Military History | How To Make War | Wars Around the World Rules of Use How to Behave on an Internet Forum
United Kingdom Discussion Board
   Return to Topic Page
Subject: Defence deal will add two supercarriers
AdamB    7/20/2007 2:21:30 PM
Defence deal will add two carriers Financial Times By Christopher Adams and Stephen Fidler Published: July 18 2007 12:41 Britain is to gain two new aircraft carriers as part of a multibillion pound defence spending package being finalised by the Treasury and Ministry of Defence. Ministers are hoping that a long-awaited announcement giving the final go-ahead to the carriers, estimated to be worth between £3.5bn and £4bn, will come before the House of Commons breaks for its summer recess next Thursday. Approval of the carriers is expected to safeguard 10,000 jobs at shipyards across the country, including in Rosyth, close to Gordon Brown’s parliamentary constituency. But the prospect of France taking a big construction role in the project appears to be fading. London and Paris have been discussing whether to deepen co-operation and looked at the option of sharing construction with French shipyards. However, senior Whitehall insiders expect only limited scope for sharing ship-building. Talks will continue on shared procurement and support. One person familiar with the negotiations said: “We will only collaborate as long as it doesn’t delay progress and there are clear cost savings.” BAE Systems and VT Group, which will take on the work in a risk-sharing alliance that includes Thales of France, Halliburton’s KBR subsidiary, Bab and the MoD, will merge their shipbuilding assets following the decision. The merger would create a £1bn company with docks in Portsmouth and on the river Clyde in Glasgow. Some 60 per cent of the work on the carriers – by far the biggest warships to be built in Britain – will be shared between yards in Scotland and the south and north-west of England. During prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Mr Brown signalled that a decision was close. “I hope we will be able to make an announcement soon on the aircraft carriers.” The future of the Royal Navy, he said, was best safeguarded by the levels of investment the government was putting in. The MoD and the Treasury appear close to finalising the defence budget for the three years covered by the forthcoming comprehensive spending review. Mr Brown is expected to use the carrier announcement as evidence of the importance the government attaches to security and the fight against international terrorism.
Quote    Reply

Show Only Poster Name and Title     Newest to Oldest
AdamB       7/20/2007 2:34:43 PM

Britain needs a new generation of aircraft carriers

By James Rogers, 5th March 2007


  • Britain’s acquisition of two new ‘pocket supercarriers’ - HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales - is in the utmost national interest.
  • These new vessels will secure Britain’s international role and leadership for decades to come, equipping the Royal Navy with extensive ‘blue-water’ capacities, and providing the nation with increased ability to lead the European Union’s emerging foreign, security and defence policies - as well as the dexterity to shape the political and diplomatic decisions of allies and foes alike.
  • While opponents have counselled against the aircraft carriers’ construction, stating that they do not serve the nation’s security-defence interests and/or are too expensive, the argument is put that these views do not serve the longer term strategic interests of the nation, resulting in the compartmentalisation of security-defence, reducing Britain’s overall strategic posture and leverage as a leading global power.



In 1982 the United Kingdom came perilously close to a national humiliation. Only months before the Argentine Junta ordered the invasion of the Falkland Islands, the government sanctioned the eventual end of the Royal Navy’s remaining aircraft carriers. HMS Hermes was to be decommissioned and HMS Invincible was to be sold to Australia under Defence Secretary John Nott’s 1981 Defence White Paper. It was a time of renewed hostilities between the Western democracies and the Soviet Union, and British defence posture was becoming increasingly atlanticised in the sense that the principal concern was the monitoring and surveillance of Soviet nuclear ballistic missile submarines in the North Sea and North Atlantic. In a lurid way, the Argentine invasion of British territory came at the right time; had Argentina’s generals waited a few months longer, they might have claimed the islands without any fear of British armed reaction. For without aircraft carriers, the Royal Navy would have been powerless to act; the Falkland Islanders would have been forced to render to the demands of a military dictatorship, and Britain’s naval credibility would have been lost. The Soviet Union would have certainly noticed as well that Western Europe’s strongest military power could not even defeat a weak South American dictatorship. The war in 1982 showed that a maritime nation like the United Kingdom, with numerous security-defence interests all over the world, needed to retain the ability to project power anywhere and at any moment. The main lesson learned from the conflict was that Britain required its aircraft carriers, without which it would be hobbled, and repressed into the second rank of the world’s powers.

Although Britain subsequently sold off its one remaining and elderly conventional carrier, HMS Hermes, it ploughed ahead with the completion of two new but smaller aircraft carriers to complement HMS Invincible. The first, HMS Illustrious, was launched in 1981 and deployed in the aftermath of the Falklands campaign; the second, HMS Ark Royal, was completed in 1985. All three are in operation with the Royal Navy to this day, although HMS Invincible has been mothballed and placed on extended readiness - and is unlikely to ever see service again. And at 22,000 tonnes, these are small aircraft carriers, designed for a primarily anti-Soviet, anti-submarine role. While they can pack a formidable punch, they are dwarfed by the 92,000 tonne supercarriers of the United States Navy and the 40,000 tonne nuclear aircraft carrier of France’s Marine Nationale. With the end of the Soviet Union, and progressively larger British military deployments abroad in the 1990s, the small Invincibles became increasingly insufficient for meeting national security-defence requirements. This fact was acknowledged when the newly elected government of Tony Blair came to power in 1997 and implemented the innovative Strategic Defence Review a year later. Declaring that Britain needed a renewed fleet of substantial aircraft carriers and support vessels, it was posited that British Armed Forces had to be re-calibrated for expeditionary warfare. The subsequent lessons of British interventions in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq have only reconfirmed the nation’s need for the ability to deploy armed forces overseas. While the governmen

Quote    Reply