Libya: "axed Harriers could have saved lives"

Discussion in 'Strategic Defence & Spending Review (SDSR)' started by AlMiles, Mar 21, 2011.

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  1. From Channel 4 News' website:

    Libya: axed Harriers 'could have saved lives'

    A former senior Harrier commander tells Channel 4 News the US Navy's use of the jets against Colonel Gaddafi shows the British Government was wrong to scrap Britain's sea-based air power.

    The Government is facing renewed calls from former senior military personnel to rethink its programme of defence cuts as operations in Libya threaten to expose Britain's weaknesses.

    The decision to scrap the UK's last aircraft carrier, the Ark Royal, along with the Harrier jump jet - the last plane capable of flying from the decks of ships - has been strongly criticised by ex-RAF and Navy commanders.

    The lack of a sea-based strike option initially left the RAF with no choice but to fly sorties from bases in the UK, sending Tornado jets on 3,000-mile round trips at a cost of £200,000 per aircraft, according to estimates from analysts.

    The RAF bombing raid from RAF Marham in Norfolk on Saturday night is thought to be the longest single sortie since the Falklands War, entailing an eight-hour round trip.

    David Cameron has told the House of Commons that two Typhoon jets have now been sent to a military base in southern Italy, 25 minutes flying time from the Libyan coast.

    Commodore Steven Jermy, who flew Harriers from HMS Invincible during the Falklands war and was later Strategy Director in the British Embassy in Kabul, said the 600-mile trip from Italy to eastern Libya will make it impossible for the fighters to respond quickly enough to the changing situation.

    He told Channel 4 News: "You can't do it like that. It's a ridiculous idea. Speaking as a naval aviator, it is a technical triumph, because it is such a long way.

    "But what they are calling a tactical triumph is a reflection of a strategic shortfall.

    "The advantage of being 40 miles off the coast is that the aircraft will be on deck alert in ten minutes."

    "What we are seeing is that the Americans have got what is essentially an aircraft carrier off the coast. The French will have one in a short time. The best we can do is operate 600 miles away.

    "You just can't do it. You can't manage a combat air patrol from that distance. We struggled in the Falklands when we were 150 miles off the coast."

    More/continues: Libya: axed Harriers 'could have saved lives' - Channel 4 News
  2. Nice to see someone other than Sharkey countering the Crab spin-merchants for a change but I'm sure WC and sunoficarus will be along to 'correct' things soon.

    A handful of aircraft with tanker support fly a 3,000 mile round trip from RAF Marham to Libya at enormous cost and effort only to have their mission aborted as they approach the target. Good airmanship but to continue calling such an uneconomic use of resources a triumph? Really!

  3. I wondered how long it would be before the 'lets changes SDSR and keep the carriers crew' started on this one. Not that I am necessarily in disagreement, but didn't we ditch the Harrier Air Defence variant a couple of years back? And doesn't operating off a carrier limit the amount of ammo and fuel you can carry?

    Not in total disagreement, but I am not entirely sure the facts stack up on this one as much as certain retired Andrew types would have us believe.
  4. where is our nearist carrier? being as arks being measured for razor blades, illustrious is the only carrier we have left and unless shes ready to sale straight away then the only option would be to send in the RAF as how long would it take to arrange supplies, personel and planes, escorts and then sail to the med a week? although if we had em it would be nice without the number os ships available to the USA the RAF were the only way to respond to the crisis immediantly
  5. Would a Harrier 'in theory' be able to carry a couple of storm shadows and take off from a ship?

    I could understand the argument more if we lost a Nimitz size carrier in the cuts with F15/18's on it?
  6. I'm sure the Commodore is correct, 40 nm is far better but CVS with GR9's is NOT the answer, and never WILL be the answer - the sun dodging pasty faced boat crews have this more than covered frankly.

    But getting our GR9's back won't solve a damn thing, and they couldn't solve anything. What we need to do is take this hit on the chin - we****ed up as a country when we let the OLD Ark go without a replacement. What needs to happen now is a slow and steady build up, using safe proven designs to enable us to get our full fat carrier capability back as, I still firmly believe, the capability it provides is exactly in line with the kind of actions/conflicts we need to be able to engage in - ie limited interventions just like this one. However, we need to accept that it takes time and effort to regenerate this capability, and CVF isn't the right way of going about it.
  7. Of course, that build up would be easier if we were operating jets from the deck.... Perhaps jets we already have from an existing deck. Hmmm!

    Also see: Decision to axe Harrier is "bonkers". - PPRuNe Forums

    Edit (December 2012): Why can't we just lease a few (a couple of AV8Bs to attach to NFSF(FW), to give us something to embark to train the deck crews (and others), and give UK based RN jet jocks something to fly?
    • Like Like x 1
  8. He might be a "certain retired Andrew type" but I wonder how his detractors' track records stack up against his:
  9. Bring back the Vulcan we could bomb all their assets in one sortie!!!

    If we had the SLR we could shoot them from Cyprus!!!

    If we still had a Cavalry we could ride over the desert and...

    YAWN! :)
  10. It is worth noting, of course, that the emotive 'save lives' cry came from one Cdr (rtd) Nigel Ward... Evidence? Ah, yes...

    Leveller - no, the GR9s couldn't have used Storm Shadow. Weapon not cleared - first, you have to take part of the undercarriage off to load the weapon, and second, you can't bring it back unused. There are other issues which would've been a bit of a challenge to resolve to clear the weapon, AIUI (from a former OC of a Harrier sqn) So if last night's aborted op (because of info arriving en route which revised the CDE to unacceptable levels), the Harriers would've returned to the Ark Royal and unloaded a couple of million quid's worth of weapons into the sea to be able to get back aboard. That'd have buggered up Cdr Ward's calculations about the cost...
  11. Lusty is in refit at the moment.

    The main message though is, He who spins loudest, wins.

    The RAF have got that down to a fine art..........

    Here's a point to consider,

    Have the Army and the Navy been naïve in the last 20 odd years and allowed it all to happen?
  12. Except that when you follow the link guess who is also holding forth - and indeed is the source of the 'saving lives' claim. He also claims

    Is this really the case?

  13. Maybe you are right about a 'full fat carrier' as you put it, but wouldnt it be better and certainly far more flexible if we still had a deck and Harriers to fly off it in the meantime? What the Government/MOD has done is akin to me deciding that I need a new car and selling my current one now before buying the new one in two years time... what am I going to do in the meantime walk?
  14. Would the knackered tornado be the same one that first flew in 1974 some 7 years after the first harrier flight?
    Gr9 was never cleared for stormshadow so how could it have done the mission? How much fuel would ark and her escorts have used pooling round the med? I suspect it is a lot more than the transit costs of the tornado
  15. Who is saying anything about Harriers carrying Stormshadow, obviously he means it could have done the jobs that other US Harriers have been doing. Incidently all this display about flying 3,000 miles from Marham seems more to be about showboating how important the Tornados are when Submarines are just off the coast doing the same job, I wonder if the sqaudrons flying these sorties are the same squadrons inked to be scrapped under the SDSR? Having said that the tomahawks fired by the Royal Navy probably wouldn't have been aborted at the last minute in sight of civilians and given the MoD a PR boost, so good on the RAF.