back to article US Marine Corps to fly F-35s from HMS Queen Lizzie as UK won't have enough jets

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has confirmed that the US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs from HMS Queen Elizabeth on the aircraft's carrier's maiden operational deployment. He said: “I can welcome the commitment of the United States to deploying F-35s on the first operational deployment of Queen Elizabeth – the HMS Queen …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

    and what will they do when ordered to bomb the White House again?! :D

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

      I believe that last time we set fire to it - rather than bombing it from the air - which would have been rather difficult with the available technology.

      Although as I understand the US Marine Corps' relationship with the other services I'm pretty sure we could persuade them to bomb the Pentagon very easily. If the planes are painted in RAF colours so they don't take the blame, we might even find we have trouble stopping them...

      1. keith_w

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        but they could have tried - Congreve rockets - Rockets red glare etc.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      first dog on the moon commented on F-35 here:-

      h e r e

      sorry, stupid long URL with auth keys etc to access a 562kb jpeg

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        FAIL

        Re: first dog on the moon commented on F-35 here:-

        Hilarious

        Can't handle warm fuel? WTF

        Weapons firing awaiting a software upgrade in 2019?

        Fail for the programme. Not the cartoon.

    3. Graham Marsden

      Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

      > what will they do when ordered to bomb the White House again?!

      I was thinking along similar lines: Who decides the missions and what if there's a difference of opinion? Exactly *who* will be in command?

      RN Captain - We've been ordered to bomb XYZ

      USMC Commander - Sorry, the President says we're not going to do that

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        USMC Commander - Sorry, the President says we're not going to do that

        US Navy pilots - Bomb something? Fuck yeah!

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

          "US Navy pilots - Bomb something? Fuck yeah!"

          1. Never, ever tell a US Marine he's "Navy".

          2. Never, ever call a US Navy Aviator a "pilot".

      2. S4qFBxkFFg

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        "I was thinking along similar lines: Who decides the missions and what if there's a difference of opinion? Exactly *who* will be in command?

        RN Captain - We've been ordered to bomb XYZ

        USMC Commander - Sorry, the President says we're not going to do that"

        It's possible there is a document, kept in a filing cabinet in the Captain's cabin, that lists what happens in such a situation (maybe we'll even be able to read it several decades after it ceases to be relevant).

        However, the general idea is probably that the various parties involved hope such a situation doesn't actually occur. In reality, if the UK/USA went to war, any seconded personnel would find themselves allocated different cabins, with nice strong doors that have the locks on the other side. If it was merely a disagreement about bombing a third party, I suspect it's up to the ranking officer.

        1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

          Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

          However, the general idea is probably that the various parties involved hope such a situation doesn't actually occur

          errrr, remember we may have President Trump by then....

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
            Devil

            Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

            President Trump is not an issue. The RAF have developed a missile that homes in on fake tan. This was a top secret MOD crash-program, that came about after the Chiefs of Staff were shown an episode of 'The Only Way is Essex'.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: I ain't Spartacus Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

              "....a missile that homes in on fake tan...." I hear the USAF was working on a countermeasures pod that spewed out photos of Christina Aguilera, only the Marines kept stealing the photos out of the pods.

          2. SkippyBing Silver badge

            Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

            'However, the general idea is probably that the various parties involved hope such a situation doesn't actually occur'

            There'll be various memoranda of understanding detailing what can and can't be done and what the rules of engagement etc. are. In the same way the US aircraft based in the UK had to get permission to conduct operations against Libya back in the '80s. None of this is particulary new in principle just the specifics of the airbase.

          3. macjules Silver badge

            Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

            My thoughts exactly. Far more likely to be :

            USMC Pilot: "Err, Captain? I've been ordered by President Trump to bomb your carrier unless your Daily Mail pays his wife $150m".

          4. JustNiz

            Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

            You need to stop listening the the blatantly biassed BBC and other media and do your own research. Its really not President "Lets focus on the US at home and not be world police anymore" Trump the rest of the world has to worry about.

            Inform yourself properly about Clinton. Start with looking at how she singlehandedly caused and fucked up the Iraq war and still wants to bomb every country in the middle east until they either salute the US flag or become the Saudis bitches, just because the Saudis already own her from "donating" literally hundreds of millions of $$$ to the Clinton foundation in so-called "campaign contributions".

            1. John Hughes

              Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

              Its really not President "Lets focus on the US at home and not be world police anymore" Trump the rest of the world has to worry about.

              Oh? Not Donald "why do we have nukes if we don't use them" Trump?

              1. veti Silver badge

                Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

                General plea:

                Can we please stop the gargantuan tidal wave of misinformative sewage that is currently passing for a "presidential election campaign" in the USA from infecting every comment thread on anything anywhere?

                We get it, both your choices are awful. We know that neither one of them has ever, as far as documentary evidence can ascertain, told the truth about anything since the beginning of the campaign. We know that whichever one you support, electing the other will mean the end of civilisation as we know it. (Again. Pretty sure I've heard this same story every election cycle since at least 2000, but never mind that.)

                So when someone digs at one candidate or the other - just let it go. You can't wrestle a pig and come out smelling of anything but shit.

                This has been a public service announcement. Thank you.

            2. Count Erpoint

              ...

              Donald?

            3. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

              " Its really not President "Lets focus on the US at home and not be world police anymore" Trump the rest of the world has to worry about."

              You don't think US isolationism is dangerous for the world? Let me see here....

              US isolates under Trump, tightens border control and immigration. Trump further (as he has stated) starts to refuse UN mandates and reduces NATO involvement, citing non-interference overseas and withdrawing US troops across the board.

              Meanwhile, the EU starts to fragment following Brexit, as other right-wing parties (heralded by LePenn etc.) start to call for similar referendums. Some nations (such as Greece) and those that elect anti-EU parties, leave the union. The EU is left in political and possibly financial turmoil.

              Instability in the middle east increase exponentially as backbone UN forces, European military intervention and US political involvement all reduce dramatically at roughly the same time. Tensions grow between Iran and Israel once again, further exacerbated by the presence of ISIS and other, similar, organisations.

              Emboldened by the sudden lack of UN strength and NATO military power as the US reduces its involvement in both organisations, makes plays for the Baltic states once again, following in the footsteps established in the Ukraine.

              North Korea, in the absence of US "military exercises" in their part of the world (a good cost saving for the USA right there), escalates its missile program and hostile attitude towards South Korea and Japan.

              Isolationism is becoming the trope of the day in western politics, and its not a good thing; unless we want another serious conflict.

        2. Extra spicey vindaloo

          Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

          UK servicemen on placement on US carriers have attacked countries that the UK was not at war with, So I believe the precedent is to do whatever the commanding officer says.

        3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: S4qFBxkFFg Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

          "....In reality, if the UK/USA went to war....." That event is so unlikely it would have to be preceded by a long period of continually deteriorating relations, more than long enough for personnel from each side to be withdrawn before hostilities began. In the case of the Falklands War, following an established NATO protocol, US personnel on Royal Navy ships were asked to "excuse themselves from duty" and sent ashore before the ships left for the South Atlantic - Argentina was an US ally at the time.

          In the event of a future and similar British conflict it would be proper for the US forces on the ships to again be put ashore, though the US government might make an agreement to "lend" the UK their F-35Bs for the duration and have them flown and serviced by UK personnel. Remember, during the Falklands War, then Prez Reagen sent the UK the latest Sidewinder missiles from USAF stocks, making our Sea Harriers much more effective in shooting down the Argentines. Reagan was a big fan of Prime Minster Thatcher, but it is highly unlikely his predecessor, Prez Carter, would have been as generous, and very unlikely Obambi would be (thankfully he'll be gone soon). So a lot depends on the resident POTUS at the time.

          /Yeeaaarrgghhh, of course.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        "RN Captain - We've been ordered to bomb XYZ"

        "USMC Commander - Sorry, the President says we're not going to do that"

        same possibility with British pilots on a U.S. carrier, I suppose. but I doubt it would be a problem. Unless the Pres is Mrs. Clinton, in which case we're all fsck'd anyway.

