Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Editorial: Comment on Robert Preston blog 'What a Carrier-on!'


Editorial: Comment on Robert Preston blog 'What a Carrier-on!'
October 19th, 2010

Economically the project, albeit at a high price, enables the UK warship building industry to carry on. As the Royal Navy shrinks and politicians prevaricate over a new generation of frigates to succeed the venerable Type-22 and Type-23 vessels so the need to keep skilled people from choosing alternate employment, say in McDonald's crucial.

Militarily, Peston misses the point. Did Peston realise how blogs and the internet would challenge print media ? probably not. The military establishment has many scenarios it plans for - though more often or not predicting the timing of a scenario being realised or the exact location is impossible.

What is constant is geography - the Earth is 70% water and the remaining 30% is split up into societies - some of whom may be less friendly to UK interests on occasion. The ability to have a flat surface from which to conduct operations in support of strategic needs is essential. Also essential, though more problematic is what to fly off the decks of these vessels. Unmanned vehicles may largely surpass Joint Strike Fighter far quicker than many imagine.

Politically, the JSF could be too expensive unless substantial economic recovery occurs. 'Marinising JSF' as the former Chairman of its UK manufacturer BAE Systems suggests, could be too bitter a pill to swallow after the expensive and drawn out EFA procurement. As far as the contracts go for the carriers, Eurofighter provided the model - a cast iron contract to lock in whimsical politicians - which can backfire when the background environment changes.

Plus ca change.

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