Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Cutting the Ark Royal is a strategic mistake.

Defence. It is more important than some would have you believe. I have to admit that in these times I don't think Britain can afford and even pretend anymore to be a world power. Nor should it.
However scrapping the Ark Royal earlier than the planned 2014 date could be a strategic mistake. I am no expert other than the usual boy hood interest in military power and a family tradition (from my mums side) of being involved in the Royal Navy. I also agree with the concerns of Sharkey with regards to his thinking on axing the Harrier and the loss of skilled airmen (see Paul Waugh blog Cameron's Sharron Storer moment)
Aircraft carriers are by definition a very multi purpose asset to the Royal Navy and in turn Britain. It is not only a good way of protecting far-off islands from attack but it can be used as a base for rescue operations, essential airlifts of equipment or suppliers and of course evacuations anti drug and pirate operations. It also gives Britain more independence and more options.
Sharing carriers with France (who have had their own problems with the timings and cost of jet deployment) would make sense but is politically sensitive. Britain and France have similar requirements from their navies and they both need to be independent of the US. I suspect their will be some arrangement between Britain and France down the line.
I'm pleased that their will still be a helicopter platform to carry out some operations but we are in trouble if we need to get involved in a conflict that requires naval air power. I personally believe that this particular military cut is a risky mistake.
For full plan as taken from the Scotsman is;
October 2010 - Ark Royal, the last of the current carriers in service to be mothballed with immediate effect. HMS Ocean, the helicopter carrier, will also be mothballed - the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious will be brought back as a helicopter carrier.
2014 - Crew of Illustrious transfer to new super carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth for sea trials and Illustrious will be decommissioned. HMS Ocean will be brought back into service.

2016 - HMS Queen Elizabeth brought into service as a helicopter carrier and HMS Ocean decommissioned.

2017 - HMS Ocean crew transferred to new super carrier HMS Prince of Wales for sea trials

2019 - HMS Prince of Wales launched as a helicopter carrier and HMS Queen Elizabeth mothballed after four years and never carrying a strike fighter

2020 - HMS Prince of Wales becomes an aircraft carrier with a scaled-down cheaper version of the new joint strike fighters. Its catapult launch system design will also be adapted to allow US and French strike fighters to be launched from it.

1 comment:

  1. An island of millions, a Western island, without an aircraft carrier.
    I have one word for this: