More leaks from Britain’s ongoing defense review, part of a dramatic shrinking of the public sector by the new Conservative-led coalition government. The Daily Telegraph got hold of “detailed proposals” that include slashing the RAF’s fighter fleet to fewer than 200 planes, cutting two nuclear submarines, three amphibious ships and an armored brigade. Total military personnel losses under the government’s new austerity plan are put at 16,000.
The RAF would lose all of its 120 GR4 Tornados and the Eurofighter Typhoon fleet would drop from 160 t0 107 planesas the Telegraph put it, the RAF would shrink to levels not seen since World War I. It’s really hard to see how the UK goes ahead with its planned buy of 138 Joint Strike Fighters amid such deep cuts.
The Army could be reduced by as much as 40 percent. The paper said the Royal Marines will be taken from the Navy and grouped with the Army’s remaining two parachute battalions into a “super elite” unit. One of two Army armored brigades still based in Germany is expected to be dropped from the rolls along with its collection of Challenger 2 tanks and Warrior armored personnel carriers.
The paper writes:
“If implemented, the cuts will mean that Britain will almost certainly depart the world stage as a major military power and become what military chiefs call a “medium-scale player.”
Britain’s government won’t announce the depth of the actual cuts until October; the information leaking out now is about the various proposals being debated. The leaks may serve their intended purpose and mobilize various constituencies to try and stop some of the cuts; although, the British government appears to be pretty intent on their announced goal of cutting military spending by 20 percent over the next four years.
— Greg Grant