Downing Street denies RAF carrier plan

The team passes the Nelson statue in Old Portsmouth. Picture: Keith Woodland (171022-0023)

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THE government has moved to deny the Royal Air Force asked for an aircraft carrier to be sent to Libya to help enforce the no-fly zone.

It was rumoured the Prime Minister turned down air force chiefs who wanted a carrier and axed Harrier jump jets to be brought back to life to help out with the Libya mission.

Top defence analyst Francis Tusa told The News: ‘I’ve been told by grade A1 sources that the RAF wanted a flat-top but Number 10 simply wouldn’t allow it. I think they’d rather cut their own fingers off before that happened.’

The use of carrier strike would be embarrassing to the government after its controversial decision to axe HMS Ark Royal and the Harrier jets last year.

A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘This is not true. There’s been no request from the RAF.’

Mr Tusa said the RAF requested a carrier because Tornado jets cost £35,000 per hour to fly.

He added that Italy is charging ‘eye-watering’ amounts for use of a base. This was not confirmed by the MoD.