back to article Latest Navy carrier madness: 'Sell 'em to India'

Yet another scheme by the MoD for cutting costs on the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers has surfaced in the media, with claims now being aired that one of the two ships might be sold to India. The Guardian reports that India "has recently lodged a firm expression of interest to buy one of the two state-of-the-art 65,000 …


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  1. Russell Long

    Excellent article.

    I think that the biggest problem with the armed forces is the MOD. They are hopelessly incompetent, unable to carry out basic budgetary functions, unable to grasp the long-term strategic needs of the UK and unable to deliver even on the needs they DO recognise.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Warmongering upkeep

    If Britain were not such a warmongering nation, perhaps there would be much more liquidity for fiscal and other kinds of stimuli, for when the going got tough.

  3. Christopher Rogers
    Thumb Down

    I blame

    the government again. Tossers.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Goodbye, Britain

    I'm moving to a country that will actually have some equipment left to defend itself in World War III...

  5. Bl33ter
    Megaphone's the RAF's fault?

    The Reg (i.e. Lewis) stories about the services generally seem to lean towards the idea, that the RAF gets what it wants at the expense of the poor ole Navy. In this story it's the cash for Nimrods, previously it's been borg'ing the Harrier squadrons and other time it's how it managed to sell long range tactical bombing and strike capability as the future etc etc.

    Rather than floating jibes (friendly though, we all understand banter:))) about how the fly-boys'n'girls get the cream, maybe you should be questioning why the Navy brass seem so incapable of effectively making their own case regarding the kit they require.

    There's a bit of levity here, I know you don't always blame the RAF, but I still think the question is a fair one. If the RAF have learned the secret Whitehall handshake then why have the senior service forgotten it?

  6. PirateSlayer
    IT Angle

    Modern Warfare

    "perhaps the whole navy - are useless for modern wars such as Afghanistan."

    Unless said "modern war" involves a coastline and we have no buddies willing to let us land and fuel our transport planes.

    "quite possible to question the need for a new and even more expensive tank army in these post-Cold-war days."

    They are pretty good at not getting blown up by IEDs, pretty good at blowing stuff up when you point them at things and pretty good at plouging through houses to objectives. Should they spend their cash on jeeps instead?

    Plenty of cold war tech around that needs blowing up (I guess what the airforce leaves behind)

    Overall a "totemic [sic]" article.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not sell it to Canada?

    How about a trade for a couple of "top quality" subs, that do not catch fire at sea "very often"

    If your carrier has the same quality than _nobody_ in their right mind would pay more

    than the scrap metal value.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only someone as incompetent as a UK govt official will take this bait

    And how exactly will Indian Tejas, Mig29K and Su33 operate off that BAE abomination? All of them need a catapult.

  9. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Can someone come and invade us?

    Because I don't think we're making it as an independent grown-up country.

    So do we have any takers?

    Large(ish) archipelago (GSOH) conveniently located off of the Western Coast of Europe would like to meet professional empire. Somewhat neglected for the last century but would make an excellent second territory. This competitively-priced country comes complete with fully-fitted drizzle, threadbare transport network and a decorative German monarchy. The landmass* is available to the highest bidder in possession of a half-baked system of government.

    *offer does not include the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland negotiable.

  10. breakfast
    Paris Hilton

    That contracts thing

    So I know that parliament is subject to the rule of law, and that is what makes us a democracy and whathaveyou, but when they are being ripped off by contractors like BAE and us taxpayers are pouring income into these ridiculous and worthless contracts, could they not change the law a bit and get themselves out of it?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the other vultures

    The problem with the MoD is that it is run by management consultants & has been for the best part of 15 years. As normal they cut the information flow between those in the field and those with the money and redirect it to best suit themselves - often into PFI contracts from which they can cream off 10s of millions a year as advisers. When you wonder why MoD cant find the money to support the forces on active duty then look to these leeches for your answer.

    ( removing *all* such consultants & advisers from government would save more per year than any of the cuts proposed by the 3 main parties - strange this is never mentioned as an option )

  12. Phil 51

    True British DIYers Wanted

    The suggestion the the UK should use "US-style tail hook and catapault launcher" carriers does not reflect the true nature of the British military success story. We did not build an empire on the back of "how the other guy did it". We did not invent RADAR and kick BF109 ass because "someone else did it already". We did not conceive and create the Harrier after "copying that new-world upstart design". I say NO. I say we get out our collective slide rules and have a go at obsoleting carriers altogether, just as in the days of our forefathers such as Crossing-the-T at Trafalgar, inventing the jet engine or designing the Spitfire. I say no to the drudgery of "keeping up with the Jones". I say we have submarines that can launch squadrons of BUCAVs (BRITISH Un-personed Combat Air Vehicles). Or flotillas of carrier hovercraft that can launch Harrier-TNG by reversing their fans and blowing them up into the air. Come on Britain, do we always need a mortal threat before putting our thinking caps on?

