Carrier Power offering Defence options…
Today’s Daily Telegraph (31 Jan 24) suggests that the UK may be preparing to send an Aircraft Carrier to the Red Sea to replace the US Navy’s Carrier, the USS Dwight D Eisenhower which is currently operating there. Former Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace MP, was asked for his views at 0750 on the Radio 4 Today programme. Despite many visits to the two RN Carriers and no doubt hundreds of briefings when Mr Wallace was in office he appeared to be unclear of the ‘killer facts’
Aircraft Carriers solve problems – they solve ‘A’,’B’ ‘O’ namely Access, Basing and Overflight:
Access they are free to operate at sea seeking favourable weather and sea conditions suitable for round the clock flying operations unincumbered by National boundaries.
This avoids Basing and enables 24/7 availability of their weapons, namely F35B jets as well as helicopters with packages of determined men and women in the form of Special Forces and Marines. On top of that she also has the medical facilities of a meaty Emergency Department capable of dealing with numerous casualties if required.
Overflight As they operate from the sea the issues of obtaining overflight rights from other countries’ airspace simply do not exist thereby preserving operational security, sovereignty of action and the element of surprise.
The coalition is engaged in a war dictated by the International Laws of self-defence and pre-emptive self-defence. Forgive the flippant analogy but this has become ‘whack a mole’ on a grand scale, namely hit the Houthi missile launch activities when they fleetingly appear in the brief window afforded in the preparations required to launch a drone or anti-ship missile. To do this you need brilliant Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, backed up by exceptionally fast Command and Control to hit the target before it can launch its indiscriminate attack and then disappear. Over the past weeks, the easy, obvious targets have been hit so this is getting more difficult. Flexibility is the key to Air Power and Aircraft Carriers provide this. Aircraft launched from thousands of miles away, having ticked the ‘ABO’ boxes simply cannot loiter for long, waiting for the mole to appear. The UK Carriers armed with the best Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Fighter Bomber package in the world today, a few hundred miles away can, that is why we have seen the US hitting targets to order daily and the RAF participating in more structured raids occasionally.
Let’s hope the Foreign Secretary who, when Prime Minister, understood the argument for Carrier Power and invested in this capability recognises it is now time to use them in anger. The Houthis have signalled they are undeterred and so must we.