The Libyan operation has provided a particularly clear demonstration that carrier-based aviation is worth its price. Prior to the Libyan crisis, the British government had decided to scrap its carrier air arm on the theory that it largely duplicated a capability offered by the Royal Air Force, and money was too tight to tolerate duplication, at least for the moment. This meant that, on paper, RAF attack aircraft based in Britain could fly long distances when supported by tankers. It turned out that indeed they could, but at a great price, and to spend only a few minutes anywhere near the targets.
World Naval Developments: The High Cost of No Carriers
By Norman Friedman