        As former U.S. military (Navy), I'd say that when you're attached to a foreign command, you obey the commanding officer, regardless, unless it goes against your basic oath of defending the U.S. Constitution. You can note your objections, but you still have to follow orders. Fortunately, politics as they are, NATO missions as they are, the HMS QE probably won't even remotely get into a situation like that. We hope. [I'd hate to lose access to RPi and The Register over stupid politics].

        there WAS this one situation back in the 1980's, told to me by someone who had been attached to a Turkish sub [it was a decommissioned diesel sub, being sold to Turkey, and U.S. sailors were on board qualifying the Turk sailors to operate it properly/safely]. One time one of the Turk sailors didn't show up [went UA]. The Turk sailors found him 'out in town'. They brought him back to the sub and were going to shoot him. At least one of the U.S. sailors said "NO, NO, you can NOT do this on an American Naval Base" (or something similar) and managed to stop them. THEN, "a decision was made" to go underway that day, and all of the U.S. sailors were 'kicked off'. They came back later, and "that guy" wasn't with them. I guess that once you're in international waters, U.S. law no longer applies...

        Anyway, that's not what I expect to happen on any British or U.S. carriers...

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

          As former U.S. military (Navy), I'd say that when you're attached to a foreign command, you obey the commanding officer, regardless, unless it goes against your basic oath of defending the U.S. Constitution.

          Also do not forget to disobey orders that are against the Laws of War (Good Luck riding it out in the brig though).

          (Also try to evade assignments in "deniable operations" where you will be left hanging dry by the denying weasels in charge once shit hits the fannon-MSM press.)

      4. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        I think the carrier wins. The planes need the carrier more than the carrier needs the planes. Oversimplified.... but the planes have to land somewhere.

      5. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        'I'm pretty sure we could persuade them to bomb the Pentagon very easily'

        Well, they've had practice hitting that target with cruise missiles about 15 years ago, IIRC....

        [Off to test jet fuel temperatures and adjust tin foil hat]

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

      re. and what will they do when ordered to bomb the White House again?!

      "I'm sorry Dave (Tracy), I'm afraid we can't do that..."

      alternatively:

      "Computer says no...."

      1. Custard Fridge

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        Perhaps an IBM angle to this would suffice -

        "This Carrier intentionally left blank"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

          Being American they'll be sent to attack Egypt and end up bombing Ecuador.....

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Terminator

        "Computer says no...."

        More likely than you realize, give all these jets are supposedly going to be plumbed into the Pentagons real time logistics management system. Leaving the possibility of the following.

        "I see you have loaded cluster bombs and set the navigation system and attack systems for a site that is not on the Approved Enemies List. Would you like to select 1 to abort the mission or 2 to contact the Pentagon with a request to authorize it ?"

    5. james 68

      Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

      Won't be an issue, because they won't be able to get the buggy P'sOS off the flight-deck due to software malfunctions and even if they do manage to get airborn (and stay that way) they won't be able to fire any weapons due to the same software screwups.

      1. John Hughes

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        Don't worry, if it's the USMC they can use Harriers if th F35B's don't work.

        An Italian, a Frenchman and a German woman get together on an aircaft carrier to stitch up brexit. What's the punchline? The Garibaldi has AV-8B's and the QE2 doesn't.

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    You could say that someone at the MoD watched Pearl Harbour and thought the American did such a wonderful job flying a spitfire, that they should definately fly their own planes on UK ships. Because, obviously, they would be even better in their own whips.

    However, you could also say that this is another stepping stone to the "One World Army" that David Icke preaches about.

    Me? Well I just think it's a clusterfuck of a situation where the plane isn't fit for purpose, too expensive, and should've been euthanised long ago. But what do I know? I'm just a tax payer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      the plane isn't fit for purpose, too expensive, and should've been euthanised long ago

      The same is true of the carriers in all honesty. Even the most tin pot of regimes can muster a few medium range anti-ship missiles, which makes carriers vulnerable. Not that much more vulnerable than any comparably sized ship, but if they are the core of your strike force, losing the one is a bit of a problem. Go up against even people like the Iranians or Norks, and they've got patrol boats capable of sneaking around and launching medium or even long range missiles, so that extends the at-risk range (before we consider drones, mines, mini-subs and other cheap solutions. Before you know it you find that air to air refuelling and flying out from a nominally friendly territory is your best option (as with the Libya debacle).

      Admittedly a strike force has defensive capabilities. But you'd have to be pretty confident in 100% success to rely on those, given that countries like Argentina and Iraq successfully used near supersonic sea skimming technology against British and American ships three decades ago.

      The idea of flying complicated, heavy manned aircraft off of a huge, complex, vulnerable floating platform was great before radar and guided missiles. These days carriers are like battleships in the second world war - hugely impressive, but not really of very much use.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        'The idea of flying complicated, heavy manned aircraft off of a huge, complex, vulnerable floating platform was great before radar and guided missiles. These days carriers are like battleships in the second world war - hugely impressive, but not really of very much use.'

        The USN had more aircraft over Afghanistan than the RAF had in it every day of the conflict, so I'd say they're pretty handy. Especially if you don't want to live in Afghanistan for six months.

        1. Dan Wilkie

          But the USAF had more aircraft over Afghan than the USN too... Don't forget Switzerland probably has more fixed wing aircraft than we do.

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            Now I'm thinking about Switzerland building aicraft carriers...

          2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Dan Wilkie

            ".....Switzerland probably has more fixed wing aircraft than we do." Seriously, why do you post such moronic statements when a minute spent perusing Wikipedia would save you looking so uninformed? The Swiss Air Force has a front-line force of 31 F/A-18 Hornets and 53 F-5 Tiger II interceptors, whilst the RAF has 137 Typhoons alone, to which will be added the 158 F-35Bs on order.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The USN had more aircraft over Afghanistan than the RAF

          I wouldn't dispute that. But its a bit of a niche case, isn't it? How often do we expect to be attacking impoverished land-locked countries with no functioning government, no modern defences, no international allies, but who are surrounded for hundreds of miles by nations hostile to both them and the West? And unlike 2001, there are now far better ways of loitering, surveying and dispensing death than running vastly expensive combat flights from carriers almost five hundred miles away.

          The Yanks didn't dare risk carriers near Libya, they'd be unwise to do so off the coast of Iran if having a another hobby war, and I suspect they'd be pretty circumspect about using them anywhere near Syria. And that's just two third world, failed states, and a country that's been under sanctions for three and a half decades. There's certainly a handful of other occasions when carriers might see use, but in all cases where they might be a viable strike asset, you certainly don't need something as complicated as the F35. If you need the capabilities of the F35, then your adversary certainly has the capabilities to wipe out your carriers rather effectively.

          Of course, if the 'Strines (making assumptions from your handle) would like to join the carrier club, I'd invite them to put in a bid for one or both of the QE class carriers. You're planning on buying F35s anyway, why not add to your military bling?

          1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
            WTF?

            To be fair, the U.S. didn't put a carrier near Libya because A) the U.S. was taking more of a back seat in that operation and B) Italy was right there to provide airfields.

            So these new 70,000 ton British carriers will only carry 12 fixed wing aircraft each? Did I read that correctly? Not meaning any disrespect, but um, why bother? That's like building a penthouse so your dog can live there.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              The 12 aircraft thing is probably bollocks. I doubt they'll fill the carrier with aircraft on normal patrols, because the RAF and Navy are sharing one pool of F35Bs. The great thing about planes is that if you need more for a mission, you can just fly more over.

              I think we've ordered 138 at the moment. But the original order was only for 48 - i.e. one air group. However you would expect any warship to be out of commission for maintenance, repairs and refit for about 20-30% of its lifetime - so most of the time we're only going to have one carrier at sea.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                I think we've ordered 138 at the moment. But the original order was only for 48 - i.e. one air group. However you would expect any warship to be out of commission for maintenance, repairs and refit for about 20-30% of its lifetime

                Given the complexity of the F35, the availability of the aircraft itself is going to be even poorer than anything preceding it. And, as the crash record of the Harrier showed, S/VTOL aircraft tend to have dreadful accident rates, whether through pilot error, technical failure, or other hazards like FOD and bird strikes that seem to be more significant for S/VTOL types.

                1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

                  "...as the crash record of the Harrier showed..."

                  I didn't think the Harrier's record was any worse than any other military aircraft regularly flown in harm's way. And of the accidents that did happen, were any explicitly linked to the fact that it was a S/VTOL aircraft? (as against the sort of failures that would down any single-engine aircraft - I know there were problems, especially in the early days of the Kestrel and the P.1127, with burn-through from the manoeuver jet ducting but I don't think there were many "mishaps" that would not have happened if any other airframe had been involved...)

