Real Cost of the Royal Navy Carriers
The troubled plan for the Royal Navy to deploy two new jump-jet carriers, the largest warships that nation has ever built, may have reached another roadblock. Because of the Obama Administration’s plan to scrap the second Joint Strike Fighter engine for the V/STOL version, rumor has it that the British may decide to go conventional after all and forgo the ski jump for catapults. We see more costs, and more delays. From the Telegraph:
The move, welcomed by many defence analysts and the Royal Navy, will mean that the MoD has wasted £500 million of taxpayers’ money paid to Rolls Royce to develop the highly complex engine to allow vertical take-off similar to the Harrier jump jet…The decision will also have a significant impact on relations with Washington because it will increase the price of the 350 US Marine Corps jump-jet fighters that have been ordered, forcing the US military to ask for money from Congress.
The about-turn will also mean that the first of two 65,000 tonne carriers under construction, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will have to be redesigned with cost penalties. It is possible the recent £1 billion rise to £5 billion for the carriers might by partly attributable to the change of plan.
Here is where the real cost is factored in. First the British designers were dependent on being able to purchase the F-35B with American help. Now that the US has bowed out on the second engine, it is now placing all hopes on the Americans again:
The decision also comes with some risk as the Navy will be reliant on the Americans developing a new electro-magnetic catapult to launch the fighters off the carrier. “This is a real risk because the new catapult design is a major undertaking. It is not just a widget,” said a defence aviation source. “If it breaks then the planes can’t fly and the carrier is useless.”
This is the EMALS catapult system, reported to be “in serious trouble” of late with its own problems. Now there is something you can base your entire future naval strategy around!
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