Ouch…what a pickel the UK Ministry of Defense is in.
A Telegraph story quoted British Air Force sources as saying that training of new pilots had to be suspended because the Libya NFZ tipped the balance when added to other world committments.
A report in the Daily Telegraph quoted RAF sources as saying that a shortage of pilots meant there were not enough personnel to replace those currently serving in Libya.
The paper quoted ‘RAF sources’ as saying that 18 of the UK’s 69 qualified Typhoon pilots are in Southern Italy enforcing the no-fly zone, 24 are on Quick Reaction Alert duties and 12 are in the Falklands, leaving 15 to replace those serving over Libya.
The 18 Typhoon pilots based at Gioia Dell Colle airbase in Italy can be deployed for two months at a time, meaning replacements would be needed at the end of April if operations continue in Libya.
Of course the MOD denies this, saying simply that…
“There is no shortage of pilots and we are able to cover the Falkland Islands, UK Air Defence, Afghanistan, training requirements and operations in Libya with sufficiently trained Typhoon and Tornado pilots.”
Hmmm…Let’s not forget #10 has begun to implement severe defense cuts to balance the UK budget — including 7,000 jobs cuts in the RAF. The Telegraph reported late last summer that the Strategic Defence and Security Review called for cutting 295 planes and force the RAF to be airworthy with fewer than 200 planes — that’s about the same level they had at the beginning of World War I.
The government’s denial doesn’t pass the sniff test and sounds to me like a “oh shit, they found out” sidestep.