Home » Air Force » RAF Tornados to the Boneyard? Royal Marines on the Chopping Block?

RAF Tornados to the Boneyard? Royal Marines on the Chopping Block?

The RAF’s 120 strong Tornado GR4 fleet may be the next victim in the major defense cost cutting exercise underway in Britain, according to leaked reports to the BBC. From the sounds of it, the British military is about to be gutted by forced government austerity measures as Britian suffers through a sluggish economy.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense is undertaking a “mother of horrors” cost cutting review aimed at realizing somewhere between 10 to 20 percent savings, says defense secretary Liam Fox.

“According to the whisperings from the Ministry of Defence the army may have to give up whole brigades, armoured formations and artillery units; the air force is considering abandoning maritime surveillance aircraft and retiring its fleet of Tornado strike aircraft and Harrier jump-jets; the navy may be made to give up the Royal Marines and amphibious landing ships; and the submarines carrying the nuclear deterrent may be cut from four to three.”

Chop the Royal Marines? I don’t see how the UK pulls off any overseas deployment besides the barest of presence missions if real muscle is cut as the Economist suggests. It’s not like the Brits are capability heavy to begin with; for the past few years, the British Army has struggled to maintain a capable fighting force in southern Afghanistan.

As would be expected, the pending government austerity measures are forcing policymakers to reconsider Britain’s role in the world:

“Ministers first have to decide what kind of power Britain aspires to be: become a more or less insular country minding its own business, or remain some kind of global force able to intervene in far-flung parts of the world?”

There are some in the U.S. defense and foreign policy community who believe we’re due for some version of the above as entitlements and debt servicing so overwhelm the federal budget that defense spending is crowded out. Absent a return to truly robust economic growth (something on the 4–5 percent a year level), and hence higher government revenue, I don’t see how we avoid it.

– Greg Grant

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{ 110 comments… read them below or add one }

ELR August 2, 2010 at 3:35 pm

We wouldn't have to wrestle with budget issues if our politicians weren't as corrupt as can be. Our budgets reek of pork and unnecessary spending.


William C. August 2, 2010 at 3:41 pm

If I was British I would truly be disgusted by my government about now. For too long they have cut their military in the hopes of saving some cash. Yet despite these measures, in a few years they end up in debt again, so the next government that moves in gut the military even further repeating the cycle.

I for one do not want to see this occur in the United States and will do whatever I can to ensure it doesn't. Our recent independent QDR was right, and I am sure a similar review of the British military would come to the same conclusion. Yet their politicans don't care.

Peace through Strength is what we need, and that doesn't need to involve being the world's police force either.


Sev August 2, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Well thats the direction we're headed with the progressives in power. ANd Britain is repeating the same mistakes from WW2. Mind your business and lower your defences and you're begging for the wolves to attack. I say we completely abolish Welfare, Social security, The Department of education and Environmental protection agency. They've done us no good but made society much lazier.


Scathsealgaire August 2, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Check your facts Sev. The Torries(right wing) are in power, they are not progressives. They are Conservatives, this lot of Torries are just a bunch of big girls blouses.
It was Labour(UK centrist) who were GWs best mates for his term. They seem to have had bigger balls than the Torries do currently. The last Torry who had big balls was Margaret Thatcher. John Major was pretty meh. Cameron can talk, but is a total woose, even though he idolises Thatcher.


Ross August 3, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Scath if you think that labour had 'bigger balls' you would be wrong. They gutted the armed forces (especially the navy) at the same time as putting us (im british) into 2 conflicts. We no longer had the capability to do that kind of thing.
Additionally unbelievably wasteful spending in just about every department (not just the military) - blackhole ventures.

The cuts predicted here are still horrendous of course, though the Air force has tended to survive the last decade of cuts better than the rest (i say that in relative terms). Personally i cannot see how a woefully below-par force can be further cut when it was already beyond 'to the bone' cuts under labour. They will now be removing the actual bones. It's even more outrageous when one considers the immense amount of money that has been thrown about under the previous government at a bloated welfare state - the military budget is pennies compared, unsure as to why national security should be further compromised to save ultimately very little money in the long term.


Mark August 5, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I am British (and ex-Royal Navy) and I see it this way; Under the Last Labour Government, we have managed our defebce forces is in a reacrtive way, with poor planning for what the real strategic threats and issues might be, the result is an imbalanced set of forces. The RAF seems to have managed to hold on to resources for which there is not much real need. The Eurofighter Typhoon is designed to meet a cold war threat and yet the RAF still plans to have 200 of them. On the other hand the fleet of Transport aircraft is elderly and surely seriously overstretched at present.

The Army still has a large number of MBTs and artillery which don't appear to be necessary today and it's been reported that many of them may be mothballed.

The Royal Navy has again in some ways clung onto Cold War requirements, with sophisticated A/S Frigates predominating. The new Type 45 Destroyer is claimed to be the most advanced in the World, but I wonder if we need a ship that advanced?

The possibility of the RAF being disbanded as a separate force is being mooted, with it's transport and Helicopter assetts going to the Army with air defence becoming a Navy responsibility.

The RF does not have a good image with the other services and this would be a popular move with them.

We need a proper strategic review, to get everything in order which should have been carried out several years ago. But the bottom line is that we have to get our financial house in order as a country after profligate spending by the last Government.


Marcase August 2, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Helluva a thing for the Brits to give up their Marine Commandoes, as their job won't just vaporize with them. The British Army (what's left of it) will have to fullfill the marines role and that's reinventing the wheel again.

The financial gains may be significant (albeit short lived, William C is absolutely right about that) but the loss of knowledge, expertise and expeditionary capability would be devastating.


Chimp August 3, 2010 at 6:41 am

I suggest turning it on its head. Fire all the chinless Ruperts in the "Guards" regiments, and transfer the remainder to the Marines (assuming they can meet the standards).

With all due respect to the US Marines and others, there is no formation of any size anywhere else in the world that is better than the Royal Marines. That's not trumpet blowing… it's the result of realistic, hard training and going on for 70 years of getting the job done.

