By Jason Moore

THERE has been an outcry in Britain because the Royal Navy will not have an operational aircraft carrier until 2020, almost ten years later than expected. But it must be remembered that Britain has not had a full blown aircraft carrier since 1979. At least the two carriers which are being built at the moment are proper carriers (they can handle conventional jets) rather than the small Invincible class light aircraft carriers who were only able to operate Sea Harriers because of their small size. Much has been made of the retirement of the Invincible and Ark Royal earlier this year but they had little military value.

If Britain had a large aircraft carrier, such as the Enterprise which visited Palma this week then I am sure that the Falklands conflict would have been resolved without such a great loss of life. I get the impression that military chiefs in Britain are mounting a rearguard action to try and save Britain´s limited military assets. But they should look to the future. The new aircraft carriers will be far more potent that the Invincible class and put Britain back in the top navy league. Also, vital naval skills are being maintained as a result of their construction. The delays in their construction are caused by the usual cost-overruns which continue to dog all military projects in Britain. This is a great shame and one of the reasons why I believe that sometimes major military contracts should go abroad rather than manufacturers in Britain.

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