The state of Britain’s armed forces is “appalling” partly because defence chiefs have invested heavily in outdated equipment, according to former Defence Secretary Michael Portillo.
He also pointed out that HMS Diamond in the Red Sea cannot fire missiles against Houthi land targets in Yemen.
The GB News presenter said: “The picture is indeed appalling. There’s no point having the aircraft carriers. The aircraft carriers could only operate in conjunction with allies, we need allies to defend them.
“There are some questions about whether the aircraft carrier is now out of date because of the advance in ballistic missile technology. We’re learning a lot from the Ukraine war, for example, we’re learning how even quite small powers with improvised weaponry can take out big ships.
“The Ukrainians have been very successful. They didn’t even have the Navy to speak of. They’re being successful against the Russian Navy. We’ve invested in the wrong things and our kit is unreliable, not available, and not equipped for purpose.”
In a discussion with Camilla Tominey, he said: “I’ve always thought these aircraft carriers were entirely a vanity project.
“An aircraft carrier is an enormous target and if one of these were hit and sunk, we would lose £3 billion worth of ship, £2 billion worth of aircraft, and 2,000 personnel and we’re never going to risk doing that.
“The aircraft carriers are huge things, they need to be defended. We don’t have the ships to defend them.”
He added: “We don’t get good value and we don’t get reliability…HMS Diamond which is our ship, which is out there, defending the Red Sea, doesn’t have the capability of firing a missile from the ship to the land, so it can’t participate in the attacks on the Houthis.
“In order that we can participate in the attacks, we’re flying RAF aircraft from Cyprus, which is a very long way away.”