SDSR 2015 Battle Lines

Two Interesting articles in the press today seem to be drawing the battle lines for the major cut in the defence budget post 2015.

Army cuts 60,000


Labour Cut Trident


Now that David Cameron is admitting that the defence budget is likely to fall below the minimum NATO level of 2% of GDP, it is almost certain the MOD will face a cut of at least 10% in the 2015 SDSR. Given just how much has been cut already the usual salami slicing tactics won’t be enough on their own to achieve the cuts. The only two realistic major cuts would seem to be a vast reduction in the Infantry or the cancellation of the Trident replacement.

While historically cancelling trident would have been politically unthinkable, I don’t think we could put anything past our current crop of politicians in their desperate bid to grab power at any cost.

So the question is, is it better to cut Trident or reduce the Army to 60,000?


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January 21, 2015 5:14 am

Three boat Trident anyone? (Saves 4 big ones I seem to remember?)
Army cuts as predicted but we get MPA?
Sold to the people as an increase in capability, if they actually care about that rather than how much the gas costs? (Sarcastic and cynical head screwed firmly on…LOL)…

January 21, 2015 5:20 am

Oh and only eight, type 26?

January 21, 2015 7:05 am

, You’re very likely bang on the money there! There are knock on savings in expensive kit too if they cut the infantry, will there be any more FRES than the scout version for instance, no cuts are good cuts, Trident the Carriers and now I think MPA are politcal footballs, like the NHS? Cutting an Army that we are reluctant to use these days would seem to be the most likely outcome here, the very service which gave us our reputation as heavy lifters in past times, I think we’ll get the MPA as a consolation prize, trumpeted as a new capability for the UK armed forces, politics is very fickle…

The Other Chris
January 21, 2015 7:36 am

Trident isn’t about cost savings – it isn’t an immediate saving and it isn’t a significant saving over a period of time compared to 20,000 employee costs over a similar period.

If you see Trident on the table, it’s purely about votes, not about budget or defence.

It will be wrapped up in the guise of savings because £25b (or £30b or £50b*) sounds like a lot of money on the face of it, but isn’t when set in the context of £300b-£500b over the same timeframe.

If Trident is scrapped you’ll still see the Army cut, scrapping Trident just won’t save enough cash, especially over time, to save our troop numbers and we’ll end up with a 60,000 person army with no credible nuclear deterrent either come the 2020 elections/reviews.


January 21, 2015 7:39 am

Army cut to 60,000 ? Yes, I guess you could throw some bodies into some uniforms , run them through basic and as if by magic you have the fully ‘trained’ ground troops you need . GW1 & 2 and Herrick were many months in the build up so the existing 60,000 could be mobilised and deployed with their UK roles being replaced by reservists and new recruits (conscripts?) . Sounds like a recipe for disaster as replacements eventually replace the initially deployed troops with the bulk of them little or no intensive training to make them effective. Granted if cross party consensus is achieved and formalised in law that that the UK will offer no large overseas commitments other than NATO , such as Germany and Japan did , Saudi et al does then it is not a problem , the correct resources for that political strategy but very unlikely . Cancelling FRES UV as it is likely to go the same route as FRES SV with little UK jobs in it will be easy , saying yes to CASD replacement boosts the NATO spend commitment whilst deferring the actual bulk of the finance to SDSR2020 when the ‘fiscal health’ of the Nation can afford it. Continue with F35 purchase as again the spend is mostly in the future , similar for T26 , the first of six will not get wet untill 3 years from now and any revisions for the next batch will ‘await’ feedback on how the six T45 operate and the first few of the T26 influence design improvements.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
January 21, 2015 7:49 am

“…similar for T26 , the first of six will not get wet untill 3 years from now ”

Ho ho ho. Dream on.

January 21, 2015 8:13 am

I like to dream……..
But seriously do BAE ever expect to get a even an offer to bid on DESIGNING a complex frontline warship based on the progress of T26 . The yards will exist whether owed by them or not so UK built is a yes but BAE designed ? Who would do it is another thing but the MoD got fed up with them for Armoured vehicle design so complex warships next? The RN and MoD may or may not be carrying the bulk of the blame for any delays but they are the ones with the money and choose who to place the orders with.

January 21, 2015 8:46 am

In an article I’m working on it’s become apparent to me that the procurement budget through to 2025 is big enough to pretty much buy whatever the military wants – 1800 FRES UV, 100 F-35s, 12 MPA and all 13 Type 26s!!! (and no I’ve not gone insane)

What’s lacking is the funds to run the infantry/squadrons/warships.

So a list below of possible cuts could probably include:
– 1 light cavalry regiment, 6 regular and 6 reserve battalions (this would still just about mean that the Adaptable Force could deploy one Brigade on long-term rotation)
– the Puma helicopter force
– a couple of amphibious ships
– four frigates
– one of the three Trident submarines
– the second QE carrier.

January 21, 2015 9:25 am

Reading the tea leaves after my morning coffee:
– equipment budget is ring fenced; the overall defence budget is not
– I think NAO put the former at 48% of the total in the coming years; what they did not say is that the shiny new kit part of it is growing two and half times as fast as the projected kit support part. Sustainable?
– come early ’20s and subs&deterrent spend will be twice as much as that for army kit

A balanced force is something that would be able to respond to likely and less likely threats. Another balance would be a third of the budget to kit, to manpower and to maintaining readiness/ sustainable force generation (like training & exercises), each.

Will the brew be good, made with these leaves?

Malcolm Whitlock
Malcolm Whitlock
January 21, 2015 10:11 am

50,000 TA that was as well?

The Other Chris
January 21, 2015 10:36 am

Definitely keep scratching at that surface, I think an article on the topic will make a good reference.

Compare the various Equipment budgets to their ten year plans, equivalent spend on the Operational budgets.

Don’t forget to compare and contrast against the wider picture: GDP and Government budgets (annual definitely and maybe ten year projected?). In particular the NHS, Pensions and Social Care elements.

Thinking along these lines:–ld0DVm5C–/197kprjbip5q4jpg.jpg

(Picture: Earth’s Atmosphere and Surface Water volumes compared to Earth’s own volume)

Mike W
January 21, 2015 10:54 am

What martin failed to mention was the last paragraph in a front-page “Telegraph” article on Army cuts by Ben Farmer today (a different article from the one quoted by Martin?). It says that a spokesman for the MOD states that there is “no change to the Government’s existing plans for an army of 82,500, while increasing the number of reserves. And there is no work under way to look at further reductions.”

So there you are then. If that statement is adhered to, that can only be a good thing. Why are so many of you so despondent? You seem to talk about nothing but cuts, cuts, cuts. Perhaps you would all describe yourselves as hard-headed realists but I am a little more optimistic. Where is the evidence, Martin, for instance, for your assertion that “it is almost certain the MOD will face a cut of at least 10% in the 2015 SDSR.” We didn’t even face that scale of cut last time around when things were more desperate. Or am I wrong?

January 21, 2015 11:00 am

I’m thinking that the political parties ( whoever happens to get into power) will do as they always do and consider all their decisions against a base line of what the floating voters in the marginal seat consider important or wrong.

If you consider the implication of having an army of 60k, most of them would not care, after all 60k sounds a lot when spun well. What will upset this group of voters and make that sort of cut politically toxic is that you could not get to that level through natural wastage therefore lots ( as in loads) of soldiers would need to be made redundant, this would not sit well with those floating voters, not with how the British public view it’s soldiers at present.

Losing trident or it’s replacement ( which the floaters will not care much about) would risk the loss of our security council seat ( the floaters would hate this, national pride is a funny thing) . Also Which PM would want to be remembered for that.

Also anything which has a significant impact on industry and jobs will be a no no.

So however stupid, I’m betting they will do what they have always do and take a bit here and a bit there. No big redundancies just natural wastage and looking to potentially regenerate later.

For the Navy:
So a couple more type 23s sold off, Early decommissioning of another trafalgar, after all both the frigate and sub numbers can be regenerated later if they keep to present building commitments. Delay the full decommissioning of those 7 old old nuc boats rotting in rosyth and devonport. Small reductions in minor warships and the loss of a bit more amphibious capacity.

Nibble around the edges, slow recruitment, lose some cap badges, cull some challengers, kick FRES UV into the very long grass ( or more like kick it into the woods and hope it gets lost for a decade or two) and not replacing apache WAH 64Ds with AH-64D ( cut the force or work them into the ground)

Slow purchase of F35 even more, retire sentinel,retire tornado a couple of years early, cuts to the RAF Reg and cuts to VIP flights.

Much of the same as has been happening for years.

shark bait
shark bait
January 21, 2015 11:08 am

A difficult question, I think we need trident , but it’s clear we will struggle to afford it.
I think we need to work with France to replace both systems together, they must be in a similar situation to us.
A very crude estimation this could save you 10 billion in procurement, which could be put to good use securing T26 in full numbers as well as making the air force credible again.
You could also say operational costs are halved allowing you to keep sufficient troop levels and fully operate the seccons carrier.

As I say I think we need trident, this is the only way we can reduce costs. 3 boats over 4 will save very little, cruise missile option could be interesting, but has its crrdibily issues as does land and air launch.

shark bait
shark bait
January 21, 2015 11:48 am

Im not talking joint partols, im suggesting a joint system. 1 system of 5 boats, jointly operated between France and the UK. The total cost would be similar to the current plan, but be shared between the 2 nations.

The US doesn’t pay to build, facilitate or operate our boats, I’m suggesting the French could. I don’t think a deterrent needs to be independent, and in this age it can’t be, a shared one safeguards from nuclear blackmail, at a lower cost.

I choose the French to work with over the Americans because as a nation we are more similar to the French. If we did share a system with the US they would bully us and always get their own way. With the French it would be a much more level playing field.
Also the French are geographically closer making a shared bade more feasable.

The 5 boats would be
1 on patrol with a British crew
1 on patrol with a French crew
1 in training
1 in weapons load out
1 in maintance

January 21, 2015 11:57 am

@ Martin

That’s the problem with reducing the deficit with big cuts.

Cutting future capital expenditure projects does not find you the savings now anyway and just creates finical issues later. You also get a long term loss of tax base.

Cutting large amounts of manpower actually tends to cost in the short term in terms of redundancy risk and in the short to medium term in lost tax base. It also upsets people/voters

Cutting a whole capacity out is also a high risk game, if you need it you need it and you are in the deep if you’ve cut the whole lot. you may not be able to regenerate it later either.

We have seen most of this happen in one sector or other over the last five years ( with capital projects this has been an issue for decades) and did we significantly cut the deficit………

So what is left is to talk big about deficit reductions ( knowing you will never hit the target) and then slowly cut and make efficiency savings until you get to a stable point some time in the future or the good times start to role and your tax base goes up and you can spend spend spend………….You have to feel sorry for the policy makers………….

