Breaking: Britain May Sell New Carrier to India
Selling one of the 2 Queen Elizabeth to India? This is actually not a bad idea. I’ll explain later, but here is the amazing story concerning the hapless Royal Navy supercarriers, from the Guardian:
One of Britain’s new £2bn aircraft carriers could be sold off under cost-cutting plans being considered by the Ministry of Defence. India has lodged a firm expression of interest, the Observer has learned…According to senior defence sources, Whitehall officials are examining the feasibility of a sale as part of the strategic defence review that will start early next year and is expected to result in savage cuts.
Admittedly, this would be a bitter pill for the proud British to swallow (though the jobs would stay in country). Here is why it is a win-win situation for both parties. We have posted on this story before, of India’s ongoing attempts to replace aging warships and create a modern naval air arm. In so doing, they find themselves in an amazing predicament, in no wise unique, according to the Times of India:
On one hand, it has an aging but newly-refurbished aircraft carrier, INS Viraat, which is fast running out of fighters which can operate from its deck.
On the other, it’s soon going to induct another type of maritime fighters but no suitable carrier to operate them from. Navy will get Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov only by early-2013 but will begin inducting its MiG-29Ks later this month.
India has the fighters but no new carrier, while Britain will soon have the Queen Elizabeth carriers but can’t afford enough aircraft to fill their massive decks. So now you see why the story from the Guardian makes all the more sense. Money saved would go a long way in restoring the Royal Navy’s fallen fortunes, in an age of austerity at sea. They could now afford enough subs and surface ships for an effective fleet without breaking the bank.
India would at long last possess a modern carrier arm, which she has desired for so long (though we often warn, be careful what you wish for). It doesn’t look like the Gorshkov is going to enter service any time soon, and its own indigenous carriers are years away, while the superb but antiquated Viraat/Hermes is in poor shape.
This is a breaking story. We’ll keep you posted on developments. (Or our sharp-eyed reporter D.E. Reddick will, who we thank for posting this link!)
Some questions which need be asked.
- Can the Indian Mig-29K operate from the QE’s?
- Will she be forced into joining the F-35 JSF program?
- Can she afford the price of even one supercarrier (at least 2 billion pounds, and likely more for transfer costs and upgrades)?
Mike at Combat Fleet sees this as another rumor.