According to The Sunday Times, Royal Navy will not receive the newest aircraft carrier Prince of Wales worth almost $13,4 billion.
London was planning to enhance its Royal Navy by 2018 with its two newest aircraft carriers, Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales, equipped with the fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets (Joint Strike Fighter).
The jets were the reason for the high cost of the ships. Each plane costs approximately $150 million, and the price is likely to increase. Now the London carrier program has been reduced by 50 percent.
Initially, Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales were designed as same-type 65,000 tons ships 280 meters long. The designers claimed that the aircraft carriers were capable of developing speed over 25 knots (approximately 47 km/hour) and independently sail for up to 18,500 kilometers.
Is Great Britain losing its navy superpower status? What will the re-designed aircraft carriers program result in?
Pravda.ru interviewed Alexander Pikayev, Director of the Department of Disarmament and Conflict at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations and Konstantin Sivkov, First Vice President of the Academy of Geopolitical Issues in Moscow.
“The reasons for suspending the project are easy to understand. In the past, the British Royal Navy had well-defined goals which involved not letting Soviet submarines into the Atlantic, namely to the Faroe Islands-Iceland area. Now there is no such goal, and this brings about changes.
The British Royal Navy does not exist independently. It is a part of NATO troops and, therefore, is meant to participate in the actions of this block. After World War II, the British aircraft career fleet was the second in the North-Atlantic alliance after the American fleet. However, it was very different.
The US Navy was the basis of NATO troops, whereas the British Royal Navy was an auxiliary.
Americans had Nimitz supercarriers equipped with a hundred planes each. English carriers, such as Invisible, were not competitive since they were only equipped with 20 Sea Harrier fighter jets with a limited actions radius.
Of course, some people in the British Defense Department counted on getting the new aircraft carrier that would revive the British navy superpower.
Although Prince of Wales was more powerful than the existing aircraft carries owned by London, it was still incapable of performing tasks feasible for similar American carriers.
Prince of Wales with 30 fighter jets on board could perform limited military operations, but was not capable of running a full-scale war. Besides, these ships are expensive to build. Why do the British need these carriers if there are no serious threats to their safety?
Especially considering the fact that American Navy carries most of the load in NATO and can help its loyal British ally if need be. At any rate, partial cancelation of the planned aircraft carriers program means that in the future Great Britain would depend on the US and NATO even more.”
“I do not think that the cancelation of the carriers program will seriously affect the structure of the Royal Navy. It was absolutely unclear what the program was designed for. At the moment, Great Britain does not have a competitor who would force it to enhance its navy power.
On the other hand, the British are incapable of performing independent military operations against a serious enemy far from the British shoreline. In the best case scenario, they are capable of winning a fight against someone like Argentina.
Reconsideration of the program is first of all caused by the tough economic crisis that affected Great Britain more than any other European country. Therefore, now the British are closing many of their defense programs.
It is not ruled out that the same thing could happen to the British strategic forces that used to be untouchable. At any rate, partial cancellation of the program will not cause a significant reduction in combat effectiveness of the Royal Navy. Great Britain is no longer a navy superpower, as it used to be in the 19 century.
It has lost its colonial status when the English flag flew on every continent and ocean. Therefore, it does not need the most powerful navy in the world.
It is not that small now and is comparable to the Russian navy in terms of tonnage. It would be a gross overestimation to say that Great Britain has lost its status of navy superpower.“
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