                  If you could give specific examples rather than the vague sort of answer I normally associate with anyone who really doesn't have a clue what they are talking about but anyone who disagrees with them must be wrong... I'm not saying you DON'T have a clue, but your comment looks like something a politician would write...

                  1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                    Re: "...as the crash record of the Harrier showed..." @not.known@this.address

                    I read Ledswingers post as making that point exactly. Even with the best planes and the best pilots, we will lose a proportion due to training, pilot error and technical failure. And presumably like normal UK military, half of the rest will be grounded having been cannibalised for parts.

                    So far so normal. It's only a problem when you start with twelve planes.

                    I pity the first pilot to bail out of one during training and survive - I imagine the Defence Minister will personally lead the firing squad.

                  2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                    Re: "...as the crash record of the Harrier showed..."

                    I didn't think the Harrier's record was any worse than any other military aircraft

                    I wondered about that. I had a brief furtle through Google, and didn't find much, other than a Wiki article with a list (probably partial) of losses - and gave up. The Wiki article had the UK losing 7 since 2000 - of which 2 were mortared on the ground by the Taleban. That I could believe, but then the UK suffering zero losses in the whole 90s seemed pretty unlikely, given the amount of low flying the RAF did back then. So I gave up.

                    I do recall reading/seeing on a documentary that the US Marines did suffer heavy losses of Harriers (AV8Bs) - and the reason given was that they were getting third pick of pilots, after the Navy and Airforce. But I don't recall any figures being given, so don't know if that was true/prejudice/received wisdom. I think this must have been about the F35, because it talked about how that was going to be easier to handle in VTOL mode, as it was fly-by-wire - rather than the harrier's rather complicated manual thrust-vector controls.

                    I believe the US Navy had rules about no single engined planes allowed on carriers - which I guess the F35 breaks. Whereas the Marines have operated the Harrier from ships since at least the 80s, so you'd expect a certain amount more losses. But you would expect more losses from an aircraft relying on thrust alone to achieve lift - after all helicopters are supposed to avoid hovering whenever possible - because when you've got no aerodynamic lift, you're absolutely buggered when your engine stops. And at low levels crashing becomes certain.

                    1. casaloco

                      Re: "...as the crash record of the Harrier showed..."

                      The harriers DID have an appalling accident loss rate. This way due to pilot error during the transition from hover to fly, where pilots moved the nozzles from the down position to the back position before the aircraft had enough forward speed to generate enough lift with the wings to maintain controlled flight. It didn't help that you only had enough water to cool the nozzles for about a minute so people had to rush.

                      The issues were largely resolved though in the later years, after they put a computer in charge of the process so you couldn't screw it up. That was part of the upgrade they did where they also upgraded the engines, avionics, weapons management etc.

                2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  Stop

                  Re: Ledswinger

                  "......Given the complexity of the F35, the availability of the aircraft itself is going to be even poorer than anything preceding it....." That presumes that serviceability rates won't improve with experience. The F-4 Phantom II was much more complex than the preceding generation of USN jets, yet was recording better serviceability rates than the jets it replaced within five years of starting operations.

                  ".....And, as the crash record of the Harrier showed, S/VTOL aircraft tend to have dreadful accident rates....." That is simply untrue. RN Sea Harriers had a much lower carrier accident rate than all prior RN jets (and for the USN jets too, the F/A-18 having a much higher accident rate) as it was simply easier to stop and then land rather than land and then stop. It seems that hardly a week goes by without an F/A-18 crashing!

                  ".....whether through pilot error..... or other hazards like FOD and bird strikes that seem to be more significant for S/VTOL types." Again, simply not true. Any aircraft flying at low level is at risk of bird strikes, and they have downed a lot more conventional jets than S/VTOL types. Pilot error is no more likely in any type of aircraft, it is dependent on the pilots (duh! - it's why it's called a pilot error).

                  The original FUD about Harriers crashing was started by US manufacturers pissed at the USMC for ordering Harriers. It didn't help that the USMC started by putting helicopter - not fast jet - pilots into Harriers on the basis that helicopter pilots had more experience of vertical landings! But even then the USMC's Harrier accident rate was lower than that of many USAF jets such as the F-16.

            2. Smooth Newt
              Thumb Up

              Re: Penthouse for your dog

              So these new 70,000 ton British carriers will only carry 12 fixed wing aircraft each? Did I read that correctly? Not meaning any disrespect, but um, why bother? That's like building a penthouse so your dog can live there.

              It doesn't matter that their armament is feeble and they are too valuable to risk in any conflict. That's not the point of them. Their job is to be "prestigous", i.e. politicians can strut their stuff and pretend that the UK can do "force projection" and "play on the world stage" etc.

              In practice, the UK wouldn't do a real war again, like the Falklands, without the Americans alongside to do most of the fighting. I mean, what sort of blue water navy has six destroyers.

            3. collinsl

              So we can dump a load of helicopters & marines on somewhere without tying up the landing ships or the helicopter carriers.

              Or something.

            4. JLV Silver badge

              Good analogy, except the dog costs more than the penthouse and has serious congenital defects rendering it unable to bark if the temperature is over 25, his 50K$ leash isn't quite working yet and he has yet to beat a Chihuaha in a fair fight.

          2. SkippyBing Silver badge

            ' But its a bit of a niche case, isn't it? How often do we expect to be attacking impoverished land-locked countries with no functioning government, no modern defences, no international allies, but who are surrounded for hundreds of miles by nations hostile to both them and the West? '

            Well most of this century, I grant Iraq isn't totally land locked but it's pretty close to it. And if you think a carrier is vulnerable try an airbase, you can use Google earth to target one of those.

            1. Adrian Midgley 1

              Airbases...

              Are big, so one probably isn't lying down on the bit that gets hit, and work with large holes in them.

          3. Cuddles Silver badge

            Re: Niche case

            "But its a bit of a niche case, isn't it? How often do we expect to be attacking impoverished land-locked countries with no functioning government, no modern defences, no international allies, but who are surrounded for hundreds of miles by nations hostile to both them and the West?"

            As often as possible. The alternative would be attacking someone who can actually fight back. Or not attacking anyone at all of course, but for some reason this never seems to occur as an option to the relevant people.

          4. TheWeenie

            I wouldn't dispute that. But its a bit of a niche case, isn't it? How often do we expect to be attacking impoverished land-locked countries with no functioning government, no modern defences, no international allies, but who are surrounded for hundreds of miles by nations hostile to both them and the West?

            Based on the things I've seen so far in my lifetime, pretty often, I'd say!

        3. collinsl

          That must have been an interesting choice - live in a desert in a tent with a broken air conditioner where you might be mortared, or live in a cramped cabin in a bed someone has just gotten out of on a floating city where you work for 20 hours a day with no days off, don't see daylight for months unless you're one of the few deck crew, which might at any time be attacked by terrorists in boats or someone whose finger slipped onto the fire button of an exocet. Oh, and if something big goes wrong the whole shooting match might sink or catch fire or explode in a nuclear fireball.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @SkippyBing

          As was mentioned, most countries have anti ship missiles.

          Afghanistan doesn't and wasn't fighting the US anyway.

          In a real war (rather than a one sided fight against a third world country), carriers won't survive very long, see At What Cost a Carrier and here.

      2. casaloco

        They should save time...

        They should save time and just paint a huge bullseye on the side of the new carriers.

        One of the big advantages of the old carriers is they were small... harder to see and hit.

        These new carriers are effectively "putting all your eggs in one basket". We would have been better off with a big fleet of frigates and no aircraft carriers... at least they could spread out.

        These carriers were little more that a donation to the US Navy. We should just sell them to them and be done with it.

        1. Jon 37

          Re: They should save time...

          Why on earth would the US Navy want those carriers? Their own carriers are similar cost, nuclear-powered (so don't need refuelling), larger, and have cats and traps so they don't need expensive VTOL aircraft that have lower usable payload.

          1. BenR

            Re: They should save time...

            I remain unsure as to why we didn't simply licence the Nimitz-class design as a baseline, the tweak it to better suit the RN. Would've been cheaper than spunking money on BAe to come up with a non-modular modularised carrier that is designed to accept cats at a later date, assuming you spend almost as much money as the cost of the carrier in the first place to basically totally rebuild it so it can accept cats...

