Feeds

RAF in plot against Fleet Air Arm again

1930s, 1970s ... disaster every time they do it

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Regrettably from the point of view of learning lessons, the Falklands was a very short war and the return to business as usual afterwards was correspondingly rapid. The Navy was allowed to start calling its pocket carriers by their proper name, and was allowed to have some improvised airborne-radar helicopters for them, but that was about it. The interservice squabbling resumed almost at once.

So low had been the Navy's status in the 1970s - it had been planned by Mrs Thatcher's government to chop it down into a small dedicated antisubmarine force for work exclusively in northern waters - that the prestige boost following the Falklands barely let it carry on as it had been. Nobody started to talk about new carriers until the economic bubble of the 1990s, and then the terrible financial clusterfuck of the early-21st century MoD budget plans started to bite.

So far, the planned new carriers have survived this - probably as much because they offer a chance to channel money to politically important Scottish shipyards as for any other reason. But once again the old manoeuvres are under way; once again the RAF is playing the Whitehall game with its customary brilliance.

The moves actually started ten years ago, with the Strategic Defence Review of 1998. One of the many things which came out of this was "Joint Force Harrier", in which the navy's Harrier squadrons were amalgamated with the RAF ones and put under the air force's command structure. In order to sell this scheme, the RAF originally agreed to put an admiral in one of its most senior posts, ensuing that the naval fliers would still have friends in high places.

But just a couple of years later the RAF decided to reorganise its upper levels again, squeezing the admiral out and leaving the Navy squadrons firmly under air force management: a masterly bit of bureaucratic footwork.

And now, yet again, the economy has plunged off a cliff. Once again, the cry for economies goes up. Once again, all eyes are focused on the Fleet Air Arm. The carriers are to be delayed, saving money in the short term but making them cost more in the end. The plan is now to get rid of all the Harriers without replacement - a thing that the RAF can choose to do, as it now owns them outright.

There is some doubt as to whether the planned new jumpjets will even be able to operate as fighters from the ships, in any case - and one may be sure that the RAF doesn't care deeply whether they can or not. None of the new jets have actually been ordered, and the only commitment the UK plans to make soon is for three test birds. It wouldn't be at all surprising to see the RAF argue in a year or two that it doesn't want any jumpjets after all - it would rather have enhanced Tranche 3 Eurofighter deep bombers - leaving the Navy with two big ships and much too broke to buy enough planes for them.

We're back in the interwar era, in fact. The RAF-run Harrier force is now robbing the Fleet of air cover and forcing carriers into a marginal position - just as the RAF-run Fleet Air Arm did back then. Just as happened in the 1970s, too, the issue of fleet airborne radar is being ignored in the Navy's desperate scramble to hang onto any air at all.

But there is actually a solution, and it doesn't need any more money than is there already.

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?