Great pride of a major Carrier built in the UK eclipsed the reality that it uses ordinary engines rather than being nuclear powered, which limits its ability, and that there are no aircraft yet available which can fly off the decks. The F35 has now escalated in cost to an estimated £70m each and the program is beset with problems. When that was realised the MOD could have modified the design to host catapult launched fighter bombers (the ship is large enough) but that idea was quashed on cost grounds. So what is the future of such ships? Doubtful at best. Had the Argentines used Stanley as a springboard we would no doubt have found out how vulnerable large carriers are, however many escorts they have.
Now I will add two issues. The first is future proofing technology, the second Political face saving. We have seen more and more that drones may well be the future of air combat. BAE have a system under development supported by £132 million of government funding of proof of concept aircraft, the Tiranis. A stealth fighter bomber that is in fact a drone. problem is that it is not designed to fly off and land on such carriers! That it reflects the future of military aviation in the not so distant future is pretty obvious. Other more fanciful flights of fancy including ‘comic book aircraft‘ that can split in three for multiple targets and ones that can replicate themselves in flight by 3D printing as well as self repair are actually in development. All they now need to do is develop warp drive! Don’t laugh too loud. Consider how many of Q’s gadgets for James Bond are now reality!
The second element is the Political decisions behind our latest Carriers. In truth were they part of Euro Force! Was it a vanity project or an agreement for the creation of a more powerful Federal Europe. This article, “It’s thanks to the EU we’ve got this White Elephant”, raises the history of the Carrier program and asks some uncomfortable questions that sees both Portillo’s and Blair’s fingerprints in the evidence. I noted the grand statements of a UK built Carrier launched from a Scottish ship yard and amongst the companies listed was Thales, main shareholder the French Dassault Aviation Company. English? Zut alors! NON! Much is made of the Rolls Royce gas turbines but less that the propulsion engines are from Wartsila in Finland. The truth is that these mega ships are not even powered by UK manufactured engines. But then, that is a reflection of modern Global trade and the fact that we have allowed so much of it to slip through our fingers. Gone are the days when UK engineering powered the worlds navies.
What has this to do with wind? Nothing other than prove our Politicians, our Military Men and our Council leaders are all full of hot air and can be bought by a photo opportunity! Never let the truth get in the way of a good story!
However on a similar tack we hear Scotland shortlisted for a ‘Spaceport’. First suggested some years ago that Kinloss, or it could have been Lossiemouth, would be a spaceport for The Virgin Galactica, the idea is back on the table from the Westminster Government. Quoted as the first spaceport outside the US is rather forgetting the Russian Space program, the Arian Rocket program(250 launches) from French Guiyana, the Indian space program and the Chinese space program to name but a few. But then Politicians seem somewhat lax of inconvenient truths. A variety of alternatives including Leuchars and Campbletwon have been suggested with the bitter sweet pill of a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote be the deciding factor. Grow up Cameron. If you think such largess will buy Scottish votes, you are as deluded as those that believe Community Benefit will make wind farms acceptable. Oh, that’s right, you do! Let’s get ‘real’. We have one of the longest runways in the UK at Machrihanish in Campbletown with the added ‘advantage’ that SSE has a wind turbine tower assembly plant there so I am sure SSE’s Regional Community Benefit Fund would pay the set-up costs and when the wind scam falls over the unsold turbine towers could be recycled into launch rockets. Slightly off message was the Virgin organisation with the news that they have no immediate plans to move from the New Mexico Space Centre.