Breaking: Royal Navy Cuts Carrier Buy
Not so much a surprise is the news the Royal Navy will cut one of its 2 new Queen Elizabeth class supercarriers. Story from the Times Online:
The Royal Navy has agreed to sacrifice one of its two new aircraft carriers to save about £8.2 billion from the defence budget.
The admirals, who have battled for a decade to secure the two new 65,000-ton carriers, have been forced to back down because of the soaring cost of the American-produced Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft due to fly off them.
No doubt the planes are costly, but equally costly are the large deck aircraft carrier in modern times. As we often insist you don’t need smart platforms for smart weapons, we can only wonder if an upgraded Ocean class with a strengthened deck would have been less costly and less a burden to build during wartime. But I digress…
It is too late for the navy to renege on contracts to build the two carriers, the Queen Elizabeth, due to go into service in 2016, and the Prince of Wales, due to follow in 2018. Although the second carrier will be built, it will be used as an amphibious commando ship, with only helicopters on board instead of JSF aircraft.
Isn’t that sad, giving further meaning to a project “too big to fail”. These huge craft at 60,000 will be larger than even the America class amphibious assault ships at 45,000 tons.
At current prices, the (JSF) will cost close to £90m each, but this could rise to more than £100m.
I would like to submit this as further proof of the demise of such giant ships in naval service, which are so costly that navies can no longer afford adequate aircraft to fill their spacious decks. But even a few small carriers are an asset to Navy, a battle-proved fact the British seem to have forgotten.
Hat Tip to D. E. Reddick for the scoop!