Useful web links about the looming decision on aircraft carriers ‘cats and traps’ and F35B or C

As we await the the decision by government on whether the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers currently building will be fitted with ‘cats and traps’, there is much debate and discussion about the issue. Here are a selection of some of the most informative online articles on this complex and politically charged argument.

Cameron ‘to change his mind’ on the one thing he got right in Defence

By Lewis Page, writing on ‘The Register’ – IT and technology website
Lewis Page is a controversial ex-RN officer who is a devastating critic of the shambles across UK defence procurement. In this article he highlights the vested interests of BAE Systems and the RAF who he suggests are fundamentally against the fitting of cats & traps and want to force the RN to buy F35B

‘Cats and Traps’: Launching the Carrier Debate in the Right Direction?

By Dr Lee Willett, Senior Research Fellow, Maritime Studies, RUSI
The Royal United Services Institute is the leading UK independent think tank engaged in defence and security research. RUSI have sometimes been accused of being too close to government to be objective but they are home to a cross-section of opinion and they are generally scholarly. This article decisively concludes cats and traps are the best solution.

F35-The Jet That Ate the Pentagon

US Website foreign
Arguing the F35 is so insanely expensive and so flawed the programme should be cancelled. Ouch!

Alarm over new navy jet costs

By Mike Powell, Portsmouth News defence correspondent
Highlighting US government audit which shows the F35 programme is already $15bn over budget

Rear Admiral Chris Parry Speaking on BFBS TV about the Carrier Project

Chris Parry is a retired RN aviator who served in the Falklands War and worked in strategic planning within the MoD. In this interview he recommends the RN lease 2 squadrons of F-18 Super Hornets, 1 for training and 1 to serve on a US Carrier to keep naval aviation skills alive and show solidarity with the US. (Note no mention of the French!)

Reversion to the F-35B would be wrong for Britain
A Critical Decision for Carrier Configuration. – ‘Angled Deck’ or ‘Ramp’ for our Queen Elizabeth class Carriers.

Sharkey Ward, writing on his own Blog ‘Sharkey’s World’.
Nigel ‘Sharkey’ Ward is an experienced RN Sea Harrier pilot who flew 60 sorties in the Falklands War. A fierce critic of the RAF and a doughty defender of carrier air power. He’s upset a lot of people in his time but most of what he says makes sense.

Of Jets and Carriers… Again

By Nick Childs, naval author writing for RUSI
Providing a more general background to the carrier debate.

Cameron’s warplane shot down as cost of converting aircraft carriers to fly them trebles

The Daily Mail website
One of many press reports that prematurely announced that govt had chosen F35B. The Daily Mail is often slightly hysterical in its reporting style but at least it attempts some sort of coverage of naval and defence issues. On the carrier issue we can rely on the mainstream media to focus on the political embarrassment for the government if they do a ‘U-turn’ and revert to F35B, rather than the actual long-term impact on the capabilities of a of the carriers.

The QE class carrier debacle is clouding real maritime security issues

Defence Management website
Makes the important point that the issues around the carriers may have distracted from other debates about the size and balance of the RN’s future fleet.
(We remain every bit as concerned about the size of the submarine force and the decline in frigate and destroyer numbers!)