Sunday, 25 March 2012

Aircraft Carriers - The Madness Continues

A month or two ago, I suggested here that the MOD might like to take another look at what aircraft it chooses to put on the new carriers.  If you believe the rumours currently swirling around in the national press, then they're not only doing just that, but the conclusion arrived at is not quite what I hoped for....

As someone in the comments thread pointed out, we're pretty much getting the F35 whether we want it or not, despite the compelling case that can be made for buying greater quantities of something a good bit cheaper.  However, one of the few gleams of common sense in the SDSR was the abandonment of the STOVL version in favour of the cat and trap version.  The conventional variant at least offers a greater payload, and enhanced interoperability with potential coalition partners.

What now seems to be mooted, thanks to cost overruns with the catapult technology, is a switch back to the JSF model the MOD had originally planned for, the short take-off variant.  So, it's back to the ghetto of ski-ramps, and very heavy aircraft that can't carry much in the way of weapons load. All this at a time when the international situation everywhere from Libya to the South Atlantic has been underlining for our unfortunately sea-blind government and public the importance of aircraft carriers and why they're a useful thing to have in the back pocket.

I'm not sure any government of recent years has got defence right, particularly, but this one certainly seems to have a special talent for getting it wrong.  I await the official announcement with bated breath.

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