October 19, 2010

UK defence cuts announced

Filed under: Britain, Economics, Military — Tags: , , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:57

As I blogged yesterday, quoting a Guardian article, the British government will be cutting their armed forces substantially:

I want to be clear there is no cut whatsoever in the support for our forces in Afghanistan.

The funding for our operations in Afghanistan comes not from the budget of the Ministry of Defence but instead from the Treasury Special Reserve.

So the changes to the Ministry of Defence that result from today’s Review will not affect this funding.

That will help the morale of the troops on the ground in Afghanistan, but the army overall is still being reduced.

Our ground forces will continue to have a vital operational role so we will retain a large well-equipped Army, numbering around 95,500 by 2015 that is 7,000 less than today.

We will continue to be one of very few countries able to deploy a self-sustaining properly equipped Brigade-sized force anywhere around the world and sustain it indefinitely if needs be.

And we will be able to put 30,000 into the field for a major, one off operation.

In terms of the return from Germany half our personnel should be back by 2015 and the remainder by 2020.

And tanks and heavy artillery numbers will be reduced by around 40%.

The garrison in Germany is a relic of the Cold War, and it’s amazing that they’ll still be there until 2020.

We will complete the production of six Type 45 destroyers one of the most effective multi-role destroyers in the world.

But we will also start a new programme to develop less expensive, more flexible, modern frigates.

Total naval manpower will reduce to around 30,000 by 2015.

And by 2020 the total number of frigates and destroyers will reduce from 23 to 19 but the fleet as a whole will be better able to take on today’s tasks from tackling drug trafficking and piracy to counter-terrorism.

Those are the same Type 45’s that haven’t actually had effective main armament, according to The Register.

We have decided to retire the Harrier which has served this country so well for 40 years.

The Harrier is a remarkably flexible aircraft but the military advice is that we should sustain the Tornado fleet as that aircraft is more capable and better able to sustain operations in Afghanistan.

RAF manpower will also reduce to around 33,000 by 2015.

Inevitably this will mean changes in the way in which some RAF bases are used but some are likely to be required by the Army as forces return from Germany.

The retirement of the Harrier is a simultaneous victory for the RAF against their two most dangerous enemies: the army and the Fleet Air Arm. The Harrier was the one aircraft that could provide both naval and ground support, and was therefore considered readily dispensible by the fighter jocks in the Royal Air Force.

We will build both carriers, but hold one in extended readiness.

We will fit the “cats and traps” — the catapults and arrestor gear to the operational carrier.

This will allow our allies to operate from our operational carrier and allow us to buy the carrier version of the Joint Strike Fighter which is more capable, less expensive, has a longer range and carries more weapons.

We will also aim to bring the planes and carriers in at the same time.

That is probably finis for carrier operations in the Royal Navy: but expect both of these ships to show up again in the fleet of India within 5-10 years.

. . . we will retain and renew the ultimate insurance policy — our independent nuclear deterrent, which guards this country round the clock every day of the year.

[. . .]

…extend the life of the Vanguard class so that the first replacement submarine is not required until 2028;
…reduce the number of operational launch tubes on those new submarines from 12 to eight…
…reduce the number of warheads on our submarine at sea from 48 to 40…..
…and reduce our stockpile of operational warheads from less than 160 to fewer than 120.

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