Admirals urge rethink on Harrier and Ark Royal cuts

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Neil, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Messages:
    2,610
    Likes Received:
    1,946
    Location:
    India
    A group of former Royal Navy admirals have called for the decision to scrap the aircraft carrier Ark Royal and the fleet of Harrier jets to be reversed.

    The cuts were announced as part of the government's Strategic Defence Review In a letter to the Times, the group says defence cuts will leave the "newly valuable" Falkland Islands open to attack and call the plan to axe the Harrier fleet "financially perverse".

    But ministers insist the UK will still be able to defend the Falklands.


    'Badly advised'

    Defence Secretary Liam Fox told the Times: "It is simply not the case that decommissioning the Harrier would impact upon our ability to defend territories in the South Atlantic.

    "We maintain a wide range of assets, not least a well-defended airfield to ensure the defence of the Falkland Islands.

    "The Harrier force has made an impressive contribution to our nation's security over the decades but difficult decisions had to be made... and I'm clear that rationalising our fast jet fleet makes both operational and economic common sense."

    BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said the strongly-worded letter from a group which includes two former heads of the Royal Navy - Lord West and Sir Julian Oswald - confirmed the deep anger felt in the Royal Navy over the cuts.

    The letter is also signed by Vice-Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham, Vice-Admiral John Mcanally and Major-General Julian Thompson.

    They say the prime minister was badly advised over the decision to scrap the Harrier force and HMS Ark Royal and to rely entirely upon Tornados.

    They say the Harrier is more versatile and will be cheaper to maintain.

    The letter says: "The existing Tornado force will cost, over 10 years, seven times as much to keep in service as Harrier. Was the recent exercise not supposed to save money?"

    'Inflict humiliation'
    The admirals also warn the decision will leave the Falklands open to attack.

    They write: "In respect of the newly valuable Falklands and their oilfields, because of these and other cuts, for the next 10 years at least, Argentina is practically invited to attempt to inflict on us a national humiliation on the scale of the loss of Singapore.

    ''One from which British prestige, let alone the administration in power at the time, might never recover."

    The decision means no planes will be able to fly from British aircraft carriers until 2019.

    "The decision to axe the entire Harrier force is strategically and financially perverse," the admirals continue.

    "The government has, in effect, declared a new '10-year rule' that assumes Britain will have warning time to rebuild to face a threat.

    "The last Treasury-driven '10-year rule' in the 1930s nearly cost us our freedom, faced with Hitler."


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11723589
     
  2.  
  3. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Messages:
    2,610
    Likes Received:
    1,946
    Location:
    India
    Final Harrier jet launch from HMS Ark Royal

    HMS Ark Royal, the United Kingdom’s Flagship, facilitated the last ever launch of the iconic Harrier GR9 aircraft from her decks at 0900 on 24 November 2010, approximately 40 nautical miles off the coast of Newcastle.

    Joint Force Harrier, based at RAF Cottesmore, will decommission as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). HMS Ark Royal will also decommission under the review.

    Together with her Harrier aircraft, HMS Ark Royal has become an iconic emblem of the United Kingdom, able to project power and strike globally; its versatility and flexibility a significant asset. Being able to position the Ship miles off the coast and negotiate over-flight restrictions to deliver force of devastating effect offers considerable capability to the defence of the United Kingdom.

    Although significantly enhanced since their most successful and famous combative sorties during the Falklands conflict in 1982, the present variant, the four Ground Attack and Reconnaissance Harrier GR9s, painted an iconic picture on the deck of HMS Ark Royal, admired for the last time by almost 12,000 visitors when the Ship opened her gangways to the general public in Newcastle.

    Harrier pilot Lieutenant Commander James Blackmore (35), the last pilot to ever launch a Harrier from the decks of HMS Ark Royal, said:

    “This is a truly memorable day. We accept the decision to decommission both the Harrier and HMS Ark Royal; however, of course the final launch will be emotional. I have flown over 90 sorties off the Ship and combat sorties in Afghanistan, and the aircraft’s capability still astounds me. Landing an aircraft on a runway which is not in the same location as where you launched from gives exceptional flexibility.

    I remember witnessing a Harrier in the hover when I was just 8 years old, since then I had wanted to do nothing else. I have flown Harriers for over 10 years, the training is complex and challenging but the added challenge and excitement of hovering a Harrier off the port side of HMS Ark Royal before landing vertically is an experience I will miss immensely.

    I feel honoured and proud to be the last pilot to ever launch a Harrier jet from HMS Ark Royal.”

    Deliberately keen to highlight the very Joint nature of Joint Force Harrier the last jet to recover in HMS Ark Royal was an 800 NAS jet piloted by a Royal Air Force officer, today the last jet to launch was a 1(Fighter) Squadron RAF jet piloted by a Royal Naval officer.

    Departing the Ship in one wave of four aircraft, the launch was led by Capt Mike Carty RM followed by: Lt Matt Fooks-Bale RN and Flt Lt Em Rickards before Lt Cdr James Blackmore’s historic final launch.

    After the launch, the 4 aircraft conducted a 2 ship fly past, each squadron flying low past the port side of the Ship before conducting a final fighter exercise controlled by 849 NAS’ Seaking Mk7 helicopter, prior to returning to RAF Cottesmore.

    Both the Harrier and HMS Ark Royal are due to leave the Service next year. Reflecting on the Harrier and HMS Ark Royal, Captain Jerry Kyd, HMS Ark Royal’s Commanding Officer said:

    “As the last Harriers lift off the deck of HMS Ark Royal for the final time it is with a real sense of pride that we remember the fantastic contribution they, and the carriers, have made to UK Defence around the world. The tremendous reception we received in Newcastle last weekend, where Ark Royal was built, reflects the very deep fondness for this iconic warship and her air group. Although we now look back on the significant achievements of the Harrier with immense pride and a tinge of sadness at our loss, we can now look forward to an exciting new chapter of Naval aviation as we continue the training for and procurement of the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

    HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship will enter service from 2015 and together with their helicopters and the Joint Strike Fighter, they will be a very powerful strategic asset able to project serious power anywhere in the world, delivering 21st Century Carrier Strike capability. Add to this the new Type 45 Destroyers, the forthcoming Type 26 frigate, the Astute class submarines and the Royal Marine Brigade, the United Kingdom will have a balanced Naval Service that remains in the premier league, working for Britain to deter potential threats, defend our global interests and, if necessary, defeat our enemies.”



    http://www.defenceaviation.com/2010...aign=Feed:+DefenceAviation+(Defence+Aviation)
     

Share This Page