Britain unlikely to use new aircraft carriers in Falklands-style conflict, suggests UK's national security adviser
“It is projecting them as a British sovereign capability but one that will almost inevitably, I would actually say inevitably, be used in a context of allied operations of some kind if used in a contested environment.”
Britain sent two aircraft carriers -HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible -to help take back the Falkland Islands in 1982.
They were accompanied by an array of British destroyers, frigates and submarines.
Sir Mark’s comments are likely to spark questions about if and when the UK would embark
on a similar course of action in the future.
The two new aircraft carriers are the largest vessels ever built for the Royal Navy. The 65,000 ton HMS Queen Elizabeth cost £3.5bn to build and was officially commissioned in December last year.
It is currently undergoing sea trials with an aim of being fully operational in 2020 with flight trials for the UK’s new F-35B stealth jet due to take place later in the year.
Meanwhile, Sir Mark also used his appearance to urge the UK’s fellow members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) to meet a commitment to spend two per cent of GDP on defence.
He said such a move would help deter Russian aggression.
He said: “It is very important when we think about Russia that we don’t think about it in an entirely bilateral way.
“It is not just the UK up against Russia, itis Nato that is the lynchpin of our defence against Russia.”
He added: “If all of the other Nato countries achieved that two per cent target that would be the equivalent of about an additional $100billion a year devoted to the defence by the alliance.”
Earlier this year, Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, claimed that Russia could cause “thousands and thousands and thousands” of deaths in Britain with an attackthat would cripple the UK's infrastructure and energy supply.
Sir Mark told MPs that Russia remained the UK’s “primary strategic threat”. He said: “At the most basic level, particularly, as a nuclear state there is an existential threat and it is presented by in particular the Russian nuclear capability.”