Friday fun: Royal Navy denies coup allegations

It’s hard to follow the excellence of Dave’s GI Joe drone operator post, but I thought that in the spirit of Friday, this computer-generated image (courtesy of Rex Features) depicting one of the UK Royal Navy’s future aircraft carriers parked outside the nation’s seat of power was worth an airing too.

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No, this isn’t some thinly-veiled coup threat from those at the helm of the “senior service” for those inside the Palace of Westminster, but forms part of a recent advertising campaign by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, which is responsible for developing the 65,000t Queen Elizabeth-class vessels.

Apparently, at 280m (918ft) long each, the new carriers will be quite big. Certainly big enough for the above scene to never happen in real life, thanks to petty obstructions such as Westminster bridge, Tower Bridge and the Thames Barrier, among others.

For those interested, the UK’s National Audit Office (NAO) says the carrier project is now estimated as likely to cost £5.3 billion ($8.5 billion), plus small incidentals such as the Lockheed Martin F-35B. That total rose by £217 million in 2011-2012: just more than the price tag for an eighth Boeing C-17 strategic transport acquired for the Royal Air Force at short notice last May.

Also contained within the NAO’s annual Major Projects Report are details about a potential four-year capability gap to be encountered by the Fleet Air Arm following the retirement of its Westland Sea King 7 airborne surveillance and control system helicopters during 2016. With no new active carrier to be on the scene until about 2020, that’s probably something that the RN will just have to live without for a little while.
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