RAF could see Tornado fleet cut in half

 

The Royal Armed Forces are braced for another round of drastic cuts as the Ministry of Defense has to make up a £1.6 billion shortfall for the next financial year.

The RAF is bracing itself to its fleet of 134 Tornado GR4 fighter-bombers being slashed in half to just 60 jets to save up to £300 million a year. Key defence officials are meeting on Tuesday to thrash out the details of how to make immediate savings to the 2011/2012 budget.

Despite challenging the previous government over the helicopter shortages in Afghanistan a key decision will be the likely announcement to cut 12 extra Chinooks that were part of a package ordered by Gordon Brown.

Other important equipment programmes are going to be axed in what will be an embarrassing revision of last October’s Strategic Defence and Security Review. The MoD has been forced into making the extra cuts after it miscalculated savings in the next financial year.

It was supposed to save £8 billion by 2014-15 as a 7.5 per cut real terms cut to its budget. Half of this was meant to come through headline equipment cuts such as the Harriers, Nimrod reconnaissance planes, frigates and the aircraft carriers Ark Royal and Illustrious. The rest was to come through axing 17,000 Servicemen and 25,000 MoD staff as well as “efficiency savings”.

“We have 34 major procurement programmes and it’s a question of what’s nice to have and what’s necessary to have but no one can see how to take that decision because they’re all regarded as vital,” said an officer involved in the planning.

“There is not an endless supply of money and people need to realise there is a serious financial situation and there are difficult choices to make,” one MoD official said.

The Telegraph

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