Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated that the UK will routinely deploy a ‘permanently available, ready to fight’ Carrier Strike Group.

Having two aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, allows for one to be available at short notice year round.

“Once both of our carriers are operational ​in 2023, the UK will have a carrier strike group permanently available, routinely deployed globally, and always ready to fight alongside NATO and other allies.

Next year, Queen Elizabeth will lead a British and allied task group on our most ambitious deployment for two decades, encompassing the Mediterranean, the Indian ocean, and East Asia. We shall deploy more of our naval assets in the world’s most important regions, protecting the shipping lanes that supply our nation, and we shall press on with renewing our nuclear deterrent.

We will reshape our Army for the age of networked warfare, allowing better equipped soldiers to deploy more quickly, and strengthening the ability of our special forces to operate covertly against our most sophisticated adversaries.”

The additional funding announced by the Prime Minister will also support the purchase of three new Fleet Solid Support ships and the development of a new multi-role research vessel.

Johnson added: “If there was one policy which strengthens the UK in every possible sense, it is building more ships for the Royal Navy.”

You can read more about the extra spending here.

What the extra defence spending means and where it will go

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Sounds good. And the renaissance is well over-due for this island nation.
But heavens knows where the money is coming from…


Government debt is cheap at the moment. Still has to be paid back though.

It was great to see defence not being chopped. So many in Government couldn’t care less about it.

Captain P Wash

Not really though , Government Debt isn’t like real peoples debt…….. It’s something that we all see but never have to experience the Knock on the door………Just like all those Politicians who build it all up, then Retire !


I studied economics and I still don’t understand how government debt works. I’m guessing Ireland, Spain and Greece nearly went bust because they couldn’t print their way out of trouble which is why the value of the pound has dropped so much over the last decade even before Brexit.
The same philosophy will likely happen post Covid which just means keep your money invested in either property or foreign stocks in shares to ensure your wealth doesn’t disappear sitting idol in the bank.


Ireland, Greece and Spain couldnt print the way out of the debt as the EU wouldnt let them print the Euro’s to do it. Increasing the inflation for the bloc by the required amount to bail the countries out that needed it just wasnt an option. Thank goodness we kept the pound!


Well whoever has you as a debtor has you by the short & curlies. Only the super rich can lend to major nations & then they quietly have tremendous power over them. Ever wondered why or how the west got tax regimes that let the richest off tax virtually while squeezing the ordinary people dry? Or how nobody seems able to make it justr & fair?


Morning BB85. Also studied Economics but a long time ago. It used to be that if you simply printed more money(“Quantative easing”) then inflation would rise in proportion to the amount-more money chasing a fixed volume of goods bids up prices. Up until not so long ago the medicine was higher interest rates which reduced demand and hence prices. Here in South Africa we have a government that is borrowed up to the hilt with tax income dropping yet interest rates are kept artificially low. In order to restrict borrowing despite the lure of favourable rates, the banks are constrained… Read more »

Mike Saul

The UK government “owns” 25% of all UK government debt through QE.

It’s complicated, but it isn’t real money or debt.


It’s bizarre that’s what it is. Around 800bn owed to the Bank of England which the Government owns, yet it can’t write off the debt to itself.

Mike Saul

Exactly, dependent on your point view it’s either clever or funny money.


Im going funny money, as with most countries the amount of debt they owe is money that never really existed hence does the debt really exist?!


All cash is actually government backed debt. QE is just an extension of that that allows the government to increase the money supply. The fact that everyone is doing it at same time takes away many of the negatives.


The reality is all money is funny money, your bank notes are simply a very complex IOU written by the government and handed out. Money is simply faith. faith that the issuing government will honour the IOU.

The only money that had specific value outside of this faith was currency based on precious metals. Once long ago a penny was defined by its weight in silver.