The navy should be returned to its proper role, of providing a suitably subservient taxi service for the RM. I suggest it be renamed "The RMN" in honour of its promotion. And any CPO who complains about his boat getting muddy should be used for bayonet practise.

I hope that the ghosts of St Nazaire follow the tosser who came up with this idea home.


M167A1 August 2, 2010 at 4:04 pm

A strong military is an investment in your control over your own future. While the exact size can expand or contract depending on policy you must maintain a strong core to build on in case of need.

If the UK were to make the cuts outlined above it would become something like Canada, dependant on others for protection and impotent in international affairs except via the good offices of others.

While pacifists might like this and leftists might chose to put their faith in international institutions like the UN nations who do this for whatever reason end up marginalized, as other make the decisions that ultimately determine everyone’s future.

If the situation is that bad, trim the Army, cancel the aircraft carriers scrap the Tornados. But keep the Royal Marines and their anphibs, keep the Typhoons and keep going on the F-35.

And whatever you do, keep the SSBNs and plan for the next class.


Bob August 2, 2010 at 6:49 pm

This what happens when nations are broke, in debt and have no money. Sadly, the military is a luxery that must go. The U.S. is not far behind Britian. Nations cannot afford a welfare state and a strong military at the same time.


Sev August 2, 2010 at 9:12 pm

The military is NOT a luxury. It is an absolute neccesity! You cannot under any circumstance cut the military because it is the only thing protecting a nation from savage enemies. Cut the social programs! Cut the damn social programs and you wouldn't be in this mess! It makes people lazy and dependent and thus like children again. They are a nation of children, dependent on the government. Be industrious, take risks and don't ask everyone else to bail you out! Go to a charity if you have to. As much as people love to bash CHristians, we have a lot of charities and our churches extend aid when asked. And its to everyone regardless of religion or race.


Bob August 2, 2010 at 9:24 pm

And what politician is going to vote to cut social programs? None. All the folks on welfare can vote, as can all the people who live off of social programs, or administer them. Social programs and/or government programs/agencies will not be cut. They will be expanded. The military will be cut, just like Clinton did, and Obama will cut it even more.


kim scholer August 2, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Have you at any point noticed that the proposed cuts will be carried out by the Conservative government that just replaced Labour? And, for that matter, that social programs in the UK will be severly cut as well? All it would have taken for you was for to read the internet version of a British newspaper….

BTW, while all the folks on welfare in the US can vote, they usually don't. Unlike the middle class, which does. Half of us anyway.

Sev August 3, 2010 at 12:09 am

Representatives. Those willing to put it all on the line to do what is right. Being a publicc servant is supposed to be a life of sacrifice, not privlege. One where you are happy to serve your country as best you can but would be more than content serving one if not, two terms. Instead we have people jumping at the chance to be re-elected. They should be wanting to step down and live a normal life, with less responsibility. Instead they don't see it as a high pressure position of responsibility, they see it as a money train. That has to change!

Steve August 3, 2010 at 6:31 am

Bob, Britain is just about broke but still subsisting on its own cash reserves, dwindling to nothing as they are.
The US is past the point of broke and carries on day to day on cash borrowed from China, to the tune of over a Billion a day.
A day!
There is even rumor that allied nations like South Korea, Japan, new Zealand and (rich, very rich) Australia, who suffered no recession (their dollar hit $0.97 USD!) or even an appreciable drop in employment or GDP are also lending the US large amounts of credit with no particular timetable or urgency for repayment and at a rate that could be considered hardly worth the lenders while, but as allies and friends they do it freely.
It pays to remember that this country was the cause of the world wide financial crisis and we still suffer because of it, though the rest of the world seems to be getting on their feet again and are willing to help us do the same.
If we could only dump this pointless war and quit iraq alltogether we would be in a much better postion.
And put the proper smackdown to Iran.


prometheusgonewild August 2, 2010 at 4:14 pm

I am not against social programs, they can do a lot of good when utilized correctly.
It used to be a government job did not pay well, but had good benefits and a pension.
Now here in the States, they make 6-8 % more than their private sector counterparts, not including the benefits and pension.
So what we are seeing is government workers and programs whose spending is out of control.
I live in Connecticut, where the Department of Children Welfare has a budget of one BILLION dollars. Not saying I am against protecting children, just wondering how much of that money goes to the employees…….
So in the end, do politician cut the military, or programs like the department of Child protection?
Which would look better in the next election? Chop Chop goes the military……..
With that said, Britain is in a unique situation. They want to be part of the EU and have the strength that comes from a large political/economic federation. But the constitution for the EU is a 200 plus page nightmare. So actually joining is a bad deal.
So do they keep their military? Lets face it, no-one is invading Britain any time soon.
What I think they should do is keep a small, but potent force that can deploy by air and sea. The Harriers should be kept since they can deploy by boat and land, where the land craft cannot….They should keep the forces that are most flexible and deployable.
Subs with Nuclear missiles are a great deterrent. But against who today? Two subs would do the trick against countries like Iran or N. Korea. One could be deployed at all times….
What do you guys think?


Jacob August 2, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Well if we want to eliminate waste, we need to combat it at all levels, including within the military budget. The military-industrial complex is one example….our armed forces need effective warfighting equipment, not excessively fancy toys with lots of bells and whistles. I'm not knowledgeable to know what exactly is necessary and what isn't, but I do know that partisan politicians will not give us an honest assessment.


jsallison August 2, 2010 at 8:25 pm

I think you’ll find that keeping one sub on station routinely requires 2 more backing it up.


prometheusgonewild August 3, 2010 at 3:31 am

Normally I would agree. Time must be budgeted for maintenance, upgrades and training.
But Britain is broke.
Most countries do not even have one nuclear missile sub. I thin k they could get by with two subs, four crews and a quick turnaround maintenance schedule.


Riceball August 3, 2010 at 4:25 pm

2 subs effectively means only one on patrol at any given time while the other is in port for repairs, resupply, and/or refits. Multiple crews would help but it still wouldn't do anything for when the sub has to go in for repairs and maintenance.


