UK MoD Details $2.4B in Cuts

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  1. Sridhar

    Sridhar House keeper Moderator

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    UK MoD Details $2.4B in Cuts

    By andrew chuter, LONDON
    Published: 15 Dec 2009 15:38




    Fast jets, surveillance aircraft, naval vessels, and an air base are among the casualties of the U.K. Ministry of Defence's new effort to make room for purchases of equipment for Afghanistan and balance its budget in 2010 and beyond. The cuts are expected to save the MoD around 1.5 billion pounds ($2.4 billion), although no official figures have been released.
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    The Royal Air Force will lose one of its five Harrier attack aircraft squadrons. (ROYAL AIR FORCE)



    The government has sought to deflect criticism of the cuts by rolling out a series of planned purchases, primarily to arm the 9,500 troops fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. Among the largest will be 24 new Boeing Chinook twin-rotor helicopters, a decision that comes after years of criticism about the lack of rotorcraft in theater.

    The first new aircraft won't be available for Afghanistan duties until at least 2013, but the first of eight Chinooks grounded for years by airworthiness issues will arrive sooner.
    Defence secretary Bob Ainsworth told Parliament that the MoD is spending more than 900 million pounds in the next three years to improve support for Afghanistan operations. To make that affordable and to match expenditure to resources there would have to be reductions elsewhere, he said.
    Urgent operational requirements for Afghanistan up to an agreed limit are normally paid for from Treasury reserves. The 900 million pounds, however, though is coming from the hard-pressed core defense budget. Ainsworth defended the move, saying the equipment being purchased had utility beyond Afghanistan.
    Liam Fox, the Conservative Party shadow defence secretary, welcomed the Chinook order but criticized the government for taking so long to fix the shortfall in helicopter resources. He said it couldn't "mask the severity of the cuts being made elsewhere."
    The government "has raided 900 million pounds from the core defence budget to fund current operations when it is the Treasury reserve which should be paying," Fox said. "The core defence budget is having to bear the cost of today's operations, seriously damaging our ability to engage in more conventional operations in the future. The Government is mortgaging our current security to pay for the shortfall in current operations."
    Ainsworth revealed the government was also providing a further 280 million pounds from Treasury reserves to pay for urgent operational requirements in Afghanistan in the next 12 months. The main use will be boosting protected mobility vehicles like the Husky and Jackal.
    That's on top of 736 million pounds in UOR funds already spent this year, an MoD spokeswoman said.
    In a statement, Ainsworth said, "These decisions had not been taken lightly, but these are tough times for everyone in defense and we must ensure we prioritize spending on operations to achieve success in Afghanistan."
    The Royal Air Force is the big loser, although the air service will also receive much of the new big-ticket equipment items as well. On the debit side, the RAF will:
    ■ Lose one of its five Harrier attack aircraft squadrons. The Harrier base at Cottesmore will close starting as early as March next year. The remainder of the joint RAF/Royal Navy GR9 force will be based at RAF Wittering.
    ■ Lose a further one or two squadrons of Harrier or Tornado GR4 strike aircraft, or maybe one of each, will be cut with a decision taken on the make up of the fast jet force taken in the 2010 defense review expected after the general election due by mid-next year.
    ■ Stand down the Nimrod MR2 maritime surveillance aircraft fleet early year. The first replacement Nimrod MRA4 will not enter service until 2012, leaving a hole in Britain's long-range surveillance capability. Ainsworth said C-130 Hercules and Merlin helicopters would fill the gap. BAE Systems is scheduled to hand over the first of nine MRA4s next February, three more later in the year, and the balance by 2012.
    On the credit side, the RAF will receive:
    ■ Twenty-four new Chinook helicopters, bringing the fleet of heavy-lift machines to 70 by 2016.
    ■ Five Reaper UAVs, which will double the size of the fleet.
    ■ A seventh C-17 airlifter to boost the airbridge between Britain and Afghanistan.
    ■ Approval to buy the Typhoon fighter's future capability program phase two, which will add Brimstone and other weapons to its arsenal.
    ■ Better C-130J defensive aids and maintenance support packages.
    The 900 million pounds will also fund anti-IED capabilities, a better dismounted close combat equipment package, more Bowman tactical radios and patrol satellite systems and an additional 80 million pounds aimed at special forces communications.
    Other Hits
    The defence secretary said that other areas of the MoD would be taking a hit to pay for the uplift. For example, some Army training not required for current operations will be cancelled, such as for the Challenger 2 main battle tank training as an example.
    Other cuts will mean:
    ■ Early retirement for a Royal Navy minehunter and a survey ship.
    ■ Early retirement of some older Lynx and Merlin Mk1 helicopters in the transition to the new Wildcat and Merlin Mk2.
    ■ Cancellation of an unprotected utility vehicle competition; the program will be deferred for two years.
    ■ Service and civilian personnel numbers will be cut.
    Alex Ashbourne, a director at Ashbourne Strategic Consulting, said the MoD cuts might preempt decisions that should be left to the defense review.
    Ainsworth began his statement by saying that there would be no major decisions or changes until after the defence review. But the scope, breadth and depth of the cuts announced today will permanently affect the size, shape and capability of the UK armed forces. She said this preempts the review, which ideally needs to be policy-led, rather than equipment-led..
    Other cuts are likely because the defense budget is expected to be hit to help rescue government finances. One analyst said army heavy artillery and main battle forces could eventually take a hit.
    Earlier today, the National Audit Office, a government watchdog, said the MoD could have a 36 billion pound black hole in its budgets over the next 10 years unless defense spending was increased and programs cut back. Concern is also growing here among analysts and others that the cash being poured into programs to support the counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan will leave the British forces ill equipped to conduct other types of warfare in the future.

