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This review is from: Britain's Future Navy (Hardcover)Since the end of the Cold War, the size of Royal Navy has declined, but the number of tasks asked of it has arguably increased. An analysis of future strategic challenges - such as rogue and failing states, increased competition for natural resources, and the rise of new maritime powers like China and India - suggest this trend will accelerate in future. Indeed, in the in the era of globalisation, the sea is more important to the UK's security and prosperity than ever before, and yet the role of the Royal Navy seems at best undervalued, and at worst unknown, to most politicians and to the public at large. The decommissioned aircraft carrier Ark Royal (a class of warship to which Nick Childs devoted his earlier work, The Age of Invincible: The Ship That Defined the Modern Royal Navy) is an iconic emblem of the Senior Service's current malaise.
A former BBC defence correspondent, now covering world affairs, Nick Childs is ideally placed to provide an objective but well-informed analysis of the Royal Navy's current position and future prospects in an uncertain but interconnected world. The author reviews the key projects that will form the centrepiece of the future Royal Navy, each of which has endured a tortured development history: the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier, Astute class submarine, Type 45 destroyer and Type 26 frigate. However, Childs also takes time to discuss some of the less high profile elements that help constitute a balanced fleet - the utility and flexibility of amphibious forces, the continuing importance of minehunters, and the potential offered by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the Royal Navy's much overlooked `Cinderella' service.
In doing so, Childs explores some pertinent debates, not least whether the time has come for Admirals to choose between small numbers of sophisticated warships or larger numbers of more basic vessels. There is reference to developments elsewhere, such as the US Navy's new Littoral Combat Ship, whilst analysis of the international response to the Arab Spring and the campaign in Libya - in which the naval contribution was significant - ensures this work is right up to date.