We could of course stop giving bribes to well off pensioners ( the most likely group to vote) and get some savings that way.

Winter fuel allowance 2.1 billion

Free bus passes 1 billion

Free tv licence 600 million

None of these have any evidence base for improving the lot of the high risk “poor” frail elderly, they were bribes to gray voters.

I think I may be ranting and a bit of topic now……

Mike W
January 21, 2015 12:05 pm


“The MOD can’t make provisions until the new government tells it what to do and no one will no who the government are until the 8th of May.”

Yes, that’s rather a good point but surely there is some continuity in MOD planning between governments?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 21, 2015 12:09 pm

@ Martin

The problem is and it is one you’ve identified but ignored is that it is not easy to save money in Defence in the shorter term. The equipment budgets are pretty fixed and give relatively little short term savings anyway. redundancies take years require a total reorganisation and cost in the short term.
So where do you get your”10%” in anything like a single Parliament?

The Other Chris
January 21, 2015 12:11 pm

Let’s say we take the saving of £10b put forward by @shark bait in sharing Successor with France at face value…

That’s £10b. Once. And you’re left with five boats and an “undiscovered land” with regards to how the UK and France operate going forward when CJEF is taking baby steps and hasn’t been tested.

Then let’s take the £3.5b annual figure that mentions also at face value: Your loss of sovereign deterrent for the leap of faith joint operation only bought you less than three years in budget terms.

It’s not enough to make a difference if you’re asked to make savings of those levels. It’s not an equal value trade-off. The Bailiffs will be back for more at the next election/review.

This is why discussion of Trident/Successor/T26/F-35/MPA/Whatever being “unaffordable” is often cods-wallop: In comparison to just paying wages/pensions/mess-halls, they’re small bumps in annual spend to develop and purchase the equipment that often lasts for multiple decades and carries comparatively light ongoing support costs.

How do we campaign to retain what the Services have, regrow gapped capabilities and sustain commitments such as 2% NATO pledges?

*That* would be a worthwhile, positive, discussion with an incredibly beneficial outcome if a solution/reform/innovation can be found.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 21, 2015 12:29 pm

I asked how they achieve it though? You reckon 10% cuts, I have explained a few of the issues surrounding such cuts given the time period so how do you achieve this 10% figure you have conjured up?

shark bait
shark bait
January 21, 2015 12:30 pm

Chris, Trident also cost 2 billion a year to operate , sharing those costs goes some way to filling the gap.

Martin, I would say building a deterrent is simpler than a fighter. Everyone has a different idea of what their fighter should do, hence the development nightmares. A deterrent needs to be able to hide, and launch missiles. As long as its requirements are kept simple I see no reason why it couldn’t be done. As side from the industrial split of course, the French are quite fierce around these issues. Perhaps if its based in france since British public opinion is much lower, they will let it be built on barrow. Let the French built the propulsion too, they are quite good on the nuclear scene. There could be some synergy

January 21, 2015 12:54 pm

@shark bait: even ignoring @martin’s point about development costs, the US has over 300 Trident II’s in service which they are replacing right now, and we have another 60-ish (around 56 atm by memory). The French will eventually have 60-ish M51’s they are producing right now.

So, we are not going to be involved in the French development program and gain any of the independence we might get from a joint development, just have to pay for it. Moreover, we will have to pay very large sums to adapt our warheads to the French missile bus. The boats would require another large development program to adapt to the M51 too. This sounds like a terrible deal in the short and long terms, which will end up with us just buying everything French at increased cost from what we have now and having lost our SSBN and effectively our SSN production capability too, since once Astute is finished there will be no orders to keep Barrow busy.

January 21, 2015 12:55 pm

I agree with APATs on the cash savings point. Can someone tell me where the past X years incremental Iraq / Afghan costs and all the related UORs came from – presumably not core MOD annual budget? If not the core budget then presumably someone can do a nice chart demonstrating a huge saving on total defence spend already from cessation of Afghan ops?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 21, 2015 1:00 pm

30 Cameron just committed to no cuts in army numbers as long as he is PM

January 21, 2015 1:10 pm


“Losing trident or it’s replacement ( which the floaters will not care much about) would risk the loss of our security council seat”

No it wouldn’t. You are confusing correlation with causation. There is no mechanism to eject a permanent member of the UNSC.

Think Defence
January 21, 2015 1:13 pm
Reply to  mickp
shark bait
shark bait
January 21, 2015 1:21 pm
January 21, 2015 1:35 pm

The fundamental and unavoidable problem for whichever party gets elected this year is that all easy cuts to reduce the deficit have already been made. Besides, at 2%, Defence is a relatively small percentage of total government expenditure anyway.

The bitter pill that has to be swallowed by the next Government is that they will be forced to make swingeing cuts across a number of politically sensitive areas. State Pensions, Social Security, and other Public Sector Services represent close to 50% of the total budget. As far as the NHS is concerned, a system of compulsory health insurance (with the Government paying premiums for the poorest) which made the patient the customer rather than the Government would make healthcare provision radically more efficient without cutting the budget. Of course, no one is going to make such cuts part of their election manifesto, because to do so would obviously be a vote loser. Even so, we should be under no illusion that some pretty serious and unpopular cuts are on the way.

I think it is absolutely right to say that the issue with Defence is the cost of manpower more than equipment. I just don’t think there is the latitude to cut Army numbers any further – people are already saying that it cannot fulfil its current commitments with less than 100,000. So how anyone thinks it would cope with just 60,000 men is hard to fathom.

I also think that if we were to cut the Army to this level, the blow to morale would be so severe, it would effectively kill the effectiveness of the remaining force. They’d feel like the proverbial boy with the finger in the dam. Who wants to be part of joke Army? Who wants to be on duty 6 days out of 7 365 days a year? The turnover of serviceman would grow so exponentially that training costs would increase while effectiveness would be reduced. Over time we’d lose key capabilities. Once you lose capabilities that depend on accumulated expertise, it can decades to rebuild them.

By the way, Jonathan, your suggestion that FRES UV should be kicked into the long grass is ludicrous. Medium Armour 8×8 formations have quickly proved their worth across NATO by providing a much needed protected mobility to infantry units. The USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, and Italy are all committed to this capability, because it delivers the most bang for the buck. The UK needs FRES UV to replace its fleet of FV432 APCs, AT105 Saxons (which are already out of service without a replacement being fielded) and Mastiffs.

Aubrey's Shadow
Aubrey's Shadow
January 21, 2015 1:40 pm

Assuming pressure for a 10% cut worst case, because I’m not as pessimistic as many on this forum, where’s the problem ? The top-up to compensate this is sitting in the Overseas Aid Budget. It’s hardly taxing, even for our present generation of politicl incumbents, to re-define ‘Overseas Aid’ in defence terms as many countries do, and an additional nice simple cut and transfer to the MoD would win considerable votes. Subsidise India/Singapore and thieving dictators or avoid sacking thousands from the army ? Of course I borrow the headline from the Daily Mail, but I can’t see how it isn’t an instant vote-winner, and the simplest way round the problem. Why would they make it any more complicated than this, if votes are what they are after ?

January 21, 2015 1:42 pm

Don’t count on New conventional arms prgrms IF they are not in delivery by 2018. Successor will Crowd them out.

£ 3.5. BN a year? That will be 4 bdes from the AF (some being understrength, otherwise would be 3.5).

Not advocating, just the route of least resistance…nothing within the ringfence touched.

To compensate for loss of any enduring capacity( a la MRB rotation), the intervention force could be sharpened further. Jointly with the French, and for hardly any added cost.

January 21, 2015 1:48 pm

Thanks Martin and TD – will peruse the numbers.

I still think there needs to be a full zero based budget (in both cost and capability sense) for a new world order. May end up with the same answer but it will ensure spend is critically challenged and matched with up to date DPAs. It can then be ‘sold’ more transparently and convincingly in terms of matching units, kit etc to required capability rather than perhaps the unhelpful focus on shiny kit cost. We perhaps then can clear up the fudge of adaptable brigades for example, even if it only results them being rebadged ‘light mobile intervention brigades’ (or being disbanded).

January 21, 2015 1:50 pm

What Cameron said at PMQs today is totally contradictory, You can’t maintain and army at current levels, the planned equipment programme and actually the man power to man that equipment without guaranteeing to keep defence at 2%. The whole thing is in the air until the General election, Cameron did took about equipment orders in the next few months, it will be interesting to see what these are: My guess would be the first 8 Type 26 plus 8-12 MPAs (either P1s The Japanese defence and foreign ministers are in the UK today or P8s).

The Other Chris
January 21, 2015 1:53 pm

@shark bait

I would write to the MP for North Devon and inquire as to his calculations on costs for a program that hasn’t been designed yet…

In all seriousness the £100b has been bandied around before. It stems from research compiled for the Green Party 2010 manifesto where a base move, all new design and costs paid for weapons handling by the US are included amongst other barrel scraping.

Whereas items such as loading is likely to continue in King’s Bay, the design is likely to be an evolution of Astute and the Clyde (for now) is the likely base. Take the growth cost and real-terms money equivalent for the deterrent since Polaris and the £30b-£35b upper limit fits the cost trend and is more credible.

January 21, 2015 1:58 pm

Monty – ref UV delay/moratorium/cancellation – whether its a stupid idea or not in military terms has little sway on a political policy based on the most easy, high saving, non-vote-threatening option. It would not be difficult to imagine a politician explaining in patronising tones that “the Army has world class equipment already; its vehicles proved themselves in Afghanistan; they were selected using a rigorous process involving both senior military officers and the Ministry’s internationally renowned experts. We the [insert name here] Party fully endorse the fine work by the MOD in this regard and therefore can announce the capability gap has been filled, and we no longer need a new family of expensive armoured vehicles” etc etc waffle waffle yada yada yada. It might be idiotic but its far from impossible.

The Other Chris
January 21, 2015 2:09 pm

Re: Medicare costs. I hadn’t realised that, looking at the Audit Office details: Crikey! Underlines the importance of zooming out in order to consider an issue in context. Also highlights how well the NHS runs already, even if there’s feelings it can be improved further.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
January 21, 2015 2:26 pm

These are the initial skirmishes being played out – the mother of all Savings Round battles to paraphrase Comical Ali.

The sustained evasion by senior government ministers wrt the 2% commitment (always couched with reference to the equipment plan only) indicates that there are going to be cuts in defence. What confirms it are the actual spending totals vs government income. I keep using this figure as it’s the most useful I can find, even if it is from the Grauniad.

HMG gets £640Bn in income per annum and spends £730Bn per annum. We are spending £84Bn more than we get in income. Every year.

