Britain does not want to fight and demonstrats its military ‘weakness’

9:57 02.03.2024 •

Senior figures fear HMS Prince of Wales (pictured) could be mothballed or sold for a knockdown price to a friendly nation, over the fleet's flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth

The future of Britain's second aircraft carrier is under threat due to funding issues, naval sources have claimed, informed ‘The Daily Mail’.

Senior figures have spoken out after it emerged next Budget will not include any significant rise in defence spending.

They fear HMS Prince of Wales, which cost £3.5billion to build, could be mothballed or sold for a knockdown price to a friendly nation, over the fleet's flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The possible move – branded an 'HS2 moment' for the Royal Navy – would probably be divisive.

But the decision could be forced upon commanders as soon as 2028 if the state of defence finances does not improve.

A naval source told the Mail the nightmare scenario of selling a carrier to spare funds had been discussed by members of the Maritime Enterprise Planning Group, which looks at future considerations and strategies.

He said: 'There's an awareness in the group that the Navy is struggling to maintain operational commitments and has to expand the fleet as rapidly as possible.

'The second carrier is an asset that is held in reserve and is a very expensive piece of rarely-used equipment. So if we want to address balance sheet issues, disposing of her or sharing her with say an AUKUS [Australia, UK and US] ally, is an option.'

Last night, official sources said while the Navy remained committed to both carriers, 'changes in government and budgets' may alter this assessment. Ministers have told top brass they must 'spend better' to convince the Treasury to increase investment.

Another former defence secretary, Ben Wallace, told the Mail the UK had effectively been 'lying' to Nato for the last 20 years over its capabilities.

Retired Royal Navy Commander Tom Sharpe said: 'If I was a carrier-sceptic, and there are plenty, I would be gunning for one of them right now.

'It does not help their cause that when a near-perfect opportunity to use a carrier presented itself in the Red Sea, we didn't take it for political reasons.

'We must recognise the threat to the second carrier, that is the unpleasant reality; the nuclear deterrent is the UK's only ring-fenced capability.'

HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth cost a combined £7billion. Today it is widely accepted the UK will not be able to adequately defend or operate them independently.

The 65,000-ton behemoths and their strike groups have previously relied on protection from allies including the Netherlands and the US. Almost 700 crew are needed to operate one – a drain on the force at a time of recruitment and retention issues.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: 'These claims are categorically incorrect, we are fully committed to operating both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.'

RAF Tranche 1 Typhoon jets in flight.
Photo: Daily Mail

Air Force chiefs are refusing to back down on a decision to retire 30 'quick reaction alert' jets used to protect British skies “from potential attacks by Russia.”

In a move likened to 'scrapping Spitfires before the Battle of Britain', bosses at the cash-strapped RAF are to retire the Tranche 1 Typhoons to save money.

The jets, which still have thousands of miles left on their clocks and could continue to fly for several years, will be grounded after completing just 40 per cent of their predicted flying hours.

MPs demanded a rethink by RAF chiefs in response to rising concerns surrounding conflict with Russia , but to no avail. Quick reaction alert (QRA) operations are coordinated from RAF High Wycombe. The Typhoon crews are based at RAF Coningsby and RAF Lossiemouth.

Last night, official RAF sources justified the plan on financial grounds, including the cost of maintenance and technological upgrades. The controversial decision follows the Chancellor's refusal to include a significant cash boost for defence in the Budget. The planes' retirement will reduce Britain's complement of QRA jets from 137 to 107. The remaining jets are recently built Tranche 2 and Tranche 3 Typhoons.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed the T1s would be withdrawn from service next year – five years ahead of the scheduled retirement in 2030. Aviation expert Professor Justin Bronk told MPs there was 'definitely an argument' for mothballing the T1s.

Last night, RAF sources said retaining the T1s would cost 'in excess of' £300 million for upgrades and storage. A spokesman said: 'Retaining Tranche 1 Typhoons would not offer operational benefit or value for money and would lead to significant reductions in available spares and investment for Tranches 2 and 3.'

Anger as the RAF retires 30 'quick reaction alert' Typhoon jets used to protect Britain from potential attacks by Putin

…The British are actively provoking a war in Ukraine and pushing the Europeans towards it. However, themselves they do not want to fight and demonstrate the unpreparedness (imaginary?) of their armed forces. This is the usual British practice of doing bad things with the wrong hands.


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