            We could have saved a lot of money by just flying Super-Hornets off it too.

            Like the French do.

            1. SkippyBing Silver badge

              Re: They should save time...

              'I remain unsure as to why we didn't simply licence the Nimitz-class design as a baseline, the tweak it to better suit the RN. Would've been cheaper than spunking money on BAe to come up with a non-modular modularised carrier that is designed to accept cats at a later date, assuming you spend almost as much money as the cost of the carrier in the first place to basically totally rebuild it so it can accept cats...

              We could have saved a lot of money by just flying Super-Hornets off it too.

              Like the French do.'

              A Nimitz class has a total compliment of around 5000 personnel. The UK literally couldn't man one. The QE Class are around 1000 with a full air group and hangers on.

              The French don't fly Super Hornets, they fly Rafael. Their carrier programme was equally plauged with problems, at one point the deck was too short to land the Hawkeye AWACS aircraft they'd ordered from the US.

              1. Nolveys Silver badge

                Re: They should save time...

                at one point the deck was too short to land the Hawkeye AWACS aircraft they'd ordered from the US.

                "Quick, tell the AWACS to maintain a holding pattern and summon the emergency lumber ship!"

              2. BenR

                Re: They should save time...

                QUOTE: "A Nimitz class has a total compliment of around 5000 personnel. The UK literally couldn't man one. The QE Class are around 1000 with a full air group and hangers on.

                The French don't fly Super Hornets, they fly Rafael. Their carrier programme was equally plauged with problems, at one point the deck was too short to land the Hawkeye AWACS aircraft they'd ordered from the US."

                I genuinely don't know why I added the "like the French do" comment on the end. I was probably trying to make some kind of point that seemed related in my head, but the connections haven't made it onto the page. I *THINK* the point was likely to be about using traditional aircraft with a good history (i.e the Rafale and Super Rafale) rather than complex, newly-invented aircraft whose service history even over the brief time they've been extant, let alone actually in service, has been plagued with problems.

                I agree re: the compliment of the Nimitz class carriers, but I'm forced to wonder how much of the 5000 could be pared down with a smaller airgroup, smaller aircraft maintenance staff, more modernisation of systems requiring less personnel to run, no embedded Marine Corps types etc. etc.

                Also, there are nearly 23,000 people in the RN alone. 5,080 officers, and 11,500 or so non-coms across just Warfare (General Service), Engineering (General Service) and Engineering (Air). Doesn't seem like it'd be too much of a struggle to find 1,500 extra.

                But, end of the day, it's MoD spending. They're more than capable of totally fucking it up all on their own without having to copy the French or the Yanks.

            2. collinsl

              Re: They should save time...

              Or the Rafale, which is actually a pretty good carrier aircraft.

              Or we could have re-founded Supermarine or Fairey to build something appropriate.

            3. bpfh Silver badge

              Re: They should save time...

              The French don't have Super Hornets. They have marinised (marinaded?) versions of the Rafale - they can land on the US carriers too.... and they don't cost as much as F35's either...

            4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Unhappy

              "Would've been cheaper than spunking money on BAe "

              Yes, but then BAe would have a big hole in their profits forecast.

              Unacceptable (to BAE).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They should save time...

            USM not USN.

            US Navy have their own planes and carriers. US Marine Corps doesn't.

            1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

              Re: They should save time...

              USMC. Not USM. You know, the "Semper Fidelis" guys.

            2. John Hughes

              Re: They should save time...

              US Navy have their own planes and carriers. US Marine Corps doesn't.

              They bloody well do. Who do you think bought all the RAF Harriers?

            3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: They should save time...

              "USM not USN."

              And yet on NCIS on the telly, they get jurisdiction over both Navy and Marines. It must be true!

          3. John Hughes

            Re: They should save time...

            USN != USMC.

          4. MrXavia
            Mushroom

            Re: They should save time...

            I still don't get why we didn't build nuke powered air craft carriers?

            We have the technology, we put new nukes in subs on a regular basis...

            The whole project is a failure to manage and command.

            1. Yag

              Re: They should save time...

              There are several reasons...

              A nuke ship is more expensive than a conventional one. For the strategic subs, the need to be as stealthy and self-reliant as possible makes the choice of nuke plant a no brainer.

              The use for attack subs is probably in order to share the development cost of the reactor on more ships : Astutes and Vanguards both use Rolls-Royce PWR2 reactors, french Triomphant and under construction Barracuda both use the K15 reactors.

              A carrier needs more power than subs. So you need either a dedicated bigger reactor (the US way) or to use several sub-sized units. The french Charles de Gaulle use two K15 units for example, but i think it lead to some maintenance issues a few years ago (can't remember which ones, sorry).

              The QE class carriers, being quite heavier than the CdG, would probably need 3 or 4 PWR2 in order to get it moving, with a lot of additional very expensive nuclear trained crew in order to manage all those nuclear furnaces. Note that the CVN-65 enterprise used EIGHT reactors, which was such a pain that even the cold-war-level-of-spending US military screwed their plan to build more of those and didn't built another nuclear powered carrier for the next 15 years...

              Furthermore, nuclear ships are banned on several areas, New Zealand for example. Not that an issue with australia close by...

            2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: MrXavia Re: They should save time...

              "I still don't get why we didn't build nuke powered air craft carriers?...." There is one good reason and the rest are political. The political ones start with the carrier's being ordered under Labour, who are awash with old CND members. Then there is cost - it is cheaper to have conventional engines, both to build and service. And there is the political goodwill Labour got from other countries that have illogical desires to halt all nuke vessels. Of course there is also the one good reason, the benefit to taxpayers in that the UK has a history of selling on carriers to nations like India and Argentina, or the much cheaper cost of scrapping conventional ships if we don't sell them on. It would be verging on impossible to sell on a nuke carrier, and very expensive to scrap them. Note, none of those benefits actually have any military value.

          5. jimjones

            Re: They should save time...

            "Why on earth would the US Navy want those carriers? Their own carriers are similar cost, nuclear-powered (so don't need refuelling), larger, and have cats and traps so they don't need expensive VTOL aircraft that have lower usable payload."

            Except that the QE costs roughly $4.1b (including half of R&D while the USS Gerald R.Ford costs roughly $12.8 billion without R&D, so your point is pretty moot. Furthermore, the F-35C is more expensive than the F-35B. The reason the UK opted for the VTOL design is because it afforded us two carriers as opposed to one that spends much of its life out of action, like the french with their Charles de Gaulle.

            In answer to your question, that is exactly why the US Navy takes a lot of interest in those carriers. Under budget constraints, smaller cheaper carriers may be the future for the USN if it wants to maintain fleet levels under budget constraints.

            I get the popular anti-British sentiment here, but some of the claims going around are getting a bit ridiculous, including the article. A lot of unfounded opinions being presented as facts.

            1. 1st Force

              Re: They should save time...

              Actually the F-35B is more expensive as it's more complex..V-tol

        2. collinsl

          Re: They should save time...

          > These carriers were little more that a donation to the US Navy. We should just sell them to them and be done with it.

          Who'd want to buy them? They're too small for the USN's fleet carriers and too large for their helo carriers/light carriers, plus they don't have catapults, so they're out, the French are looking to scrap their own one without replacement sometime soonish, the Germans aren't allowed one, and the Australians and New Zealanders between them have a grand total of 2/3rds of a picket boat.

          About the only nations I can think of who might be interested are India and China, and they're building their own already at the moment.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They should save time...

            the Germans aren't allowed one

            That appears to be their interpretation of laws written for them by the occupying forces after WW2. Nothing to stop them changing their mind, but looking at how aircraft carriers aren't good for much and cost a fortune, I can't see why they would.

          2. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: They should save time...

            There are effectively two problems with the UK building Nimitz class carriers. Firstly is that despite building a dozen of them and refitting things like better weapons the Americans have never really implemented automation systems to seriously reduce the number of people required on their carriers. We already have a manpower crisis in the fleet, we literially couldn't come up with ten thousand people to man two Nimitz class carriers.

            The other issue is that a Nimitz class ship can take 85-90 aircraft (including helicopters). The RAF has a total of 137 Eurofighters, plus 98 Tornados. This includes the spares, long terms maintenance, everything. We will also have 24 F35's at some point in the future, probably after the Americans finish developing them so they can be used as warplanes as just have the ability to fly.

