Navy must stop “spending our taxes on kit we don’t need”

Experts say it’s time for the Ministry of Defence to stop spending money on expensive aircraft carriers it can’t afford and doesn’t need.

The Guardian reported this weekend that the Navy is considering a plan to cut costs by modifying a planned expenditure on aircraft carriers.

The original plan called for two carriers capable of launching US-made Joint Strike Fighters, and the Royal Navy is reportedly looking into downgrading the plan to one carrier capable of launching the fighters and one smaller carrier for helicopters and unmanned drones, at a saving of approximately £7 billion.

Speaking about the plan, Andy Hull, senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, told Left Foot Forward:

“We have to stop developing new weapons to fight old wars. This means the two new 65,000 tonne aircraft carriers, the planes to fly off them, and the destroyers to protect them must be firmly in the frame for cuts.

“Mass air formations are a thing of the past, and our primary ally, the United States, has no shortage of planes.”

These cuts could be just the beginning. The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, refers in the Guardian to “difficult decisions” ahead for the services. Difficult decisions come with the territory of a budget deficit, of course, and this is augmented by the fact that the armed forces are increasingly subjecting spending plans to the test of whether they will meet the needs of the post-Cold War world, where enemies are more likely to be non-state actors.

Mr Hull, a leading researcher on the IPPR’s National Security Strategy for the UK report, added:

“Recent news that the Government may be considering reducing the number of joint strike fighters we buy is welcome, and potentially opens the door to further strategic cuts in this area. It is about time the MoD stopped spending our taxes on kit we don’t need and can’t afford.”

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