UK unveils plan to send new aircraft carrier to Pacific

  11 February 2019    Read: 1776
UK unveils plan to send new aircraft carrier to Pacific

The HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s largest warship, is slated to head to the Pacific region, U.K. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said Monday, Anadolu Agency reports. 

Deployment of the new aircraft carrier, which is likely to take place in 2021, will also include two squadrons of F-35 stealth jets to "stand up to those who flout international law".

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute in London, Williamson said the U.K. also planned to open bases in Asia and the Caribbean region.

He said recent actions by China and Russia had "blurred" the boundary between peace and war, warning that the U.K. "may need to intervene".

“The price of non-intervention in global crises has often been unacceptably high,” he said. “To talk, but fail to act, risks our nation being seen as little more than a paper tiger.”

Stressing that the U.K. now had “its greatest opportunity in 50 years to redefine its role”, the defense secretary said that, as the U.K. braces to leave the EU, “it is up to us to seize the opportunities that Brexit brings”.

"We can build new alliances, rekindle old ones and, most importantly, make it clear that we are the country that will act when required and a nation that people can turn to when the world needs leadership," he said.

Williamson added that NATO countries should step up and pay their 2 percent share of spending, while European countries must “not be distracted by the notion of an EU army”.

“The alliance also must develop its ability to handle the kind of provocations that Russia is throwing at us,” he said. “Such action from Russia must come at a cost.”

He added: “History has taught us that crisis comes when it is least expected. As uncertainty grows, we must be ready to act and bring others with us.”

According to Williamson, the U.K. also plans to invest £1.9 billion (roughly $2.45 billion) in the country’s cyber-defenses.

“As the cyber threat grows, we are making a very significant additional investment,” he said.

“Our adversaries are increasingly using cyber-attacks, subversion and information operations to challenge us and the rules-based international order,” he added.

He continued: “I want to see our armed forces embracing transformation at an ever-faster rate, keeping pace with technological change, enhancing our mass and increasing our lethality.”

“Against adversaries upping their spending and advancing technology, we have to respond,” Williamson added. “If we do not, we will find ourselves with fewer options when we face threats in the future.”

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