            This means that if we had Nimitz class ships, if we could man them, and if our existing aircraft could land on them then they'd take basically the entire active RAF, plus the Fleet AIr Arm. You'd then be able to queeze in pretty much all of the helicopters from the Army Air Corps on our "commando carriers". (which would have been considered a bit larger than a light fleet carrier 50 years ago).

            In other words, the Nimitz is WAY too big for us given how much we spend on defence, and how much of a return on investment we get for what we spend.

            1. fnj

              Re: They should save time...

              There's another, much bigger problem with the UK building Nimitz class carriers. The UK doesn't have any dock big enough to accommodate one. Nor any experience with building or manning 260,000 hp mobile nuclear steam power plants. And before you suggest modifying one for an oil-fired steam power plant, they don't have any experience with those on a 260,000 hp scale either. Not to mention, the manning requirements would be prodigious. Without steam, you've got no steam catapults.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        " Even the most tin pot of regimes can muster a few medium range anti-ship missiles, which makes carriers vulnerable."

        And the more advanced ones have anti ship ballistic missiles - which are almost impossible to defend against.

      4. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Ledswinger

        "....given that countries like Argentina and Iraq successfully used near supersonic sea skimming technology against British and American ships three decades ago....." And exactly how many carriers from either the USN or RN did the Argies or Iraqis manage to sink? Oh, a big fat zero. The Argentines' few successes during the Falklands Wars were against the radar picketships acting as a defensive screen to the rest of the fleet, and did not stop the RN carriers. And the Iraqis didn't manage to sink any Allied ships during the Gulf Wars.

    2. midcapwarrior

      it's Pearl Harbor

      American place, American spelling

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: it's Pearl Harbor

        American film, Rubbish film

        1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
          Go

          Re: it's Pearl Harbor

          RE: Pearl Harbor. Yes, PoS movie. However, Kate Beckinsale never looked better!

          (Britain, can you name an aircraft carrier after Kate? Thank you.)

        2. fnj

          Re: it's Pearl Harbor

          American film, Rubbish film

          You want a crackerjack WWII naval film, watch Tora! Tora! Tora!. Midway wasn't half bad, either.

          1. Tannin

            Re: it's Pearl Harbor

            "You want a crackerjack WWII naval film, watch Tora! Tora! Tora!. Midway wasn't half bad, either."

            Or just watch one of them. It's the same footage.

            (Yes, really. Making the second one - from memory it was Midway - they saved some money by re-using footage from the earlier one, and not just outtakes. Apparently there are good slabs of film just grafted straight in, presumably because they thought no-one would notice.)

      2. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: it's Pearl Harbor

        "it's Pearl Harbor

        American place, American spelling"

        It's Pearl Harbour.

        American place, English language, English spelling.

        And you can't call it "American" or "American English" just because you decide some words could do without a vowel.

        1. fnj

          Re: it's Pearl Harbor

          American place, English language, English spelling.

          I don't think so. The country on whose territory a place is mapped gets to name the place. Look, I think the American shortening "ou" to "o" was stupid, just like I think the inability of the British to pronounce their "r"s is stupid, but these are not windmills at which I spend much of my energy tilting.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: it's Pearl Harbor

          "English language, English spelling."

          American language, American spelling.

          England is pretty much irrelevant now - not a threat to anyone, not a worthwhile ally for anyone.

          Pretty much a joke, like this erstwhile aircraftless carrier.

      3. Lotaresco
        Happy

        Re: it's Pearl Harbor

        "American place, American spelling"

        You may want to look at that Hawaiian flag again. It has 8 alternating horizontal stripes of white, red, and blue, with a Union flag in the canton. I guess they're proudly showing which country they want to be most closely associated with.

    3. JustWondering

      Even if this aircraft did everything that was promised, it would still be a useless piece of crap. I can't believe anyone is buying them. No lift, no speed, no range.

      http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-NOTAM-191010-1.html

  3. M7S
    Unhappy

    I miss not having Lewis around to comment on this

    I'm sure it would be entertaining. And provocative.

    1. Zingbo

      Re: I miss not having Lewis around to comment on this

      After a few of his articles it began to feel like you could apply some simple rules to turn a regular story into a Lewis Page piece: Put the actual story on the first page. Add another two pages. In these pages explain how it's all the fault of the RAF and/or BAE Systems. Follow up by describing how we'd be better off buying something from the US. If the story is about something being bought from the US then explain what other US thing we should have bought instead. If the story involves the navy, sprinkle in a few insults about frigates and the FAA.

      I found his articles interesting but sometimes he seemed like a stuck record. When his article about the last flight of XH558 was used as an opportunity to bash the RAF I think he'd jumped the shark.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I miss not having Lewis around to comment on this

        [I found his articles interesting but sometimes he seemed like a stuck record.]

        He's not the only one at El Reg that's seems to have a somewhat monofocussed view on a single issue..

    2. Tim Jenkins

      Re: I miss not having Lewis around to comment on this

      I was assuming he's currently paddling a black canoe up the Tigris with a Fairbairn–Sykes in his teeth...

  4. MrTuK

    Sad state of affairs

    Yeah !

    What can I say, obviously the MoD has to think years ahead when allocating money to make sure that they have the necessary hardware and personal for the Military services to be able to do the job that the political system at the time wants them to do - that must be quite a difficult job to balance with the Topsy turvy political world we live in.

    But to be honest I somewhat believe that somebody got their sums wrong and dates wrong because from what I understand we haven't had a floating airport aswell as after dumping the sea harriers no aircraft to put on a floating airport either !

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Sad state of affairs

      One problem is that Labour got a bit creative with the sums. From memory we had a program of hardware orders of something like twice the next ten years hardware budget. Partly because lots of stuff was being renewed for Afghanistan and Iraq, but the budget wasn't even going up with inflation. Then of course Labour got stuck with the Typhoon program, which was massively over budget, and not really what we needed - but was what we needed when we ordered it in the 1980s - and considered too expensive to cancel by the time the Cold War ended.

      To be fair they have renewed almost the entire fleet of armoured vehicles (except the tanks which were done 10-15 years ago but aren't being used much), most of the helicopters over the last ten years, bought some new planes (Typhoons) and ordered loads more (Typhoons and F35s), new subs, destroyers, fleet auxillaries and a few frigates. Plus 2 aircraft carriers - which order got botched.

      One problem with military purchasing is that we always seem to try to save money at an early stage in ways that end up costing more later. A prime example being not making the carriers nuclear, with the option for catapults. But another is time. The Eurofighter contract was signed in the mid 80s - when the Cold War was still looking dangerous. We had a need for a pure air-superiority fighter. We probably don't now, a good multi-role aircraft would be better. But it's very hard to junk many years of R&D and a building programme, particularly an international one, when you still don't know what you're going to need in 15 years time.

      As this trip with the US Marines shows, everything takes time. Even when you buy a so-called "off the shelf" weapons system, you'll always have specific modifications required, and then you've actually got to bring it into operational service. The more complex and capable the system, the more operational and support staff you're going to need to train to use it. As well as ironing out the bugs in the hardware, software and your procedures.

      With an aircraft carrier you've got amazing complication. You've got a massively complex ship itself - which you have to build, test, repair, test, debug, maintain etc. Then you've got support ships, repiar dockyards, your defensive screen of destroyers and frigates, helicopters, planes, airborne early warning, electronic warfare... You've got to be able to use all of this separately, and then you've to integrate the whole lot.

      In that light, training with the US Marines, who've had the kit longer, makes lots of sense.

      I'd also add that we may be doing this in order to rebuild some NATO capacity. With the increased threat from Russia, it wouldn't surprise me if the US/UK Marines are getting back their old NATO role. One of NATO's plans in the 1980s was that the US and UK marines would quickly re-inforce Norway. One of the things you can do in a crisis, without ramping up the tension too much, is to get the marines onto ships - and position them close to an ally - those ships need aircraft for defence, hence the US marines having mini aircraft carriers - it wouldn't surprise me if that isn't the plan for rapid reinforcement of the Baltic States. Or at least one of the possible plans. Another is to pre-position US heavy equipment, and then fly the troops in during a crisis - but so far NATO don't want to permanently position bases in Eastern Europe, and make the Russians even more difficult to deal with.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sad state of affairs

        With the increased threat from Russia

        You believe the official line on that then? I did my bit in the Cold War working on military systems, I don't believe for one moment that the Ruskies now pose any real military threat to Europe. The pantomime wars in Georgia and Ukraine are unimportant, but in any event largely a Russian response to US meddling in those countries' politics and ambitions to expand NATO as far east as possible,

        Out of curiosity, why this reliance on the US for defence anyway? If Europe really thinks the Russian threat is real, it should pay up and arm up. It has roughly similar GDP to the US, and a larger population to draw on for soldiery. And in fact, Europe's defence budget is about three times that of Russia (€300bn versus €70bn), and has twice the number of active serving personnel. If I were an American tax payer I'd be asking why the US was expecting to keep sorting out wars in Europe.

