Sir - I read that "-[Royal Air Force] British Aerospace Nimrod submarine hunters are being stripped down-[to] be transformed into Nimrod 2000s" (The Times, London, 27 December, 1996).

Fuselages which are a quarter of a century old are being refurbished, allegedly to save a couple of million pounds of a unit cost of some ú90 million ($56.5 million).

Even this looks questionable: the insides of the stringers are inaccessible, rendering their reproofing a tricky process which may not eliminate the seeds of corrosion - which will have another 25 years in which to germinate.

The price is more certain. The number of Nimrods in an already-minimal fleet will fall, as aircraft are withdrawn to be converted. The tiny reserve - against accidental or action losses - disappears. More can built for export, or to meet some emerging threat, but only with difficulty and expense.

I believe that the reason is that refurbishment spreads the work among marginal UK constituencies, assuring the support of sitting Members of Parliament. Their opponents do not publicise this, to avoid antagonising voters. I consider that politicians are endangering the safety of the UK - and the lives of its airmen - for electoral reasons.


Stockport, UK

Source: Flight International