Re: F-35 Normal state is TITSUP
I hope that there is some way for the UK to get out of this debacle
Option 1) Conclude we need carriers. Cancel F35, then spend at least £2bn, probably more, taking the QE carriers back to the shipyard, and fitting them with cats and traps, and buying either F18 or Rafale M, since we wouldn't have time to develop our own naval strike aircraft.
Option 2) Conclude there's no real use case for carriers in the sort of wars we want to be prepared for. Cancel the F35 orders, and sell the carriers to whoever's dim enough to buy them. Even then, who'd buy them as carriers when they can only operate the F35?
Given the limited number of carriers we can afford, and the vulnerability to modern missile and torpedo threats, I'm leaning towards option 2. In terms of long range force projection, we could use them as helicopter carriers in low tech threat scenarios, but then we'd need the ability to project force by other means, such as more, working missile attack submarines, far more advanced drone capabilities. That would mean drones capable of in flight refueling to give very long range and long loiter time, but also with very advanced defensive capabilities to minimise losses.
In many ways, we're stuck with the "F35 + crap carriers" mess created by the last three decades of politicians. Perhaps we should be more worried about the lack of any foresighted defence or equipment strategies, and the near total dependence on the US for major combat systems.