Arse, Meet Elbow


Confusion continues to reign in the land of CVF.

The MoD seems unable to get its story straight on the conversion to conventional carrier aircraft operations and is increasingly looking like it doesn’t know its arse from its elbow.

A recent Parliamentary answer confirmed the ‘official position’ that basically seems to be that no decisions have yet been made, with the final decision coming out of an 18-month study carried out by Aircraft Carrier Alliance (MoD, Babcock, Thales and BAe) and Naval Design Partnering (NDP) team.

The date that the operational Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier enters service with the Royal Navy will depend on which ship will be converted to operate the carrier variant Joint Strike Fighter. This in turn will inform when fast jets will be deployed from the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. We expect firm decisions to be taken on carrier conversion in late 2012 and it remains our intent to deliver a carrier strike capability from around 2020.

The generally accepted position is that QE will be commissioned as the worlds largest helicopter carrier and PoW will get the modifications to support the F35C, although it must be noted main gate for the Joint Combat Aircraft has yet to be finalised so the selection of F35C is not certain, even if it remains the preferred option. When PoW enters service, QE will be placed into extended readiness or sold, again, no decisions have been finalised.

The Carrier Alliance have been provided with funding to get the study to October, after which additional contracts will be let.

This initial funding is for £5 million

Then up pops Gerald Howarth in an interview with the Portsmouth News

The SDSR concluded we needed one carrier but clearly that has its own limitations in availability and clearly the 2015 defence review gives us an opportunity to look again in the prevailing economic conditions and see where we go from there. Clearly, all of us would like two aircraft carriers because that gives us the continuous at-sea capability.We’ve had to take some pretty tough decisions but we’re hoping to be in a position to recover that one in 2015

We endlessly debate the dog’s breakfast that is the CVF programme but there seems to be a pair of immutable laws

  1. We really haven’t got a clue what we are going to do, how much it is going to cost or what will be involved in the switch
  2. Costs only ever rise
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