The RAF's entire fleet of Tornado ground attack aircraft could be rushed out of service because of a fresh spending crisis at the Ministry of Defence, the Guardian has learned.
With the department trying to find an extra £1bn savings before the end of the spending round next month, ministers and senior military officials have been presented with a range of unpalatable options.
One involves the immediate withdrawal of the RAF's eight Tornado fighters in Afghanistan, followed by an accelerated withdrawal of the rest of the fleet from service, possibly within three years. Other options include axing thousands more soldiers from non-combat units in the army, or withdrawing more ships from the Royal Navy's already diminished fleet.
Whatever next! This is just getting crazy.
What is more, the current situation in the Middle East/North Africa, gives us a reminder that we need our armed forces to have the best equipment in service to act as both a deterrent and provide assistance in times of need.
How can we possibly do this with our recent cutbacks?
At the rate David Cameron is decimating our armed forces we wouldnt even be able to defend our fishing fleet in a cod war with Iceland! The man is no Iron Lady!
What have we done/plan to do :
I could go on and on with this list.
David Cameron look what you have done in a ever more dangerous world! You really need to do something about this and fast! We need our armed forces!
Would he pull down the fence at Downing Street just because no one has tried to break into it for years! I think not!
I have a nagging suspicion that someone somewhere has their wires crossed on this one - yes, the last Tornado F3s will retire next month, but the GR4 fleet? It's going to take a hit and probably be rationalised at Marham at the expense of Lossiemouth, but getting rid of the lot would reduce the RAF to a small fleet of a single type: Typhoon.
Here's the problem with that: the aircraft can't do the job in Afghanistan yet (that wording is deliberate - it could do it theoretically, but can't due to insufficient aircraft numbers and the need to run two lots of QRA in the UK and one in the Falklands too). So, would HMG seriously suggest that we have 9,500-plus troops in theatre with no organic air support from the RAF? I think not.
The rumour is that they are looking at getting rid of all the GR4s by 2015! I hope they are wrong but as we have seen with this government they have no interests in the armed forces, except for the army's current role in Afghanistan.
Spot on - all eyes on the current ground fight, with no wider strategic consideration beyond the blessed Trident replacment. And all the while there is the baffling Rivet Joint/Air Seeker procurement taking up a mighty wedge of cash when you could surely do enough of a job with King Airs and UAVs? Shambles.
The UK has been living beyond it's means for thirty years now , living off North Sea Oil revenues and the illusion of wealth created by debt and financial services.
The results of drilling in the Falklands were not encouraging so we can let them go ........this is realpolitik and the dependancies cost a lot of money with no financial return either.
We will never launch another amphibious assault we just can't support it logistically so the amphibs can go.
The Tornado is a Cold War aircraft ( a good one yes....... but) and just too expensive and sophisticated for CAS
Type 45's : They are obsolete before they start . The US, Spain, Norway and Australia have gone with AEGIS so they can control each others missles and carry out the ABM role. Similarly the frigates were designed primarily to hunt submarines in the GIUK gap and are not equiped or designed for other roles.
Afghanistan ...well does anyone know what that is really all about., but in a recent interview with Pino Arlacchi the Ex UN anti crime and Narcotics chief stated that "80 per cent of international help to Afghanistan is being lost in international and local corruption schemes"
I had forgot about cutting the trainees. Another bad decision by this shambles of a government!
Its interesting today that they have announced that the Type 22 frigate HMS Cumberland is being sent off the coast of Libya to help with the evacuation of British nationals. This is ok for now but HMS Cumberland along with the other two remaining Type 22s are being retired in a few months! The fourth one has just been retired on 9th Feb 2011! We will struggle to have ships available to do this type of mission in the future!
This crazy government are blaming Labour and the MOD for all these cuts. Yes they may have been mishandled but rather than cutting our nations defences to the bare bone they should be putting money in and making sure that this doesnt happen again. They say they are doing the last bit but thats easy to say if you are cutting all the contracts!
I predict that come next winter Argentina will take the Falklands back and we will be able to do nothing about it. All they will have to do is wait until we get snow like we have for the last two winters and we wont be able to mobilise in time to stop it. Our roads will come to a standstill and we wont have enough ships/aircraft available elseware to get there. Yes we have some there already but it is only a token force.
Cameron and Cleggy, don't say you havent been warned when something like this does happen, because it will as you are leaving our country wide open!
Goose: I know the decision has already been taken to keep Ocean and retire Lusty, but the latter needs to stay on while Ocean's in refit.
You'd be very brave or foolish to dispose of Tornado GR4s now on the assumption that F-35s will be ready for proper pointy duties with the UK by 2020! We know to always expect the unexpected when it comes to the JSF's schedule.
Finallt some good news, i hope this is true!
Yes Victor , half a dozen ATR 72 Maritimes will do just fine, as an ex- "Crab" I am being a bit disloyal in saying that the FAA should have operated the maritime patrol capability of this country from the beginning.
Boeing P8's though, they are probably a bit of overkill and far too expensive, we need to get real, and where did they say the money is coming from?
What we need and can probably afford are ATR's . We dont need to hunt submarines, we need something with SAR , surface search, environmental and fisheries protection capabilities.
Nimrod was a cold war program and the Comet was chosen as the airframe because it was all there was and it could get to the location of SOSUS contacts relatively quickly being a jet. These days are over.
As for F-35, the biggest waste of money out there. If anything had to be cancelled it should have been this in my books. Not the Nimrod, not the Harrier, not Ark Royal. These are what we need right here, right now, for any eventuality.
If it's new aircraft they want. I would be more than happy to see F/A-18E/F and E-2D in service rather than F-35 on our new aircraft carriers or should I say carrier.
Apparently the RN story was also in the Sunday Times Victor. Not only ATR's, P-8s, but maybe a couple of Casa's.
Also taking Sentinel out of service, buying RC-135's to replace our Nimrods, I just don't understand the logic behind these.
It's not just politicians who are making these decisions, but pro Army peeps in the MOD. A lot has been said from these guys that we have too many fast jets etc in service. Now they have their wish, I hope they are satisfied, because they have lost one of the most capable CAS aircraft ever built. I hope Tornado sticks around enough for them to realise what they will be missing with air cover etc, when its gone.