Of the £730Bn we spend, £140Bn is on healthcare, with another £31Bn on “social care”, £98Bn is on Education and £220Bn is on Welfare, which contrary to popular opinion is not all going on immigrants. It’s largely going on pensions (circa £150Bn) which is not going to get appreciably smaller. That’s somewhere between £420-490Bn, which is unlikely to reduce significantly if at all. Or between 66 and 76% of government income if you prefer. That leaves between £150-220Bn of income to meet Defence, Policing, Justice, Borders, Transport, Housing etc and pay our debt interest (currently £50Bn pa) if we live broadly within our means.

So between £100-170Bn pa to meet all these other costs once we’ve paid our interest. The total spend on all those areas currently is £188Bn. Of which defence is the largest remaining cake at £38Bn. Keep defence protected and you have between £62 and £132Bn (if you’re lucky) to fund liabilities currently of £150Bn. All of which if spending on health education, pensions etc stays static, which you’d think is highly unlikely. YOu might be lucky and get some increase in tax receipts, but in essence you’re looking at cutting non-ringfneced expenditure by nearly 30% worst case, just under 20% if you’re lucky.

Very unlikely defence gets off scot-free IMO. The other thing to bear in mind is that Tory constituencies have a high correlation to Army bases. Which tends to mean that any idea of Tory MPs supporting army cuts is up there with Turkeys and Xmas. Doesn’t make other parties any more likely to support defence, just a fact of life when you think about army cuts.

How you translate any near-term cuts in defence into programmes / capabilities I don’t know. You can slip the EP, (Labours preferred trick) but it inevitably costs more and saves less. It’s possible there’s a push to take the Deterrent back out of the defnce budget to prevent force structure cuts, but I can’t see it frankly.

Rocket Banana
January 21, 2015 2:53 pm

My question is 10% of what?

Is it the £50b total?
Is it the £50b minus the £5.4b Armed Forces Pension Scheme?
Is it the £36.4b of resource expenditure?
Is it just the £7.6b of capital expenditure – fat chance ;-)

Cancelling the Trident replacement is likely to save £4b per year working on some of the upper bound figures I’ve seen.

Scrapping 22,000 Army bods would not even save half this – we’d still need to lose something else :-(

Think Defence
January 21, 2015 3:06 pm
Reply to  Rocket Banana

I know we all keep saying salami slicing is a non starter this time but I would dispute that, it is the path of least resistance and therefore the surest way of delivering savings for minimal electoral impact

The Army was has actually been disproportionately cut since 2010 compared to the RN and RAF NaB so I think your proposition about Army numbers and Tory MP’s doesn’t hold much water but another 5,000 here, a couple of thousand off the RAF and RN combined with a smaller buy of T26, reduction in RM, a few MCM and a handful of support contracts and you are there or thereabouts. Throw in lower than expected F35, the reality of CVF 1+1 not equalling 2, lower availability for availability based support contracts that no one in the public eye would see, less training and another civil service cull will get you there

Its a piece of piss to cut 10% off the budget

January 21, 2015 3:16 pm

A cambridge university study several years ago showed that a 10% switch from imported goods and services to British produced would eliminate the defecit, balance the governments books and bring unemployment back down to normal levels. 2% of a stable and steadily growing GDP is a good start.

The Ginge
The Ginge
January 21, 2015 3:19 pm

The fact is people as in any organisation People are the most expensive and easiest overhead to cut. So whilst HMG would have to take an “exceptional Items” hit in one given year the effect of the saved wages, healthcare, training, pension contributions are immediate. As explained by Not A Boffin once you take out the “ring fenced” items from the budget and items such as Pensions which although not ring-fenced are not able to be reduced because of the Grey Vote you are not left with a lot to cut.
The simple fact is the Political Elite in Westminster are not prepared to act as the public wish and remove £10bn of Dfid funding immediately. It massages their minds that they “doing some good in the World” whilst bankrupting good old UK Plc. The way to cut the deficit requires drastic thinking that neither mainstream party are going to manage because of vested interest on both sides.
So in my view I would look to only cut the deficit to Zero for the Current Account which is Labours Position, because running an overall deficit of 2% or 3% of GDP is easily manageable whilst inflation/Growth together is more than 2% or 3% because the debt as a percentage of GDP does not increase. I.E if you total spending is £700bn which is 41% of GDP you countries GDP is £1707bn so your max deficit at 2.5% is £42.6bn. So if Inflation is 1.5% on average and growth is 2% on long term average it means your GDP in pure money terms increases by 3.5% to £1767bn then your total debt at £1,100bn (this year) is 64% the next year your total debt will be £1142bn which is still 64% of GDP.
So you have to get from £88/£95bn to £42bn which is a cut of Say $45bn. That can be achieved by
1. Cutting Dfid by £10bn.
2. Stopping completely Working Tax credit and all other in work benefits £30bn plus.
3. Compensate 2 by immediately raising the minimum wage to £8.50 an hour thus people would earn a fair days wage for a fair days work.
4. Eliminate by Law Zero Hour contracts etc so people would know their hours to work 2 weeks in advance so they could hold down 2 jobs of 20hrs each if needs be.
5. You eliminate/leave the EU and save net £8bn a year.

The problem is Labour will not do 1 as they are weeded to saving the babies of the world, nor 2 as it is Gordon Browns great legacy, 5 because they dream of Left Wing Socialist paradise of a pan European State.
Conservatives won’t do it because 1. as per Labour above, 2 They will do this anyway because anybody getting benefits is just a Scum Bag 3. Sorry GB PLC owned by Cameron and Osbournes mates is built on slave labour wages and their profits depend on it. 4 See 3. 5 Not on you nelly our mates make huge money out of EU subsidies and money trading with the EU. And we don’t politically take the rap for it.

So we will stumble in to a situation that I fear the Conservatives form the next coalition and we end up with 36% of GDP spent by Government (about 1930’s level of spending) but spent on the NHS, Dfid & Elderly only with the other Departments virtually wiped out.
But that’s what the electorate want, no cuts to the Elderly £175bn and no cut to Dfid £12bn so Defence is screwed.

The Ginge
The Ginge
January 21, 2015 3:30 pm

Sorry TD but I disagree about Salami slicing. In all of the 3 forces you have reached the point of critical mass. If you got numbers from the Army your overheads, suppor contracts, logistics, artillery costs jump because you are not spreading them over so many people. In the RAF the Number of FJ squadrons are just enough, cut another 1,000 their and you have to loose squadrons. Same with the RN, loose another amphib you can’t produce the RTFG every year it will have to be every other.
Even in mundane things such as Engineers the RN and RAF are really struggling because they don’t have the critical mass of people some of whom say 5% go on to train to be Master Chiefs and Sergents the RN borrowing Engineers from the US Coast Guard and the RAF having warning that aircraft safety is on an engineering knife edge.
So the next cut wherever it falls pierces the Barrel Bottom and all the Water runs out, doesn’t matter where you hit the barrell bottom but as a container of fluids its useless and in this context cut the RAF airsupport is a no go outside the UK, cut the Navy forget the Falklands or Siera Leon even having Hospital/Support ships available becuase there will be no Engineers to operate them.
Capability has to go this time permanently so the rest can concentrate on doing whats left at least adequatly if not ideally very well.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
January 21, 2015 3:31 pm

Depends (as ever) how you define proportionate. If you mean regular headcount, then (including the revised Army 2020 numbers) you’ve gone from 102000 to 82000 – a 20% reduction, but that coupled with cessation of Telic and Herrick. The original SDSR 2010 called for 95000 (a 7% cut). There’s also the uplift in reserves to consider, with preserves the 102000 total.

The Naval service (including theRM) lost 5000, with the expectation of another 1000 to end up at 29000, which is 16-17% depending on which it is. Harder to absorb in a smaller force.

I’d suggest the overall capability losses were at least the same if not proprtionally more. Yes the army lost 40% of Challys (but serviceable Chally’s?) and 35% of SP Arty. Whether these were actually delivering commitments, or contingency is debateable. What is not debateable is taht the RN lost 18% of its DD/FF force without a concomitant decrease in commitment.

January 21, 2015 3:40 pm

Equipment orders in the next few months that are genuinely headline worthy could be T26 or some more of those 14 F-35s, nothing MPA related will happen until the SDSR and even then it will likely not be a new platform.

Getting rid of Trident would be monumentally stupid given the nuclear forces modernisation going on in Russia.

The Army should take the full brunt of any required cuts in 2015; it escaped least cut in 2010, has shown itself to be of limited effectiveness in Iraq and Afghanistan and the government is unwilling to use it. By contrast the RAF and RN are both overstretched significantly.

Think Defence
January 21, 2015 3:43 pm
Reply to  Not a Boffin

NaB, you could go down that line into ever decreasing circles of commitment v need, in service fleet v available fleet, capability arguments, major projects on the horizon etc etc but to characterise one service or the other as somehow harder done to is open to challenge.

When all said and done, they have all been hit hard

January 21, 2015 3:57 pm


That’s where you are wrong. The RAF was by far the worst sufferer in 2010. It has lost a third of its fast jet force (and that may yet become as much as half), had to compromise on it’s Tornado replacement, a third of its lift capability went, it’s entire MPA capability and had a substantial component of it’s ISTAR force put on notice.

The Navy certainly took a hit with the loss of four frigates and the reduction to one operational flat-top though the pay off for that was getting to keep QE and build up an LHA. The amphib force was essentially cut by a third and that was definitely significant.

The Army by contrast got of lightly and the disturbing thing about Cameron’s comments is that it suggests they may do so again, despite being of limited utility.

Think Defence
January 21, 2015 3:57 pm
Reply to  Martin

Martin, if 107 Typhoon is close to the bare minimum for QRA then I think the RAF has a problem

January 21, 2015 3:59 pm

Aside from the obvious areas for cuts outside of defence (the £10bn+ DFID budget, benefits and social security etc)…..

Army will be cut again. Total force of 50k + whatever reserves can be gathered together by 2020. No new equipment, instead running current kit into the ground and cannibalising materials. Maintain current levels of generals, who form a new mounted company with all those horses, and get shiny new sabres (built by Airbus).

RAF will act as UK Gov’s contribution to any and all military adventures, thus avoiding further cuts in frontline squadrons. RAF regiment gets the can, to be replaced by local defence militia’s when the need arises, all out of the DFID budget. Gin and Tonic allowance doubled.

RN will not get T26. Expanded run on Batch 3 River’s, with a Batch 4 being adapting to a gen-purp missile corvette. Successor to be built-for-but-not-with silo’s, reactor, crew. PoW CVF to be sunk to create an artificial reef at the entrance to HMNB Clyde.

January 21, 2015 4:07 pm

The 107 Typhoon number is to sustain five squadrons which are meant to be multi-role. QRA should be viable with just two of those squadrons; one for QRA South and one for QRA North. The RAF’s current problem is that the five Typhoon squadrons are not truly multi-role so the Tornado force is having to take on a very heavy burden when it should be being wound down- according to the 2010 plan. The root cause of this is the glacial pace of A2G weapons integration on Typhoon.