        The only fly in the ointment is the supposed strength of Russia's reserve ground forces, but a large fleet of rusting and out of date tanks doesn't seem to me to alter any of the arguments above, particularly given the state of the art in anti-tank munitions.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Sad state of affairs

          Europe didn't arm-up to deal with Russia during the Cold War, why would it do so now? Germany didn't spend much more on just defending Germany than the UK did in the 70s and 80s. And the pathetic attempts of the federalists in the EU to get a common foreign and defence policy rather show up how disunited they are. Obviously that gets blamed on the UK blocking it, partly true of course, but then even those that joined showed little committment.

          As to there being no Russian threat, how do you explain the invasion of the Ukraine? There was no talk of Ukraine joining NATO before it was attacked. There's silly talk of it now, but it's never going to happen. The Russians turned a neighbouring country with a few thousand mile border with them into a failed state for heaven-knows what reason, and that very unpredictability (along with their growing forces) makes them a threat.

          Also, we accepted the Baltic States into NATO. Given their large, and unhappy, Russian populations left over from Soviet occupation, there is a serious threat of instability, similar to what's happened in Ukraine. And who's to say Russia might not try the same tricks again? If Putin was predictable, or we knew his objectives, then we might be less worried. But he's not, and we don't, so there's a risk. If NATO means anything, then we either have to prepare to defend them, or chuck them out and admit we don't care.

          As for a threat from Russia being an "official line", the Russian intelligence services did choose to contaminate large parts of my capital city with highly radioctive Polunium. If they wanted to kill a defector, they could have just been polite and shot the guy... Their government has also publicly threatened to invade the Baltic states, which we're treaty-bound to defend, oh and threatened the use of nuclear weapons against NATO - again in a press conference. It's probably all bluster, but you have a military to deal with those times when it isn't.

          Did I mention the bit about invading a neighbouring country and annexing part of its territory (ahem! Crimea), something that's not happened in Europe since WWII.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Sad state of affairs

            As to there being no Russian threat, how do you explain the invasion of the Ukraine? There was no talk of Ukraine joining NATO before it was attacked.

            By the open admission of its own officials, the US spent about $5bn on "democritisation" programmes in Ukraine since 1990. Looking at the fascist thugs and crooks running the country that doesn't seem to have any democratic outcome, although rather curiously a pro-Russian leader was toppled by a violent coup supported by right wing extremists for a pro-European pro US leader. If Russia had spent a similar sum "socialising" Scotland, where the US have their Holy Loch submarine base, how do you think that Westminster and Washington would react? Arguably the Russian only need to support Jeanette Crankie in winning a further referendum for the same outcome, but you get my drift. The West was openly and expensively meddling in Ukraine, to diminish Russian influence, and would have known (in my view intended) that this would deny Russian access to the deep water naval ports on the Black Sea. They foolishly assumed Putin would sit back and take his medicine, and they failed to realise that eastern Ukraine is ethnically Russian.

            The Russians turned a neighbouring country with a few thousand mile border with them into a failed state for heaven-knows what reason,

            See above. But note that Ukraine has always been close on a failed state. It never has been wealthy, law abiding or democratic, which is true of most states where map lines fail to represent ethnicity and national loyalty. Other similar examples include Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Sudan, and more than a few others, and its interesting to note that those names are fairly synonymous with protracted and in some cases unwinnable wars.

            1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

              Re: Sad state of affairs

              I believe the game plan for the European forces in the event of a Russian attack at the end of the cold war was to keep them as far east as they could until the yanks arrived. Life expectancy for a tank crew was 90 seconds of combat, due to the expected use of tactical nukes. This isn't from reading Tom Clancy, this is from a mate that drove tanks at the time.

              Europe doesn't have tactical nukes, which was why the reliance on the US.

              And yes, there was talk of the Ukraine joining NATO. I was surprised by this as I'd made the same assertion, but was forced to eat my words. It's here:

              "May 2002: President Leonid Kuchma announces Ukraine's goal of eventual NATO membership and at a NUC meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, foreign ministers underline their desire to take the relationship forward to a qualitatively new level."

              This has been heavily qualified since 2002, but given that Russia had a long history of wanting a thousand miles of land between them and their aggressors to the west (thanks Napoleon), this was shortsighted in the extreme for anyone to suggest. You might not like the bear, but there's no reason to prod it with a stick.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Sad state of affairs

                Europe doesn't have tactical nukes, which was why the reliance on the US.

                The UK doesn't now, but had tactical nukes up until the early 1990s, and that's what the Tornado was built to deliver. The Typhoon was built to stop Soviet aircraft hitting our airfields until the Tornadoes were airborne, and after that it didn't really matter if either Typhoons or airfields survived because that part of the detente mechanism had been "clicked". And I believe the French do still have a modest arsenal of air launched tactical nukes.

                The whole point of detente is prompt response and marginal escalation. If Europe thinks it is protected by US tactical nukes lurking in a warehouse six thousand miles away then they are kidding themselves.

            2. x 7

              Re: Sad state of affairs

              Your rant is full of bollox, but I'll keep my comments to the fact that the yanks left the Holy Loch 20 or more years ago. The rest of what you say is equally inaccurate

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Sad state of affairs

            But just imagine the cognitive dissonance you would get, if somehow you managed to find out that most of the stories you were told about Russia and its actions were either partly untrue, or entirely invented?

            I have a starter item for you - polonium is actually pretty cheap, and is not traceable to any particular country's reactor. The famous victim's boss had well-documented connections to gangsters, and planes to and from a well known nuclear state were contaminated as well.

        2. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Sad state of affairs

          If I were an American tax payer I'd be asking why the US was expecting to keep sorting out wars in Europe.

          What wars in Europe has the US sorted out since they assisted in the 1940s? The Balkan thing? Don't they use conflicts like that for training, battle proving and practise?

          I think their presence here is more of a legacy of their paranoia about the Soviet "commie bastards". The thought of Soviet expansion westwards scared the shit out of them.

          They stick around since the end of the Soviet Union because it suits their purposes.

  5. Jan 0

    Elephant in the room

    This isn't news. Of course they're going to be flying from our ships. After 71 years we automatically gloss over the fact that we live in Occupied Europe. We accept the lies that we have RAF airbases even though they're staffed and run by the USAAF. It's no more of a surprise that USMC jets will be flying from "our" aircraft carriers, than to find Italian seaports stuffed with USA navy ships. The EU will remain a sham as long as its members "invite" USA occupation. The USSR has relinquished some of its satellite states, but the USA hangs on.

    NATO - just say NO!.

    1. Umbracorn

      Re: Elephant in the room

      Oh look, Crimea elephants *cough*

      https://in.rbth.com/society/2015/06/23/elephants_from_india_for_crimean_zoos_43827

  6. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Not why we got rid of Mil SAR

    The military SAR around the UK coast, i.e. the RN's grey and red and the RAF's yellow Sea Kings weren't contected with plane guard duties. Their duties were mainly transferred to the commerial sector because their original role of rescuing fast jet crews who'd crashed around the UK was almost non-existent compared to their secondary role of picking up holiday makers on lilos who'd become a danger to shipping. In all honesty the amount of time it takes MoD to introduce a new type the Sea King wouldn't have been replaced until about 2030 as opposed to Bristow who've managed to get two into service in a couple of years.

    SInce the last, last Ark Royal retired, i.e the one with Phantoms and Buccaneers, the plane guard duties have been taken by the embarked Sea King ASW squadron who're more than capable of finding someone who wants to be found and then winching them up. Damn site easier than finding a submarine anyway.

