News Brief – March 28, 2011
The decision to scrap the UK’s sole remaining aircraft carrier along with its Harrier jump jets – the last plane capable of flying from the decks of ships – has been strongly criticised by ex-RAF and Naval commanders.
The lack of the carrier based vertical take-off jet could leave Britain with serious shortcomings in its ability to project its military power.
Commander Nigel “Sharkey” Ward, who was the most senior Sea Harrier commander during the Falklands War told Channel 4:
“Wherever there is a troublespot in the world, it’s so easy to put a carrier there and provide a deterrent.
“When Cumberland went in to rescue Britons from Benghazi, you could have had Ark Royal with harriers on board just sitting there, saying: ‘Okay, we’re watching you.’ It would have been a significant deterrent to Gaddafi escalating his actions, and then when the UN resolution came through, we would have been ready to move.”
He added: “In terms of attacking tanks and army units the Harrier is just as capable as the Tornado, and the Harrier has indeed got a better capability for ensuring no casualties for civilians, because is system is more accurate for the delivery of precision guided bombs.
“Quite clearly, it is a better aircraft. We’re getting a lot of spin to denigrate the capability of the Harrier to justify a bad decision, and that is an appalling record for this Government.”
Scrapping the last remaining aircraft carrier before two new British aircraft carriers enter service in 2016 and 2018 is seen as leaving a dangerous gap in Britain’s military capability.
The decision has left many serving personnel angry at what they see as the government’s shortsightedness. This resentment can be seen in the accompanying photo of a final Harrier jet fly past of the British parliament last week.
Take a careful look at the photo to get a clearer idea of what they are trying to say. If it isn’t immediately clear sit further from the monitor and it should become clear.