The following comes from a formal meeting of the Defence Select Committee, an oral evidence session specifically, discussing the recent defence review whitepaper ‘Defending Global Britain in a Competitive Age’.
Just so you know who’s who, Dr Sidharth Kaushal is a research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and Rear Admiral Alex Burton is the former Commander UK Maritime Forces. Stuart Anderson and Mark Francois are both Conservative MP’s.
Fore more on the paper being discussed, feel free to browse the summary linked to below.
Stuart Anderson asked, referring to the Integrated Review’s ‘Defence Command Paper’:
“Do you see any particular areas of concern with what has been set out, doctor?”
Dr Kaushal responded:
“I would not necessarily state that the force structure laid out produced any particular areas of concern for me. The temporary trough in capability that the Navy will endure when the two Type-23s are retired will probably generate certain force generation issues, although in all likelihood not insurmountable ones. The Navy, however, will need to look at two key questions: first, the absence of a capability to counter anti-ship ballistic missiles on the Type-45 destroyer. That was discussed in the 2015 strategic defence and security review, as part of a wider ballistic missile defence capability for the vessel, but it was absent in this review, which I thought was noteworthy.”
Rear Admiral Burton also responded by saying “I would just reinforce Dr Sidharth’s view on the anti-ballistic missile defence, which I think was a wrong absence within the review”, he added later “one of the gaping holes within the defence review is an anti-ballistic missile defence mechanism, both at sea and ashore.”
Mr Francois pressed the point, asking “To be clear, a gaping hole, in your words?”
Rear Admiral Burton responded:
“There is a gaping hole in our ability to defend a carrier against a ballistic missile without the support of our allies, so there is mitigation there, but it is mitigation that is reliant on our allies.”
Burton later added:
“The Navy has been clear that there has been a national capability gap, for the last 10 years, at least, in an anti-ballistic missile defence capability. That can be mitigated by working alongside our allies, just like the Americans use our capabilities to mitigate their capability gaps. Firstly, this is known, and, secondly, it can be mitigated.”
It should be
With regards to Type 45 and the idea of arming them against ballistic missiles, this was last talked about officially back in 2019.