Will The Current Defence Review Cost Britain the Falklands?

As always, defence spending is the first thing to be cut when money is seen to be tight. And as usual, the politicians make the same stupid, short-sighted decisions. It seems the present Coalition is no different.

HMS Ark Royal

Currently, the Royal Navy is to be hit hard in that its aircraft carrier fleet is to be scrapped. True, two new carriers are supposed to be built to replace those we have now, but apart from the fact they will not be ready until somewhere around 2017, their future is now in doubt even though construction has begun, and in which £1 billion has already been invested.

Hopefully, One of The Royal Navy's New Carriers

All branches of the armed forces will be hit, but by far the most significant is the proposed phasing out of all three aircraft carriers by 2015. Ark Royal has already been decommissioned, and Invincible and Illustrious are soon to follow. This will leave Britain without a single carrier until around 2017 when, hopefully, maybe, the navy will receive their two replacements at a cost. This cost is a significant reduction in their surface ships to help pay for the new carriers.

It’s like the Falklands war of 1982 never happened!

Without her aircraft carriers, Britain would have stood helplessly by while Argentina took over the islands at their leisure after the invasion, with no amount of harsh words from Margaret Thatcher making any difference.

A Harrier Lands on Deck

As it was, our carrier force with their Harrier VTOL aircraft, was the only thing Britain had in its military arsenal that could effectively strike back at the invaders. As we all know, the entire operation was a resounding success.

But what of today and the near future?

It would seem the current government has forgotten the lessons of the past, and are ready and willing to make the same mistakes when the scrapping of the CVA01 carriers almost cost us the Falklands.

The Argentine government must be rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of a neutered Royal Navy who will be helpless should they try again in three or four years time. I’ll bet their generals have already started making plans for a new invasion of the islands, knowing full well the British will have no choice but to stand impotent on the sidelines.

The Mighty Vulcan Bomber

Since that conflict in 1982 the RAF has also suffered significant cuts to its budget and aircraft. During the previous conflict, the Vulcan and Victor cold-war bombers played a key role with their huge range of action, bombing targets like the runway at Stanley airfield and attacking the radar installations on the island. They too are long gone! Now Britain has no bombers at all with the range to strike at the Falklands.

The Harrier fleet, which proved so effective against the Argentinean air force has been decommissioned also, but that doesn’t seem to stop the politicians from a proposal which will see a scaling down of the number of Joint-Strike fighters to be ordered.

The Falklands

As I see it, this defence review will prove to be a catastrophe for the Falkland islanders, who in my view had better start learning Argentinean, for in about four years time they will need it.

Roy.


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