Paralus August 3, 2010 at 12:55 am

"Now here in the States, they make 6-8 % more than their private sector counterparts, not including the benefits and pension."

Public employees fight for their contracts because they're organized and they aren't about to go belly up to become wage slaves like the rest of the private sector. There's plenty of wealth in the world and until the Middle class wakes up to see what's being done to it by corporations, they're going to continue to be fleeced at work.


prometheusgonewild August 3, 2010 at 3:39 am

Sure, the private sector could organize and go union.
At which point efficiency goes down and profit disappears.
What is the difference between a profitable airline company and an unprofitable company? The profitable ones are non union.
We are already down to less than 20% manufacturing in this country.Are you suggesting we "organize" the rest of them so they also go to Asia?
While the public sector looses every job that can be sent to China, our wonderful Federal and State employees get themselves pay increases, and protest their pensions during the worse recession in the last 80 years……


@mika2k1 August 2, 2010 at 4:27 pm

"I don’t see how the UK pulls off any overseas deployment besides the barest of presence missions.."

Why should British forces be deployed overseas? What right do they have to be there?


William C. August 2, 2010 at 5:09 pm

The right to defend their national interests and assist NATO members.


@Earlydawn August 2, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Because it's always better to fight a threat on their territory instead of yours? This is a silly argument. You can't win a war defensively.


@mika2k1 August 2, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Who is it that has declared war on Britain? Seems to me it is the Anglo-American imperialists that have declared war on every territory and sovereignty where their forces are stationed that is not Britain/US. Anglo-American imperialism is not about defense, it is about extraction of wealth, exploitation, and imperial hegemony. This is a very dangerous game the anglo-american imperialists are playing. And the rules have changed. If the anglo-american imperialists don't back off, by logical and primal necessity I think we will see this end up in atomic warfare waged against the anglo-american imperialists in the very near future.


Nidi August 2, 2010 at 7:53 pm

So, when the British Army deployed to the Balkans in the early 90's, that was imperialism? How about their peace keepers in Cyprus, or in Sierra Leone(both cases with UN backing)? What about the troops station in Belize as the behest of the Belize government for border protection from Guatemala? Sorry buddy, I hate to tell you this, the whole anti-Anglo-American imperialism thing is so 1980s.


jsallison August 2, 2010 at 8:38 pm

“…imperialism is not about defense, it is about extraction of wealth, exploitation, and imperial hegemony.” Hmmm, USSR -> eastern Europe, Afghanistan…. PRC -> Tibet, Mongolia.. I see your point, assuming you are actually aware of having one. And if the Anglo-American imperialists (pretty damn incompetent imperialists in my book as they’ve pretty much given it all away, but hey, facts are such inconvenient things, eh wot?) were to allow the message out that we’re going hands off we wind up with another Korea, and gee that was just so much fun that we let it slip again with Kuwait.

So we have evidence that you have been weighed, you have been measured and on the geopolitical front you have been found wanting. Have a nice day, play again sometime when you have become be-clued, and try the veal, I’ll be here all week.


mika. August 3, 2010 at 10:56 pm

The USSR was a propaganda boogyman created by the SIS-CIA-MSM. Anyone with the least bit of impartiality and historical knowledge would see that it was the anglo-american imperialists who were the aggressors. It was they that financed and manipulated the nazi regime into being. It was also they who were responsible for WWI, WWII, and practically every war for the last 100 years. You fail see this, because you are emotionally programmed not to see this.

SIS-CIA-MSM propaganda priests agitate and manipulate for war, because enemies allow the wheels of the anglo-american central bank warfare/welfare model and the imperialist machine to turn. The CIA-MSM keep the world unstable to allow the Establishment political cover to spend any amount of money on arms to enrich the war profiteers. In the US the establishment is basically the Rockefeller and Morgan clans along with the satellite families that are partnered to them. These families have run the United States as a subsidiary of their family business for over a hundred years, and it is their men that largely make up and control the CIA and the government mafia. To learn more about this you can check out the Mises Institute, and in particular the excellent work done by the late Murray Rothbard, especially as it regards US economic history. Also, see Russ Baker’s latest book, “Family Of Secrets”. Baker’s book digs into the history of the Bush Family, to reveal what I’m sure to many will be startling facts concerning the government mafia and the underground reich.

@Earlydawn August 3, 2010 at 1:45 pm

How do you figure that current Western defense priorities are imperialist in nature? The overwhelming majority of oil contracts in Iraq went to Chinese companies if I'm not mistaken, and Afghanistan is a money sink. They are an operating expense. Try opening a book once in a while.


@mika2k1 August 4, 2010 at 3:16 am

"The overwhelming majority of oil contracts in Iraq went to Chinese companies"

The Chinese pay for that oil with US petro-dollars. Petro-dollars for which Chinese labor has to slave over. US petro-dollars are an imperialist machination, part of the anglo-american central bank warfare/welfare model. The US can print US dollars ad infinitum. So the US basically gets its oil and Chinese finished goods for free, or at the cost of digitally creating/printing these dollars. The US has the guns and therefore can force the exchange to be made in US dollars. When countries like Iran for example refuse to go along this arrangement, their governments are targeted for elimination. That's imperialism. And that's what the anglo-american central bank warfare/welfare model is all about. Forcing people to use your currency, backed by nothing but brute force, and enforced at the point of a gun.

