Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The strange story of the defence cuts

So its been announced that the carriers will be commissioned a few years later. That may mean the construction happens according to schedule, though frankly its hard to be sure from the disinformation the government issues.

Cancelling or delaying defence contracts is a sign of real desperation in the current climate. Why ? Because most of the money spent on them flows straight back to the UK economy. Blow a couple of billion on VAT reduction and the Chinese and South Koreans will be very grateful for the fiscal stimulus your sending them ( as most of what a change in VAT levels might impact will be electronic luxury items ). But buy a new tank and the money stays in the UK.

Now in the long term we can pay for what we eat by building tanks and aircraft carriers, but if your in the business of panic fiscal stimulus's then its a good place to spend your money. After all its only a few weeks ago we were being sold the spin line that the government would 'bring forward' major projects to stimulate the economy.

So what we are being told doesn't make sense - as it stands. Unless, unless government finances are much closer to collapse than is being admitted.

The carriers have been a very political project. The Royal Navy no longer has the escort vessels to protect them and their supply lines, since for political reasons the obvious use of Nuclear power has been ruled out.

In addition a new generation of Russian anti-ship missiles is giving the US Navy a real headache, and we must assume the problem is far worse for a small and shrinking navy like ours.

Of course the construction in Scottish ship yards helps Labour with its Unionist message in its central belt heartlands.

But what use are these carriers really ? Would they ever be risked against a half capable Navy ? You really need three to be serious, one or two are just for show. Fine for helping out in a local disaster, but worse than useless for defence of the realm. ( Why is it worse ? Well can you imagine the political implications of the loss of one of the two carriers with all hands ? Given current defence spending and strategy its more than likely to happen. It also encourages what's left of the Royal Navy to over reach itself. ).

In short they will be very expensive to maintain ( much larger crews ), to support (fuel ships etc as the Govt ducked the Nuclear power option), impossible to defend ( due to a shortage of escorts and new Russian missile technology ), and impossible to use ( due to the war over nature of the loss of either ship ).

Doesn't make a whole load of sense does it ?

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