Binning the Nimrod MRA4 was without a doubt the most idiotic decision to come out of the SDSR, no doubt about that. But if the savings were going to massive then one might have perhaps understood the logic but given that we have already paid for the vast majority of development and productions costs with 1 complete, 1 about to be complete and the others in very advanced stages of final delivery one might have thought the cost savings would be overwhelmingly massive.
There is also the small matter of a capability gap, no long range SAR, ISR or maritime attack.
In a written answer today, Peter Luff has confirmed the annual savings achieved by not bringing MRA4 into service at this late stage will be £200 million per year over the next ten years. I wonder if this includes the cost of flogging Merlin’s to death when providing cover for the Vanguards, inevitably introducing a future UOR to cover the capability gap and many other factors?
£200m a year is roughly twice what it costs for the House of Commons, £150million a year more than the budget for The Arts Council of England, £11million more than the yearly grant to the British Council and a £100m more per year than our spend on development aid for India, the same India that is buying 8 modified P-8A Poseidon Maritime Multimission Aircraft from the US.
Are we really stupid enough to spunk a £4 billion investment up the wall and lose vital capabilities for the sake of saving £200m a year?