John August 3, 2010 at 5:34 pm

This is the year 2010, not 1956. That is the year that British Imperialism died in the Suez Crisies. While we have a small number of Colonies and Dependencies scattered around the World like the Falklands, the Isle of Man and Mount Helenia. We have no Imperial ambitions, we have friends that we have a duty to defend like Brunei and Malaysia as well as our responsibilities as a member of the UN, NATO, the Commonwealth and unfortunately the EU. As the world has returned to normality after the abnormality of the last Century in General and the Cold War in particular, so our defence forces have had to return to our pre-1900 defence policies, which essentially means that our defences most start in two places at the same time, the House next door as well as the other side of the world.
We might be fighting the Taliban this month in Afganistan, but we could be fighting the Chinese in the South China Sea next month and the damned Argies the following month.


zilwiki August 3, 2010 at 10:32 pm

They have a right to defend their territory, that of their allies, and to deter aggression. Remember World War II and that Nazi and Japanese thing? Or the Malaya Emergency of the 1960s? The Berlin Airlift? The Falklands War of 1982? Didn't think so. Bet you didn't know that several "colonies" didn't want to be independent. Malta actually wanted to become part of the UK.


@mika2k1 August 5, 2010 at 1:52 am

"They have a right to defend their territory, that of their allies, and to deter aggression."

That's not what they do. What they do is install dictatorial regimes and corrupt gov officials that allow their corporations a free hand at zero cost resource extraction and environmental terrorism.


Thud105 August 2, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Just a nit-noy point of order: The photo in this article is actually an F.1 not a GR.4


MattMusson August 2, 2010 at 1:11 pm

We’re next. The Dems would love to gut the US Military. Obama believes it is the problem and not the solution.


blight August 2, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Obama hasn't tabled anything about standing down army divisions.

The real issue is the costs. There's a reason why we stopped buying B-2s: The Cold War was over, and so we terminated the buy once the need disappeared. The interesting question is whether or not we still need the quantity of F-22's and JSF's that we thought we did when we started those contracts.

I think we all lost sight of the fact that much of the fighters flyaway cost is due to R&D, and that parts and labor aren't as big a role. In WW2 stuff was "cheap" because R&D costs per unit evaporated when equipping a million man army and multiple armored divisions. That and politicos who want some random part built in their district in the name of political points rather than what is cost-effective and efficient for the company.

However, I've yet to see a response from anybody about what to do about general officers who play the political game, influence procurement and retire to do board of directors work for a cool few millions…


@Earlydawn August 2, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Heartily agreed. Reforming the acquisitions process is the key, not cutting forces. For the time being, we need volume of the quality level we already have. That means putting a bullet in cost-plus until the economy spins back up.


DualityOfMan August 3, 2010 at 2:06 pm

… which is why he increased the military budget.
Nice try.


William C. August 5, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Didn't increase what went to procurement, and look what has gotten cancelled recently.


blight August 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm

I guess we have to rely on a coalition of the willing (from a variety of nations with less costly troops) to provide the boots on the ground. The RN has endured cuts before, but this looks more drastic than simply putting ships into ordinary. Capability will decay before a ship hull, and technology will lapse into obsolescence even faster.

Pointing the finger at social services is easy; the youth vote doesn't necessarily rely on social services (they live at home with parents, that's priviatization for you!), and everyone else who has a job resents paying taxes in the first place, but history's shown us that slashing the military only works until the next military crisis (and unless we have crystal balls..)


blight August 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Social services costs /are/ going up, coinciding with increasing military costs (both in terms of increased obligations and rising costs of equipment, pay, etc), but I suppose the UK could get away with transferring more army units into the reserves and maintaining a robust Navy and Marine Corps. Four subs isn't particularly strong of a nuclear deterrent capability to begin with, and unless Russia decides to be stupid it seems feasible to keep a few subs in ordinary, but to store them overseas and out of the way from possible surprise attack.


chaos0xomega August 2, 2010 at 5:15 pm

So Britain will finally be joining the ranks of the few, the fat, the continental european armed forces: http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htlead/articles/...


blight August 2, 2010 at 5:42 pm

That's a pretty sad situation. It sounds even worse than the post Cold War Clinton years…


chaos0xomega August 3, 2010 at 12:17 am

Indeed, although I wish that article went into more information about other continental european nations (Spain, Germany, Poland, etc.). I imagine the situation is largely the same across Europe, but I'm sure there has to be someone with a military that isn't rusting (or rusted) away.


Byron Skinner August 2, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Good Morning Folks,

Good ideas are hard to keep to secret. Marines and the dedicated amphibious mission are legacy operations, even the UK which last I saw was itself an island can see this.

Byron Skinner


@Earlydawn August 2, 2010 at 5:44 pm

How do you figure that the Royal Marines (or the Marine Corps, for that matter) are a dedicated amphibious operation? Try an expeditionary combined arms force..


Bob August 2, 2010 at 6:53 pm

The Army can do that.


Scathsealgaire August 3, 2010 at 12:06 am

They are the Royal Marine Commandos. Everyone needs to remember that last word. They are Special Forces. You are talking about replacing them with the Arses sorry Army.


@Earlydawn August 3, 2010 at 1:48 pm

I have never seen any source that cites the Royal Marine Commandos as a SOF force. Do you have a citation?

chaos0xomega August 3, 2010 at 12:11 am

The Royal Marines are different from the United States Marines. Expeditionary combined arms operations are a USMC thing, not a Royal Marines thing.


@Earlydawn August 3, 2010 at 1:48 pm

The point is still fundamentally sound. They are an amphibious force that has consistently shown capability in land wars as well. It makes sense to apply cuts to the Army instead, and maintain that capability.


William C. August 2, 2010 at 8:02 pm

The Royal Marines operate similar to the rest of the British army for the most part, however they have specialized equipment enabling them to be deployed rapidly to and fight in tough environments. The Royal Marines have a long history and reputation as an elite fighting force as well. Your telling me Byron that the Brits should lose that capability to save a few pounds? Money which, mind you will soon be spent on entitlements and drive the government back into the red again. Thus the cycle will continue until their military is a hollow shell with nothing left to cut.


