Worries over strike fighter delay claims

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A FORMER First Sea Lord has said he is worried by claims that the navy might have to wait until 2023 for new strike fighters.

Admiral Lord Alan West told The News that this was another sign that the government made a bad decision when it opted to scrap HMS Ark Royal and the Harriers in the Strategic Defence and Security Review last year.

He said: ‘When the defence review took place we were told that there would be a 10-year gap where we would not have any fixed-wing aircraft.

‘Now it appears the gap is going to be rather longer than that. This new information would suggest 13 years, but it could always be even longer.

‘And I think that is really worrying.’

It has been reported that the Ministry of Defence’s ‘business plan’ shows new US joint strike fighters will not be ready until three years after the carrier to be equipped with them, HMS Prince of Wales. Lord West said: ‘It was very foolish to give up our Harriers long before new fixed-wing aircraft will be in place.’