Mark B

It is not really that mysterious. In war you print money to pay for the war and work had to tear up the extra notes afterwards by significantly increasing productivity. This normally favours countries not involved in the war and its costs. However the whole world has been affected by Covid. Increasing productivity is the goal which we cannot do in an unstable world. Hence defence spending.


Actually it can write off the debt is just does not want to as it would send a negative message. It pays no interest on the BOE debt and BOE just roles it upon maturity. By keeping the QE debt they have the option to reverse it in future should inflation become an issue again.


That’s the thing I have never understood. How does writing off debt you owe to yourself send a negative message when no one expects you to repay it? Apologies if you aren’t an economics teacher.


Writing it off is called monetisation, basically the issue is that no one else has done this except Japan so to do it would send a strong signal through the market of long term devaluation of the currency. Of the other two G4 currencies the USA actually begun unwinding its QE position before COVID i.e. selling the bonds back to market and deleting the electronic money it had made to create them and in the EU it is illegal to monetise debt. Given the UK reliance on A investment and B imports the UK can be vulnerable to drops in… Read more »

Andy P

I like that the government have committed to it though, having one ‘ready’ is a big change in capability and you’d think put any (for example) Argentinian delusions to bed.

The money side of things is scary at the moment and I can’t see past tax hikes but if that’s what’s needed then so be it, assuming that they’re done fairly.

Terence Patrick Hewett

Industry, science and innovation are going to pay for it and we engineers are straining at the leash after decades of contempt from the “humanities.” It is an exciting time to be an engineer: we are at last going to start exploring space. I hope I live to see Reaction Engines first horizontal take-off. Just watch us go.

Captain P Wash

Well that’s what we all hoped these Carriers would be doing. Now, how about an HMS Ocean Replacement ?

Robert Blay

Not going to happen I’m afraid. The QE class can carry far more helicopters anyway if that kind of capability is required.

Captain P Wash

lol. just wish we had all those helicopters now too. The Seakings have all gone, so have a fair few of the Merlins…… No Lynx now either…… Puma and Gazelle next too. At least we still have the second largest Chinook Fleet though !

Blue Fuzz

Third largest I believe. One hundred have been delivered to Japan – assuming at least 60 are still in service, that would put them in second place.

Robert Blay

And Wildcat, And Merlin mk4, Apache ect, we have a very capable helicopter force, and keeping old toys just drains money from the equipment we actually need in this day and age.

Captain P Wash

I was just talking Numbers though.

Robert Blay

We do have fewer helicopters, but have more useful helicopters that are more effective. Back in Afghan we used chinook and Merlin because they could carry a useful payload in the hot & high conditions of the region, and Puma, Lynx, and Seaking were largely useless before engine and composite rotor blade upgrades. Today we have far more capable helicopters that are capable in more extreme areas of operations and more deployable. ?

Captain P Wash

We have a fair few less now though. Capability only counts in Theatre, It doesn’t really count for multiple Theatres though.

Robert Blay

Capability every time though, better to have a small number of very capable aircraft, instead of lots of 2nd rate helicopters. Great to have both, but we don’t have a defence budget like the state’s. And we do have a good number of Chinooks in service. ?

Captain P Wash

Actually, I don’t really agree with you on this Robert. Look at the Battle of Kursk . Obviously no Helicopters but a classic scenario often experienced in times of actual War. It was Numbers that proved to be the most effective.


Not going to happen, not enough money, sailors or helicopters.

Captain P Wash

We have all of them though, but not at this time.


Yes please! Unlikely to happen, best chance imho is some sort of commando carrier gw mentioned. There’s quite a good article, I think it was save the royal that lays out some quite good points explaining how your qe carrier isn’t really suitable to moonlight as a lph. I definitely recommend giving it a read. Without some sort of ocean replacement u fail to see how enough lethal force can be generated for amphibious operations.

Mike Saul

Any UK carrier strike group will require warships from our friends and allies to be sustainable and viable in hot war situation


Any country except the USA is in the same boat (pardon the terrible pun).