  13. Dave Evans 1

    Lewis, inaccurate as ever

    The RAF had several confirmed kills during the Israeli war of independence in 1948, in Spitfires, all launched from land bases. There was also the incident in 1982 when an RAF Phantom in Germany took out an RAF Jaguar, but we don't really like to talk about that one!

  14. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Crystal balls

    Because you dont order your next batch of kit for the fly boys, the bubble heads and the grunts to fight the last war or the current war, you order it to fight the next war.

    About the only sensible suggestion in the last 3 pages is to make sure that the carriers are equipped with arrestor gear and catapults.

    And as for the MoD idiots in whitehall....... they've been idiots for more than the past 15 years and the UK armed forces do so well wherever they are sent in spite of the MoD , not because of it.

  15. Llama-made

    This article is the root cause of the problem

    This kind of thinking is precisely why British defence procurement has been in such a mess for decades. We have to accept that we will never have the perfect fighter, submarine, tank, helicopter, or aircraft carrier. Someone else's will always be better in some way or another, and what we build will always be more expensive than we think it ought to be. This is simply the way things are. If you disagree you probably need to study your history better. But if we keep changing our mind during the process and changing the specification then we will never get there and it will cost us far more than if we had stuck to our initial idea!

    Really it's about confidence in our own abilities as a nation to produce the goods, and articles like this one do nothing but undermine that. Britain should have the confidence to produce anything it needs: it certainly has the talent and it has a glorious history producing the very finest engineering. Britain has got so mired in post-colonial doubt about its abilities that we fail to do anything effectively.

    France, on the other hand, has not. France builds its own nuclear deterrent, their own missiles, their own submarines (without having to get US management consultants in to run the show... hello KBR), they launch satellites, they go into space, and they had the Rafale 5 years or more before the Eurofighter. They keep a larger standing army, their air force is larger than the UK's and their navy is of comparable size. Somehow they manage to do all this with a smaller defence budget than the UK. I think we need to ask ourselves as a nation how they do that.

    p.s. aren't the French building one of these carriers? Didn't they pay the UK for the design? I think that says it all.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Re: This article is the root cause of the problem

    You said it right "Has the glorious history". It does not however presently have the culture to produce any engineering at least in peacetime.

    One cannot produce something new if he agrees to _ALL_ requirements including a requirement that it looks like the previous one. Engineering is "the art of the possible". In order to produce something sensible an engineer has to say quite a few NOs here and there.

    That is a no-no in a British company. Nearly all of British engineering in all British companies is presently operating in "design by committee" mode. Everything has to be consensual and everyone has to say yes. If you say NO you get a special course with HR on the benefits of positive thinking and they tell you quite a few times that you either say YES or leave. As a result the product never leaves the drawing board or costs a significant fraction of the GDP once it has been produced like the Nimrod.

    The reason why Britain manages to design interesting stuff only in wartime is because only in wartime the few Brits that actually know how to spell NO get to finally exercise that NO. And that is the main difference with France. They know how to say NON. Even in peacetime. That is why the continue to design and produce excellent kit.

  17. Stuart 18

    Definitely Maybe

    Are the polemics of totemics leading to the obliteration of alliteration?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    Hello, my name is Paranjay, thank you for calling Royal Navy, Can we have your GPS coordinates please and how may we be infringing your sovereign waters today sir?

    Gravestone for the death of the UK.

  19. Defiant

    Already buying Russian ones

    India has already order 3 Russian ones, one already delivered. If they want more though they could buy them yes because we give them enough in aid!

  20. Defiant

    Knowledge is power

    "And how exactly will Indian Tejas, Mig29K and Su33 operate off that BAE abomination? All of them need a catapult."

    Who do you think bought the Royal Navy Sea Harriers, yes our existing two air craft carriers sail around the world now with no aircraft on board!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the opposing view is...?

    I do enjoy Lewis's rants... but in the interests of balance, could El Reg commission the occasional article from someone who salutes palm out, or something?

  22. S Larti

    Depressingly honest article...

    But isn't this all academic, since the Tories will probably cancel the carriers when they get in? They don't desperately need votes in Scottish shipyard constituencies. They could probably cancel it all under 'Health & Safety' when they read about melting decks with the F-35B.

  23. Peter Hood


    Since WWII it's been a process of attrition; the forces have been used in pointless exercises, like Suez, Iraq; they have simultaneously been run down and under equipped, equipped with poor expensive equipment that either has to be modernised (e.g. the SA80, Nimrod) or replaced again (the radio system that was deployed in Afghanistan). (Let's note that the SA80 lacks the punch of the 7.62 FN FAL, which could knock a hole through brick walls, and the SA80 is proving a disappointment in Afghanistan) On the face of it your suggestion appears to make sense, but sense is not often found in politicians. It certainly will not be found in the current incumbents, whose knowledge of of the classic qualifications for citizenship does not seem to include 'military service', even though Woolas was actually taught this on his course. (I know, I read the same degree.)

