My blog is privileged to carry a copy of an open letter to Britain’s Secretary of Defence from former Royal Navy air ace and squadron commander of the Falklands War, the hard-hitting SHARKEY WARD.
It is no secret that both the Fleet Air Arm and Army Air Corps are aware of the RAF’s current efforts to impose its influence and involvement in all branches of military aviation.
Open letter (re-edited) to:
Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, Secretary of State for Defence
Rory Stewart MP
Penny Mordaunt MP
Rt Hon George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Vernon Coaker MP
Margaret Hodge MP
Dear Secretary of State for Defence
I trust that you are aware that you are being surrounded by deliberately misleading advice concerning humanitarian air drops by the Royal Air Force over Iraq and fighter attack aviation ‘advice’ that verges on the self-delusion of Walter Mitty himself.
Media articles have suggested that the RAF aborted the dropping of life-saving aid on the mountain in Iraq because “It was afraid of hitting the recipients of that aid”.
This is the pure and deliberate creation of confusion – often classed more graphically, in frontline Royal Navy jargon, as “blowing smoke up someone’s arse”.
The United States can deliver such airborne aid on a nightly basis. So why is the RAF unable to do so?
Could it be an unwillingness to get anywhere near possible enemy fire, as with the “weapons-tight fiasco” forced on the carrier battle group during the Vulcan bombing raids during the Falklands War?
I know, because I was airborne providing fighter air-defence cover for each Vulcan raid.
I mention Walter Mitty because of the suggestion that our obsolete Tornados could be used effectively against Islamic State forces in northern Iraq.
Where would these ancient aircraft operate from? The US Navy F-18 Super Hornet and Super Growler (the latter providing essential/vital defence suppression for such missions) operate from a US Navy aircraft carrier. These fighters are given extended range by air-to-air refuelling provided by carrier aircraft and/or land-based tankers.
RAF Tornadoes do not enjoy such luxury and, with their excessively short range and endurance, would be a liability if attempting to hit deep strike targets in Kurdistan.
Of course, it is possible to get an RAF Tornado over the Kurdish capital but only with huge logistic ground and air support being deployed and pre-positioned close to the theatre of action. It would also cost a great deal of money compared with an F-18 Super Hornet mission.
You, Secretary of Defence, and your colleagues should be fully aware that our new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth – with F 35B aircraft embarked would be unable to emulate the F-18 operations from the American carrier.
That is because the carrier has no embarked air-to-air refuelling capability for deep strike missions. And it has no ‘defence suppression’ capability as provided uniquely by the F-18 Super Growler.
These limitations of Britain’s land-based air power projection and the unnecessary limitation of its new supposed strike carriers (enforced by the ramp and the F 35) should now be the central focus of all attention of next year’s Defence Review.
The importance of jobs for British Aerospace Systems workers will pale into electoral insignificance if, and when, Britain is forced to take initial/autonomous action to protect our energy supplies or trade: nearly all of which comes from or passes through the Middle East/East of Suez.
N D MacCartan-Ward DSC AFC Cdr RN
Author of SEA HARRIER OVER THE FALKLANDS