Thursday, February 23, 2012

For a country left without aircraft carriers, the demand for sea-delivered airpower is damn high...

HMS Ocean and HMS Illustrious, both in LPH role, are going to be very busy in the next months and years. For Ocean there's her last refit in sight, but she will first have a role in the Olympics. Illustrious will be on exercise in Norway with Royal Marines and Apache helicopters to ensure that 3rd Commando retains its important arctic skills. Then one of the two (probably Illustrious again) will be part of the yearly deployment of the Royal Navy Response Group, which will be involved in the massive exercise Corsican Lion with France's own aircraft carrier and Marines later this year.

HMS Ocean was sent out to Libya to fill the gap in carrier air, and Illustrious was being prepared to relieve her when the conflict eventually ended.
Now, most interestingly, with the international community more and more worried by developments in Somalia, the UK is said to be considering plans for airstrikes over the country, presumably to support the Kenyan forces which entered Somalia from the south late last year. The troops of the African Union in Mogadishio are also being increased in number, with Etyopia getting involved. The british airstrikes would be delivered by the "aircraft carrier" HMS Ocean, embarking once more Apache helicopters. After all, at the moment there's nothing more performant available... so Ocean apparently officially get "promoted" from LPH to Aircraft Carrier. Magic of defence cuts.

Deploying Marines ashore is also envisioned.
Late last year, indeed, it emerged that Royal Marines already went ashore in Somalia for a raid from HMS Albion, pushing deep into the mainland with Viking vehicles and taking back to the ship a local tribal leader for interrogations. 

Just like last year, the Royal Navy Response Force Task Group could set sail for an exercise, and end up fighting a war.

And just like other Prime Ministers in the UK's history, and like any american president, Dave is now finally learning that a question he'll ask pretty often while in charge is "where is the aircraft carrier?". 

Maggie Tatcher preceeded him...


  1. I have no doubt David Cameron wishes now he hadn’t listened so blindly to the advice of Sir Jock Stirrup in the later stages of the SDSR and still had an aircraft carrier with Harriers.

    As Bill Clinton said, in 1993, “When word of a crisis breaks out in Washington, it’s no accident that the first question that comes to everyone’s lips is: ‘Where’s the nearest carrier?’

    “We come from the sea. We don’t ask permission where we put our airfields. We put them where they’re needed.”
    Admiral Gary Roughead USN, explaining the flexibility of an aircraft carrier.

  2. A lesson that the UK, inventor of the aircraft carrier, for some reason needs to re-learn from time to time.

    Then again, the UK also invented the tank, and nonetheless ended up woefully unprepared about them in the IIWW.
    I guess it happens.

    But it would be nice if, for once, the lesson was learned once and for all.


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