    As for the USMC operating off the QE Class initially, not necesarilly the best option but when you're trying to generate a capability it's probably better to have an unexperienced ship and an experienced squadron, rarther than an unexperienced ship and an unexperienced squadron. Then you can move to having an experienced ship and an inexperienced squadron and then an experienced ship and squadron.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Not why we got rid of Mil SAR

      I think the article was full of essentially needless snark. Not that I don't come to El Reg for the snark of course, but in this case the story is basically NATO allies cooperating on training with new equipment.

      I wonder how long it'll be before was buy some Ospreys from the US to run off the new carriers?

    2. Wiltshire

      Re: Not why we got rid of Mil SAR

      I reckon "Big Tel" (Terry Loughran) would agree with you.

      "When asked of his opinion on the choice of the F-35B, he is clear the right choice has been made. “Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) is the better choice – it drastically reduces the training requirement. It is always better to stop and land, rather than land and stop."

      http://www.key.aero/view_article.asp?ID=5966&thisSection=military

      Captain Terry Loughran RN

      Ark Royal, April 1993 - December 1994

      Another former pilot, Captain Loughran (or 'Big Tel' as he was affectionately known) joined Ark Royal in Naples during the ship's first peacekeeping mission in the Adriatic. He would also command the ship for a second deployment to the region in 1994 before the ship was placed into extended readiness to await refit later in the decade. After leaving Ark he was promoted to Rear Admiral and was appointed Flag Officer Naval Aviation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not why we got rid of Mil SAR

        “Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) is the better choice – it drastically reduces the training requirement."

        Ahem.

        But think how much was saved on training.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least he's got a good sense of humour.

    He said: “I can welcome the commitment of the United States to deploying F-35s on the first operational deployment of Queen Elizabeth – the HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2021. And in the fullness of time, we expect our F-35s to be welcome on the American carriers.”

    You have to admit he has a good sense of humour - the alternative would be assuming that he was serious when he said that, which would be a worrying display of naïvety ..

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: At least he's got a good sense of humour.

      To be fair the RN's Phantom squadron operated off the Saratoga (I think could have been a different one) before the Ark Royal was ready so it's not unheard of. There was also plenty of cross decking after that.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: At least he's got a good sense of humour.

      It's pretty standard. Plus a lot of UK and US personel go on multi-year secondments to each others forces - and are expected to operate within the chain-of-command as normal. That includes pilots in front-line squadrons on operations.

      I seem to remember the Guardian tried to create a scandal a few years ago, because after the government lost the vote on military action in Syria there was at least one UK pilot operating there - as he was on secondment to the US airforce. I think he was flying the F15E or something and bombing ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.

    3. Karlis 1

      Re: At least he's got a good sense of humour.

      This is how you know that the government knows this will never happen: "Indeed it is, beyond question, at the appropriate juncture, in due course, in the fullness of time."

      (Credit to Yes, Minister. A mandatory watch to anyone interested in what politicians and officials actually mean when they seem to agree with something)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    synergy...

    considering that that the British Isles are essentially a giant aircraft carrier for US war machines.

    1. James 51 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: synergy...

      Airstrip One FTW!

      1. You aint sin me, roit

        Airstrip One

        Where will the Marines land when Corbyn takes us out of Oceania?

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: Airstrip One

          Bournemouth, I think. According to my copy of H2G2 it's one of the most exciting places in the whole galaxy.

  9. tiggity Silver badge

    Good choice of name

    Given that the carrier is an old concept but not really relevant for the modern age as there a far better alternatives and is primarily just a colossal waste of tax payers money I appreciated who it was named after

    1. Umbracorn
      Pirate

      Re: Good choice of name

      Maiden voyage? Hosting a squadron of US Marines? Won't be a maiden after that voyage, methinks.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Good choice of name

      tiggity,

      How is an aircraft carrier not relevant to the modern age? Even if you think drones can currently replace aircraft in all roles, which would be ludicrous, you'd still need a platform to launch those drones from.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Good choice of name - Drones

        you do need a platform but it makes not sense to have it this big and expensive. If you were going down the drone route for this price twenty much smaller vessels would be far more tactically useful and still a lot cheaper.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'And in the fullness of time, we expect "our" F-35s to be welcome on the American carriers.'

    So we'll be flying American planes on American carriers to implement British foreign policy ?

    Yes, of course we will.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      It'll be fine, we only go to war these days when the US tells us to.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        we only go to war these days when the US tells us to

        Don't worry, Hilary's itching to rain death on Syria, 'cos that's what US presidents do.

        And wouldn't it be great if she could have somebody else's carrier at risk rather than USN assets, yet retain full operational control of the military asset?

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Don't worry, Hilary's itching to rain death on Syria,

          No need. Assad and Putin have that nicely covered already.

          Oh sorry, all the problems in the world are created by the West aren't they. I forgot. I apologise, I'll renew my subscription to the Guardian immediately...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Oh sorry, all the problems in the world are created by the West aren't they. I forgot. I apologise, I'll renew my subscription to the Guardian immediately...

            No, you should renew your subscription to Flawed Logic Monthly or What Strawman.

            You have tried to paint me as some anti-western Grauniadista, when in fact the only point I'm making is that pouring more troops, bombs and weapons into a sectarian civil war zone will only amplify the problems, raise new grievances, whilst not resolving existing sectarian, tribal and ethnic disputes. Afghanistan and Iraq show you can't invade and impose democracy, not matter how much you spend, not how mighty your forces (the British and Russians can attest to that in Afghanistan). Libya and Egypt show that removing a despot and creating the space for a liberal democracy fails equally spectacularly.

            1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Coffee/keyboard

              "You have tried to paint me as some anti-western Grauniadista, "

              Just about the last phrase I would ever have considered as a description for you.

              "the only point I'm making is that pouring more troops, bombs and weapons into a sectarian civil war zone will only amplify the problems, raise new grievances, whilst not resolving existing sectarian, tribal and ethnic disputes. "

              "Libya and Egypt show that removing a despot and creating the space for a liberal democracy fails equally spectacularly."

              And of course there was the situation in Northern Ireland, where those grievances were eventually addressed and people decided to stop the killing

              Something to think about there.

          2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Windows

            Hillary knows where Aleppo is. No wonder ... she did it in.

            No need. Assad and Putin have that nicely covered already.

            Yeah well that's fucking bullshit oozing from the liberventionists. Please take your brainpills.

            Remember when Ghaddafi distributed viagra for RAPE! to hurry GENOCIDE! along and we suddenly needed to impose a NO-FLY ZONE! because otherwise A NEW HOLOCAUST SOON!

            We are currently at the point in Obama'sHillary's excellent Lybian Adventure where the NOBEL-PEACE-PRIZE PRESIDENT is stationing THE CARRIERS OF FREEDOM off the coast of Lybia for no particular reason except to apparently bomb stuff (based on what? for what? who nows! Maybe to keep Hillary's weapon rat line into Syria intact?). Unfortunately our Lyibian CIA ASSET General Hifter (an ex from Al Qaeda btw) has suddenly been declared as NO LONGER A WINNER as he's not aligned with the TRIPOLI-BASED (or was it Syre-based?) GOVERNMENT that we are currently supporting (or not). I suppose a REGRETTABLE INCIDENT if not DEATH BY LIBERTY DRONE will follow soon.

            In Frank Miller's comic "Electra Assassin" the progressive presidential candidate Ken Wind, a smug smooth-talking cardboard cutout who is always looking directly at the reader is actually a product of Evil and the idea is to unleash nuclear war. Luckily this is pre-empted by mind transfer as foul-mouthed, beer-drinking Agent Garret, who fantasizes about Electra dominating him (and who is a Trump lookalike come to think of it) gets to inhabit this empty shell, win the presidency, install the red button on his desk and tell the Soviets what's what, Thompson submachinegun in hand (we are left hoping that the Soviet Ambassador showing up at the White House will accede to demands). It's like Frank got some channelling from the future.

            Also, to heat the debate up some more: It Takes A Village Idiot to Vote for Hillary

            As the media reminds us, Trump disqualifies himself for the presidency daily. This time it was for speaking the truth about Putin at the forum. The Russian people’s approval of their president stands at 82 percent. But the correct American values, as decreed by our northeastern elites, depend on disparaging Putin and his people. After all, Russians are stupid. They need Clinton and her Radical Republican counterpart, Speaker Paul Ryan (or a color-coded revolution organized by both), to induct them into the American government’s ways.

            Enforcer Hillary (and Speaker Ryan) was having none of it. A preference for the Russian president over our American president was plain “unpatriotic and scary,” to be stamped out and marginalized.

