Aug 4, 2014

New Carriers Commit UK To Buy Escorts & F-35Bs, Says 1st Sea Lord

65,000-ton ships are hard to turn around, and they can drag a lot else in their wake. That’s the $10.4 billion (£6.2 billion) bet the Royal Navy has placed on its controversial program to build two new aircraft carriers. While a third smaller than American nuclear carriers, the ships’ costs have grown so much that the British government is considering temporarily mothballing the second ship, HMS Prince of Wales, as soon as it’s complete, while the first ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, was christened July 4th but won’t get its F-35B fighters for years.
But First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, Adm. Sir George Zambellas, assured a Washington audience Wednesday that — to paraphrase his guarded Britishisms into American bluntness — it’s too late to cheap out. Building the carriers has already committed British politicians not only to funding their operations, escort vessels, and aircraft, but also to a carrier-centered naval strategy that puts warfighting first and peacetime presence second.
In brief, an aircraft carrier without aircraft isn’t much use, and a carrier without escorts won’t last long in combat.

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