It can’t be emphasized enough that the United Kingdom is an island nation and that without a respectable sea power component, the country would have missed becoming one of the greatest powers in history. All that success was accumulated courtesy of the unprecedented level of trade from 1546-onward with virtually every nation on the planet. (1546 was the year the Royal Navy was created)
Not that the UK should become a militaristic country, far from it. But because it relies on free trade for its very survival (and that means keeping the sea lanes open, no matter what) Britain must always stand ready to defend its territory and its legitimate economic interests abroad. If the UK ceases to do that; that will be the day it’s no longer a sovereign nation. That’s what’s at stake for the United Kingdom.
Other countries may have the luxury of being located on continents with many other countries to buy from and sell to, and could, if required, source everything they need from that continent and sell all of their exports within that same continent. But for the UK that option doesn’t exist.
Therefore, the UK must have the best-trained, best-equipped, and best-led navy in the world. There is simply no alternative.
Two More Aircraft Carriers, Please!
By 2020, both of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers (HMS Queen Elizabeth ‘R08’ and HMS Prince of Wales ‘R09’) will have joined the fleet and the navy’s only other aircraft carrier HMS Ocean ‘L12′ will have been retired; leaving the UK, a country completely dependent upon seaborne trade, with only two aircraft carriers. (Which makes for a nice peacetime aircraft carrier fleet — but if war strikes, it would be 4-years before even one aircraft carrier could be produced!)
It should be noted that pink slips will be handed to almost everyone who worked on the two carriers by July of 2018 now that construction on both R08 and R09 is nearly complete, with only sea trials left to perform before both ships enter full-time service. Thousands of engineers, electricians and labourers will no longer be required.
What really needs to happen is that two more Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers need to be built, for many reasons; but high on the list must be to keep a continuous production line operating until more destroyers or frigates are required (and don’t kid yourself, they’re required now, just that the government isn’t yet convinced of the need) and the proposed ships could fulfill different roles than R08 and R09.
R10 could be fitted-out as a helicopter carrier / humanitarian aid / hospital ship — with 15 fighter jets for self-protection because R10 itself could be attacked and must be able to defend itself.
R11 could be sold to India which would buy one very quickly(!) as its navy has the formidable task of policing an Indian Ocean that’s only slightly smaller than the Atlantic.
The selling price (to India) of such a carrier would pay for the construction of the proposed R10 for the Royal Navy (not including the aircraft component) and provide millions of person-hours to construct both R10 and R11. Seems a no-brainer, doesn’t it?
From a jobs and economy perspective, the UK needs to build two more aircraft carriers — only one of which it needs for itself — while the other is sold to India.
That’s how to afford a world-class navy in the 21st-century!
Keep it Going!
Next on the agenda must be new Type 45 destroyers that are fitted-out for UAV duty in addition to the other duties the Type 45’s perform.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles need to become a major part of RN destroyer operations as the future of naval warfare will be tilted toward UAV’s for surveillance, for Combat Air Patrol duty (to protect the naval task force at sea) and to drop munitions on heavily-defended targets.
Not only can UAV’s do that, the UK’s new UAV’s in development for the Royal Navy should have a refuelling version with the ability to fly up to 500 miles to refuel fighter jets — instead of those jets having to return to the aircraft carrier to refuel, or having to fly large fuel tankers near the combat zone — which is dangerous as they are manned by live pilots and carry tens of thousands of gallons of fuel.
Also, by having UAV refuelling units accompany fighter-bomber jets, it can extend the range of the bombers (bombers use astronomical amounts of fuel when they’re carrying thousands of pounds of bombs) and UAV’s can be programmed to refuel any type of jet (en-route or returning) at a predetermined location allowing them to make it all the way to the target and all the way back to the aircraft carrier which may have moved hundreds of miles in the meantime to avoid enemy submarines.
Aircraft carriers can’t always remain in one place waiting for their jets to return and other factors can come into play in a conflict situation, such as ‘Country B’ suddenly withdrawing permission to use their territorial waters to launch and recover UK aircraft. That’s just how war goes.
Keeping warbirds of all types in the air longer and with plenty of in-flight refuelling availability with the rendezvous point only a short flight from the target zone will negate the need for them to fly all the way back to the aircraft carrier for fuel, resulting in a huge increase in the efficiency of man and machinery. Unprecedented efficiencies await!
Ten More Type 45’s with the UAV upgrade, Please!
The UK needs four more Type 45’s and all existing destroyers must be upgraded to the UAV standard — and other Commonwealth nations need Type 45’s too.
Australia, Canada, and India could put those extremely capable destroyers to good use and retire their obsolete and expensive-to-maintain destroyers.
By building more destroyers than it needs, six Type 45 destroyers could be sold to Commonwealth nations which would allow the Royal Navy to afford four more destroyers at no cost to the RN, while providing millions of person-hours of work for Britain’s workers.
When the UK shipbuilding and submarine building industry measurably adds to UK GDP, you know you’re doing it right!
There is a difference between ‘just getting by’ and ‘succeeding’.
‘Just getting by’ means continuing to do things the way it’s been done in the postwar era, while ‘succeeding’ means building a modern Royal Navy and substantially adding to the capabilities of Commonwealth of Nations member countries by using a sustainable economic model that keeps thousands of workers in the UK shipbuilding industry permanently employed.
What could be more important for new-ish UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson than protecting the UK (#1 priority) strengthening the Royal Navy (#2 priority) and recreating a thriving shipbuilding industry model (#3 priority) that measurably adds to Britain’s GDP and helps Commonwealth partners to succeed?
Written by John Brian Shannon