            “Hillary Rodham Clinton,” argues historian Clyde N. Wilson, whose métier is American intellectual history, “is a museum-quality specimen of the Yankee—self-righteous, ruthless, and self-aggrandizing.”

            And this just in: Hillary Clinton’s National Security Advisers Are a “Who’s Who” of the Warfare State

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's not actually war, that would involve having *another side*.

        Which is why they are desperate to convert almost all fighter jets to fighter-bombers, no matter how lame.

        Obviously they just mostly use any old militias regardless of ideology, instead of invading directly nowadays so these planes are just air cover for these noble lads while they go about their "business".

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For a long time now defence has been about going on neoliberal inspired bombing missions to further the interests of capital. It also helps if the equipment is vastly over priced and over complex, because that serves the needs of private industry well.

    It would be a much better long term strategy to make defence about defending this country, and how best to get good value for money for the tax payer. Spreading out UK bases instead of concentrating them in one nice big target would be a start.

    1. Patrician
      Unhappy

      I'd far rather our armed forces "defended" the UK on foreign soil thank very much; the alternative is "defending" the UK on UK soil.....

  12. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    A USMC Harrier

    could land on HMS Queen Elizabeth - say during an exercise or emergency*. Expect a security clampdown on any photographs of the event.

    *in the absence of a nearby cargo vessel!

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a17964/a-harrier-jump-jet-once-landed-on-a-mini-van-on-cargo-ship/

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BD4oiBSXGDM

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: A USMC Harrier

      'Expect a security clampdown on any photographs of the event.'

      Why? There was a USMC Phamton stuck on the old Ark back in the '70s prior to a visit to Malta. As Malta wasn't overly well disposed to the US at the time they painted over the US markings.

      http://www.urbanghostsmedia.com/2014/12/usmc-f-4-phantom-151477-tail-markings-royal-navy-malta/

    2. Pedigree-Pete
      Thumb Up

      Talking of landing Harriers on things

      Talking of landing Harriers on things, when I lived in East Anglia in the early 70s there was a local story that the dented barn (I think it was in Bainton) was dented because an RAF Wittering Harrier was lost in fog. Love to know if there's any truth in that. PP

  13. Wiltshire

    Harriers still flying

    Good news chaps!

    Despite chucking our own Harriers overboard, there are still Brits working on real live Harriers on active service.

    "Bet you never thought you’d see a Royal Navy aircraft handler giving the thumbs up to a Harrier launching on operations again.

    But here, on the deck of the USS Wasp, a US Marine Corps AV8-B – the internationally-licensed variant of Britain’s legendary jump jet – receives the thumbs up from one of six Brits aboard the assault ship, conducting operations against Daesh forces in Libya.

    Half a dozen handlers from Culdrose – led by CPO Rich Clark – are the latest group to get the full-on heavy metal experience of safely operating fast jets and helicopters on a hectic flight deck… exactly as they’ll be doing on HMS Queen Elizabeth in a couple of years’ time.

    Keen to help their allies back into the big carrier game, the Americans have been helping to train groups of RN handlers on their flat-tops – side-by-side with the training that the Brits receive at the School of Flight Deck Operations back in Culdrose."

    More : https://navynews.co.uk/archive/news/item/15215

    By the way, the USS Wasp has got hovercraft as well.

    Nostalgic groan. Have our Royal Marines still got any?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Harriers still flying

      Yup, the Royal Marines still have beach-assault hovercraft with machineguns on top. I'm not sure I'd like to go into battle on an essentially unsteerable giant green bouncy-castle, but then the Marines are probably made of tougher stuff than me.

  14. Not also known as SC

    Flags

    Why does the plane in the photo have a bunch of flags painted on the side?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Flags

      They'll be the countries taking part in the F35 program. I can see us, Italy, Norway, Australia (who are all partner nations).

      As I zoom in it goes all blurry. Is that a Chinese flag in the middle there? I mean I know they've been hacking Lockheed Martin's computers for F35 data... Well obviously it's Turkey, and I presume Canada next to them.

      1. Not also known as SC
        Pint

        Re: Flags

        Thanks ----- >

        I half thought that they were instructions for the pilots about who not to shoot at, but then looking at the list I knew that couldn't be true.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excellent

    We have paid for very expensive taxis for the USA. Bravo.

  16. ritey

    Not enough jets or too many conflicts

    If we were not involved in unnecessary conflict the number of jets we have would be plenty for our needs.

  17. Stoke the atom furnaces

    Harrier Jump Jet

    The USMC also operates ahighly versatile STVOL aircraft called the Harrier.

    Maybe the MoD could look into operating an anglicised version of this aircraft from the Queen Elizabeth?

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Harrier Jump Jet

      That's crazy talk! And you if you think the Russians or ISIS are scary, wait until you tangle with the phalanx of lawyers, congresspeople and defense department personnel that Lockheed Martin has on retainer.

  18. Archtech Silver badge

    Ignorance in high places

    "...the HMS Queen Elizabeth..."

    This is a solecism, particularly coming from Her Majesty's Minister of Defence. "HMS" stands for "Her Majesty's Ship", as in "Her Majesty's Ship 'Queen Elizabeth'". It would be absurd to talk about "the Her Majesty's Ship 'Queen Elizabeth'".

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Ignorance in high places

      Depends. Which Queen Elisabeth are we talking about?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ignorance in high places

        "His Majesty's Sexpartner" then?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ignorance in high places

          oh...do you mean HMS Ken?

  19. Commswonk Silver badge

    Propulsion System

    There have been a couple of posts mentioning the non - nuclear based propulsion system of these carriers.

    I have a vague recollection of hearing somewhere that the problem is the risk that normally friendly countries take exception to nuclear - powered ships turning up in their waters, never mind their ports. The outcome would be that even if there was an urgent need to tie up somewhere (for whatever reason) then any request would be summarily denied. Goodbye goodwill visits (a common tradition of the RN) to practically anywhere.

    The risk extends to the potential compromise of a serious operational deployment because other countries don't want a nuclear system of any sort anywhere near them.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupid

    Would have been quicker and cheaper for us to order or buy Nimitz class ships and f18s from the states.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Stupid

      You'd have to buy the crew as well. As has been discussed already in this thread, a Nimitz class carrier takes some 5,000 crew to operate.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Stupid

        Add the on-shore maintenance facilities, too, please.

  21. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    In the 70s it used to be said that England was the USA's aircraft carrier in the North Sea.

    Now, in the late twenty-tens England's new aircraft carrier is the USA's aircraft carrier in the North Sea.

    Progress indeed.

    I'm off to watch that episode of Yes Prime Minister where they talk about how in the 70s The British Nuclear Deterrent Was a rocket on which the nose cone didn't fit.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    617 Squadron?

    Surely the Dambusters deserve to be given a proper aircraft to fly.

  23. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Meanwhile in Portsmouth

    Dredging work to enable these carriers to enter the harbour has just turned up a WWII torpedo...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-37327555

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much pork barrel politics is required for a country with a recently great military to get here?

  25. Sokolik

    USMC?

    Cousins, you have my condolences.

    -- USAF officer

  26. Medixstiff

    FTFY

    Currently we own just four of the over budget, problem ridden fighter jets:

  27. CmdrX3

    Just a shame they didn't go with their original cat launcher carriers, then they would have had plenty of choices to load on the carrier, sadly the UK military has a fetish for hugely expensive VTOL aircraft and are all too ready to touch their toes and take it in the rusty sheriffs star from BAE Systems.

  28. Potemkine Silver badge

    UK armed forces are just an extension of the US Armies from military intelligence to nuclear missiles sold and controlled by the US. Having US forces on UK ships is logical on that perspective.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Potemkine

      "UK armed forces are just an extension of the US Armies....." Not so. Indeed, they are structured very differently, though they have learned to operate well on joint operations by recognising each others' strengths.

      "......from military intelligence......" <Sigh> No, completely different structure and operation. Try again!

      ".....to nuclear missiles sold and controlled by the US....." WTF? Please go read up on Trident - the UK missiles have UK-built warheads and are completely under the UK's control.

    2. jimjones

      Sure, and the US is just an extension of the UK due to them speaking our language and using units of measurement, time and culture that was 'controlled' by the UK. Having UK forces on US ships (extremely common) is logical on that perspective. /S

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