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BBC News Magazine: "Does Anybody Still Need Aircraft Carriers?"


War Hero
Interesting article, one that covers all the known arguements about, yes we need, no we don't. The discussion has been going on ever since the demise of
the CVA-01 idea, and thats 60's ville. So some 50 years later we find dockyard activity in producing the 'bits' that will go to make a whole one eventually, still talking about the type of aircraft that will use, the costs, the training of the aircrews,the logistics of actually deploying, maintenance, and for what ? Its about time we all realised that the RN and the FAA are virtually extinct, the amount of scrapped ships, keeping the Turks and others occupied , breaking them up. We even have the bloody BBC etc quoting Royal Air Force Culdrose ffs, that shows how much a lot know about the FAA. I know that some of the old airstations did become RAF, but we still have Culdrose and Yeovilton.


As an outsider, it appears that the UK is at a cross-roads in it's defense strategy and foreign policy being at odds with one another. Wasn't it in the 60's that the UK decided that it would no longer get involved east of the Suez in combat operations? And, to reinforce this doctrine systematically eliminated the Royal Navy's ability to project power globally with conventional weapons. The so-called, "big four" (if they were called this in the RN, I don't know) Ark Royal, Eagle, Hermes and Victorious were all decommissioned and replaced with the Illustrious-class ASW carriers. Yes, I know that they had the Sea Harrier, but they were optimized for fleet air defense and had only a rudimentary strike capability compared to the Buccaneer.
I Would find it very frustrating to be a serving member of the Royal Navy with the amount of support given by your government, which is a real travesty. I don't understand the mentality of retiring what striking force that the Royal Navy has while waiting for the "next big thing" (QE/PoW carriers). This is the same scenario that bit the UK hard in the early 80s when the Argentines made a bold move against the Falklands. So, now your government is placing troops overseas in harms way and relying upon the US, NATO or UN forces to provide air defense, logistics, etc...
One cannot and should not ever underestimate the proud tradition of the Royal Navy, the fighting spirit of it's sailors and officers, but you can't sustain a credible defense completely upon that. You have to have a coherent strategic defense policy, a supportive governement (funding) and the national will to maintain a military that has an expeditionary capability.
It is absolutely ludicrous to maintain a force of 3 amphibious assault ships (commando ships I think is what you call them), 2 CVFs and a credible standing ASW force with only 19 FF/DDs the RN is SPREAD WAY TOO THIN, expeditionary warfare is impossible to sustain AND defend your SLOCs and home waters. Not to mention maintaining a submarine capability with a strategic deterrent capability. I have not even mentioned that you have NO Long-range maritime patrol capability or a CVF-based AEW/Tanker/COD aircraft.
I hope I am not being overly critical, because it isn't meant that way. I understand how much we owe the UK, and how much was sacrificed for our respective freedom. The UK/USA are no longer formerly linked of course, but it is our mother country, and even here in the United States we are slowly going down the same slippery slope due to the forces of the military taking a back seat to the forces of social welfare. You cannot have the later without the former, and something is going to have to change with the "free-lunch" mentality that is taking over in Europe and the US.
Anyway, I am really hoping that things work themselves out for the best in the UK...
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BE19Pilot. You sum up the position quite well.

Unfortunately, all UK governments want defence on the cheap and HM Treasury begrudges every penny spent on it. I'm always amazed that HM Treasury didn't get a medal from Argentina for the contribution made to Op CORORATE.

The peg the Government (and its predecessor) has hung its hat on is alliance and international cooperation. The previous Government clearly stated that they couldn't envisage entering any conflict without it being in support of the US. The "European" defence force fantasy is now firmly embedded. What we have "gapped" can be covered by an ally; maritime patrol aviation for example. This mindset will continue and be reinforced until some event of UK only relevance exposes the "Emperor's new clothes". By the time that happens, though, it will be too late to resolve it and the UK interest will be buggered.

The other knock on effect of this is that the smaller the UK's contribution, the smaller the chance of the UK being on top or near the top of the Command structure. That will need a secondary mindset, the acceptance that a foreigner is more capable or as capable of running and sustaining a successful operation as we are.

Going back to the original Carrier point, the UK grudginlgy wants a Carrier. It doesn't want to invest in its defence (somebody else will do it for us!) and same probably applies to the aeroplanes to fly from it. That latter low priority consideration has its own constraints, of course, as the Carrier fit will determine the possible.

Anyway, the Great British Public must want it as it seems to be what it voted for and Aunty Maud's hip replacement or Cousine Sharron's IVF isn't being endangered.
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