In a private speech for MPs on Monday night, the RAF leadership challenged the Prime Minister’s criticism of “Cold War” fighter jets and questioned the decision to favour the Army in the Strategic Defence and Security Review.I have to say that faced with a choice, I think we're better off with the two carriers.
Whitehall sources say the intervention may have come too late. At a meeting of the National Security Council yesterday, the Navy won its battle for two new aircraft carriers. With the Army facing only modest cuts, the RAF is now in line to bear the brunt.
Air Marshal Anderson made some absurd suggestions:
“Without such an air defence capability, the UK would not be able to guarantee security of its sovereign air space and we would be unable to respond effectively to a 9/11-style terrorist attack from the air.”If the far more advanced and numerous US fighters were unable to prevent a 9/11 style attack, how would the RAF would be able to stop one? The USAF can't say that the event was entirely unpredictable; Tom Clancy wrote about a very similar scenario in 1994.
More plausibly, Anderson noted that
“The high level of investment in high-end combat aircraft and air defence systems by, for example, Russia and China … indicates that the essential requirement for control of the air has not been lost on nations whose future interests and political orientation may not necessarily be well disposed to the UK.”But do we realistically think that invasion of Britain by either of these countries would not escalate to nuclear war? To meet these threats, I'd rather cut the air defence fighters entirely, and build up our Trident fleet.
Moreover, we're not proposing to buy the top-of-the-line F-22; the Americans are keeping those to themselves. Meanwhile, the Russians and Chinese are busy developing jets to rival it. Would the F-35 really be up to the task of stopping them?
I fear that the greatest threat to the UK actually comes from closer to home: the EU. If we continue to run down our defences, a military conflict is not inconceivable, but at the moment it looks like we're going to give up without a fight.