Feeds

Cameron cocks up UK's defences - and betrays Afghan troops

Cuts vital helicopters, fails to grip MoD. Abysmal

Mobile application security vulnerability report

'My advisors told me to'. What, you mean those guys with a massive conflict of interest?

So a modernising Prime Minister would surely have shut down the Tornado bomber fleet, saving colossal sums right off. Any bombing we need done in Afghanistan for the next decade could have been done by the Harrier (we know this is true, as until recently the Harrier was the only jet we had there) supplemented by the Eurofighter, some examples of which can now drop smartbombs perfectly well.

But "the advice" was to scrap Harrier and keep Tornado, Mr Cameron tells us. This advice will have come, of course, from the outgoing chief of defence staff - an RAF man - and the head of the RAF. This is like taking advice on how much insurance you need from a telesales operator, and speaks poorly of Mr Cameron's ability to resist being manipulated by the Sir Humphreys (in this case the Air Marshal Sir Humphreys) of Whitehall. It's another case where the armed forces will not, contrary to what Mr Cameron says, move into the modern world and leave the Cold War era behind them.

The cake-slice and jobs-for-boys appeasement approach has continued into the Royal Navy part of Mr Cameron's plans. The Royal Navy will retain no less than 19 largely pointless frigates and destroyers, and its witless plans for new Type 26 frigates - basically retreads of existing Type 23s - will move ahead.

This will have been immensely popular across most of the RN, whose wildly overmanned officer corps is dependent on there being plenty of frigates and destroyers for any hope of promotion - or indeed continued employment. But it's not just Cold War thinking - it's early Cold War thinking. As soon as capable antisubmarine helicopters came into service in the 1970s the antisubmarine frigate was obsolete: as soon as capable sea-skimming missiles appeared in the 1980s the case for air-defence destroyers was fatally weakened.

Far from developing new frigates a bold, modernising Prime Minister might well have laid down plans to supersede such ships altogether with cheap pocket heli-carriers armed with cruise missiles. A sensibly prudent one might have retained as many as 10 in the meantime, just in case. The timid Mr Cameron, unable to face down Admiral Sir Humphrey, has done almost nothing other than get rid of a few antique Type 22s and 42s, long overdue for the boneyard in any case.

What the navy actually needs for real wars of every type - as opposed to the Cold War of the 1960s - is proper aircraft carriers and amphibious ships. Both new aircraft carriers will be built, as Mr Cameron had no option to cancel them. But the first, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will go straight into mothballs as soon as she is built. The second, Prince of Wales, will be enhanced to include catapult launch and arrested landing, and a force of F-35C tailhook stealth jets will be bought to operate from her.

Mr Cameron implied in his speech yesterday that there would be "an operational carrier", and the accompanying documents also imply this - in effect stating that the Royal Navy will always have a strike carrier up and running, ready to respond to events around the world. So far so good.

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
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.
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.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.