The Bear August 3, 2010 at 2:18 am

Gee, legacy missions. How much of the world population lives within 100 miles of a coast line? Legacy missions my…


Paul Jarman August 2, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Having lived at the top end of Portsmouth harbour all my life I have seen first hand the demise of the Royal Navy, the loss of the Royal Marines own home at Eastney and am ashamed today to read that we're even considering cuts like these. What are the flat tops to do with no Harriers to fly off them (even though they are well behind the curve now)? For many years now, friends who joined the RN have been leaving saying they can't be part of a service that is literally rusting away. I did feel that we had turned a corner and that for the first time in my life I was starting to see new Frigates etc starting to appear in port (even new American like Super Carriers are on the horizon), but now the Conservatives get into power and so comes the envitable deep cuts. We had enough of that in the Thatcher years thank you very much. We MUST have the ability to defend not only ourselves but our interests and what's left of the Common Wealth!


chaos0xomega August 3, 2010 at 12:19 am

Well, give it another 10 years and the US will be in the same spot if something doesn't change. I'm beginning to suspect that it may actually be a regular cycle. The Soviets/Russians were in a very similar position in the 80's until very recently. Hell, they are still in a very similar situation, but they are slowly starting to come out of it.


John August 3, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Paul, Coalition government is trying to sort out the mess the Labour Government left and the MoD is one of the worst areas in the mess, especially the Defence Procurement Budget. Everyone has been saying for years that the last Labour Government was trying to buy too much expensive equipment and there wasn't the money in the budget for it. Especially after all the mistakes they made, for example:
Type 45 AD Destroyers,
Astute Hunter Killer Subs;
The Albion class LSD's and the Bayclass LSD(A)
As for the new Type 25 Frigates, why are not buying the Franco-Italian FREMM class Frigates instead, surely we have should learned our lessons after the whole Type 45 / Horizon class AD Destroyer debacle.


John August 3, 2010 at 6:00 pm

There is no money left to fund expensive R&D projects like the Taranis UCAV, we have to live within our means, develop what we can when we can afford it, collaborate when we have to and buy off the shelf when neccessary. Not indulge in hyper-expensive programmes just to create mass-employment in Labour's rotton boroughs just to maintain their hereditary politicians in power. I will give you a classic example of such a project, under the MoD's Complex Weapons Programme, the UK is paying MBDA to develop an Acitve Radar Homing variant of the ASRAAM missile to replace the Short Range Sea Wolf and Rapier SAM systems in use by RN and the Army/RAF respectively, at this moment in time, MBDA has already got two existing and recently developed Active Radar Homing SAM systems, the ASTER 15 (which along with the ASTER 30 is already entering service with the RN as the Sea Viper system on the Type 45) and the VL of the MICA medium range AAM designed to be used on small ships and on land. That seems to me be very expensive way of reinventing the wheel.


Infidel4LIFE August 2, 2010 at 5:43 pm

wow, i didn't know it was that bad. Cutting the RM's? Damn that is just really sad. The UK has a immigrant prob, how many are on the dole? Its KILLING the UK. The British people, thier whole being is at stake. I heard 1 Brit call London, "Londonistan" wtf!! is it that bad already? God save the Queen….


T Elby August 2, 2010 at 6:04 pm

As a young briton I have to say I'm in favour of not replacing the SSBNs - we could surely achieve much of what we need to in strategic nuclear terms from nuclear-tipped SLCMs, with some guided bombs or nuclear Storm Shadows to handle the (equally unlikely) sub-strategic requirement.

As for the other services, the army is probably the most sensible to cut, though doing so would be difficult and emotionally charged due to their sterling service in the Middle East.

Large numbers of tank formations with heavy SP artillery are, in my understanding, suitable only for a high-intensity ground war with a near-peer competitor. Since this is about as likely as having to use our nuclear deterrent, these forces should surely be cut with the same severity. The same goes for any air defence aircraft beyond the minimum needed to maintain our sovereign airspace and the Falklands, which is few. An air battle around the FEBA during a high intensity ground conflict is obviously as unlikely as the ground conflict itself.

The RN & RM on the other hand, are incredibly flexible, and thus the least desirable to cut. Naval power and high-quality amphibious infantry give us a capability to intervene and influence in a way that punches above our weight in terms of wealth and size. Basically, as far as I can see, we need a large navy (as ever), a smaller airforce, and a minimal army. Unfortunately, re-balancing would be nearly impossible if the individual services are unable to see beyond their own perceived 'interests'.


@Earlydawn August 2, 2010 at 6:10 pm

A sensible argument. Navies are more critical than ever, Somalia being in the state it is..


NavyAviator August 2, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Close but not quite. Reference the Force Structure, you may have a good point not least because it would benfit my service, however SLCM are a rather different breed to ICBM's and would not even come close to covering the Nuclear Deterrent role. They are too slow, too obvious and easily shot down with far too short a range. Plus, they would be unable to constantly be at sea, and incapable of instant reaction to any call to fire. The whole point of a continuous at sea deterrent is that there is never any chance of escalation - ie if you have 4 bombers (boomers to our american friends) alongside in faslane, and there is a conflict we get into, if we send one to sea thats a significant escalation. If one is already AT sea, then nothing changes. THAT is why is has to be ICBM, not any other first strike vulnerability reason.

S/Lt Williams RN


Bob August 2, 2010 at 6:58 pm

This is what happens when you have a welfare state. Rail at the politicians all you want, but don't forget who elected and keeps re-electing those same politicians. We have many congress persons that have been in office for more than 30-40 years. Someone keeps re-electing them. A nation gets the government it wants and deserves.


Andrew August 2, 2010 at 7:40 pm

We should immediately put in a bid to acquire the Royal Marines, the Gurkhas, and the Scots. Call it the Royal Americans (ok they were a Tory unit get over it).


William C. August 2, 2010 at 8:09 pm

I truly hope the British don't take these steps. Yet if they do decide to make such a poor decision, perhaps we could acquire HMS Ocean (their sole LHA).

Does the RN have anywhere they mothball ships or would they scrap such a relatively young ship?


Mark August 5, 2010 at 2:48 pm

If Ocean was to be taken out of service, I imagine that buyer would be wought.


Bob August 2, 2010 at 9:28 pm

We can't afford them either.


jim August 2, 2010 at 8:27 pm

So true Bob


Lance Criminal August 2, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Having known and drank with a couple of Royal Marines. That's damn shame. Those guys are the creme de la creme of modern Infantry. - US Marine


Scathsealgaire August 3, 2010 at 12:08 am

Agreed. They are Professional and Funny. As they say "If you can't take a joke…."


