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Defence under Thatcher by Andrew M. Dorman (auth.)

By Andrew M. Dorman (auth.)

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182 The focus for the navy and army was largely concentrated on their medium-term programmes, although the navy’s debate about first and second-line vessels led to design work for all these second-class units being undertaken, with little change being made to existing designs. The air force was concerned about the replacement of its fleet of Harrier and Jaguar aircraft. The Harrier’s lack of range and weapons pylons severely restricted its operational potential and the air force wanted to increase both its range and bomb load whilst retaining its STOVL capability.

It meant that when these aircraft were replaced their successors would have to have an air defence capability. 196 These qualified for NATO’s Physical Protection Programme funding if a number of measures were undertaken. 197 This gave the Bloodhound a far more significant role than it had in Germany and justified the air force’s examination of a successor. 198 In themselves the improvements made to Britain’s air defences were insufficient politically. 199 While the quickest solution was to use the Lightnings in store there were problems.

174 They suggested that a number of more austere vessels be designed and purchased as complements to the existing programme: Submarines Destroyers Frigates MCMVs First class Trafalgar – SSNs Type 44 Type 22 Hunts Second class SSKs – Type 2400 Type 42 Type 23 SRMH and River-class Opinion within the Admiralty Board was divided. The idea had been tried in the 1950s with the building of the second rate Type 14 and Defence under Pym, May 1979–January 1981 35 Type 81 frigates, but it had proved unsatisfactory and production shifted to the general purpose Leander-class frigates.

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