Loss of Carrier Strike Capability Top Concern of Royal Navy Chief - Defense News Giving evidence alongside the heads of the Army and Air Force on the impact of last year's defense review, Stanhope said that retaining HMS Ark Royal and its fleet of Harrier strike aircraft would have been his top priority if the government's strategic defense review and associated four-year defense spending plan could be revisited. Later... Withdrawing Ark Royal and the Harriers earlier this year was by far the most controversial element of the defense spending cuts. Stanhope later indicated he would not oppose resurrecting the Harrier force if possible and if money was made available to support the aircraft. Stanhope and Air Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, the chief of the Air Staff, were asked by a defense committee member whether returning the Harrier force to service had gone beyond the point of no return. Dalton said it had. But Stanhope responded that while Dalton's statement was correct, he would "like to think that should a decision [be made to reassess the Harrier force, we could], look again. It all comes down to money." Stanhope said the Royal Navy is faced with the task of regenerating the carrier force in the latter half of the decade as a new aircraft carrier and the F-35C fighter become available. Rebuilding an aircraft carrier force around 2019 could only be done with the assistance of allied carrier operators France and the U.S., he said. Such a program is now being developed, Stanhope said. U.K. Warns Military Is 'Stretched' - WSJ.com Navy chief sounds carrier warning - East Hampshire - The News You can see 1SL, CGS, and CAS talking to the select commitee here: Player Many of the same arguments* can be found here: Decision to axe Harrier is "bonkers". - PPRuNe Forums Edit - 16 August 2012 Since the decision in May 2012 that we would purchase F35B as originally planned, and that future CVF operations would be STOVL ones, the issues of retaining STOVL skillsets amongst both aircrew and ships' personnel are more relevant than ever. The issue of whether of not the UK needs a fixed wing carrier capability in the next few years is brought into focus by talk of possible conflicts which may involve UK forces, for example possible hostilities in the Gulf or international action over Syria. Potentially all of these things could be sorted out. We have STOVL capable ships, STOVL trained pilots and carrier crews, have a STOVL future to prepare for, and STOVL aircraft do exist. The politicians could make this into a success. See this post from a later page, written long before the switch back to F35B: Comments about possible options *Comments on the PPRuNe thread regarding skills are now more relevant than they were a few months ago.