As we mentioned they would last week, American Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his British counterpart, Philip Hammond, signed an agreement last Thursday outlining how the U.S. Navy will help the Royal Navy rebuild its defunct carrier strike capability over the next decade.
From sister site DoDBuzz
Secretaries Panetta and Hammond signed a Statement of Intent on Carrier Cooperation and Maritime Power Projection that will serve as the framework for increased cooperation and interoperability on the use of aircraft carriers, as well as provide the basis for the U.S. to assist the UK Royal Navy in developing its next generation of aircraft carriers. This cooperation is a cutting-edge example of close allies working together in a time of fiscal austerity to deliver a capability needed to maintain our global military edge.
The Royal Navy decommissioned its Harrier jump jets last year, leaving it without seaborne-fighter for the first time since before World War II. Now, Hammond himself expressed concern about what effect the Pentagon’s slowdown of its F-35 buys will have on the UK’s F-35C purchases before he signed the agreement. However, InsideDefense is reporting that the F-35 program office is gearing up to sell jets plenty to foreign JSF buyers despite the Pentagon’s slowed buys:
The F-35 joint program office is girding for a surge of international orders that would boost manufacturing rates for the seventh and eighth Joint Strike Fighter production runs by more than 40 percent above currently planned buys for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, according to Defense Department officials.
Ok, so maybe the Brits will get their jets in time to have at least limited carrier ops by 2020.
But wait, the UK is not only buying new F-35C Joint Strike Fighters to fly off its carriers, it’s fielding a brand new class of super carrier that uses electromagnetic catapults and arrestor wires. The Royal Navy hasn’t fielded one of these so called CATOBAR carrier since the 1970s, so it will be relearning how to operate this type of ship from the U.S. Ironic considering it was the British who invented the keystones of modern aircraft carrier design; an angled flight deck, the optical landing system and even the steam powered catapult that will be replaced by electromagnetic ones on the U.S. and British navies next aircraft carriers.