The Royal Navy will be without ship-to-ship missiles for a couple of years. The Telegraph reports:
Royal Navy warships will be left without anti-ship missiles and be forced to rely on naval guns because of cost-cutting, the Ministry of Defence has admitted.The Navy’s Harpoon missiles will retire from the fleet’s frigates and destroyers in 2018 without a replacement, while there will also be a two year gap without helicopter-launched anti-shipping missiles.[..]
Harpoon missiles are unlikely to be replaced for up to a decade, naval sources said, leaving warships armed only with their 4.5in Mk 8 guns for anti-ship warfare. Helicopter-launched Sea Skua missiles are also going out of service next year and the replacement Sea Venom missile to be carried by Wildcat helicopters will not arrive until late 2020.
The Telegraph notes that the RAF has also been without anti-ship missiles for some time. This seem like a problem if you’re an island nation trying to project power or defend yourself
It’s still (relatively) early days, but this is not a good sign for how our traditional allies are going to handle the Trump moment—or how Britain is handling Brexit. Some commentators hold out hope that Trump’s skepticism of our traditional alliances would give a salutary scare to some of our allies, causing them to reverse the long-term decline in defense spending and, more generally, take defense policy more seriously. Likewise, the more establishment of the two Brexit campaigns intermittently pushed the idea that a Britain free of the shackles of the EU would reclaim its martial (and trading) vigor.
But as Thomas Wright of Brookings said in a must-read interview right before the election:
Sometimes we get distracted by talking about what others should do. The real question is: What do we expect others will do? Europe should do more, but realistically, if the U.S. pulled out of Europe, what’s likely to happen in France, for instance? Is it more likely that France will become very internationalist and liberal, or is it more likely that it will trend to the right and that [National Front leader] Marine Le Pen will have a better chance of being elected—[that France] will have a nationalist government that will look out for itself? To me, the record is pretty clear over the last five or six years that if the U.S. pulls out, things will get worse domestically in other countries, and they’ll become more fearful and more protectionist and more nationalist.
Evidence on the ground increasingly suggests the same for England. The more populist of the Brexit campaigns proved to be the one that really sold the idea, and its focus was almost entirely internal. The liberal internationalist center is both smaller in number than conventional wisdom had it until recently and also still badly split, with the left wing continuing to believe post-historical nostrums about the dispensability of force, and the right wing often favoring green-eyeshades arguments on defense.
The result may well be a vicious cycle in which declining investment in defense and international order leads to coldness from allies, which feeds turns inward and less defense spending. This is not new—see for instance this 2014 TAI article charting the decline of the Royal Navy—but it has definitely been given fresh impetus by recent events.