The two Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers, currently being built, were originally costed at £3.9 Billion. That was the proposed completion cost. There was a a potential small increase for the fitting of a catapult launching system if things went wrong with the JSF35 VSTOL aircraft.
The price is now £7 Billion and is likely to top out at £10 Billion. (Robert Peston Here)
That is a hell of alot of money for two new British ships. But it gets worse.
The Americans have consistently blocked access to aspects of the design of the (supposedly jointly designed) JSF F35 aircraft. These are the primary aircraft that these two carriers are supposed to operate.
It now appears that these carriers will also have an area for the sole use of US personnel, into which RN personnel will not be permitted. This on a supposedly UK sovereign ship. ( Telegraph Here )
Are these really going to be bona-fide British ships? Or are they really going to be mere proxies for the American navy. The current controversy over whether they will take the VSTOL version of the JSF35 or the conventionally launched version revolves around the fact that the USA will only operate the conventional variant.
It seems that the USA is quite keen to be able to deploy their own aircraft on these two British flagged carriers. Hence they are pushing hard to get the current VSTOL configuration changed.
There is also a possibility that the VSTOL version of the JSF35 will get cancelled under the feet of the RN. A situation reminiscent of the SkyBolt debacle in the early 60's.(Cabinet Papers Here)
There are a aspects of this I think we should all find really alarming.
1. Cost overrun. If you ordered a house extension for 30k and the end result was an extension costing 100K you also found your neighbour had rights over occupancy would you be happy? Or would you call in the Fraud Squad?
2. National Sovereignty. However much the USA would like to have us as pet poodle, and however much certain sections o the UK administration love playing the lapdog, we really ensure that command and control of our national defence assets rests solely with the UK. We would be better off without either of these ships rather than merely being the "approved" operator for the real owner.
It would be an outrage if we ended up spending £10 billion simply to provide the USA with a diplomatic smoke screen so they can deploy their aircraft under the guise of the flag of convenience.
Of course an even bigger travesty would be that the owner of that flag of convenience would be us.