Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Saved By The Cost

Artist's impressed of carriers 
being built on the Clyde

Yesterday George Osborne ended the speculation that both of the aircraft carriers, presently being part-built by Clyde shipbuilders, will escape the budget cuts.  Good news for the west coast indeed as jobs will be saved for the near future.

However on Channel 4 News last night, William Hague made two astonishing comments.  Firstly, the decision to go ahead with the project was influenced by the fact that it would be far more expensive to cancel it.  The last labour government had tied up contracts to the extent that cancellation was impossible unless the government was prepared to lose many millions.

Secondly, the design doesn't allow for allied planes to land on the craft admitted William Hague.  Therefore US and French aircraft will be unable to utilise them and there will be no new fast jets for sometime after they come into service.

The aircraft carrier project has been on the cards since 2003 and yet we're still years away from a delivery date, although 2014 and 2016 have recently been suggested.  I know nothing about ship building but in the early 1900s it only took 3 years for Harland and Wolf, Belfast, to build the Titanic.  Ok, perhaps that's not a good example (I am watching the programme), but surely we can produce a warship in less than 13 years.

The Telegraph is reporting that, although the two carriers will enter service, one will be mothballed as soon as possible. Also said is that the first of the carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will come into service in2016 configured to carry helicopters, not jets. 'The second new carrier, HMS Prince of Wales,will arrive in 2019. At that point HMS Queen Elizabeth will be put into "extended readiness", effectively mothballed indefinitely'.  It could well be sold to another country in an attempt to recoup some of the building costs.

Alex Salmond led the protests to the Westminster government with regard to axing the carriers.  If he'd been told, before he put all that effort in, that they would cost far more to cancel than produce, I can imagine his saying, "Dinnae be daft."  Then again, he's an astute politician with a thorough knowledge of the workings of Westminster, so perhaps he have said, "That disnae surprise me".

It certainly shines some light on how badly this one project was managed by the last Labour government and how money was poured down the drain.  What else will come to light in the near future?


Uncle Marvo said...

So why can't the allies land on it? Are they left-hand drive or something?

RMcGeddon said...

Uncle/ SR..

I read elsewhere that the French aircraft could land on the new carriers and that there was a secret plan to introduce a British/ French Navy but who knows. It's all a muddle.
It reminds me of the contortions that the Tories in their last govt got into over the Mk3 Nimrod. 'Too much spent to scrap it' was said year after year until it was scrapped. And now the Tories are to scrap the Mk4 Nimrod after billions have been wasted ( £700m cost per aircraft so far).
I think Airfix should sue this time. They lost millions when they had to destroy all their Mk3 Nimrod kits.

BrianSJ said...

EU Referendum has a very informed post on this.
Cancellation costs is why we keep buying Eurofighters.

JRB said...

This is sheer lunacy.
Of our parliament who have created this fiasco all we can say is that the “lunatics have taken over the asylum”

They are going ahead with two new aircraft carriers, one of which they don’t really want.
Now even a five year old could figure out what these ships are designed for – the clue is in the name – a ‘carrier’ for ‘aircraft’. But our politicians have scrapped the only functional carrier based fighter we have, the Sea Harrier. There will be no aircraft capability for these carriers.
A replacement jet will not be available till 2020, but that’s only if it’s delivered on time, and when did that last happen.

At this moment in time (for this week anyway) we do have a fully functional aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal, but rather than maintaining this ship till the new carriers enter service, they have decided to scrap it. Unbielavable!

One has to question the strategic planning of Whitehall. Need I remind them of The Falklands and the role played by the Navy and especially the Harrier; or the First Iraq War and the role played by the Buccaneer.

So, if there are any Argentinean readers of this just go ahead and invade the Falklands, there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it.

… and, please, don’t get me started on what they are about to do to the RAF.

RMcGeddon said...

JRB said..

" or the First Iraq War and the role played by the Buccaneer."

Sadly the Bucc was no more by the time of GW1. We used the Tornado GR1 bomber.

" But our politicians have scrapped the only functional carrier based fighter we have, the Sea Harrier"

Sadly the Harrier is now life expired so was getting scrapped anyway. The US have upgraded the Harrier so we could have bought some off them I suppose.

