Royal Navy has no plans to fit ‘cats and traps’ to HMS Queen Elizabeth, minister insists
COSTLY equipment which would allow a greater range of fighter jets to take-off and land on Britain’s two new aircraft carriers won’t be installed, a minister has insisted.
Defence minister Stuart Andrew, who is in charge of buying all of the nation’s new military kit, has said the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers won’t have catapults and arresting wires fitted to them.
Known as ‘cats and traps', the system is the traditional way of launching jets off the deck of an aircraft carrier – and helping to slow them down when landing.
The warships’ future complement of stealth jets, the F-35B, will take off using a ‘ski jump’ at the front of the ship and then hover to land – in a similar way to the former Harrier jump jets.
The Queen Elizabeth-class carriers could be fitted with ‘cats and traps' – a move which was considered in 2012 but deemed too expensive, with the cost to retrofit it to just one carrier soaring from £500m to £2bn.
However, some military chiefs still hope they'll be retrofitted at a later date to operate other aircraft – such as unmanned drones.
This week, Labour’s shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith asked whether there were any new plans to fit the devices.
Responding to Ms Griffith’s question, Mr Andrew said: ‘There are no plans to fit cats and traps to the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.’
The two 65,000-tonne supercarriers are the biggest ships ever built for the Royal Navy.
They will have a 50-year lifespan and will be based in Portsmouth.