Summary, the RAF has enough planes just not enough of the right sort of planes for current commitments.

The Ginge
The Ginge
January 21, 2015 4:25 pm

So if we all agree that some capability has to go what should it be. In my view the one thing the Public and the Politicians agree on is we are not going to be involved in any long-term deployment of Army Boots on the ground overseas.
So firstly we still wish to contribute to knock the door down operations such as the start of GW2 or even the GW1 operation.
Secondly we still wish to provide air cover and helicopters for that operation.
Thirdly air operations in support of other countries ground troops as per Iraq Today
Fourth to defend the UK from the Air and Sea.
Fifth have a fight with Russia in Europe rather than in Dover, so heavy armour to contribute to Nato.
If you take those 5 founding principles then it leads you to the conclusion that
1.The RAF needs 8 FJ Sq to perform UK Air Defence plus overseas deployments such as Iraq/Baltic, spit 4 UK/4 Expeditionary Sq. plus 2 Squadrons assigned FAA Sq umbers for Carrier deployment. Loose the RAF Regiment and replaced in role by troops from 7th Div below. With Staff and pilots choosing deployment type.
2.MPA Purchased to secure UK sea lanes, support Carrier/Amphib Groups/Trident Subs etc.
3.Strategic Airlift vital so maintained (inc Refuelling Requirements).
4.RN Maintained at projected levels as minimum number to project troops globally/maintain sea lanes and worldwide shipping.
5.Royal Marines moved to the Army, (sorry can hear the howls of complaint) to form the 7th Rapid Deployment Division with the Parachute Regiment, except for 43 Commando which is left as Ship protection/interdiction security force which you can transfer in to from other RM Commandos, but part of the RN.
6.7th Rapid Assault Division consists of 16 Air Assault Brigade made up of 2 & 3 Para plus 1st & 2nd Battalions of Royal Anglian Regiment (as based in Woolwich & Cottesmore Close to Para’s in Colchester and training grounds in Thetford, you may wish to stand up a 3rd Airmobile Brigade to Mirror Royal Marines with some combination of Royal Anglicans and Para’s.. 4th Para and 3rd Royal Anglicans as Reserve 3rd Battalion Air Mobile. Further Supported by 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards Cavalry Unit to provide extra Armour/Anti-Armour etc using CVR(T) (Transportable by Air at 12 Tonnes) based at Swanton Morley in Norfolk, so division based in East Anglia.
7.Marine elements as 3 Commando Brigade fitting in to 7th Division left as is with the addition of the Royal scots Dragoon Guards co-located with 45 Commando. Providing the royal Marines with additional Armour and dedicated to Scandinavian Support within Nato along with 45 Commando. The RM Taking on the Medium Assault Role with Support from Cavalry Units and Parachute/Royal Anglicans as light Infantry.
8.Support elements of 3rd Commando Brigade and 16 Air Assault Brigade amalgamated to provide support logistics/artillery etc of combined Division.
9.3rd Armoured Division Left as is apart from all 9 Armoured Infantry Battalions being equipped with upgraded Warrior Vehicles.
10.This gives you 3 Tank Battalions, 5 Cavalry, 9 Armoured Infantry, 7 Assault Light/Medium Assault Brigades. By my reckoning that equates to a troop size of about 20,000 which working on the usual 1 soldier to 2 support (artillery, Logistics etc) works out at 60,000 Army. Cut 16 Infantry Brigades, stop overseas Brunei etc, Stop Toy Soldiers in Red Tunics which can be paid by somebody else, stop trying to stretch stuff too thin. Back fiill RN & RAF to make sure they have enough numbers to support the equipment they have now.
11.Cut all Generals, Admirals, Air Commodores , General Major ranks etc to the level where they actively are in charge of either Ships, Soldiers or Planes.
12.Use the Reserve Force to provide any long term commitment at the 1,200 Soldiers deployed level after you have rotated through above force in 18months.
This is a very quick sketch but please add delete as you feel free I am not Military but it looks like a good way of saving your 10% plus and still maintaining a credible force.

January 21, 2015 4:27 pm

Mike – ref buying UK produce – I fully support the concept. Except. Decades of buying the cheapest of everything no matter where it came from has had its impact on UK products. I can remember finding “Made in Great Britain” on almost every item in M&S (and they proudly advertised the fact); try doing the search now and I doubt you’d find a single item so labelled. With a few exceptions the stuff we buy as a society in large volumes just isn’t produced here any more. We do still make components and do advanced technology research, but assemblies ready for Mr & Mrs Consumer are rarely made in Britain. Remember how Dyson set himself up as the great new hope for British manufacturing; everything made in Britain? Wiki reports “all of its products are now made in Malaysia and its brushless electric motors in Singapore.” (No need to thank us Obs)

So while I support the idea, in practice it would be pretty well impossible.

If on the other hand some of the generosity of welfare handouts were to be applied to sustaining and growing domestic production, specifically to reduce the import burden and generate solid export potential, that might have the same effect. UK is capable of great things – the world laps up RR aero-engines and JCB’s bright yellow diggers and Whisky and high class fashion and TV & film productions. And the Toyotas, Nissans and Hondas made in the UK are every bit as good as the ones made elsewhere. But there’s no escaping the fact that making stuff here is more expensive than making the same thing in the world’s younger economies. We would need to work up a better reputation for manufactured quality than Germany or Singapore, better reputation for style than Italy, better reputation for efficiency than Japan, better reputation for can-do attitude than the US. Then our higher production costs might be seen by the world at large as worth paying for. But all that takes investment. And like any organisation the parent organisation that ultimately will benefit is the one that needs to stump up the investment; in this case if the Gov’t wants the UK to shine its the organisation that needs to invest.

The Other Chris
January 21, 2015 4:28 pm

I don’t agree capability should go.

If savings can’t be made without impacting current capability or programs intended to maintain existing or replace gapped capability, then that needs to be reported back to Treasury/HMG as a “No can do.”.

The Other Chris
January 21, 2015 4:32 pm

M&S used to use a British Isles manufacturer to make all of their slippers.

They switched to a cheaper supplier out East.

Later that same year, they wanted to return to the previous agreement as quality was utterly sub par and couldn’t be improved without cost increases.

They were told that following the switch, the manufacturer had to shut down, the staff made redundant, the equipment stripped and the factory unit put up for sale to cover debts.

Capability lost and couldn’t be regenerated without significant cost and time-frame.

January 21, 2015 4:38 pm

The Other Chris,

And then the treasury will say “thats lovely, you can go and discuss it at a full cabinet” where the response will be “you are cutting x, y and z and if you don’t like it you can resign and nobody will care”. For reference see the resignations of the First Sea Lord and Navy Minister in 1966 following the cancellation of CVA01.

January 21, 2015 5:02 pm

TOC – yup; the same result afflicts all such abandoned producers. Like if UK suddenly wants Chally 2 replaced by a British built tank – huge up-front investment would now be needed. Similarly if Barrow was abandoned because UK chose not to order boats for a decade. As much as we find it distasteful UK military shipbuilding only survives because of the direct Gov’t guarantee of income whether productive work is done or not.

Customers seem to be blind to this direct knock-on to their buying choices.

A current example in the press is the cost of milk. Customers are happily buying milk at a price for which dairy farmers cannot maintain their herds. Ask them if they would pay twice as much for milk to support UK farming and they would explode with indignation, even though it might be as little as an extra £3 a week. A pundit appeared on TV, I suspect belonging to some merchant bank or even one of the supermarkets, who said something like “If farmers can’t produce milk at the market (read supermarket) wholesale price, then they should give up farming and do something else”. Brilliant. So when UK has no dairy herds, or sheep or pigs as their return on the cost of rearing is marginal to bankrupting, and no feed is needed for them, what happens to the country’s farmland? Don’t imagine the green pleasant countryside will be maintained for the public’s pleasure, it gets sold. The farmers might find work that uses their lifelong earned skills, but that’s unlikely. And should the global price of foodstuffs rocket, would the sold-off farms be readily restarted? Not a hope. Their fields will be tacky housing estates, their stock non-existent, the farmers’ skills evaporated. We pay to import or we starve.

At that point the Great British public would cry out “Why didn’t the Government do something to prevent this?”, where really they should ask “Why didn’t I pay a fair price for my food?”

January 21, 2015 5:13 pm

@ Overseas
“PoW CVF to be sunk to create an artificial reef at the entrance to HMNB Clyde.”

Bloody brilliant!

@Ginge I totally agree on eight FJ Sqn’s 5 Tiffie and three of F35B? but I think we may see six and two, for a while, with an increasingly biggish F35 OCU, until they can buy the numbers they require to stand down the last Tranche one Typhoons?
Agree MPA is coming and the thing to cut for it is RAF Regiment, only proper that the cut comes from the RAF if they want the capability and not the Navy, Infantry to guard RAF statuons at home and abroad makes perfect sense, I don’t see us getting any more FRES than the scout version, so it’s refurb Warriors all around and whats not to like about that, they are good at what they do, then they can use all those spare MRAP Thingies to guard Airfields/Barracks etc, to save the heavy armour?

There is definitely far too much brass lingering around in the M.O.D.

The Other Chris
January 21, 2015 5:16 pm


Good enough for Jackie Fisher by way of counterpoint, especially relevant given the Defence Committee’s recent reintroduction to the notion!

Maybe our service chiefs need to put their balls on the line again, regardless of ’66. How much larger a service was there from ’67 onwards compared to now?

The Other Chris
January 21, 2015 5:16 pm

Hmmm, a Fairtrade scheme for the UK?

January 21, 2015 5:43 pm

Fisher resigned in wartime; not relevant.

They can put their balls on the line all they like, they won’t achieve anything.

January 21, 2015 5:48 pm

The Army will be cut, but buy a small number and then by a back door (Manning control points anyone? saves on redundancy payments) method will be used to whittle it down over a parliament so the public do not get wind of it.

FRES UV will be kicked into the long grass.

The Navy will not get any more than 6 type 26, we have 3 new OPV’s that will suffice.

Would not hold out much hope for the two amphibs in extended readiness. We only have a RM battle group in the RFTG.

A number of MPA’s will be purchased but no more than the minimum and only because of recent headlines.

The RAF FJ fleet will be spared, but ISTAR may be hit with a reduction but this depends if the politicians will risk the inevitable headlines that will come as we are bombing ISIS in Iraq.

January 21, 2015 5:48 pm


“The Naval service (including the RM) lost 5000, with the expectation of another 1000 to end up at 29000, which is 16-17% depending on which it is. Harder to absorb in a smaller force.

