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‘Dangerous Fantasy’ No More — Merkel Backs Joint European Aircraft Carrier

Charles De Gaulle Aircraft Carrier
Getty Images
OLIVER JJ LANE

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has backed the suggestion by her anointed successor to pursue a joint European aircraft carrier, a major symbol of military capability only operated by a handful of nations worldwide.

The initial suggestion for a joint European aircraft carrier — which if realised would likely be at best a Franco-German project draped with an EU flag — came Sunday from Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Angela Merkel’s successor as leader of Germany’s largest political party.

Speaking to Germany’s Welt on Sunday, Kramp-Karrenbauer — known by the acronym ‘AKK’ in her homeland on account of her long name — laid out her vision for the future of Europe. Amid discussion of migration, climate change, terrorism and international conflicts was also the suggestion on the future of pan-European military capability.

AKK wrote: “Germany and France are already working together on the project of a European future combat aircraft, and other nations are invited to participate. The next step could be to start on the symbolic project of building a common European aircraft carrier to express the global role of the European Union as a power ensuring security and peace.”

As the new leader of the Christian Democrats, taking over from Angela Merkel after 15 years, AKK’s elevation to the chancellorship of Germany is not certain, but likely, so the comments could well signal the future direction of travel for Germany and Europe.

Merkel appeared to back the plan — despite having stepped down from the leadership of her party she remains the most powerful woman in Europe — replying Monday: “…it’s right and good that we have such equipment on the European side, and I’m happy to work on it… [but] we have to do other things as a priority.”

Once dismissed as a “dangerous fantasy” by then UK deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg — now a top executive at Facebook — as he unsuccessfully attempted to persuade the British people that they had nothing to fear from remaining in the European Union, plans to create a unified European military continue apace.

While several European nations are building or operate aircraft or helicopter carriers of various sizes, the project may not be without difficulties. While France, the main nation at which AKK’s comments are aimed at, has long operated Europe’s only nuclear-powered carrier the Charles De Gaulle [pictured, operating French aircraft, above], it has long experienced severe operational issues and has earned a poor reputation for reliability.

Germany has never successfully operated an aircraft carrier and has serious issues with the military it already has, mostly stemming from underfunding. The insignificant proportion of national wealth spent on defence by Germany has been a particular target of criticism for President Donald Trump, who accuses Germany of not pulling its weight in the defence of Europe and NATO.

As Breitbart London reported in June 2018, the early retirement of Germany’s air force chief — said to have been forced out over his criticism of the government’s underfunding of the military — was marked by a fighter-jet flyby in his honour, which was ridiculed in the national press. The four Eurofighter jets that took part represented the whole combat-ready force of the aircraft in German service.

Although the country theoretically had 128 of the planes in service, only ten are able to fly, and just four of those were combat ready, owing to equipment shortages.

Oliver JJ Lane is the editor of Breitbart London — Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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