PA: "Planes Axed For Aircraft Carriers"


War Hero
Planes axed for aircraft carriers

Britain's aircraft carriers will be left without planes for a period because of cuts to the military budget in next week's spending review, Defence Secretary Liam Fox has confirmed.

Two former heads of the Royal Navy have warned that a decision to withdraw Harrier jets before the arrival of new Joint Strike Fighter F35s in 2018 would leave Britain unable to fight another Falklands War.

Dr Fox confirmed that there will be a "gap" between the phasing out of the Harriers and the US-built F35s coming into service, but insisted that this will not put the Falklands at risk.

Britain currently has sufficient basing and over-flight rights to allow it to deploy air power wherever it wants in the world, even without fixed-wing aircraft on board its carrier fleet, he told BBC1's Politics Show.

Dr Fox also acknowledged that armed forces personnel numbers would "inevitably... fall a bit" as a result of the defence settlement, which is expected to require cuts of 7-8%.

But he declined to discuss reports that the forces could lose a combined total of as many as 20,000 servicemen. Announcements on precise figures will be made in Tuesday's Strategic Defence and Security Review which follows the unveiling of a new National Security Strategy on Monday.

The Defence Secretary confirmed that Prime Minister David Cameron had been "extraordinarily helpful" in securing a more favourable settlement for the Ministry of Defence after Chancellor George Osborne's initial demand for cuts of 10-20%.

Mr Cameron intervened personally on Friday after military chiefs warned that the threatened cuts could harm Britain's mission in Afghanistan, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took the unusual step of voicing concern publicly about the scale of cuts.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said today he had "reassured" the US over Britain's defence spending. He told Sky News he had personally assured Mrs Clinton that Britain "will retain a wide spectrum of military capabilities... and we will be continuing to be a big contributor to Nato and to the collective defence of all Nato nations".

Chancellor George Osborne said that the decision to go ahead with building two new £5 billion aircraft carriers was the most difficult he had to take in the comprehensive spending review, but said it would have cost more to cancel the project than to keep it.


George Osbourne also made a very cryptic comment on Sunday Morning Live today, and stated that: "they will live up to their name; they will be aircraft carriers."

There's another discussion thread somewhere where a theory has been proposed that the FAA will be equipped with F/A-18s, although I wonder if the Prime Minister's intention is to equip the carriers with UAVs and/or foreign aircraft.

Doesn't bear thinking about, does it?


War Hero
Carriers without aircraft won't affect our security. Build air defence destroyers or frigates with no electronic systems, weapons or engines. Replace Trident with two hundred men with cutlasses and convert all Royal Navy ships left to sail backed up with a 40hp outboard motor for when there is no wind. Charge Jack £5000 per cruise and get him to pay for his own training, uniform and personal weapon.
Now tell me that isn't more ludricous than what is thought to being proposed. 8)


Lantern Swinger
"Britain currently has sufficient basing and over-flight rights to allow it to deploy air power wherever it wants in the world, even without fixed-wing aircraft on board its carrier fleet, he told BBC1's Politics Show."

If that's the case then there's no need for carriers, either the current of future ones - methinks he needs a more logical argument!


War Hero
Au contraire

Dr Fox appears to have played a winning round with a sh1tty hand dealt. No-one on Gods green earth believes for a moment that building carriers without aircraft to fly off them is remotely sensible. However, given the cost of F35 and the construction state of QE, you're looking at at least 8 years of Harrier, with very little prospect of getting anything else (eg F18) or nothing.

Without a shadow of doubt, the major thing is to retain core expertise, which is people. Whether the ships sail for a couple of years without F/W is unpalatable but neither here nor there in a 50 yr life. How the aircrew, maintainers and AED types are retained and kept up to speed is the trick. Whether a UK squadron suddenly adopts a US badge for a couple of years might be a "good" (in the absence of any other viable option) way to do it. Hopefully there is some sort of plan. I did happen to see a plan two or three years ago that had both CVS laid up through 2012-2014 until arrival of QE - things are/were that desperate and if the ships are cancelled that's it, finis.

What ought to have folk sh1tting bricks is the way that Osborne would clearly have preferred to cancel the ships, based on his comments about cancellation costs, which indicates that 1SL has not sold the Pongo-centric hierarchy on the value of maritime air.