cold fjord writes: It will soon be a bit more difficult for Britain's Royal Navy to rule the waves as it gives up anti-ship missiles as a result of budget cuts. That will force the Royal Navy to go "old school" and rely upon naval gunfire for ship-to-ship combat. Cannon fire as the primary means of ship-to-ship combat has been largely obsolete since the 1950s following the invention of guided missiles in World War 2. Prior to that, cannon fire had been the primary means of naval combat for hundreds of years. Although the Royal Navy ranged up to 16" guns on battleships, the largest gun currently in active service is a 4.5" gun. That will leave the Royal Navy unable to engage targets beyond approximately 17 miles / 27 km, whereas Harpoon missiles provide an 80 mile / 130 m range. The loss of anti-ship missile capability will begin in 2018 and may last for 10 years for warships, and 2 years for helicopters. The Sun quotes a naval insider who said: "It's like Nelson saying, 'don't worry, I don't need canons, we've got muskets.'" The loss of missile capability heaps more misfortune upon a naval force that recently has seen its available frontline combat force drop to an unprecedented 24 warships.