    UK MoD Details $2.4B in Cuts - Defense News
     
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  3. Sridhar

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    Ainsworth: RAF Cottesmore to close

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth has announced the closure of RAF Cottesmore, cuts in the number of military and civilian personnel and the early scrapping of the Nimrod MR2.

    The harrier fast jet fleet from RAF Cottesmore will be moved to RAF Wittering, said Ainsworth, adding that the government would cut a further "1 or 2" Harrier and Tornado squadrons in the forthcoming Defence Review.

    Reductions in service personnel numbers were also planned by slowing down recruitment and "releasing some personnel in accordance with their contracts".

    Ainsworth said the MoD will "temporarily reduce some aspects of army training which are not required for current operations", and that a study had been commissioned to look at changing the "size and shape" of the civilian workforce.

    The defence secretary also announced that:
    • The Nimrod MR2 is to be taken out of service a year earlier than planned, in March 2010. The Nimrod MRA4 will be delayed until 2012.
    • Merlin Mk1 and Lynx helicopters will be retired earlier than planned.
    • One survey ship and one mine-hunter will be withdrawn from service early
    • The MoD is to cancel the competition for unprotected utility vehicles and defer the programme for two years.

    Unspecified cuts to the Defence Estates budget were also mentioned in Ainsworth's statement, but the Defence Secretary said the focus would remain on Single Living Accommodation and housing for families.

    As a boost to operations in Afghanistan, Ainsworth said the MoD would:
    • Purchase an extra C-17 transport aircraft to strengthen the air bridge between the UK and Afghanistan
    • Improve defensive aid suites and support arrangements for the C-130J Hercules fleet
    • Increase funding for intelligence, surveillance target acquisition and reconnaissance
    • Provide more Bowman radios and patrol satellite systems for troops, as well as £80m towards improving Special Forces' communication equipment

    £280m from the Treasury reserve is to provide a 31 per cent increase in Husky tactical support vehicles and a 40 per cent increase in the number of Jackal vehicles deployed to Afghanistan.

    Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said the announcement demonstrated the government's "catastrophic economic management". He described the cuts as "the final pathetic chapter in the New Labour project".

    "Bob Ainsworth told us at the weekend that the Treasury reserve is covering the cost of the war in Afghanistan. But today we see that the government is trying to fight a war from the core defence budget," said Fox.

    Commander John Muxworthy, Chief Executive of the UK National Defence Association said: "These arbitrary cuts in our defence capabilities are hasty and ill-conceived.

    "All political parties acknowledge the need for a proper Defence Review where resources are honestly matched to security threats. But to cut a further £1.5bn, on top of the £2Bn last year, is a Defence Review via the back door. The aim, surely, is to be strong enough to deter war, not to appear weak and then have to fight an expensive war in 10 years time. Or are we to repeat the mistakes of the 1930s, when Britain neglected its defence, and risk similar appalling consequences?"

    Ainsworth: RAF Cottesmore to close - Defence Management
     
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    As U.K. Defense Cuts Near, Relief Emerges

    LONDON — Although the U.K. defense industry is still bracing for significant program cuts when the government’s strategic and spending review is revealed next week, there are growing indications the calamitous reductions once feared will not materialize.

    At one point, defense industry representatives were bracing for cuts in defense spending well above 20% of current outlays, but recent indications are that the figure will be less severe. A cut in spending of 10% or less is now expected, several industry officials say.

    But a senior industry representative warns that this does not mean critical program cutbacks will not occur. Speaking at the Conservative Party congress recently, Prime Minister David Cameron said “some big changes” are ahead.

    Defense Secretary Liam Fox gave little indication of what may be cut. However, he did affirm the Trident nuclear submarine replacement program would be funded (Aerospace DAILY, Oct. 7).

    Industry officials also now expect the aircraft carrier shipbuilding program may survive unscathed, partly because the cost of canceling the two vessels would be too high. However, if both are built, the U.K. is considering holding the second in reserve, thereby reducing the need to fully equip and crew the vessel.

    One of the implications is expected to be a cut in the planned purchase of Lockheed Martin F-35s from the 138 currently planned for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. The program is called the Joint Combat Aircraft in Britain.

    Another program identified as potentially vulnerable to cuts has been the Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol fleet. But a military official involved in the project expresses confidence the program will survive, with an industry official adding it would be hard to believe the aircraft would not be fielded given the billions of pounds sunk into its development phase.
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    Top government officials in the National Security Council have been convening to try to finalize where the cuts should fall. That includes what elements of the existing fighter force, the Tornado GR4 and Harrier fleet, to draw down early.

    Even if there are indications the scale of the budget reduction will be less than first feared, that is not to say there is not still anxiety in the sector. Britain’s large Unite union is warning the U.K. could lose more than 16% of its defense workforce as a result of planned spending cuts due to emerge. The union cites an Oxford Economics study that suggests “that cuts of 26% would lead to potentially over 55,000 [job] cuts in the U.K.”

    “The Tory-led coalition wants to raze the U.K. defense industry to the ground,” says Unite’s national officer for aerospace and defense, Bernie Hamilton. He added that “tens of thousands of job cuts in some of Britain’s most deprived regions will have tragic consequences. These skilled manufacturing jobs won’t get replaced.”

    The union figures suggest that a spending reduction of 10% would mean the loss of 18,878 defense industry jobs and another 15,314 in the supply chain. A cut of 20% means a total of 55,230 jobs would disappear, around 30,492 directly in the defense industry and 24,738 in the supply chain.

    Image: BAE






    As U.K. Defense Cuts Near, Relief Emerges | AVIATION WEEK
     

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