Tad August 2, 2010 at 10:00 pm

About time the Brits came to their senses. After all, the dole has to be funded. Here's to you, Andy Capp.


Scathsealgaire August 3, 2010 at 12:10 am

Sarcasm detected. Since you got voted down, I think some people need to readjust their sarcasm detection units. <slaps them on the side of the head>


Wildcard August 3, 2010 at 1:08 am

Social programs are being cut and reformed. Its not simply a case that social programs that are to blame, its also continuous bad procurement by the MOD that has wasted millions with nothing to show for it.
The Tornado GR4’ (note, image for this article is of a Tornado F3/ADV) were to be retired and replaced with Typhoon Tranche 3 aircraft in the near future anyway. Harriers were to be retired and replaced with F35’ when the new carriers hit the water and the F35 becomes available.
Some cuts to the Royal Marines, yes no doubt, but axing them completely, won’t happen.
The MOD wants Trident, the estimated £20Billion is to be spread over the next decade or so, and since the recession won’t last forever its feasible that the UK can afford to retain its nuclear deterrent.
Production of Astute class subs is looking good.
Overall everyone needs to wait for the SDR (Strategic Defence Review) to be completed.


Paralus August 3, 2010 at 1:12 am

And to think, this is a Tory government cutting defense spending and gutting the UK Military.

Considering that the UK is having a difficult time keeping 11,000 troop deployed, why stop at 25%? Why pretend to be able to project force any longer? If the Tory's want to gut the military, then why have a military that can only protect a couple of thousand troops? What's the point?

Why not just keep cutting until there is military that can't do anything but defend the UK? What's the point of the UK belonging to NATO? If the Tory gov't is that dead set on reconciling the budget by gutting the military, then it should re-evaluate its the purpose of the military.



roland August 3, 2010 at 2:06 am

This is just economics 101. Don't spend if we can't afford it. Balance the badget. Avoid loans. Payoff depts. Create a federal reserve. Create green energy.

The economic downturn was the result of continous loaning and spending without looking on paying out the dept. from a 9-20 years period, after Ronal Raygan. Especialy the war w/c we place almost all our resources, blank checks amd soforth. These things are creating an impact to our very economy. And will result on deficits, lost of jobs, high prices and soforth.

We should begining paying off the dept, consentrate on energy resources, renewable source of energy like bio fuel, thermal energy, solar energy, construction of electric grid and electric power stations every 100 miles for electric cars and soforth ; bringing home our soldiers, can help the economy.

Let's hope and pray we can recover and pray for our children's future.


@Earlydawn August 3, 2010 at 4:35 am

I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. We've had surpluses since Reagan, unless I'm misunderstanding you.

Also, no, pulling back troops from overseas deployment isn't a guaranteed cost-savings. Remember 9/11? Stock market tanked for a while. In some sectors, it was never really the same. You have to counter-balance costs with keeping the people (and thus, economic confidence) safe.


roland August 4, 2010 at 5:48 am

Are you kidding me? What surplus? That surplus your talking about was long gone and it become a deficits. Now we have 13.3 trillion dollar dept encounting . We are now on recession and it's causing deficits, unemployment, job losses, business closure, forclosure and others.

See: http://zfacts.com/p/461.html


Bob August 3, 2010 at 11:53 am

You are seriously wrong about almost everything.


Neil August 3, 2010 at 2:24 am

Actually, the Brits - and most European countries - are capability heavy compared to their defense budget. Obviously the US has a much larger budget overall, but it also spends a much higher portion of its budget on R&D and procurement. The UK spends a lot of O&M budget on personnel - as it is supporting a much larger force compared to its defense budget than the US does.

This means lots of forces that cant deploy due to lack of equipment & investment. Look at Iraq & Afghanistan - the US Army at one point deployed more than a third of its force at any given time… The British Army never got close to that portion deployed…


chaos0xomega August 3, 2010 at 2:28 am

Indeed, and thats because, as shown in my previously posted comment, that the UK spends half the amount the US does on maintenance per person.


chaos0xomega August 3, 2010 at 2:31 am

Although, and I should have addressed this earlier, so forgive the multiple responses, the rest of Europe can't really be spoken for. The UK spends half of what the US does, but France spends half of what the UK does…

As this article points out:

European militaries are nowhere near as capable as they once were.


Oblat August 3, 2010 at 2:59 am

This is great news for the UK - they are doing what is necessary to save their economy. Meanwhile ours sinks deeper into decline with contractors like Bill resolved to do "anything it takes" to push their feeding tubes deeper into the vital organs of the American economy.

The days of the UK being a 'global force able to intervene in far-flung parts of the world' are already long gone. The Falklands campaign was a fluke of timing and would have been impossible a year later. The armed forces purpose since has only to be diplomatic cover for neoconservative adventures - and why pay for a fleet when a rowboat provides the same payoff.


William C. August 3, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Cool trollin' bro.
But seriously, you should get an idea of what your talking about before you post.

BTW everybody hates you.


kenneth August 3, 2010 at 6:21 am

If they go through with this their next course of action will have to be selling the Falkland Islands as they will have no way to defend it, and no way to retake if Argentina decides to launch a 2nd Falklands War


STemplar August 3, 2010 at 8:02 am

The UK is going the way of the rest of Europe. Leave it to us to do alone. Save their own economies. Meanwhile we are in the midst of negotiating places to base radars for ABM systems to defend Europe from Iran. If you really want to see the Europeans actually spend what they should on their own defense, withdraw all US forces and the nuclear umbrella and they'll find bagoodles of money they didn't realize they had to defend themselves.

For our part we have simply got to get real and prioritize with what we need as opposed to what we want. The days of 'cuz it's important to have the capability' are long gone.