    Don't expect too much of the Tories either, though the luxury of not being under fire does give time to work in focus groups and think tanks.

    FWIW Labour is a busted flush and probably ought to be consigned to the 3rd rank/naughty step, with the Liberals moving into opposition, under the clear understanding that they can only consider PI *after* a referendum, whose design and aims have been publicly debated, clearly understood and specified. Do not forget this. PI is dangerous in almost all of its forms. I'd say all of them, but one or two examples appear to work.

    Kill Labour, save defence.

  24. Saopaulo101

    soon britain will envy the swiss navy

    and what happens if someone decides to sink our 1 aircraft carrier? the govenment should hang their heads in shame this is an absolute disgrace, wasn't our navy once the envy of the world? now we cant even afford a basic military necessity.

  25. Desk Jockey

    A non story

    This is a non-story as even Lewis admits. The Indians are not going to buy this carrier because it would be insane to do so. They already have the Russian ones although admittedly there are reports they are not happy with the quality and project management done by the Russkies.

    The real story here is BAE trying to head off any political thought of cancelling a carrier. As for it being more expensive to cancel than build the things, Lewis forgot to make clear that this is more expensive in regards to employment rather than financial, a card BAE would like to play, but might not get much sympathies from the Tories who couldn't give a fig about Scottish voters who wont vote for them in any case. Thus BAE are trying the financial argument which wont wash because of course no idiot would sign a contract saying it would cost more to cancel than build. If that was true, it would be cheaper to cancel and give everyone the money for not doing any work! I doubt the Tories will cancel though. You don't get to be a big dick on the world stage if you don't have any carriers and this is one of the projects ploughing money into the UK economy which really needs all the help it can get right now.

    As an aside, what is up with Lewis these days? He was quiet for ages and suddenly he has kicked out loads of defence articles. Back from a long holiday?

  26. Francis Offord

    Here we go again!

    I find the arguments interesting to say the least bu totally unconvincing when it comes to operational usefullness. We have been brainwashed into thinking many things from historical experience were factually based but they have proved to be an exercise an fallability. After Pearl Harbour we, and the Yanks, built up our carrier defence capability but during one of the nmany Labour Purges of the defence capability of the United Kingdom (well it was then) we were informed by the musclebound brains of the government, who had very little military experience, that carriers were done for before sailing.

    If that was the case why did the Yanks have enouigh sense to mothball their fleet whilst we made ours into razorblades, or whatever we did with them? Why, in the light of subsequent experience, are we having this debate again now? It remains the aim of successive Labour administrations to obey their lords and masters in the Kremlin and reduce us to third world capability militarily. I have news for them, they have already succeeded to the point where we could not even defend ourselves against Holland or Belgium. That being the case, they should at least pronounce their intentions proudly and allow us to come to accept that status. I shall vote again when the first honest entrant into parliament, since Guy Fawkes,

    makes his appearance.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Maybe than can use some of the aid..........

    Maybe they can use some of the £825 Million that our government sent in aid to India last year. Or would it be cheaper to send them the Carrier. looking at Indias recent investment in military and space technology they must be roling in cash. Why do we need to keep sending them any? Must admit when I was in India a few years back I was laughing a bit as we keep getting the Imperialist past bit. Looking at the Indian news they seemed to be fighting all over the region and butting there noses into other countries business the only difference between India and the Uk on the Imperialist bit seemed to be the word "past".

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe than can use some of the aid..........

    Desk Jockey said:

    "Thus BAE are trying the financial argument which wont wash because of course no idiot would sign a contract saying it would cost more to cancel than build"

    Sorry mate you have never had the misfortune to workj in Government, the place is filled with idiots who would sign anything. They are all too interested in moaning about how well off they would be if they were in the private sector

  29. Anonymous Coward

    build a big enogh army and no one will bother you....

    ....but defend everything and you defend nothing.

    Presumably we only needs these things for holding on to far off British holdings in places like the Falklands/etc/etc because lets face it the real big wars against the likes of China/Russia/USA are economic/resource ones and Britain has already lost and looks unlikely to recover any time soon. So maybe some one should really sit down and calculate what it's really worth holding on to those lands apart from prestige/pride(always comes before a fall).

    And whilst we're at it maybe it's time Britain/the British tax payer stopped stepping in to fix the world and started concentrating on fixing the problems at home. No one thanks Britain for it and our smug allies can stop sitting back and criticizing whilst not having to do any of the dirty work themselves.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    There you go again...

    ...using common sense and even logic in the face of politics. Silly, silly Lester... ;-)

  31. PaulK

    What Carriers?

    Collectively, Whitehall is either barking or has a supremely twisted sense of humour. Who else could come up with a project that is designed by Frogs, built by Jocks, managed by Yanks and fucked up by gin soaked cretins in blue uniforms with shiny buttons?

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