Media debate on the UK's carrier programme is focusing on the jets, rather than the ships they land on. Central to this discussion is 'cats and traps', the launch and recovery system, which drives the choice of aircraft. Critics who say that this will cost too much overlook the long-term strategic value it will add.
As the UK government grapples with whether or not to carry out a U-turn over which variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), chiefly because of issues surrounding carrier conversion costs, there are broader issues beyond technical and financial ones, and some echoes from the past.
A ground invasion is impossible. But Israel lacks the long-range assets unilaterally to neutralise a dispersed Iranian nuclear capability, whereas a large US co-ordinated air campaign against Iranian nuclear weapon facilities is eminently feasible. Nevertheless the effectiveness and fallout from such a campaign remains in doubt.