It’s worse than that. The RM element of the Naval Service has hovered around 7,000 since 1997 so the loss of 5,000 was borne entirely by the RN element reducing it to just 23,000. This was an 18% cut and immediately followed a 17% cut over the previous 10 years.

January 21, 2015 5:57 pm

The thing folk seem to be forgetting when they talk about the RAF Regiment is that it exists for a reason.

@ The Other Chris I am aggrieved by this. After wasting money on several crappy examples from cheap stores, I decided to invest and went to M&S, where I paid a princely sum! But my money was wasted. They’re shit. The outers are leather and are bearing up well enough, but the lining is like paper and has ruched up in interesting places, which is probably affecting my gait.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
January 21, 2015 6:16 pm


“but to characterise one service or the other as somehow harder done to is open to challenge.”

Indeed. So perhaps this

“” The Army was has actually been disproportionately cut since 2010 compared to the RN and RAF NaB so I think your proposition about Army numbers and Tory MP’s doesn’t hold much water ”

was rather ill-advised. Although I would whole-heartedly agree with

“When all said and done, they have all been hit hard”

January 21, 2015 6:26 pm

The typhoon force covers 3 qra’s northern southern and falklands. It’s has been doing this since 2011 and there wasn’t five sqn then infact there wasn’t even 4.

“So where do you get your”10%” in anything like a single Parliament?”

There is apparently an non allocated portion of the equipment budget that numbers about 9b pounds well it maybe less than that if the above is true.

We’re may we find some extra withdraw from the Mid East should save a few quid I would have thought. Remove the hercules fleet early, the puma fleet the tornado fleet lots of option you just have to reappraise what you can do. But to answer the question posed I’d remove trident should a nuclear capability wish to be retained I’d retain it on f35 accepting its a tactical capability.

The Other Chris
January 21, 2015 6:27 pm


And how many times did he threaten to resign before that?…

Think Defence
January 21, 2015 6:49 pm
Reply to  Not a Boffin

I meant in personnel, which they have, the numbers don’t lie which would disprove the Tory MP in garrison town theory. In fact, that is like the Gordon Brown Clyde theory that so gets you exercised, both wrong.

But as you and others point out, the story is always more complicated than that. A smaller force will feel a similar percentage reduction more acutely. You could equally argue that 40% cuts in CR2 when the TES fleet is probably no more than 70 is compounded by the fact that the Army has very few major projects on the horizon, unlike the dark and light blue.

So, Army numbers in pure percentage terms have been cut more than the others i.e. disproportionate

But the effects are equally felt across all three

So, what I said was not contradictory at all.

Arguing that when taken in the round, one service has taken a bigger hit than the other is just not supportable by any objective evidence. Yes you can cherry pick one thing or the other but exactly as all other post war defence reviews, the pain was shared equally, and I might add, will continue to be shared equally in the next one

January 21, 2015 6:56 pm


You forget, to a much larger extent than the other two services the Army’s capability can be measured in numbers; for the other two it is measured far more by capabilities and that ultimately boils down to platforms- thats where the other two services got hit.

January 21, 2015 7:02 pm

i believe there is a better than evens chance that the tories will end up the largest party, but without a majority. who will be their coalition partners?

i do not see it being the lib-dem’s, who will want a period in opposition to burnish their left wing credentials ready for 2020 (only then with the advantage of credibility of recent time in government).

so, who will be their coalition partners? the SNP perhaps…?

but they hate the tories! sure they do, but they have a largely devolved administration so all they need to do is protect the block grant, which supply-and-confidence would achieve.

but they hate trident! sure they do, but they only have to get a future promise of something less than four vanguard operating out faslane of than that to sell it to the membership.

if this is a possibility, what do you anticipate the details would be?

Think Defence
January 21, 2015 7:03 pm
Reply to  Hohum

Hohum, you make my point for me. One measure might be different and comparable or not

I leave you with this, they all got battered, simple as that really

January 21, 2015 7:05 pm

@TOC that sounds like James North Footwear that used to be in Hyde? If so a classic UK manufacturing operation, quality and care.

Think Defence
January 21, 2015 7:06 pm
Reply to  jedibeeftrix

JB, a 4 four boat fleet is always the answer from the risk studies but whilst going down to three would elevate the risk of potential non availability it would not result in non availability. So, this to me seems the only wiggle room left, and perhaps a warhead/missile reduction

January 21, 2015 7:24 pm

“So, this to me seems the only wiggle room left, and perhaps a warhead/missile reduction”

I’m not sure this would be deemed salable by the SNP high command…

January 21, 2015 7:27 pm


But the other services, especially the RAF, got battered more.

Re Trident,

Trying to run 2015 scenarios on it is pointless, we have no idea what the post-election landscape will look like or how party positions might shift when they get to look at the intel behind the Trident case: note that the lib-scum went suspiciously quiet on what had previously been a red line issue for them once they got into government.

January 21, 2015 7:48 pm

The RAF regiment seems an easy target but in these times aggressive base defence ( as opposed or gate guards and police presence), even in the UK is becoming more important. Perhaps their role should be expanded to be on hand to cover key infrastructure assets, ie civilian airports and nuclear stations. Rename it if you must but as someone else said it is a specific role that needs doing. Do they do the MPA defence in the FI?

The Other Chris
January 21, 2015 7:55 pm

I kind of imagine Day 1 in Office for a newly elected government to consists of a couple of well spoken Kingsmen with a briefcase approaching those now responsible for Defence and saying:

“What you are about to see is Eyes Only, Sir.”

After a period of twenty minutes the new Ministers, now regretting politics alltogether, stagger into their relevant Party chambers, ashen faced, and barely supporting themselves on the architrave of the entrance:

“CASD. We have to keep it. No arguments,” before vomiting onto the double thick carpet in front of a shocked coterie of Enviro-mentalists.

What has been seen, cannot be unseen…

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 21, 2015 8:02 pm

The article I read, said that UK defence will be short of £25 billion over the next Parliament. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if overseas aid was cut from 0.7% GDP to the G8 target of 0.5% GDP, that would save roughly £3.5 billion a year or £17.5 billion over a 5 year Parliament. Cutting the bloated aid budget would be hugely popular according to most opinion polls. Defence may not win votes, but an avoidable military defeat would be a disaster for any government. We forget how unpopular MrsT was in 1981. If she had not sent the Taskforce in 1982, the Lib/SDP Alliance would have had a landslide win in 1984. The Conservatives would have been out of power for at least a decade. With Islamic State, AQ, Libya, Boko Haram, N.Korea, Ukraine, Russia, Argentina, all rumbling, only a short sighted, reckless government would cut defence between now & 2020. It could easily come back & bite them.
Of course, my idea still leaves us £7.5 billion short over 5 years. Gordon Brown took on at least 80,000 pointless non-jobs, to provide for labour members/supporters. I would rather sack 20,000 of them than 20,000 soldiers.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
January 21, 2015 8:03 pm

TD – I rather think you’ll find that the number of PQs and media briefings on the Army Reserve and Army 2020 force structures dwarfs that made about reduced numbers of DD/FF and that said noise comes almost exclusively from Tory MPs plus the goon Robertson who knows a good Scots Nats issue when he sees one. To the best of my knowledge, challenge on the Navy force structures comes from Julian Lewis, Penny Mordaunt, plus whoever is in situ on the Clyde or in Devonport (usually Labour, SNP or LD). Moscow Mike used to pop up from time to time, but not usually in any way outside spending money in Portsmouth. Of these only Lewis has a genuine and consistent interest over a long period (not withstanding PMs RNR status). I’m reasonably sure the same can be said about the RAF in terms of consistent long-term supporters. Robertson is prominent again for the same reasons, Menzies Campbell too but only with regard to Leuchars.

Simply by dint of size and geographical spread there are more MPs with a sizeable army contingent in the constituency than those with an RN or RAF presence and aside from those in Scotland, the majority are Tories.

Er. What Gordon Brown Clyde theory? I know he behaves like a demented Orangutan but I don’t believe he’s made any movies with Clint Eastwood…..

January 21, 2015 8:04 pm

Guess the choice of cutting Trident or most of the infantry is about what you end up able to do/not do.
No Trident means no security council seat and being a US ally behind Germany (bigger economy) and France (more gung ho and still has nukes)
No critical mass of Infantry means not being able to project much force on the ground anywhere (which questions why we want carriers again…) ever which means the same US ally status. But it does mean the ability to nuclear retaliate independently (if that is actually useful) and sit on the UN security council.

Either way. Sounds like our defence posture becomes more like Austria and Switzerland.
Not much of a choice, but keeping Trident looks more likely.
Where’s Gloomy Northern boy at a time like this…..

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 21, 2015 8:11 pm

A peripheral puzzle…we all agree that overwhelming voter support gives the political class a strong incentive to ring-fence NHS spending as an act of self-defence…but why do they apply the same rule to the DfID, which does not enjoy widespread public support…and in pursuit of a UN target that almost nobody else shows any interest in? Even recognising that there are few votes to be won by increasing the Defence Budget there might be some to be had from the cap-badge mafia, the Nelsonian nostalgists, or the Trenchard tendency…by contrast I should have thought there are actually votes to be lost by determinedly pursuing the overseas aid target in hard times.

I’m interested, because if the reason why all but UKIP are wedded to 0.7% target for DfID could be understood…it might be help in pulling off the same trick with respect to 2% for NATO…

Answers on a postcard please…

Perplexed and thus Gloomy – but still present on parade… :-)

January 21, 2015 8:15 pm


I think is fair to say the loss of the UK nuclear deterrent would increase the risk ( note I said “risk” not actual cause ) of loosing the UK permanent seat on the UN Security Council. It would not be the single causative factor, like all interesting risks there are a number of mitigating factors and potential root causes at play that form a complex and impossible to predict set of interactions. You can only confirm root causes ( key causative factors) of an event after the fact (even then it’s a mainly qualitative not quantitative process), so I would only ever say it increases risk. Infact you can view the nuclear status of the permeant security council members as a key mitigating factor against pressures of other non nuclear nations to moderns this institution. The removal of which increases the risk of modernisation and potential loss of our seat.

Views from both sides of the fence:

Chris Mitchell
Chris Mitchell
January 21, 2015 8:52 pm

The maintenance of a credible deterrent is essential not just for Britain but also for our Commonwealth and NATO allies, how it is to be structured in the future is very important.
The maintenance of a highly trained Army core at 60,000 with a solid support base from the reserves is worth considering, airborne will be transferred to RAF and be exempt, a new service rifle built commercially in Britain with a self loading version for Target shooters to shoot service match, together with the removal of the anti trinity gun laws, is an absolute must to stop the decent to broomsticks.
How do you pay for that easy get rid of the public service shiny bums who contribute nothing to defence, a decent defence contractor could do the work at a fraction of the cost.
Do not worry about the political landscape UKIP will change all that and save the UK a very large fortune when we pull out of the EU.

