Lymington Times – 21 March 2009
New Forest East MP and Shadow Defence Minister Julian Lewis has contributed a pair of major articles to two leading defence publications in the same month. His article on the future class of frigate for the Royal Navy was published in the magazine RUSI Defence Systems and argues that, if the footprint of the Royal Navy is to be restored following the cuts in the numbers of escort vessels, a future frigate must be designed to be ‘as cheap as chips’.
The most important thing, he wrote, is to maximise the number of hulls and to use the new ‘plug-and-play’ technology to wire them for sophisticated systems which can be added later when the Defence Budget can pay for them:
‘Otherwise, it will be the same story of piling everything on board at the beginning and ending up with half the number of vessels we need.'
The second essay is a major article in the Journal of the Royal United Services Institute – probably Britain’s leading defence think-tank. This is paired with an article by General Sir Hugh Beach in the same magazine. Sir Hugh was one of the three retired generals who wrote to The Times in January, arguing against continuing with the British nuclear deterrent.
Dr Lewis, who has written prize-winning papers on this subject, is one of the deterrent’s principal supporters. His latest essay strongly argues that, important as our present counter-insurgency campaigns undoubtedly are, it would be a dangerous fallacy to assume that we may never face a threat to the very existence of the United Kingdom homeland. A nuclear-armed enemy could blackmail the UK into submitting to lesser threats as well.
Dr Lewis said:
‘As the General Election draws ever closer, it is important to set out in depth and detail the reasoning for the policies we promote. I believe that these two papers will underpin the way in which a future Conservative Government will approach these two key areas of future defence policy.’