Britain’s new £3.5bn carrier may never go one-on-one with the enemy
Britain’s new £3.5billion aircraft carrier may never go one-on-one with the enemy, National Security Adviser admits
- Mark Sedwill said Britain was one of just six nations with aircraft carrier fleets
- He told MPs he expected the ships would only ever go to war alongside allies
- The £3.5bn HMS Queen Elizabeth was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 2017
Britain’s aircraft carriers will never go into one-on-one combat with the enemy, the National Security Adviser admitted today.
Despite being just one of six nations to operate a carrier fleet, Sir Mark Sedwill said he expected Britain’s new flagships would only sail to war alongside allies.
Britain sent its own fleet – including carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible – to recover the Falkland Islands in 1982, standing alone against Argentina.
Britain’s new £3.5billion aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is nearing the end of its trials while HMS Prince of Wales is still under construction.
Despite being just one of six nations to operate a carrier fleet, Sir Mark Sedwill said he expected Britain’s new flagships would only sail to war alongside allies
Giving evidence to the Commons defence committee today, Sir Mark said: ‘We will be one of only about I think six countries in the world that has this kind of strategic projection capability when the carriers are fully operational.
‘But it is our intention because of that to use them with allies and it is really important we keep allies in play in our thinking here so I would expect, particularly if they are in a contested deployment that there would be allied capabilities – ships, aircraft, whatever – as part of those groups.
‘We will see what happens in the circumstances but that is part of the thinking about the use of the carriers.
‘It is projecting them as a British sovereign capability but one that will almost inevitably, I would actually say inevitably, be used in a context of allied operations of some kind if used in a contested environment.’
In other evidence, Sir Mark said there were areas he would like to invest in but refused to be drawn on whether he had discussed extra cash with the Prime Minister.
Appearing before the Commons Defence Select Committee, Sir Mark said: ‘There are areas of vulnerability, definitely, across our national security commitments that I would want to invest in.’
Britain’s new £3.5billion aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (pictured) is nearing the end of its trials while HMS Prince of Wales is still under construction
He added: ‘There are areas of vulnerability across the entire national security architecture, not just in government, a lot of this is outside government as well.
‘Given the nature of modern warfare and the nature of non-state threats … yes I would like to invest…’
Sir Mark said the Government did ‘not yet’ know who was responsible for the nerve agent attack on Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.
The adviser played a crucial role in helping to secure international support for Britain’s response to Russia following the poisoning.
He told MPs that the Government took the unusual move of publishing a letter he sent to Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg setting out why the UK held Moscow responsible for the attack to help ‘punch through’ Russian propaganda.
Sir Mark said the attack on the Skripals had ‘changed our appreciation’ of which dissidents and defectors could be at risk of reprisals.
The Queen commissioned the carrier named in her honour last year, meeting its crew on the flight deck (pictured)
He added: ‘The police who are responsible for the protective security of the various agencies alongside them are reviewing the security of all people who might be vulnerable in that way.’
Sir Mark said Russia is the primary ‘direct military’ challenge the UK faces, but the day-to-day security threat to Britons comes from terrorism and serious crime.
He said: ‘The threat that kills more British citizens every year than any of those that we might spend the morning focused on is actually serious and organised crime.
‘Whether you want to call it part of national security or part of a Government response, in the end the Government has to respond to that threat and deploy capabilities to do so, including potentially defence capabilities where that’s appropriate.’
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