But then again, the USN carrier groups like having an RN T45 with them because its radar is far more capable than the current SPY radars fitted to Ticos and ABs. Only with the introduction of operational SPY 6 from 2023 ish will the USN have anything approaching the capability of Sampson radars.

Daniele Mandelli

3 FSS?

Have not heard that is confirmed?


It’s not been. Officially the minimum requirement is for 2 but with an ambition for 3.

3 would obviously be a bigger win for UK shipbuilding but also avoid a 2 ship class being permanently wedded to the carrier-group when not in maintenance/refit.


The treasury might try to argue that one large ship can replace the two smaller forts but it can only be in one place at a time. If one is with the carrier group and the other in maintenance there is no support for the rest of the fleet.
The only other option the treasury might also try to get away with is share the Karel Dorman with the Dutch and Germans.


Exactly. With 2 vessels if 1 is in deep refit/maintenance then you’re back to a single point of failure to support the carrier-group.

Plus it’s good to have the flexibility to deploy 1 East of Suez on years when the carrier-group doesn’t head that way as we used to in support of Kipion.


If 1 or 2 ships are lost or just put out of action, then the whole fleet is drastically compromised. Literally putting all your eggs in one basket.


If like original tender believe it could be a bid for 2, option for 3rd. But would imagine most bids would be planning on basis of 3. With original very much sounded like builders would have to really cock up not to get third rather than be amazing, so I’m sure bids will really be made with three as the target.


This is really only a re-confirmation of what has already been stated – that the regular operating pattern will be 1 deployed on ops or ready to at short notice whilst the other is in it’s maintenance/refit period, with more numerous but shorter refits to enable reactivation and deployment within weeks rather than many months.

As far as i am aware that’s been the policy since 2012 when Cameron committed to keeping both active rather than 1 mothballed.


True, but it does well to quash the endless rumours that that policy was going to be changed.


Going to be a strange one with PWLZ, having gone into the water into 2017 not going to be long before requires Lloyds recertification, which as QNLZ got hers in 2019 will be close together. Wonder if they’ll bring one in early to push them apart a bit in the future.


HMG needs to get his finger out with F35 then. We shouldn’t rely on other nations that that might be ok in the far east since its a long, long way away. 0 delivered this year which puts us behind schedule inspite of the spin you constantly read


Hopefully we’ll hear more about a follow on order for the F35’s when the full Review is published.

Cheers CR


Fingers crossed they know a price drop or huge capability enhancement is coming. Id rather they waited with the back up option of using USMC planes in a critical emergency then we end up with much better value and more capable aircraft.

Daniele Mandelli

Hopefully this will end all the doomsayers proclaiming that as DC was against the carriers they’re gone and BJ will listen blah blah blah.

Yes I know he is gone too but it was getting tiresome.

This is an excellent capability and a step change from the Invincibles.

Now to grow the airgroup.


I wonder if our far east cruise is to demonstrate our ability to come to Taiwan’s aid & thus try to deter an attempted invasion from Communist China?


To what extent a ship is ‘permanently available’ in practice depends on where these ‘routine deployments’ will be- given a 30 knot top speed and a big ocean.


Its not only about where they are its about how Operationally Capable they are. If the crew is fully trained up , the airwing is in date for all of its weapon carrying and dropping practise, the escorts are trained up and integrated into a task group way of fighting.All of that makes you operationally capable.

Being a ship straight out of refit and having only done a basic Operational Sea Safety work up at FOST does not make you Operationally capable. Having completed a full FOST package and a Joint Warrior does make you capable.


All they need to do now is to bring all aircraft at sea under naval aviation. The RAF have got more pressing engagements ashore.

Anthony Chambers

Steal is cheap. They should build another two.


Just a thought on how often these ships will be at sea and cost of maintenance, would it not be cheaper and easier to achieve with three ships over the long term?