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Does the Royal Navy miss the Ark Royal?

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With the on-going Libya operation, only France, Italy, and Spain have aircraft carriers available. The Charles de Gaulle has been committed already. Of course, there's Malta. But I wonder if anyone in Whitehall or the Admiralty wish they hadn't scrapped the Ark Royal. Seems this operation in the Med is exactly what a smaller non-US type carrier is most useful.

Or maybe I shouldn't wonder too much...


Edited by IrishGunner
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  • 3 weeks later...

I think it is more a case of asking does the government regret making such stupid and rash decisions based more on finance then the strategic implications. As you say, there is Malta (although I believe the Maltese authorities are not keen on aircraft on armed operations sharing a civilian runway, hence the use of Italy for the Typhoons) but the use of either of those countries (and Cyprus) is a happy accident. The government needs to ask itself what would they of been able to do if this action had of happened in a country like Nigeria, Angola or Gabon over on the west coast of the continent where the nearest UK airbase is approx 1600-1700 miles away on Ascension Island, where you would have to stage all facets of air operations from on a limited infrastructure. You know you are stretching things if your fighter bombers (as opposed to strategic bombers such as the USAF B-2 Spirit) have to make a round trip of 3000 miles just to drop 2 or so bombs!

Edited by hucks216
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Frankly, I doubt the Government regrets the decision. And with NATO now squabbling about the Libya operation, maybe it's time for some regret on the part of all European countries as they think about cutting defense budgets as they have since the end of the Cold War. I'm afraid we are entering a brave new world and many "first world" countries that have been living fat and happy the last decades are going to be woefully unprepared.

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Funny how Malta is still looked upon by many as the unsinkable British/Nato aircraft carrier, particularly when the country is an independent republic with no military relations or obligations to any other country or organisation.

Maltese authorities made it rather clear that neutrality is paramount and that notwithstanding any humanitarian aid that was and is still being provided, (not like there was much of a choice really), Malta would take no part in military operations.

Use of the civilian runway for military operations, as pointed out, seems to be the most valid reason for not lending a hand, and may probably simply have be a very convenient excuse.

But honestly, would a civilian airport have the necessary facilities/infrastructure that a military airfield would, particulary as this would mean the storage of explosive ordinance in close proximity to civilians. Moreover, damage to the country's single airport would have the effect of cutting of the island from the rest of the world. Add on the fact that Malta's direct involvement in this conflict would have damaged the country's major import - tourism plus Malta's constitutional neutrality, and its geographical, political and commercial proximity to Libya all weigh on this decision. It is of liitle wonder why Malta refused to get involved.

Of course, commercial reasons should not suffice in what has been seen by some as the shirking away from unspoken international obligations. After all, Malta will be the first country to complain about the lack of burden sharing of the illegal immigrants that are sure to flow out of Libya as the summer months approach. Hopefully, the part played in the earlier days of the conflict when several ex-pats living in Libya were evacuated via Malta will be held to some account, although it is highly doubtful this will make much of a difference.

I was actually unaware of the fact that the Ark Royal had been scrapped. I have some lovely photos of her back in the late 1980s which I would love to post one day when I find them....unfortunately, they are not digital!!!

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