The Aircraft Carrier That Had No Planes
Britain is broke, and making steep budget cuts. The good news is they’re preparing to trim bloated social programs that never should have existed in the first place. The bad news is they’re slashing defense spending based on a dangerous miscalculation.
Last week the British government released its Strategic Defense and Security Review, detailing how it will shrink its military budget 8 percent over the next four years.
Like America, Britain’s economic woes are seriously pinching its foreign policy.
Prime Minister David Cameron put a brave face on, promising that Britain would still punch “above its weight.” Be that as it may, the cuts underline the steep decline in what—even a few generations ago—was history’s greatest empire.
They also expose Britain’s foolish overdependence on nations it considers allies. The Bible specifically prophesies of this problem—and reveals its devastating conclusion.
Among the cuts: The British military will shed 17,000 personnel. The army, after already being reduced by one third since the end of the Cold War, will lose 7,000 more soldiers; 40 percent of its tanks and 35 percent of its artillery will go. The 20,000 British troops in Germany will come home. (Compare the 95,000 troops Britain will have by 2015 with the 690,000 it had in 1957.)
Britain’s navy—the greatest symbol of the global power it once wielded—will suffer some of the worst embarrassment. The navy’s aging Ark Royal aircraft carrier will go out of service. The navy’s fleet of destroyers and frigates will shrink to 19. (In World War i Britain had over 300 destroyers alone, out of a fleet of nearly 600. After these cuts, the fleet will be smaller than it has been since the days of Henry viii.)
The most bizarre turn of events surrounds two new 60,000-ton aircraft carriers being built for the Royal Navy—the largest, most expensive ships in Britain’s illustrious naval history. Britain can’t afford them, but contractual obligations actually make it cheaper to finish the mammoth projects than to stop them. Thus, as soon as possible after the first one is completed in 2016, it will be mothballed or even sold.
It gets worse. The government has also decided to scrap the navy’s 80-strong fleet of Harrier jump jets within the coming year. This means the aircraft carriers will have—of all things—no jets to carry. New fighters won’t be available until 2020. Thus, these floating airbases will only be able to serve as helicopter pads and assist with humanitarian missions.
In the words of one serving navy commander, “How can you send an aircraft carrier to sea without aircraft? I think that future history will show the rashness of this decision.” Indeed it will.
Worse still, navy insiders told the Telegraph that, because of the intricacies of carrier landing, even after new planes come along it will take many more years to bring the navy’s Fleet Air Arm—the world’s oldest air force—back to full strength. “Once these carrier skills have gone they will take at least 16 years to build back up,” said Commodore Steve Jermy, who once headed the Fleet Air Arm. Now we’re talking about 2036.
In effect, this marks the death of Britain’s ability to project air power. As another source told the Telegraph, “I can’t see Oman happy to have Tornadoes flying from its territory to bomb Iran.”
Within the story about how Britain ended up trapped in this unaffordable carrier venture lies the truth about the nation’s dangerous gamble.
The carrier folly sprang from Britain’s misguided efforts to link itself with Europe and contribute to building a single EU defense force. Back in 1998, Prime Minister Tony Blair and France’s Jacques Chirac pledged that their countries would begin cooperating toward that end. The next year, aiming at establishing a European Rapid Reaction Force, Britain agreed to contribute two large aircraft carriers. In 2006, it was determined that these carriers would be a joint project between Britain’s bae Systems and the French firm Thales.
“In effect, when built, they will be operated jointly with the French, with French pilots flying French aircraft,” explained Christopher Booker in the Telegraph. “So little money is left to buy the escorts needed by a carrier group that these will have to be provided by other EU navies, such as those of Spain or Italy” (emphasis mine throughout).
Essentially, in order to cover its defense budget gaps, Britain is banking not just on the U.S., but also its European neighbors. Anyone who has followed the prophetic warnings of Herbert Armstrong or the Trumpet over the years knows that this story won’t have a good ending.
Booker continued, showing how this deal could very likely pave the way for Britain’s once-proud navy to be subsumed into the European monolith. “To save any argument as to whether the carriers should fly the White Ensign [flag of the Royal Navy] or the Tricolor [flag of France], it will much easier just to fly the EU ring of stars. Thus, after 600 years, will the Royal Navy merge its identity with that of the new EU Navy.”
Britain’s defense secretary, Liam Fox, said last week that Britain not having planes to put on the carrier won’t be a problem, since it can just use American and French planes.
Further underscoring this trend of dependency is the fact that the Royal Air Force’s Nimrod spy planes will also be cut. These nine planes were built for patrolling the waters around Britain and intercepting unwelcome foreign submarines and other ships. Now, reported The Sun, Britain “will have to depend on the French to stave off a naval attack.” “French Atlantique planes operating from UK bases will monitor and intercept unauthorized ships and submarines,” it said.
The Sun reported that just as Prime Minister Cameron was making the announcement about beaching the Nimrods, two Russian subs were intercepted within 70 miles of the British coast—by American jets. Why? “[B]ecause our Nimrods were grounded and the French planes had no fuel,” The Sun wrote.
It is a shocking scenario—made all the more remarkable because of its being foretold in Scripture thousands of years in advance.
In biblical prophecy, Britain is called by the name of the tribe of ancient Israel from which it descended, Ephraim. Detailed proof of this can be found in Herbert Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.
“Ephraim [Britain] also is like a silly dove, without sense,” wrote the Prophet Hosea (Hosea 7:11, New King James Version). Silly means simple, easily fooled. And the dove perfectly symbolizes the senseless, toothless and naive nation Britain has become.
As the Trumpet’s editor in chief Gerald Flurry has written, no “silly dove” nation can endure in a world full of hawks and tigers.
Hosea’s prophecy continues by saying of Britain, “[T]heygo to Assyria.”
Assyria, as we explained in our recent article on the subject, is the prophetic name for Germany. This is one of several prophecies that describe a weakened Britain looking for help from its neighbors in Europe.
But in prophecy after prophecy, the result of this dangerous gamble is revealed. God says through His prophet, “When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard. Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me” (verses 12-13).
God recorded these prophecies to serve as a warning to modern Britain!—a warning the British people will soon regret having ignored. The fact that this and many other specific prophecies are rapidly becoming present reality is sure and convicting proof of their reliability—and of the active existence of the Creator God who is bringing them to pass!