Friday, July 22, 2011

AirForces Monthly 2010-12

WHEN UK Prime Minister David Cameron stood up in the House of Commons shortly before 3.30pm on October 19, 2010, to announce his government's decision on the future of Britain's defence strategy, the nation's armed forces held their collective breath. The drastic cutbacks which he revealed included almost immediate withdrawal of the Harrier fleet, cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4 programme, retirement of the Sentinel R1 and the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. In addition, the C-130J fleet will be retired a decade early, purchase of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter will be cancelled in favour of buying an unspecified lower number of F-35C carrier variants and additional Chinook acquisitions will be cut from 22 to 12. Britain, the world's sixth largest economy, has the fourth biggest defence budget but is also in the grip of the worst economic crisis for many years and there is a defence deficit of �38 billion. The day after Mr Cameron made his announcement on SDSR, the government revealed its plans to cut public spending in an effort to mitigate the effects of the worldwide recession. It is in the light of this background that the cuts announced in the SDSR should be seen.