According to reports in recent months, the British Army is said to be pushing for one of the Royal Navy’s brand new super carriers to be leased out to the US in a bid to garner extra cash for military funding. A Sunday Times’ report revealed that decision makers in the UK’s military brass could flog either HMS Prince of Wales or HMS Queen Elizabeth. The US, which is currently embroiled in a huge naval standoff in the South China Sea, could take on one of the ships in yet another expansion of its fleet.
This comes despite the Government’s promises to maintain the size of the armed forces.
An unnamed source told the Sunday Times in November: “The army hates aircraft carriers, which they have always seen as a white elephant, but the Americans love them.
“They are cutting edge because they can operate with far fewer crew than US carriers.”
The reports have been denied by the UK’s Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace MP, who said: “This is total rubbish. There are no plans to shrink the armed forces.
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“There are however plans to increase army recruiting levels.”
HMS Queen Elizabeth visited the US last year, with Tony Radakin, the First Sea Lord and UK Chief of Naval Staff, claiming that the two allies’ naval forces could be closely integrated.
He said: “As she has demonstrated already, we can successfully field a combined US, UK carrier strike group. I look forward to this developing further.”
Cuts to the Defence budget in recent years have heaped more pressure on British forces, with many expressing a dire need for increased spending to avoid security deficiencies.
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In 2018 there was a £20billion shortfall in the UK’s £179billion equipment budget, and figures last August showed that the British forces were 7,000 soldiers short of its 82,000 target.
In November, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to deny claims that the British forces would cut its personnel to between 60,000-65,000, the smallest number for centuries.
Mr Johnson said while launching his 2019 manifesto: “We will not be cutting our armed forces in any form. We will be maintaining the size of our armed services.”
For the last nine years, the British military has decreased in size with personnel decreasing in the Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force (RAF).
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While the Ministry of Defence maintained that the forces are continually meeting their operational requirements, Lord Alan West raised concerns about Britain’s Defence spending in an interview with Express.co.uk in November.
The Labour peer said: “The top priority for any government is the defence and security of our nation, they all parrot this, but they don’t actually put their money where their mouth is.”
A Conservative Party spokesperson said at the time: “Thanks to the Conservatives, the UK is one of the only NATO members to meet the target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defence. And we announced an additional £2.2 billion for defence in the Spending Round.”