Britain’s Defence Secretary waffles about carrier funding

Reality check #1: It’s all well and good to say “we must do this” and “we must do that” without any regard to budget, but (take a deep breath) budgets do matter, and simply saying that the Royal Navy must have 2 carriers, must have 24 new frigates, 4 new submarines, 8 new submarines, 16 new submarines, 100 new frigates… well, frankly, unless you can say where the money is coming from then it’s nothing more than wishful thinking.

Reality check #2: So where does the money come from? You have to choices, dear friend and fellow voter. We either cut something else (how about we close the A&E unit in your town?) or we put up taxes (a penny here, a penny there). Those are the only choices here on planet Earth. Fanciful notions of money magically appearing from thin air are, sadly, pure fiction.

So decide.

Hammond calls for carrier to go into service

Philip Hammond will recommend the second Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier is brought into service rather than mothballed or sold.

The Defence Secretary told a conference fringe event the £70 million annual running costs would have to be found by cutting ­something else.

Yes… yes… OK… you’re a Tory… you’ll cut something… but what?

“All these things are about choices and priorities, what are we going to give up in order to do something that needs to be done.”

Yes… but what?

{crickets} {tumbleweeds}

Oh. Righty ho. So you’re not going to tell us? You want us to believe that you’re the (don’t laugh… they actually think they are) “the party of defence” by telling us what would be ideal, but when it comes to nuts & bolts, when it comes to the money, when it comes to shitting or getting off the pot, you’d rather not say what you’re going to cut… because, after all, that might upset voters in marginal constituencies, and as we’ve all learnt over the years NOTHING is more important than party over country.


Banging an old drum (but I like the tune!)

Here’s an old drum that I like to pick up and bang. Nobody else really wants to hear the tune any more, but it’s still a personal favourite.

I’m talking about the money that the Royal Navy British government is wasting spending on the golden albatross unproven F-35 Lightning II instead of the combat-proven F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Let’s crunch some basic numbers.

Unit costs:

  • F/A-18E/F Super Hornet £44m ($67m)
  • F-35B Lightning II £130m ($197m)

Price per (36 aircraft) carrier air wing:

  • F/A-18E/F Super Hornet 1584m ($2412m)
  • F-35B Lightning II 4680m ($7092m)

So the savings to the British taxpayer (remember them… the people that elect the clowns politicians that make these mistakes decisions) on a carrier air wing of 36 aircraft would have been £3276m ($4680m). Two air wings (1 for each carrier) would amplify the savings to £6552m ($9360m).


That’s enough to fund the entire Type 26 frigate programme of 13 vessels and increase that programme to an operationally-efficient 16 (16x £350 = £5600) and build an eighth Astute-class submarine (£800m) and order 3 more River-class OPVs (£150m).

Yes, I am aware that my accounting is simplistic. Yes, I am aware that folks in the Fleet Air Arm and Royal Air Force want shiny new F-35 aircraft and would consider the F/A-18 as a “make do.” Yes, I am aware that money was already wasted redesigning the carriers for “cats & traps” then back again. Yes, yes, yes. But I still like my old drum and I still like the simple tune I play on it.