De­fence against bal­lis­tic mis­siles, please

The Daily Telegraph - - Letters to the editor -

SIR – Bri­tain is a mem­ber of some se­lect naval clubs. For ex­am­ple, the Royal Navy is one of only three in the West that op­er­ate aircraft car­ri­ers, strate­gic nu­clear bal­lis­tic and at­tack sub­marines. The new car­ri­ers of­fer Bri­tain the high­est level of strate­gic ca­pa­bil­ity.

How­ever, there is a more rar­efied club of one – the US – in bal­lis­tic mis­sile de­fence (BMD), which pro­vides a shield against in­com­ing mis­siles. The Navy could eas­ily join this club in or­der to pro­tect Bri­tain as well as our part­ners.

The Navy has, in its Type 45 de­stroy­ers, the ideal plat­form for BMD. The De­fence Sec­re­tary is right to high­light the lim­i­ta­tions that come with a de­fence bud­get of 2 per cent of GDP; but while the Navy is mak­ing a fine fist of its re­sources, its fleet lacks the scale re­quired to sup­port a global Bri­tain after Brexit.

To­day, 96 per cent of Bri­tish goods are shipped by sea, and our eco­nomic, de­fence and diplo­matic in­ter­ests ex­tend from the At­lantic, Baltic and Mediter­ranean through to the Indian Ocean and South China Sea. How­ever, it is along that axis that the greatest threat ex­ists.

Our soft power is per­haps greater to­day than it has ever been – but it can only be max­imised if set along­side hard naval power. While the Navy will proudly “get on and make do”, the re­al­ity is that with­out fleet growth, in­cor­po­rat­ing com­plex ves­sels, the Navy will miss the op­por­tu­nity to re­alise its full po­ten­tial over­seas.

Dr Carl Stephen Patrick Hunter Lon­don W1

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