William C. August 3, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Regarding the debate over British nuclear capability. Aren't the British SSBNs newer and younger than the Ohio class? Why can't they refit them to get another 20 or so years out of service out of them?

As an American, I don't see why any nuclear power like the UK would choose to put themselves at the mercy of any country with nuclear weapons. We may be a close ally, but I don't think you should rely on our nukes.


blight August 3, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Commissioned in '93. Yeah, they're spankin' new.

I wonder if it would be cheaper to do joint crews with American SSBNs…it's unlikely that the US and the UK would ever go head to head.

Perhaps if the US were to pay the European countries for their troops (oh, the irony of sending Hessians to /other/ countries!) they wouldn't be in such a tight spot when it comes to troop deployments. I suppose the social services systems in Europe really crimp the budget when it comes to wartime needs.

The issue is that other countries see AfPak as "nation-building" in which you can get away with cutting costs on deployment, whereas here in the states we literally see it as war.


Bill August 3, 2010 at 2:52 pm

The British have one of the largest military budgets in the world. The problem is the amount that's wasted on home grown equipment that's way too expensive. The British DoD is basically a state subsidy to BAE. Look at the fortune they're spending on helicopters that inferior to the Blackhawk. Look how much money has been wasted on vehicles that aren't mine resistant.

As for the USA, you can blame Obama as much as you like, but your problems preceded him. When times are good you should be running a budget surplus. That provides the capability to run a deficit and stimulate the economy when times are bad. Unfortunately, Bush drove the economy into structural deficit with tax cuts early in his first term. The budget hasn't recovered. At the end of the day, the US Government is going to need to raise taxes if the budget is ever to return to surplus. That's something Bush senior realised and did. It cost him his Presidency, but at least he did the right thing by his country. Unfortunately, Bush Jnr was as capable a President as his father.


Bill August 3, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Typo, that should be "Unfortunately, Bush Jnr wasn't as capable a President as his father".


John August 3, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Bill, There are two reasons the MoD is not buying the Blackhawk, the first is Logistics & Training and the second we have no use for it. The Lynx is being bought as a Recon Helicopter like the Kiowa for the Army and as a Light Naval Helicopter for the Navy. The Lynx is much faster than the Blackhawk. Our main troop carrying Helo's are the Puma (16), Sea King (24), Merlin (30) and the Chinook (44). Unlike the US Army we can't afford to have swarms have small Helo's only carrying 9 men, nor can we afford the logistics and training costs assoicated with the Blackhawk. Also, don't forget that the RAAF is replacing it's Blackhawks with NH90 which can carry 20 troops. BTW all of the above Helos are built by AgustaWestland not BAe, it only makes fixed wing aircraft not helo's.


blight August 3, 2010 at 6:18 pm

BAE makes:

Typhoon, Tornado, Harrier, some parts of JSF, Hawk, Eurofighter partner

M2/M3, M113, M109, Challenger II, Warrior, M777 howitzer, Panther Command Vehicle

Bear in mind a lot of the American equipment came from acquisition of UD, but still…

Government subsidizes defense industry is fairly close to the mark as BAE has very few civilian products. Same with Lockmart and Northrop though Boeing remains reasonably robust in civilian markets.


Chimp August 4, 2010 at 6:48 am

The Merlin has catastrophic reliability issues. Referring back to the comment about the Ocean, it's a helicopter carrier without… well, without a real helicopter lift capability. On a good day, there may be one operational Merlin.

That may have changed, but no one I have spoken to has mentioned it.


Bill August 4, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Have a read of what Lewis Page has to say on the Merlin: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/04/chinook_n...

Then there's that total stuff up, the Nimrod MRA4: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/14/nimrod_mr...

Go to Defence of the Realm http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.com/ to read how the British Army keeps wasting lives by deploying inferior vehicles. The Army had to be forced to deploy MRAPs.

Lastly, the UK has the third or fourth largest defence expenditure in the world, depending on who you talk to. For example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by...

The problem isn't the amount the UK Government, and tax payers, spend on defence. The problem is the value for money they get.


Wildcard August 3, 2010 at 10:38 pm

…'helicopters that inferior to the Blackhawk.'
Actually the MOD looked at the Blackhawk and found it to be 'underpowered' amongst other 'shortcomings'. Hence they went for AgustaWestland' AW101. As for its 'inferiority', wasn't Lockheed Martin VH 71 Kestrel based on the AW101?


brian360 August 3, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Why send a plane when you can send a GPS guided missile from a ship which can be allocated anywhere. Same with amphib landings.


zilwiki August 3, 2010 at 10:38 pm

The UK defense budget is barely 2% of GNP. Twenty years ago it was 5%. All those defense cuts, but nanny state spending went up and up, and is why the UK is now broke. This is the 1930s all over again.


Brian Black August 4, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I don’t feel that losing the Royal Marines will be a very likely outcome of the UK defence review. If we are going to be left with any armed forces after this, then the Marines are exactly the kind of light, flexible and highly mobile force that we are consistently told that we need for current and future conflicts.

The RM along with the British army’s Parachute Regiment are considered elite units of the UK armed forces, there will always be considerable opposition to their disbandment. After the collapse of the USSR the Para’s regularly became the target of the bean counters, but have managed to survive; I’m sure they’ll both be around for a while yet.

With regards to the army It’s difficult to see where cuts could be made. Over the last 20 years UK defence has seen bigger cuts and more radical changes than any other government department - the balance of cost versus capability of our armed forces is impressive when compared to either the US or other EU countries.


Brian Black August 4, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I’ve seen suggestions from people leaving comments on a couple of sites that the three services should be merged into one or two forces. That’s probably the only remaining major change that could take place without harming the military’s capabilities.

In particular, I wonder if we still need a separate air force. Since the cold war ended, the RAF has been much reduced in size; and the focus of the air force has been steadily moving away from fighting an air to air war, and towards the close support of frontline ground forces - including the increased emphasis on troop mobility through the use of helicopters in recent times, as well as it’s fixed wing ground attack role. In addition, for 30 years RAF Harriers have operated alongside the FAA Harriers on the navy’s carriers; and RAF helicopters and crews also train to operate from the navy‘s ships.

