
The only significant change to the blog is the header, the Daily Mail name disappearing, and a Sunderland flying boat emerging from North Atlantic maritime cloud. Is this to be considered significant? Yes. The Sunderland design dates from the ’thirties, it was a superbly effective aircraft, simple and rugged, inexpensive in operation and maintenance, and extremely versatile. It was not a compromise multirole aircraft, but as it was designed and built with genius it could and did perform several roles: antisubmarine warfare (ASW), long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR), Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Close Air Support (CAS) in Low Intensity Conflict (LIC), Counter Insurgency (COIN), cargo resupply, trooping, passenger evacuation, and polar exploration.
Readers of earlier posts will have recognised the relevance of that menu, and of the versatility it demonstrates, to the contrast with contemporary multirole design in which trade-offs conspire to reduce by compromise the effectiveness of each role. The F-35 ‘Golden Turkey’ programme was intended to produce a successor to the F-16 that would succeed also the F-18, and the Harrier, and the A-10, and can now be recognised as a massive waste of money. It is a prime example of where the multirole fallacy is bound to lead us before the men with the pursestrings can be persuaded to abandon their fantasies.
Versatility created by genius is superior to ‘multirole’ invented for marketing.