Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier – money well spent?
As the first of two Queen Elizabeth-class carriers are named the question remains whether the 65,000t ships are value for money or if our rapidly shrinking defence budget should have been focussed on other things?
The carriers have been a long time coming. First conceived in the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) of 1998 a production contract was not signed for 10-years after the Labour government first delayed the programme adding to the cost and then the Coalition government switching back and forth between the F-35B and F-35C further adding to the cost.
Whilst the vessels could prove to be extremely valuable assets it is unlikely they will ever be used to their maximum capacity with the RAF operating the F-35B and reduced numbers of the aircraft being acquired. Have we invested over £6bn on glorified helicopter carriers? A decision about the future of the second ship has also yet to be made.
The construction of the carriers has been impressive, but should the Royal Navy have opted for something different?