News reports surfaced this past week that in a drastic bid to trim government spending Britain and France were discussing sharing aircraft carriers. Britain currently operates two carriers, HMS Ark Royal and HMS Illustrious, with two more under construction, while France operates the large deck carrier Charles de Gaulle.
Today, British and French officials threw cold water on the idea with Britain’s defense secretary Liam Fox calling the carrier time share idea “utterly unrealistic.” The two countries are discussing sharing aerial refueling aircraft and maintenance on the A400M transport aircraft and further industry collaboration, reports the Financial Times.
In a related story, Britain’s Telegraph reports that the Royal Navy may abandon plans to buy the short take off and vertical landing version of the F-35 in favor of the carrier launch version to replace their Harrier jump jets. That would mean fixing catapults on the carriers under construction; the new carriers are not due to enter service until 2014 and 2016.
-- Greg Grant