January 21, 2015 10:04 pm

I suppose it is sear coincidence this has come up now, I was talking to two Officers in the corridors of a certain establishment the other week and the reduction in personnel was one of the topics raised.
According to them the Army Board had already made the cut for the planning of Army 2020 down to 62,500 as an absolute minimum that they could sustain one conflict for a limited period and carry out other tasks. A bit vague I know, but the document that they were referring to is well above Official Sensitive so the aspects of it are not releasable into the public domain. The main point is the minimum number of personnel, so whoever fed the Telegraph their information was not that far off in figures, it is just this argument has been running way, way before we are about to have an election.
All sorts of reasons were put forward as to why this could or should not be achieved straight away, so an interim figure was proposed of 82,000. So their final words were “watch this space”, I am an optimist so I am hoping their information will not completely come to fruition!!

January 21, 2015 10:13 pm

“but why do they apply the same rule to the DfID, which does not enjoy widespread public support…and in pursuit of a UN target that almost nobody else shows any interest in?”

Gloomy, it is simply one of those important political signals that must be uttered, for failing to do so means you are not a ‘nice’ person.

The Ginge
The Ginge
January 21, 2015 10:46 pm

Well I lobbed the hand granade and now let me see what has happend.
1. I agree in the best world possible we would convince Lab/Lib/Con/Greens/SNP to close Dfid but thats not happening and on the best predictions we need to cut £45bn not just £12bn. Plus UKIP are not going to win an election as the only party advocating that.
2. Re RAF regiment, lets be honest it didn’t do well in Afghan as the US Marines found out and UK bases can be protected with contracted MOD police, with them being reserve members for arming during war. Overseas as Comandos and Para’s do now they can provide anti air and force security.
3. All helicopters apart from specialist on ship cabs part of Army Air Corps as Marines and Paras now together.
4. See if you can sell Odiham and Benson as both on prime Oxfordshire real estate for new towns, move to use Wattisham and Mildenhall when USAF oulls out. Taste profit on that land deal.
5. No UK PM is going to risk UN Seat, or be the PM who went non nucleur unless it can all be blamed on an SNP Coalition agreement.
5. You can still send at 24/48hrs 1 Comando, 1 Para Battalion which is 1,200 Soldiers which would be about a 3,600 total deployment, with 1 months notice double that to 7,200 add in some RAF/RN personel you have your 5,000 at 24/48hrs & 10,000 at 1 months notice. Sounds pretty much like what we have now, plus 1 Armoured Brigade including 3 armoured infantry battalions on 1 months notice.
6. As I said back fill all support troops in 3rd Armoured and 7th Deployable Div from any troops you need from those left in the closing Adaptable force.
7. Partner with US Marines to offer US extra shipping via QE’s and replace an MEU in the Atlantic to cover their own cuts.
8. As both RN & RAF loosing soldiers increase numbers slightly to make sure correct support/engineering staff etc. In essence do the job right, I have seen so many comments from experts on the lack of support be it enginers, artillery, logistics. Get it right and in this idea you keep Clyde and Barrow working, you keep Trident, you keep Amphibs and replacements, .
Not trying to be difficult but that £45bn has to come from somewhere and the politicians can not attack the NHS/Pensioners Benefits/Dfid leaves working benefits/home office/local govenment/defence and defence is the biggest bit left.
Promise last post on it but save the bits we do well and be realistic otherwise we end up with a bit of this a bit of that but nothing that works as a whole.

Rocket Banana
January 21, 2015 10:57 pm

If the crunch were down to me I’d be seriously thinking about keeping T1 Typhoon for QRA and maintaining the 160 Typhoon in total. I’d draw down the entire Tornado fleet early and pull out of the F35 project.

I’d then lease the two carriers and/or just use them as LPHs with USMC F35Bs until such a time as the F35B is not such a steamingly expensive hunk of junk or we can afford to invest in such an unreliably overcomplicated technical showpiece.

I’d shelve FRES too and simply buy Boxer (or similar) when the time comes through the UOR channels.

…or maybe not ;-)

January 21, 2015 11:25 pm

We could certainly shed a few more RAF stations.

Northolt, Benson or Odiham with helicopter ops centralized at the other, Linton-on-Ouse with training centralized at Valley and possibly Leeming seem like good contenders for me.

I guess part of the issue is that money from decommissioning airbases and selling off the land takes a while to trickle through.

January 21, 2015 11:53 pm

Going back to the original post, I’d argue both the capacity to reduce army numbers (given the actual requirement) and also losing the “independent” bit from our nuclear deterrent. On the latter, I’d do a mutual deal with the US, buy two SSBNs and sail them to North America to be based out of the US. We cut the SSBN force by half (though get spare change to buy another SSN :)) and save costs on UK facilities (keeping the SNP happy)…

January 22, 2015 1:03 am

@ Jedibeeftrix,

The early poll data at this stage shows the Tories in line for a decimation of epic proportions. I wouldn’t bet against a significant Labour majority as things stand right now.

January 22, 2015 7:48 am

@ CHrisB – “The early poll data at this stage shows the Tories in line for a decimation of epic proportions. I wouldn’t bet against a significant Labour majority as things stand right now.”

I know what the poll snapshots are saying, but:
1. at this stage in the cycle labour should be consistently ahead in all poll by a significant margin. they have and are not.
2. as the election approaches the polls and support always swing back towards the incumbent as voters shy away from encroaching uncertainty. this is in evidence already.
3. it is highly unusual for an opposition to win when it is less trusted on the economy. labour is less trusted.
4. it is highly unusual for an opposition to win when its leader is deemed less competent. millibee is judged less competent.
5. while labour have been sniggering about the damage done by ukip to the tories, they have rather ignored the damage they face from the greens, ukip, and the snp.

against this the tories disadvantages include:
a. having to run austerity britain, and thus confirming there nasty (but competent) image.
b. the boundaries and their lack of needed reform.

i cannot see how labour will pull a rabbit out of a hat.

January 22, 2015 7:52 am

Martin – “I can’t see the SNP forming a coalition with the Tory’s. They are desperate to leave behind their image as the Tartan Torries and are encroaching on Labour safe seats in the central belt.”

Nor can I, but as I noted earlier:

“but they have a largely devolved administration so all they need to do is protect the block grant, which supply-and-confidence would achieve.”

The important point is this point in conjunction with my bet above, i.e. what choice will they have when labour aren’t the largest party?
The SNP are going to do serious damage to labour, i see ZERO chance of a lab-nat minority government if it is the nats that are seen to have denied labour the election.
It has been quite evident how much labour loath the lib-dems for their ‘betrayal’ back in 2010!

January 22, 2015 8:15 am

“I think the only hope for defence is if party’s give up on the austerity talk and just try to leave the fiscal picture to fix itself.”

This prospect remains as true today as it was when it was published:

It justifies austerity as far as the tories are concerned, and labour will run shy of being accused of loading today’s debt onto future generations.

January 22, 2015 8:16 am

Martin, interesting… Would Ed Balls do that (or rather the opposite)? I cannot see SNP being a constraining influence, and the LibDems have been hurt by signing up to austerity for a whole parliament (and now beyond).

January 22, 2015 8:47 am

The BIS paper referenced is focussed on lessons learnt from countries like India and ClubMed. For other types of countries the message is that” austerity overdone” will result in permanent growth damage, and thereby lower ability to service debt (the level of which is under increasing pressure from ageing population, or more neutrally put, worsening support ratio).

There is, however, a unique window to get some restructuring done over the next 5 years or so as debt service pressure will be decreased from what would be the long-term norm by older, expensive debt falling off and the newer vintages (massive) of debt raised under effectively zero interest rate conditions becoming dominant in calculating the average.

January 22, 2015 9:30 am

@ Jedi,

The problem is the way the vote system works. There are already indications that UKIP is in some cases poised to split some Tory majorities of 50%+ in half, allowing Labour or the Lib Dems to slip into the lead with ridiculously low majorities on the order of 27-29%. They don’t need to be popular everywhere, they just need to be reasonably popular in the right places. It’s one of the reasons that the Lib Dems, despite their appalling approval ratings right now, are actually on course to win more seats at the next election, for the simple reason that many of their current seats and targets are marginal against the Conservatives, who again are being hit hard by UKIP.

Current polling would also suggest that the the amount of Labour and Lib Deam voters being lost to the Greens and UKIP is being massively overstated, mostly by surprise, surprise, the leaders of UKIP and the Greens.

Right, must dash.

January 22, 2015 11:33 am

Just to throw it out there.

Cameron has publicly stated that he does not see the Army dropping below the level it is at from the 2010 SDR, and he has also publicly stated that the second carrier will enter service. I cannot see the Tories or UKIP canceling the deterrent, so what will there be to cut if they gain power?

Labour might be persuaded to cancel the deterrent but they will not cut both the nuclear and conventional forces it will be one or the other. But after Cameron’s statement’s about the Carrier and the Army numbers what will they do?

January 22, 2015 11:38 am

Chris B

If like me you are a lover of irony and people being hoist by their own petards…. The fact that the Tories appalling position re being squeezed by UKIP, and the voting system is entirely their own fault for rejecting PR, is very amusing.

On a more serious note I do not see how any politician can in practice expand defence spending in the foreseeable future, in the absence of an existential threat.
whether SDR2015 or SDR2020 makes cuts – cuts there will be.

And I still do not see how the RN gets to run 2 carriers even in turn with each other on it’s current strength……..

Or how the airforce is going to use all the f35s on which our workshare is based….

Nor how the army is going to find a us for all those FRES sv

January 22, 2015 11:40 am

Labour might be persuaded to cancel the deterrent but they will not cut both the nuclear and conventional forces it will be one or the other.

Why ever not?

January 22, 2015 11:56 am

If Labour cut both the Nuclear and conventional forces they will be pilioried for not being credible on defence, and there is one thing Labour hanker for now more than anything is being seen to be a credible party that can lead the country that is why they have made statements about fiscal responsibilty and still reducing the defecit just in slightly longer time frame than the Tories.

Ditching the deterrent will not be a hard sell to the Labour party as they are anti nuclear at the grass roots level, but reducing both the nuclear and conventional force while incidents in Paris and Belgium are happening coupled with ISIS and Boko Haram running around will be might be seen by the public as playing fast and loose with defence.

I’m not too sure if the Labour shadow defence secretary has publicly said anything about Cameron’s statement’s on the second carrier and army numbers, if they have said nothing then I believe they are eying up the conventional forces and the deterrent is safe with Labour.

January 22, 2015 12:16 pm

There is scope to recover some cost – I’m pretty sure Witham would be happy to sell off Scout-SV if asked. Although FMS to an ally might be more appropriate. The US was muttering about Bradley replacements – maybe they’d like them?