As sections of the first replacement aircraft carrier have already been constructed it looks likely that they’ll be safe, and with them the F35 - though probably in reduced numbers. So perhaps now would be a good time to finish off the RAF - the navy to get delivery of all F35 that would otherwise go to the air force; RAF helicopters to be split between the navy and Army Air Corps; the RAF regiment to slot into the army line; and the remaining combat aircraft, transports, and other bits and pieces to go back to their origins and operate as the Royal Flying Corps.

Surely merging away the RAF would be a way of saving money on logistics and bureaucracy, without adding even more cuts to its hardware and frontline manpower.


Byron Skinner August 4, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Good Morning Folks,

Some insightful opinions here on the Royal Marines, but one issue has more or less been over looked. This a decision being made by the UK and for the most part the people could give a bloody sh** what the yanks think.

Unlike on this side of the water militaries are not all that popular in the EU and in the UK. They love their troops and of course mourn the loss of everyone of them very publicly when they are returned under a Jack from Afghanistan. But at least for now the old country has had it militarism.

The last who heard the Guns of August are now being laid to rest. Those that suffered the battle of Britain and the Fire Bombing of Dresden are leaving the scene. Those who ancestors for generations have suffered from mans folly for adventure and conquest are tired of it and are ready for a change.

This is their decision and as Americans we should respect and support them.

Byron Skinner


WhoamI August 4, 2010 at 11:13 pm

True, we don't care much what the Yanks think, but lucky then there is a Brit amongst us who has spoken regarding this article.


William C. August 4, 2010 at 6:31 pm

It may be their decision Byron, but we should point out the folly of it. I don't like hearing about British troops lacking proper equipment any more than I do Americans. Since the end of the Cold War, Western Europe has cut back on defense spending for more than we have because they have been allowed to become dependent on our capabilities and assets. This needs to change.

Look at the social entitlements creating such a budgetary mess. If they can afford all of the waste in that sector, why shouldn't they be able to afford a decent sized and well-rounded military?


DEC August 5, 2010 at 3:27 am

This sounds stunningly similar to the interwar period when economies around the world were wrecked from the devastation and financial strain of WWI. The Brits, as well as other western nations, made the same moves. Unfortunately the next enemy (The Germans again) did not.

Unless you are the aggressor, you will not be the one making the decision for when the next conflict will start. Again, I refer to the interwar period and the start of WWII. Germany knew they were going to start a war, and were more prepared for it than those who chose to ignore the threat.

The U.S. during that period identified Japan as the next enemy and was better prepared for it despite the hardships of the time. If the Western countries of today go down this same route, then countries such as China, Russia, and possibly Iran, will have a field day. The West is cutting their militaries, while China, Russia, and Iran continue to increase military funding and grow their forces. Their is no guarantee that any of those countries will be our next enemy in war, but they are some of the most likely and most dangerous at this time. They may well take advantage of any opportunity brought about by reductions in capabilities.

I think the question also needs to be asked about whether or not the same level of cuts can be gained from the pet projects funded by congress.


blight August 5, 2010 at 3:48 pm

I suspect the United Kingdom may need to choose a branch to be the sacrificial lamb. I suspect the Army will be the first to go: more units may be converted to reserves or disbanded altogether. Armored units might be the first units targeted since light infantry are always economical. Marines might stay if they keep costs down. Airframes will be retired early. The SSBN force should probably go, even though they were built in '93 compared to the late '70s onwards for Ohio class.

With the threat of Russia nearby the RM and the RN must become the primary arms again. I question of the RN is particularly capable anymore…maybe get into a group buy for Arleigh Burkes with the United States? The design has been worked out, they are proven seaworthy and in a group buy the cost per unit is lower and more stable, with a guaranteed supply chain that is unlikely to suddenly evaporate.


William C. August 5, 2010 at 3:53 pm

What is wrong with the Type 45 destroyer class in production?


Mburumba August 5, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Why not change the planned purchase of the JSF F-35B STOVL with either the cheaper F-35C or better still ditch the whole JSF boondogle and acquire the latest iteration of the F-18 (Silent Super Hornet). The only problems being…. would the US government allow Boeing to sell a sleathised F-18 technology to the UK (and thereby potentially cutting the ground from under its flagship fighterexport programme).

A UK switch from F-35 to F-18 SSH would lead to many other coutries following suit, especially Australia and Canada (both current SH operators).


@Earlydawn August 4, 2010 at 4:08 am

Yeah, we're holding China hostage. That's why they have us by the bootstrings, with trillions of dollars in debt. Do you really believe this idiocy?


@mika2k1 August 4, 2010 at 5:58 am

The Chinese need something. And pretty soon they will have all the technology and knowhow they need to call in those paper and digital dollars and actually make you cash those dollars for something real. And if you think they wont, or that the US will get away with its elaborate thieving, continued zero cost extraction and free rent, you are sadly mistaken.


Scathsealgaire August 4, 2010 at 10:06 am

Citation? Commandos are SF. The RM may not be part of the modern "UKSF" the equivilant of USSOCOM, but their history and utilisation are hardly regular army. They are elite.
I suggest you read their history, rather than look at the politics which left them out of UKSF.


William C. August 5, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Oh yes, because Stalin was such a great guy… murdering millons and pushing godless communism wherever he went. Right…


neonmeat August 6, 2010 at 11:10 am

Yeah so by saying that can you not see that you have defeated your argument?
In the previous reply you say that all the Chinese money is actually 'US Petro-dollars' but then when challenged you contradict yourself by saying that China could cash this money in and bankrupt the US (which they can do) but if/when this happens American currency will be worth nothing and the Chinese Yen or dollar or whatever would be top dog, if I were an Anglo-American Imperialist I would see this as a serious flaw in my plan to force the world to run on my currency, wouldn't you?
Some people are so naive they believe whatever they see on YOuTube even if it contradicts itself, I'd look a bit further than Zeitgeist for your info in future.


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