PPRuNe Forums - View Single Post - Harrier dispute between Navy and RAF chiefs sees Army 'marriage counsellor' called in
Old 20th Feb 2009, 11:24
  #106 (permalink)  
Obi Wan Russell
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Southampton
Age: 50
Posts: 138
The RAF cannot provide air cover for ships at sea from land bases, unless the fleet stays in coastal waters. During the 70s it was proved that RAF Phantoms scrambled from the UK to intercept Russian Bombers heading for the Fleet in the middle of the Atlantic could do no more than photograph the aftermath two hours after the Russians had gone home. The RN was without FW air cover for about 18 months after Ark Royal decommissioned (last lauch of air group November 78 to Invincible becoming operational with her SHARs in spring 1980) and during this period the RN relied on the USN carriers for air cover in the North Atlantic. At least they would be in the same time zone.

'Doing without' the Harriers for a few years is dangerous ground, because it puts ideas in politicians heads. Putting Naval Aviation in the hands of the RAF is also a bad idea because they have NEVER been interested in Naval Aviation, just in transferring the budget for NA to fund their own pet projects. Flying from carriers is not a part time pastime for land based pilots, it is a specialist job and the skills base (not just the pilots, ground/deck crew, Flyco, fighter controllers etc) needs to be maintained. Just think if in the early 90s it had been seriously proposed to disband all the RAF's F3 sqns as there would be no credible threat to UK airspace until the Typhoon came online? What an uproar that would generate.
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