What else? How about T26 on PFI? That delight of all politicians as it puts the costs on future governments which on the balance of probability means their opposition. Forces personnel on Zero-Hour contracts? No? Maybe a bit extreme.

So. To be a bit serious.

As noted in a comment above, there might be savings in moving much of the Army away from the Home Counties? Surrey Berkshire & Hampshire are far from the cheapest places to live & work. Burghfield & AWE too?

Would dismantling DE&S be a saving? Passing purchasing responsibility to joint military/DSTL offices within the separate services? (Probably a better option than having the full-fat DE&S as Supreme Monitors operating the two US consortia brought in to do purchasing and make yet more profit out of taxpayers cash. “Oh no! We have a problem! Add another layer of management, quick!”) I understand many nations trust their military to buy sensible equipment for themselves.

Next, get rid of competitive procurement. It adds years – decades – to the procurement cycle but as there are so few competitors left the capacity to drive down prices (as opposed a bit of quiet inter-company price agreement) is pretty thin. In place of this, restoke DSTL into equivalent of the Establishments and hold them responsible to either select COTS or design that which is needed in concert with the military customer. No procurement to take more than 12 months to define the product that meets the requirement. Use of JFDI mandates where things bog down. Once the customer/user understands useful kit will come through within 2-3 years not 20-30 (Scout-SV?) then maybe we can defeat the Gold-Plate mentality? Clearly if there is only one major purchase every 15 years then everything including kitchen sink must be thrown onto that one platform as there’s no other option. But if new stuff rolls in at 3 year intervals, the option to buy in proper focused platforms sharpened to one specific role becomes achievable.

January 22, 2015 1:12 pm

Chris, this one must be tongue-in-the-cheek (?) As capability mgt (lines of responsibility) is one of the few good things that has come out of the numerous proc&purchase revamps

“Passing purchasing responsibility to joint military/DSTL offices within the separate services? ”

I would fully agree with your idea (further on) of moving towards some sort of time boxing for each step in moving from the rqrmnt to a purchase contract.

Rocket Banana
January 22, 2015 2:52 pm

Been thinking…

Close RAF Marham, it is geographically pointless having it in such close proximity to RAF Coningsby.

Base F35B at RNAS Yeovilton.

January 22, 2015 3:12 pm
The Ginge
The Ginge
January 22, 2015 3:46 pm

Dear Simon, I would agree apart from the fact RAF Marham is so in the middle of nowhere that you can’t sell it. In fact Coningsby is better connected to large urban centre and rail/road communication.

So you have to look at what the value of the land you have afterwards is worth if you are closing a base be it of any of the services. So for example Benson and Odiham are not far from the M40/M4/M3 Corridor and are on or close to the London Mainline train service. Hence my cheeky suggestion of using Mildenhall as it already has all the facilities that you need, and it would be easier to transport 16 Air Mobile Brigade from there than having to have them drive to Brize Norton. So you want to maximise the value of your land stock and those 2 are in the Golden Triangle of Growth. Similarly in view of the size of Yeovilton there is an argument you centralise all Helicopter use there as it has the room/hangers etc and again is pretty underused and not commercial worth a lot. That would include all training etc.

But the 2 point about moving anything is equipment and infrastructure available. So for example moving the British Army North. The reason they are in the South is because the forces there are primarily the 3rd Armoured Div based around Salisbury plain. That is the only piece of land big enough and owned by the MOD to actually practice armoured warfare, plus all the equipment sitting in the bases around that area. Moving Helicopters to another base already designed as an air base with fuel dumps, hangars, maintenance facilities etc is a lot cheaper. And troops based in the South East get paid no more than those based at Catterick. Another example is the Parachute Regiment in Colchester. Colchester is a commuter town with a high demand for housing meeting point 1 above. However it has had the whole of its accommodation of offices rebuilt in the last 10yrs, so giving up that equipment is pointless.

My point being that we need to look at each location as to its value outside military use compared to the cost of moving and what capital investment you give up. Instead of looking at just from a Military position. Because the more the MOD can show some out of the box thinking the more likely they are to escape the absolute worst of the cuts, unless people in that organisation start getting their heads up, I just feel there is a large financial road roller coming to flatten them.

As to the election. The SNP will never do any deal with the Tories apart from being personally objectionable to the leadership of the SNP it would be political suicide in Scotland. The plus for Labour is they can sell cancelling Trident to the rest of the UK as the cost of an agreement with the SNP who are very pro-Nuclear disarmament and the resulting extra cost, so a Labour PM would not take the flack. It was all those dastardly Scots fault.

January 22, 2015 3:59 pm

@rec, long traditions there, to follow:

Japan picked the best practice to follow, when forming their armed forces
– RN for the navy; Prussia for the army, respectively

Carrier aviation has been infegrated from the word ‘go’ too,_19th_Lord_Sempill

January 22, 2015 4:06 pm

A little more on the Japan/UK talks

LONDON–Japan and Britain agreed to jointly research new air-to-air missile technology as part of increased cooperation on defense-related security issues.

Agreement was reached during talks here Jan. 21 involving their respective defense and foreign ministers.

Visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Gen Nakatani met with Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Defense Secretary Michael Fallon.

The two sides signed a pact to collaborate on developing defensive military systems and equipment.

The agreement on the air-to-air missile program follows Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to lift Japan’s ban on weapons exports in April 2014.

For its part, Britain is looking to acquire the advanced P-1 maritime-patrol and anti-submarine aircraft that is a mainstay of the Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The aircraft was developed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. and first deployed in 2013.

Fallon expressed interest in the state-of-the-art aircraft, saying Britain’s maritime patrol capabilities need bolstering. The Japanese ministers said Tokyo looks forward to greater cooperation in the future.

The two sides used their first-ever “two-plus-two” talks between their foreign and defense ministers to discuss other security related matters, such as the Japanese hostage crisis.

They also agreed to continue discussions on signing an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement at an early date. The pact would allow the Japanese and British armed forces to exchange a variety of supplies, such as food and fuel, during disaster relief missions or peacekeeping operations.

January 22, 2015 5:17 pm

I’d love us to get P1, If we can’t have our own and clearly we can’t, then it’s the best plane for that job, I just don’t see the 737 as the be all and all for everything?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
January 22, 2015 6:16 pm

Chris. Be very careful hankering after the old “Establishments”. They were no good at designing things for production then and I doubt whether there are more than 100 real engineers in the whole of Dstl now.

The establishments used to be pretty good at testing stuff or building test articles but never actually at designing or engineering real kit for long term use.

January 22, 2015 6:18 pm

On Chris’s point on the market forces letting farmers close down/sell up if unprofitable and the difficulty in restarting , the average age of a farmer in the UK is 59 , fifty-nine in case you think its a mistype. I suspect it is similar for ultra low volume production engineering , such as complex military equipment manufacturing, it is similar for the highly experienced and skilled fitters , who once given early retirement would be impossible to replace even in the medium term unless salaries are offered that drag them from the oil/gas industry or similar where their skills are all ways valued. When I started in industry I could discuss with a senior fitter what we were looking for ,a few days/weeks later they would have it built and I would reverse it onto the drawings to record what we supplied. Today , that has almost disappeared and every detail has to be exact or production will not release for manufacture. Modern CAD/CAM has mitigated this to some extent producing much that was once laborious to create and keeps improving but at times experience on the shop floor is/was worth its weight in gold . As we know gold is a rare commodity as experience .

January 22, 2015 6:25 pm

He killed himself, then he didn’t.

When it comes to Argentina, logic only takes you so far :-)

Peter Elliott
January 22, 2015 7:00 pm

In terms of what happens to the land when dairy farmers go out of business: in Sussex bankers’ wives and daughters use it for their ponies.

January 22, 2015 7:19 pm

PeterE – indeed they do; a short walk from home there was what looked like a rough sty/shed made out of concrete blocks sat in a disused patch of land. It was sold. Now on that land (and the two fields either side) is a ghastly loadsa-money mock-classy mansion, complete with marble pillars framing the front door and obligatory electric gates across the vast gravel drive. The fields have been graded and scraped dead flat and turfed with expensive grass so they looks like a huge billiard table. On this there was a pony; on the pony was a girl of about 5 dressed in very pink riding gear. A sight worthy of Cheshire’s most extreme Footballer Strip, wedged into a broad area of Sussex’s rough grazing agricultural land accessed by a gravel & dirt farm track. It so suits the location. Not.

NaB – ref Establishments – You understand what I think they ought to be able to do then. If they couldn’t do so before (evidently my views based on RARDE are more generous than yours, maybe there was wide difference between the sites) then they would need to extract the digit and staff up appropriately?

January 22, 2015 7:28 pm

Salami slicing all round, whoever gets in. None of the political parties have the stomach for bold decisions (and in the case of most coalitions, they don’t have the ability either).

A Lab/SNP coalition might be quite good for the RN’s surface fleet, given that surface ships are built in Scotland.

I would take issue with the assumption that a 10% cut in the budget automatically means that the only logical way forward is to lose an entire capability (unless the capability in question is the skill for bungling procurement projects and waving the white flag every time BAE walk into the room), at least in the medium/long term.

We are, after all, talking about a dept that’s just blown £348m buying three under specified and vastly overpriced patrol vessels we don’t need.

January 22, 2015 8:47 pm

I fully expect to see another round of salami slicing instead of any genuine restructuring or reappraisal of what it is we want our armed forces to achieve and the level of spending needed to meet this aspiration.


The fast-jet force will probably be kept at current levels because of the ongoing tempo of operations but with a cut back down to the long-term plan of 7 squadrons once Typhoon can operate Brimstone and Storm-Shadow and take some of the burden off of the remaining Tornado fleet.

The RAF Regiment would seem to be ripe for the chop, although i’m sure plenty of people were saying that in 2010.

ISTAR may be hit, reckon Sentinel is too useful to be axed completely but 1-2 air-frames may be retired. The Shadow R1 seems more vulnerable as it’s role is far less obvious and well documented.

We could well see a few Super Herc’s withdrawn earlier than planned and the OSD for the whole fleet brought forwards.

A few bases will probably be axed. Northolt and Leeming seem vulnerable, wouldn’t be surprised if Odiham or Benson go with all helicopter assets concentrated at the other and Linton-on-Ouse with training concentrated at Valley.

Royal Navy:

Only 8 Type 26 ever ordered. Perhaps to sweeten the blow a number of T23’s will be withdrawn early but with a hollow promise of numbers being rectified in the early part of the next decade, similar to what happened with T45.

A fudge on Cameron’s 2 carrier promise with CVF adopting the same 1 active, 1 mothballed (but technically commissioned) situation as the Albion’s,

Astute No.7/HMS Ajax cancelled.