" So, if there are any Argentinean readers of this just go ahead and invade the Falklands, there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it."

Happily this isn't true. We now have a squadron of Typhoons based there. And of course battle hardened troops from Afghanistan / Iraq. And a permanent frigate and an occasional visit by a submarine.

RMcGeddon said...

Oh just remembered something.
The truth over the French / UK shared aircraft carrier plan will be easy to notice. The French need the old fashioned arrester hook / catapult type system for their conventional aircraft ( Rafaele etc). As we use the 'stol ( short take off and landing) Harrier type of aircraft then the new carrier won't have the arrester cable and catapult system as it's not required. I'd have thought the plans would be too far advanced to introduce the technical changes required for the catapult system.
Our Harrier replacement is the JSF ( between us and the USA) and is many years behind schedule and budget ( shock horror).

JRB said...

@ R McGeddon

Please allow me to expand a little on the Buccaneer.

At the start we did indeed use the Tornado GR1 flying in at low level armed with the JP 233. Due to the heavy air defences you will recall that several Tornados were lost.

The GR1 then switched to a medium level approach dropping unguided 1,000lb bombs, sadly these lacked the necessary precision.

The answer was to call up the, admittedly ageing, Buccaneers of 12sqn and 208sqn of RAF Lossiemouth. (The first pair of Buccaneer aircraft departed Lossie on 26/01/1991)

Why – because the Bucc was equipped with ‘Pave Spike Pods’ which allowed them to utilise the ‘Paveway 2’ laser guided bomb which had pin-point accuracy.

The success of Operation Granby as part of Desert Storm is due largely to the ageing bright pink ‘Sky Pirates’.

RMcGeddon said...


Apologies you're correct. Although I found this article which deviates from your comments on their role slightly..


It explains that the role of the Buccanneer was to 'illuminate' the target for the GR1's with it's laser ranger target marking equipment. Ironically it still didn't get to fulfill it's role as a true 100' bomber but sat off the target and lit it up for the GR1's.
Later on, as it became apparent that the Iraqi airforce and airfields were no longer operational, it was allowed to do it's own squadron sorties.
So I salute the Bucc's and their air and groundcrews.

Sue said...

Do you know what peeves me most? Labour are so great at moaning, but this was all planned by the EU ages ago. All three parties knew exactly what our "Masters" requirements were.

They're just going to through the motions.. lies, pretence, TRAITORS!

subrosa said...

I don't know the answer Marvo but could it be that it's been built in feet and inches and our allies can't convert? The US still use feet and inches though I think.

subrosa said...

Didn't read about the French aircraft RM, but there was talk of a joint French/British navy earlier in the year. Nothing more said now.

Aye I read about the Mk4s RM. It's a total mess.

subrosa said...

Brian, I'll go and read him now.

subrosa said...

If it was in a novel John, we say what a ridiculous plot line.

I know some people with naval connections read this so perhaps one may comment about the HMS Ark Royal.

I think the Argentineans are already aware of that John and that's why they've been making waves recently. Rather like the Spanish in Gibralter. Have a read of All Seeing Eye's latest post about Gib but I'm not responsible for your blood pressure.

There are two people quite close to me who know what's coming with the RAF but will be watching at 3.30 just in case Cameron changes his mind. Luckily both have irons in the fire for the future because they were ahead of the game but for others it'll mean finding work abroad and leaving young families.

subrosa said...

Now you're getting way too technical for me RM but I appreciate you informing others.

From what I've seen on TV the construction of the first one is well underway. Let's hope they don't attempt to alter it in the way they did the voided helicopters, which cost us more to re-equip than purchase.

subrosa said...

Sue, I'd agree a lot of it is posturing. Heard on radio at lunchtime Cameron saying he'd phoned Obama to tell him was he was going to say this afternoon. Wonderful isn't it that our leader needs the approval of the US before he tells the people who work to pay his salary.

Dramfineday said...

You couldn't make it up - a typical UK Gov bodge job. What an absolute Shower. Surely cancellation is better than squandering millions over years. Take the hit and move on!

Joe Public said...

Only in Britain (no longer 'Great') could the term 'Aircraft Carrier' be an oxymoron.

cynicalHighlander said...

From Guido.

subrosa said...

The most irritating thing is that nobody is accountable Dram.

subrosa said...

