Britain could be forced to “borrow” American warplanes for its new aircraft carriers as the Armed Forces’ core capabilities are eroded by budget cuts.
That means lease them. So I’m a bit vague as to the saving here exactly. It’s more that we’ll have to do something to save the embarrassment of having the ultimate floating white elephant (white whale?) an aircraft carrier without aircraft. If F-35B slips further or is cancelled by the US entirely. There are just two customers for F-35B - RN/RAF and USMC. I could seriously see Gates saving quite a few simoleons by scrapping the USMC fixed wing aircraft such as the AV-8Bs we’d be leasing or rather in this scenario buying - basically the same aircraft as the Harrier GR7/9 we’d be scrapping. These new carriers have not been thought out at all.
Furthermore, the Navy may lose its ability to put troops ashore in an amphibious assault.
Right… OK, so what precisely is the point of the Navy then? I mean that is surely one of their absolute key roles. Surely.
Dr Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, has said that, instead of “salami-slicing”, where pain is shared equally across the department, the cuts must be allocated strategically.
Within the context of defence cuts that makes sense. And I have previously argued that Trident might be the one big thing to go.
Defence sources have suggested this will result in the Forces giving up entire capabilities, like aerial surveillance and amphibious landing.
Those are two we can’t let go. Aerial surveillance is the oldest use of aircraft and still answers the fundamental question that has plagued commanders since time immemorial, “What is over that hill?” Now what I suspect they mean by aerial surveillance is Nimrod MRA-4 which at enormous expense and grossly late is just entering service.
Britain would have to rely on allies until the defence budget recovered, when these operations could be resumed.
Wishful thinking. Some of these are “use it or lose it”. It’s about skills not just kit and amphibious operations are by their very nature tricky things. Anyway, rely on allies! Like our EU “chums”? Like Obama’s USA? You know he might help out and send a boxed set or Region 1 DVDs from the Blockbuster bargain bin.
The cuts could also have serious implications for the Navy’s two new aircraft carriers, which will cost £5 billion and are due to enter service in 2014 and 2016.
Defence sources said at least one of the carriers was almost certain to be completed, but questions hang over the second.
We need at least two - what happens when our sole carrier is being re-fitted?
If the second carrier is built, it could be adapted to carry helicopters instead of jets.
Why if we are losing the amphibious assault role would we need such a thing? Moreover the carriers that the navy are desperate to retain in order to at least keep the pretence of being a blue water navy are about power projection and that very frequently is in support of amphibious landings.
A more radical option would see the second carrier shared with another country, most likely France.
There is a reason you only have one captain on a ship you know. That is madness! It is also of course a route to Euromil. They are bound to call it something dreadful like that. Forget single currencies and Schengen and all that jazz because once you lose control of your own armed forces you are a vassal.
The Treasury is understood to be budgeting for the cost of the carriers as empty hulls [I'd like to know exactly what they mean by that], and balking at the additional cost of planes to fly from them. A military source said: “The Treasury seems to think it’s quite normal to budget for aircraft carriers with no aircraft to carry. It’s rather bizarre.”
Just bloody typical.
To ensure both carriers are built, Navy chiefs are considering making several sacrifices. These include retiring Britain’s 45 Harrier jump jets ahead of schedule.
The Harriers, operated by both the Navy’s Fleet Air Arm and the RAF, are due to retire in 2018 and be replaced with new Joint Strike Fighters. But the jets could be retired earlier, saving more than £1 billion. That in turn could mean that the first carrier enters service in 2014 with no British aircraft to carry.
Or the “pub with no beer option” as I call it. Let’s go the whole hog and issue the army with guns but no bullets. We can just train them to shout “Bang!” very loudly at the enemy.
This is the permanent and complete evisceration of the British military. I might argue that the ministers and civil servants responsible ought to be lined up against a wall and then… er… do we still have the capability to shoot them?