It was good to hear directly from the First Sea Lord concerning the sustainability of the air war in Libya as reported by James Kirkup, Political Correspondent on 13 Jun 2011. In the same breath, it was disgraceful for the MoD to contradict Sir Mark Stanhope in a most blatant manner by saying, “Unfortunately Harriers wouldn’t have been able to carry the precision weapons needed for these operations.”
“Disgraceful”, because the MoD source responsible for this statement was not telling the truth (there appears to be a pattern here, does there not?). The Tornado is now delivering the Paveway Mk III 2000 lb bunker-busting bomb instead of the unreliable Storm Shadow missile. Harrier delivers Paveway Mk III and Paveway Mk IV with the same or better accuracy as Tornado. Harrier also delivers the Maverick anti-tank missile and the CRV7 rocket – neither of which is carried by Tornado. It is true that Harrier does not carry Brimstone – it was to be fitted with the same prior to SDSR 2010. But the Apache helicopter deploys Hellfire, the equivalent of Brimstone, as well as 30 mm cannon fire.
Harrier and Apache are both maritime capable aircraft that have been designed specifically for the Close Air Support task. Both have supported our ground forces in Afghanistan extremely well – unlike the Tornado which is not fully suited to the Close Air Support task.
Official MoD sources (RAF?) should be taken to task on the lies and obfuscation that they present to the press.
It is a sad thing for Britain when Ministry of Defence spokesmen blatantly mislead the nation as in the last paragraph of Thomas Harding’s excellent article on our lack of ability to prevent Argentina retaking the Falklands (12 June 2011).
We are told by MoD that “Our ability to reinforce [The Falklands] rapidly by air has been maintained.” This is utter nonsense. As in 1982, the Royal Air Force would not send its transport aircraft and refuelling tankers anywhere near the Falklands if British forces did not have control of the skies over the islands. Further, any invasion of the Falklands by Argentina would be conducted without warning and Mount Pleasant airfield would be the first bit of real estate that Argentina Forces would secure. Air supremacy and airspace denial would be the prerogative of Argentina, not Britain.
The only real deterrent to Argentina is for Britain to maintain a carrier battle group capability. Without such a capability Britain would be unable to contest an Argentinian invasion.
When will the MoD (RAF) start telling the public and our politicians the truth about such matters?
The article by by Con Coughlin and Thomas Harding dated 15 Jun 2011 concerning the sale of our Harrier GR9 aircraft for scrap merits serious comment as the Hallmark of this Dysfunctional Government.
There is no military aircraft in modern history that can match the combat pedigree, achievements, flexibility and cost effectiveness of the Harrier. Selling off our fleet of Harrier GR9 aircraft for £34 million when the aircraft is fully combat ready and much needed to fill the carrier gap over the next 10 years beggars belief.
This decision will go down in history as of the moment which marked the final emasculation of Britain as a global maritime power. The long-term effects of this emasculation are already being felt – the loss of political influence and an inability to deter those that would harm our interests. It will also be the legacy of the Cameron/Clegg Coalition who, as guardians of our national security, have failed in their duty because of their arrogance and ignorance on defence matters.
Winnie the Pooh could have done a far better job as Prime Minister in this troubled world! “Co-operating with the United States” is not best exemplified by throwing away our global military capability!
I trust that Stirrup and his Tornado cronies will be able to sleep at night – especially when the Falkland Islands once more become the Malvinas and the Royal Air Force is once again unable to protect our interests there!
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