The Royal Navy speaks so it can sleep at night.
Adml Sir Mark Stanhope said the campaign would have been more effective without the Government's defence cuts.The later exactly spells out what I discussed over at USNIBlog back in March and how this operation has played out.
The aircraft carrier and the Harrier jump-jets scrapped under last year's strategic defence review would have made the mission more effective, faster and cheaper, he said.
Sir Mark warned that the Navy would not be able to sustain its operations in Libya for another three months without making cuts elsewhere.
"The pros would have been a much more reactive force," he said. "Rather than deploying from Gioia del Colle, we would deploy within 20 minutes as opposed to an hour and a half, so obviously there are some advantages. It's cheaper to fly an aircraft from an aircraft carrier than from the shore." Scrapping Ark Royal and its Harriers was perhaps the most controversial decision made in last year's Strategic Defence and Security Review. The Coalition has said it could not afford to maintain the ship or the planes. Military analysts and retired defence chiefs have said the cuts have limited Britain's military capabilities.
That is a very substantial argument - but it looks like the politicians over in the UK are a bit more interested in saving face than facing their error.
Dr Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, defended the defence review last night. He said: "We continue to have the resources necessary to carry out the operations we are undertaking."Did that get your targeteering senses a'ting'n? It did mine. Shall we fact check the Honorable Gentelman? Yes - let's.
An MoD source said: "Unfortunately Harriers wouldn't have been able to carry the precision weapons needed for these operations."
The Harrier GR9 is an avionics and weapons upgrade of the standard GR7. The £500m Joint Update and Maintenance Programme (JUMP) upgraded the Harrier fleet during normal maintenance periods, in a series of incremental capabilities. These started with software upgrades to the communications, ground proximity warning and navigation systems, followed by the integration of the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile. Capability C added the RAF's Rangeless Airborne Instrumentation Debriefing System (RAIDS), Raytheon's Successor Identification Friend or Foe (SIFF) system and the Paveway guided bombs. The Digital Joint Reconnaissance Pod (DJRP) was added as part of Capability D and handling trials of the MBDA Brimstone missile started on 14 February 2007. However the Brimstone was still not cleared for the GR9 as of November 2010.Sharkey Ward says it better.
... it was disgraceful for the MoD to contradict Sir Mark Stanhope in a most blatant manner by saying, “Unfortunately Harriers wouldn’t have been able to carry the precision weapons needed for these operations.”What does Italy have to do with this?
“Disgraceful”, because the MoD source responsible for this statement was not telling the truth (there appears to be a pattern here, does there not?). The Tornado is now delivering the Paveway Mk III 2000 lb bunker-busting bomb instead of the unreliable Storm Shadow missile. Harrier delivers Paveway Mk III and Paveway Mk IV with the same or better accuracy as Tornado. Harrier also delivers the Maverick anti-tank missile and the CRV7 rocket – neither of which is carried by Tornado. It is true that Harrier does not carry Brimstone – it was to be fitted with the same prior to SDSR 2010. But the Apache helicopter deploys Hellfire, the equivalent of Brimstone, as well as 30 mm cannon fire.
Harrier and Apache are both maritime capable aircraft that have been designed specifically for the Close Air Support task. Both have supported our ground forces in Afghanistan extremely well – unlike the Tornado which is not fully suited to the Close Air Support task.
Official MoD sources (RAF?) should be taken to task on the lies and obfuscation that they present to the press.
As the Harrier II Plus fighter rips down the runway and launches into the skies on a mission to Libya, chaplain Vincenzo Caiazzo is on deck in his dog collar to see it safely off.There should be a Royal Navy Carrier there right now. Instead - we have the Italians and the French using what little they have. Carriers cannot deploy forever.
The amiable chaplain has been with the ITS Garibaldi — the flagship for NATO's embargo mission — since October, when he signed up to provide troops on the light aircraft carrier with psychological support.
"It's a whole other world. There are exciting moments and others when some of the guys feel frustrated or homesick," said Don Vincenzo, who swapped his parish in southern Italy for masses held amidst acrid oil fumes in the bowels of the flattop.
"He brings us a welcome oasis of calm," said one young officer as another fighter shot off down the 174 metre long runway with a shuddering roar, sending shock waves through the Garibaldi.
Normality, for those manning the enormous carrier, is blaring sirens, blinking warning lights and sailors sprinting up ladders, down warren-like corridors and into crowded control rooms.
Political spats about the cost and wisdom of taking on Libya are not an issue on board ship, where radars scan the sea for suspect vessels and helicopters and fighters engaged in civilian protection touch base.
"I've just got back off a mission, we're going to have a quick debrief and then a much-needed wind down," said a tired-looking pilot after clambering out of his tiny cockpit and collapsing in a chair in the mess room.
Though the details of his sortie were confidential, an official in the command centre who asked to remain anonymous said it had been "successful", though he would not confirm reports the jet had deployed one of its missiles.
When they leave?
One final note - listen to Admiral Lord West.