De­fence of Bri­tain should be a pri­or­ity

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - COMMENT -

Sir, - I can only man­age one cheer for the aircraft car­rier HMS Queen El­iz­a­beth which started sea tri­als this week.

While the Royal Navy’s largest-ever ship is un­doubt­edly an im­pres­sive achieve­ment of Bri­tish en­gi­neer­ing, there is much to be con­cerned about.

Un­like pre­vi­ous Bri­tish aircraft car­ri­ers which were equipped with Bri­tish-made aircraft, the Queen El­iz­a­beth will carry the hideously ex­pen­sive Amer­i­can F35B Light­ning II.

Leav­ing aside ques­tions over its per­for­mance, this fact will give the US an im­plicit veto on how we use these aircraft.

A fur­ther prob­lem of buy­ing ma­jor for­eign weapon sys­tems is that we tend to fall be­hind other coun­tries tech­no­log­i­cally with un­for­tu­nate con­se­quences for our in­dus­try and econ­omy. Aircraft car­ri­ers do not op­er­ate in iso­la­tion but re­quire sup­port ships for pro­tec­tion.

The Royal Navy is down to six guid­ed­mis­sile de­stroy­ers and 13 frigates.

Al­low­ing for other naval com­mit­ments and ships that are un­der­go­ing re­fits, we lack suf­fi­cient sup­port ships to al­low one, let alone two Bri­tish car­ri­ers to op­er­ate in­de­pen­dently; nor can we af­ford to in­cur losses in com­bat.

We have skimped on de­fence for far too long. The time has come to greatly in­crease de­fence spend­ing both to en­sure that the Royal Navy has suf­fi­cient ships and to de­velop new weapon sys­tems of our own. Otto Inglis. 6 In­veral­mond Grove, Ed­in­burgh.

Pic­ture: Getty.

The new aircraft car­rier de­parts the Forth to em­bark on sea tri­als.

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