Print Story Britain's crazy defence procurement
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By jump the ladder (Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 07:31:04 AM EST) (all tags)
The last Labour govt liked living beyond its means and channelling pork to its Scottish constituencies. So it ordered two huge aircraft carriers (2/3's size of a USN Nimitz carrier) to be built mainly in Scottish shipyards at a cost of £5bn. They wouldn't be built with catapults as they were non-nuclear so couldn't generate steam for the catapults. It was planned to use Harriers on them initially and then the hugely expensive VSTOL version of F-35 Lightning II when that became available.

However the money has run out so we have a problem...

Poll: whoever signed the contract on these need to be...



Cheaper to build two

So the Con-Dem govt is looking to put an axe to defence budget but the contract with BAe Systems that the last govt signed  means that is actually cheaper to build both carriers than cancel both or one. However to save money, they have decided to scrap the Harriers immediately which are the only "fast" jet that can currently fly off the things. And it looks unlikely that the F35B will be ordered as it is very expensive, lacks performance and the in-service date gets being pushed back.

Only one will be usable

Fortunately the Americans have a new electromagnetic catapult design which is suitable for this ships and allows them to use normal carrier aircraft such as the US F/A-18 and French Rafale-N. However the first carrier, the Queen Elizabeth, will be built without this as it requires a redesign and it's too late in the build process, and will come into service in 2016 only able to carry helicopters. The Prince Of Wales will come into service in 2019 with the catapults and the plan is to mothball the useless Queen Elizabeth or sell it.

So to recap

At a cost of £5bn, we have no worthwhile carriers to 2019 at the earliest and no planes to fly off them.

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Britain's crazy defence procurement | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden)
Concorde again by Vulch (4.00 / 1) #1 Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 07:41:09 AM EST
There are more than two carriers being built which confuses things more, the French are building a couple to the same design. One of the cost cutting plans that was discussed was to build three between us so that each navy would have one in active service and the third shared to cover refits.


The French aren't certain by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 07:48:36 AM EST
To build a carrier of this design as they are humming and hawing over whether it needs nuclear propulsion or not.

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Ah right by Vulch (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 08:47:54 AM EST
I thought they'd committed to at least one hence delaying or cancelling altogether would have cost more jobs than was apparent at first. I know the design allows for either nuclear or fossil fuel propulsion relatively easily.


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(Comment Deleted) by aggressive cyclist (4.00 / 2) #3 Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 08:17:47 AM EST

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Falklands by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 08:29:28 AM EST
There's oil there, probably. But we have a detachment of Eurofighters based there so we don't need carriers for that.

Why we need the carriers: pork to Scotland, the French have carriers, keep the Admirals happy, were useful in certain circumstances to have them ie: Falklands War, Sierra Leone, the Balkans.

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(Comment Deleted) by aggressive cyclist (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 08:38:14 AM EST

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That's why Poland's in Nato by jump the ladder (4.00 / 2) #6 Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 08:42:24 AM EST
To buy us time and space :)

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(Comment Deleted) by aggressive cyclist (4.00 / 3) #7 Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 08:45:43 AM EST

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Don't forget the Huns by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #10 Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 09:24:50 AM EST
it's about time for them to explode forth from Central Europe.


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We're withdrawing from Germany by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #12 Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 09:33:51 AM EST
So no more British Army Of The Rhine to keep the Jerries down.

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I'd argue they're essential by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #15 Wed Oct 20, 2010 at 05:40:43 AM EST
To modern defence. They're the only way of deploying a force quickly to pretty much anywhere in the world. Think of them as a mobile air and sea base that is almost invulnerable to the military forces of most third world nations.

You can argue against them, but in doing so you're pretty much saying we should opt out of fighting our own wars any more.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

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(Comment Deleted) by aggressive cyclist (2.00 / 0) #16 Wed Oct 20, 2010 at 06:27:38 AM EST

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Mexico does not have any by Tonatiuh (4.00 / 0) #19 Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 10:51:34 AM EST
Neither does Brazil, Spain, Indonesia, India I believe, and many other countries of comparable population of higher.

When is Britain going to stop pretending it is a superpower, have a look at Wolphram Alpha to perform some comparative statistics to obtain some perspective, and realize it is squandering the future of its people on ritualistic military vanity projects?

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Some of these countries have by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #20 Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 12:33:01 PM EST
Aircraft carriers:Spain, India and Brazil.

And the UK has a bigger economy that all of them apart from India.

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(Comment Deleted) by aggressive cyclist (4.00 / 1) #9 Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 08:51:43 AM EST

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I suspect by Breaker (4.00 / 3) #11 Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 09:26:37 AM EST
The mines that the previous Government have left for the present will still be blowing up come 2015.


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helicopter carriers by garlic (2.00 / 0) #13 Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 05:56:08 PM EST
are not useless. Wikipedia mentions using them for anti-sub warfare, or amphibious assault. And amphibious assault could also be disaster relief.


Historically? I may be a yank by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #17 Wed Oct 20, 2010 at 03:31:51 PM EST
but wasn't there a bit from 1066-1871 when the only outside threat began and ended with France? Ok, there was that armada thing from Spain, but this German thing was a flash in the pan.

Wumpus

Owning France by anonimouse (4.00 / 0) #21 Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 09:10:52 AM EST
 about 1100 through to about 1300, you can't really decide if we had a set of French kings owning England, or a set.of English kings owning about half of France, particularly Normandy and Acquitaine.

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
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Britain's crazy defence procurement | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden)