Tuesday, 4 September 2012
UKIP Defence Policy: Order More F35s Then Cancel The Purchase!
UKIP's Defence Policy, as posted on the party website on June 14th 2011 includes the line "Increase RAF capability by buying more essential helicopters, transport aircraft and 50 extra JSF Lightning aircraft". The JSF is, of course, the F35, which is being purchased to equip the carriers now being built for the Royal Navy.
Now lets fast forward to a statement put out by the party in January of this year.
"The UK should cancel the purchase of the F-35C and invest in developing a naval variant of the Eurofighter Typhoon, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has said."
Lord Alexander Hesketh, UKIP's defence spokesman said that "adopting a naval Typhoon would allow the UK to restore carrier strike capability on its Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers before 2020 while saving money and protecting UK jobs."
So which is it, buy 50 more, or cancel the whole order? Is the party defence spokesman really diametrically opposed to his own party's policy?
Aside from chuckles at the contradiction, consider this. The Typhoon could not land on an aircraft carrier without the use of an arrestor hook, and that would weigh 500kg, seriously impair the aircraft's operational capabilities, and neccesitate a major structural redesign of the airframe. It is also the case that whilst the carriers are designed in such a way that arrestor wires could be fitted at a later stage, they are not currently being fitted, as VSTOL aircraft such as the F35 do not need such equipment.
The idea of a 'navalised' Typhoon for the RN was considered, but was rejected in 2001. A single non-flying prototype has been produced in response to an Indian invitation to tender, although the modifications needed to both aircraft and carrier rendered it not cost-effective.