Indeed Joe.

subrosa said...

Many thanks CH, I remember that one well. :)

Derek said...

I posted this elsewhere, but it just might fit here too:

Break the morale of the people through ongoing immigration introducing terror threats from within and linking them to external sources, simultaneously degenerating their indigenous national status and any form of former identity with; multi-ethnicity involving faith schools, mosques, and all the trappings of societies that wish not to adapt and adopt those of the landed country, introduce ‘harmonisation’ policies through EU directives down to stated measurements in metric instead of Imperial. Follow this with sending our forces far away with inadequate materials and equipment, and now the farce of indefensible defence cuts, with a strategy designed to weaken yet further a country crippled with a deficit that represents £300,000 for every single family in GB. How to conquer: break the opponent into ever smaller pieces and bond them in a new form to ones own monolithic state structure.

The French are striking, not just about the pensionable age, but the ever increasing divide between the haves and the have nots. They are angry with their ‘untouchable elite’ – and so should we be too. Global dominance requires global government, global banking, a global army, and a global police force. The enemy of such schemes, are the people themselves. The solution is widespread elimination, bringing population levels down to manageable amounts. Efficient workers feeding the ‘Royals’ and keeping them in ‘Jelly’.

subrosa said...

Many thanks for taking the trouble to write that Derek. There does seem to be quite a few people with that philosophy.

Surreptitious Evil said...

Out of date now - both carriers to be built, one in "reserve" (let's be honest, one of the Invincible class has been in reserve / refit for some time). Saw the bow section of QE at Rosyth yesterday. It's been a while since I've seen a sub out of the water but the bulbous bow appears to be not dissimilar in size to the front of Warspite! Which makes them big.

The only allied aircraft that would have been able to land on the QEs would have been USMC F35Bs and AV8s - USN and French aircraft need catapult and arrestor (CATOBAR). Which are now being fitted to both QEs so we can get properly capable aircraft again (remember, the only reason we went Sea Harrier and STOVL was because the "through deck cruisers" were too small to have a proper flight deck).

subrosa said...

Aye SE, I heard David Cameron saying he was going to fit the catapults to one of the new ones. I take it, from your knowledge, that this is the way it should be.

Surreptitious Evil said...

SR - both of them are getting catapults, if I read it correctly (SDSR p23 2nd & 3rd bullets). That is 'QE' as a class of ship rather than the first of class (otherwise, you leave QE as ski jump and covert PoW to CATOBAR. She's later in the build cycle so much less delay converting.)

The F35C is being bought for both the FAA and the RAF. It has better range, reliability and returning weapons load than the 35B. Also, with catapults, we can have proper seaborne AEW aircraft (if we can ever afford them).

subrosa said...

SE, so the one to be mothballed is to be modified too? I didn't realise that.

I haven't heard the opinion of my RAF friends as yet as they're concerned about the future of their base. Shame that wasn't settled yesterday but at least it gives them more time to fight for it to be kept.

Clarinda said...

I see a grand opportunity for introducing a new 'Which' magazine to their print stable - that is, Which Idiot? It might be tricky however as I gather not all papers and minutes from previous governmental meetings and decisions are available to their successors. That must be handy as no doubt this lot will go the same way as most governments eventually.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Heven't had much time recently to keep up with the recent diatribes on cuts and economies. But the one comprehensive opinion I'm forming is that Cameron and his coalition has, just as Blair and Brown before him, the primary object of maintaining the well-being of the Establishment and it's Capitalist Tyrants.

Whether it's war toys or the Nations welfare their purpose is to increase the exposure of the poor to pain while insulating the gains of the rich.

They are twisting the screw of a poor paradigm under the guise of economic values that are based on lies and garnished in hypocrisy.

This is another poor government that has thrust itself upon us.

subrosa said...

Clarinda, funny you should say that, someone told me exactly that yesterday that previous governmental papers were not always available.

Can you imagine our career paths operating in that way? There would be no progress whatsoever would there.

More and more I'm beginning to realise politics is a farce. That's possibly part of the reason we're in this mess.

subrosa said...

Yoohoo RA, all settled now and ready for the hard winter they're forecasting?

You've written my thoughts (as said to Clarinda) far more eloquently. How can I disagree?

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