US Navy to Train RN, RAF Pilots


The skills needed to operate the future Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers will be honed and perfected with the help of the US Navy, the heads of the US and Royal Navy confirmed on Monday.

Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations for the US Navy, and Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, First Sea Lord, said a formal agreement was already in place for the US Navy to train RN and RAF pilots.

Admiral Stanhope said: “The decision is clear – we are going for the catapult launch, arrestor-wire flying from Queen Elizabeth class, by the end of this decade.”

“We’ve got a lot of work to do to make sure we’re going to able to achieve this. We’ve got to prepare the deckhands, the engineers, the catapult operators, the arrestor-wire operators, and air traffic control – it’s a massive challenge and something we haven’t done since the late 70s.”

He added: “We will achieve it, with leverage from both our US and French allies.”

The Admirals were giving a press briefing in London as part of the frequent US/UK Navy talks in which the heads of the two navies discuss current operations and global threats.

Admiral Roughead said both nations faced the challenges of balancing their defence budgets with future needs and priorities.

Among the future threats he listed were the proliferation of advanced ballistic and cruise missiles in unstable states, and the increase in the numbers of advanced quiet submarines around the world.

I have extraordinarily high regard for the UK’s anti-submarine warfare capability and I am eager to see how we might take advantage of that expertise,”

He added: “The UK is at the top of the game in anti-submarine warfare, and it is a game you need to practise – if you don’t advance it you are standing still.”

The Admiral said other global challenges included controlling the free flow of goods across sea areas and the difficulty of tackling piracy when the root causes were failed states and lack of law and governance.

He said the US Navy had also reorganised itself to deal better with cyber warfare, which did not recognise geographic boundaries and would present a huge challenge in the future.

On Libya, Admiral Stanhope said there no truth in reports that the UK might run out of ammunition.

He said:“Libya has resulted in us using precision weapons and we need to bring out stockpiles back. The taxpayer wouldn’t expect us to have infinite stockpiles of ammunition – we judge how much is needed.”

As for sustaining operations in Libya long-term, decisions would have to be made about priorities and it was possible a ship would be taken from home waters to support the operation in due course.

He explained: “With a given force structure and a number of commitments, you have a make a compensation somewhere else.”

Our planning assumptions are that we can extend Libya to another 90 days, and beyond that we might have to make some challenging decisions about priorities.”

“If there were a continuation of the need for maritime interdiction operations off Libya the government would have a choice from where it chose to take the platform from.”

Both Admirals were due to hold more talks on shared interests this week.

Admiral Roughead said: “The UK is our No.1 ally, and as we look at events around the world and types of naval capabilities, it’s important that we do it in co-operative and collaborative way.”

“You can exchange a lot of emails and look at a lot of Powerpoint slides, but being able to bring the leadership together to talk about things is extra important.”
Source: Rovalnavy, June 15, 2011