RN Carriers: Is It Worth It?
Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns, and Money makes a valid point concerning the Royal Navy’s giant new 65,000 ton supercarriers:
The decision to build two big deck carriers has, accordingly, produced the need for sacrifices in other areas. The number of Type 45 destroyers has been cut from twelve to six, and other escort vessels have either been delayed or had their service lives extended well beyond what was originally projected. The RN is paying a significant price for Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales, a price that I suspect will eventually include the SSBN fleet. It’s also possible that, in spite of the steel cutting, Queen Elizabeth and her sister will never be completed. Followers of the Royal Navy are concerned that after having cut the service in order to fund the carriers, the government will now cut the carriers.
We continue to hold Great Britain as the standard for clinging to a dated strategy in a new era of warfare. While they spend precious funds on last century arms, their armies overseas have suffered humiliation at the hands of Bedouin soldiers, and continue to suffer shortages while in contact with the enemy. Here in America we have no right to gloat. Though this is an extreme example, if we don’t come to terms with weapons which increase in size, complication, and expense, while drastically shrinking in numbers bought, England’s woes will be our own in a decade or 2.
Also, Farley discusses small carriers:
Alternatives exist, even within the force projection requirements of the Royal Navy. Ark Royal and Illustrious are both twenty-five years old, and will eventually require replacement. Had the RN not chosen the big deck route, it could have pursued something similar to the Italian , which displaces 27000 tons and could carry about 20 F-35Bs. The development of theF-35B and the advent of the Age of UAV has reduced the capability gap between big and small carriers, as the latter can now operate aircraft substantially similar to the former. With lower operating and construction costs, a British Cavour type might have saved some of the Type 45 destroyers.
Really, your mothership should be as spartan as possible, if you are going to rely on missile escorts for defense. Her parasite fighters are far more important, and smaller numbers are far more capable thanks also to new precision technology, promising “one bomb,one hit”.