A whole host of other peripheral savings, a few more mine-hunters scrapped, maybe another Bay sold off and the 2 Waves once all 4 Tides are in service.

British Army:

FRES pushed back and cut down to the bare minimum.

Apache probably kept but only 40ish upgraded and the rest scrapped.

The Lynx AH.9 scrapped.

Can’t see how there won’t be a manpower reduction. Maybe Cameron’s commitment to an 80,000 man Army could be interpreted to include reserves as well as regulars.

Successor: Who the hell know’s, really depends on who forms a government.

Overall i think the RAF and RN will be prioritized over the Army with certain capabilities like fast-jets protected and an MPA commitment out of sheer political embarrassment. But apart from that it will be slice a little here and there and then business as usual.

The Other Chris
January 22, 2015 8:47 pm

Kawasaki P-1

Airframes are much of a muchness. The systems within are the important bit. If you’re worried about getting stuck “Buying American” with a 737 airframe, you’re stuck “Buying Japanese” with a P-1 airframe…

What’s appealing about the Kawasaki deal, assuming cost is reasonably equivalent, is:

1 – In the same way that PAAMS/Aster is beneficial to the Allies as a whole in that it presents two highly capable systems to counter, two highly capable sub-hunters with varied equipment pose additional variables to non-Allied nations to ponder.

2 – Japan may be more willing than the US to allow the UK to insert Sovereign technology onboard. Items kept in storage from MRA4, for example. Although worth noting a similar integration of technology has been offered by Boeing via the P-8’s pluggable architecture.

3 – Japan has currently only held these level of talks with the US, UK, France, Russia and Australia. Investing in a Japanese MPA solution demonstrates our higher levels of commitment to partnering with Japan on defence technology, beyond a significant upgrade to a latest-generation AAM which sounds like it’s well underway.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 22, 2015 8:50 pm


“We are, after all, talking about a dept that’s just blown £348m buying three under specified and vastly overpriced patrol vessels we don’t need.”

We have been through this several times on here, we were going to be paying BAE regardless, would you rather have paid them to do nothing or perhaps paid them even more to come up with a completely new design that would have cost us time and money. This was an existing design perfectly adequately specced for what it will be asked to do.

Peter Elliott
January 22, 2015 9:09 pm

APATS that’s true by the time the order was placed. But if we had got T26 designed and to Main Gate as planned then there would have been no gap to fill and the 348m would have been a saving at the end of the programme, plus the inflation saved by doing everything a couple of years sooner.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 22, 2015 9:11 pm


Indeed but we should also never have signed the daft contract in the first place. what annoys me is that some posters seem to think we just decided to pay 115 million a pop for 3 OPVs because we felt like it.

Peter Elliott
January 22, 2015 9:15 pm

P1 might also be offered with Rolls Royce engines which might give a bit of British work share. Is there a RR option with P8?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 22, 2015 9:23 pm


Do Rolls Royce even make an engine that fits the rather bespoke configuration of a P1. We do know they make a few that fit a 737.

January 22, 2015 9:26 pm

Yeah rolls Royce don’t currently have an engine in the 737/a320 single aisle class of aircraft anymore they withdrew from the v2500 alliance.

The Other Chris
January 22, 2015 9:29 pm

There’s no RR engine currently available for the 737. Boeing were looking at providing a choice about ten years ago.

The BR700 or the BR710 (can’t remember which one, same family as Sentinel R1, MRA4) is the right diameter as the P-1 nacelles, more powerful, with an argument towards an efficiency edge (lack of public data on the Japanese engine), but they are longer than the Japanese F7-10’s currently fitted.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 22, 2015 9:41 pm

So if we order either and want RR engine we are looking at a re design at best for a fleet of in all probability less than 10 engines. Not certain that makes sense from an operational support never mind cost point.

Think Defence
January 22, 2015 9:41 pm

I think what the old establishments did was to provide a pool of expertise that could exist and focus on their tasks without having to worry about where the next MoD contract was coming from. This meant they could go down avenues to test concepts and if necessary, fail. It was this that allowed them to disprove concepts as much as prove them, thus allowing industry to benefit from that trial and error.

Don’t know enough about any of them except MEXE but MEXE came up with some world class designs that endured (and in fact still do) because of the issues they fully appreciated was the ability of industry to fabricate in quantity.

The privately designed Inglis gave way to the MEXE produce Bailey, one of the reasons it was so enduring because it was designed for manufacturing in volume

January 22, 2015 10:18 pm

Yes apas would be completely bonkers to re engine any airframe option with an engine not current offered as standard. We make excellent sensors and missions systems in this country you can fit that to any airframe you choose if you give it to someone who does this a lot.

Boeing haven’t taken long to get there msa up and running

The Boeing Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) program is ready for customer demonstration flights, having completed the baseline ground and flight testing of the aircraft mission systems.

January 22, 2015 10:22 pm

The great ship building saga is unique in the sense that people can keep the debate going in violent agreement!

January 22, 2015 10:27 pm
January 22, 2015 10:42 pm

@TD: my very limited experience of RARDE(Ch) as it was then was that there was a majority of people who didn’t do much, buttressed with some fantastic experts. Knowing what I know now, the organization was too large to be what you would like it to be.

January 22, 2015 10:44 pm

If we are going to get an MPA, at least let it be a good one, they are going to have to fly lonely until they can get the UAV tech to a mature point, and eventually supplant and then replace them, it just has to be as good as Nimrod was/ could have been, and only the P1 comes anywhere near what we had (But not for range). I care not what the Americans hang off or inside their 737’s to make it a two or even three trick pony, it is compromised. The Kawasaki was made for the job! Flies higher (Slightly), faster, further (slightly), and carries more weapons, if this was top trumps I just blitzed y’all Boeing!
You can polish a turd as much as you like but in the end it’s still cack, and the 737 is cack!

Wikipedia: (Top Trumps!) Ha Ha Ha!
Crew: Flight: 2 Mission: 11
Length: 38.0 m (124 ft 8 in)
Wingspan: 35.4 m (114 ft 8 in)
Height: 12.1 m (39 ft 4 in)
Max. takeoff weight: 79,700 kg (176,000 lb)
Powerplant: 4 × IHI Corporation XF7-10 turbofan, 13,500 lbs (60 kN) each

Maximum speed: 996 km/h (538 knots, 619 mph)
Cruise speed: 833 km/h (450 knots, 516 mph)
Range: 8,000 km (4,320 nm, 4,970 mi)
Service ceiling: 44,200 ft (13,520 m)
Hardpoint: 8 wing stations in total (2x on each wing and 2x on each wing root) and eight internal bomb bay stations
Bombs: 20,000+ lb (9,000+ kg)
Missiles: AGM-84 Harpoon, ASM-1C, AGM-65 Maverick
Sonobuoys: 30+ Pre-loaded, 70+ Deployable from inside
Other: MK-46 and Type 97 and new(G-RX5) torpedoes, mines, depth charges


Crew: Flight: two; Mission: seven
Length: 129 ft 5 in (39.47 m)
Wingspan: 123 ft 6 in (37.64 m)
Height: 42 ft 1 in (12.83 m)
Empty weight: 138,300 lb (62,730 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 189,200 lb (85,820 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × CFM56-7B turbofan, 27,000 lbf (120 kN) each

Maximum speed: 490 knots (907 km/h, 564 mph)
Cruise speed: 440 kn (815 km/h, 509 mph)
Combat radius: 1,200 nmi (2,222 km) ; 4 hours on station (for anti-submarine warfare mission)[132]
Service ceiling: 41,000 ft (12,496 m)

5 internal and 6 external stations for AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER, AGM-84 Harpoon, Mark 54 torpedo, missiles, mines, torpedoes, bombs, and a High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon system

January 23, 2015 12:28 am

Re the commitment to keeping the army numbers up
What can they transfer in whilst cutting infantry units, to keep the numbers up?
RAF Regiment could be put under army control (or disbanded and infantry units assigned the role)
Chinooks and Junglies (and JHC) transfer to army control (If army helicopters are going on the carriers anyway then why do the RM need their own?).
Transferring the RM would cause the mother of all cap badge meltdowns but what else could be redesignated as army (even if many of those serving were on loan from RAF/RN for quite a while)?

January 23, 2015 12:44 am

With the RAF regiment, they really should be reorganised like the French use their air force troops – effectively the heli-med/CSAR guard. Don’t need the current numbers for that, heck, just a squadrons worth. CBRN really should be a RA job but I bet they wouldn’t want it… more a drain on their funds and not as shiny a role than playing with explosives ;)

I wouldn’t want our dwindling professional infantrymen idle guarding airfields or doing FP when they should be…well… infantry :P

January 23, 2015 1:50 am

@ ACC, re Japan’s choice. In 1945 RA produced a booklet for troops going to the Far East, it included an assessment of the Japanese soldier, apart from willingness to die it wasn’t very flattering. You’d have to give them an F for their Prussian copy! Given that, they had no chance of successfully copying the British with its far better individual skills.

January 23, 2015 1:58 am

@ ChrisM

I doubt very much that any infantry would want the RAF Regt job. It’s useful to note that ‘Force Protection’, which is what the RAF Regt do, is the responsibility of the Royal Logistic Corps, who inherited it with the Royal Pioneer Corp. Ie its a job for Chunkies.

@ Mike, please explain why CBRN is an RA job. CBRN has nothing to do with indirect fire and its target acquisition, nor with air defence.

January 23, 2015 6:34 am

, so the assessment did not change between the start of the Malaya campaign and 1945?

“Aggressive leadership, accurate intelligence, flexible application of power, adjustment of force based on environmental conditions, and the value of logistics are the major lessons from the Japanese victory. Poor leadership and futility of trying to defend too much are among those lessons from the defeated British”

” General Tomoyuki Yamashita and his 25th Army, outnumbered in some accounts by as much as three to one, opened World War II with an unparalleled accomplishment of arms: conquest of the entire 700-mile Malay Peninsula in 70 days. In the process, Japan’s joint forces inflicted a psychologically devastating defeat on the British when they sank the only Royal Navy capital ships in the Pacific; destroyed the allied British, Australian, Indian, and Malayan defenders (while tearing through the “impassable” Malay jungle); and overpowered the “impregnable” Fortress Singapore. This victory would ultimately mark the end of the British Empire in Asia, while the psychological impact of the defeat would stay with Britain throughout the entire war.”

All of that above from LCDR Alan C. Headrick, USNR

A paper submitted to the Faculty of the Naval War College

January 23, 2015 10:50 am

Agreed that it wasn’t just Singapore that led to the eventual collapse of the British Empire. I’d say it was lots of things, with the most important factors being India’s independence and the UK’s post war financial woes.

Suez probably led to the collapse of British prestige and influence in the Middle East far more than any wartime setbacks and reversals in the Far East 14 years previously.

To be fair though Brunei, like most technically British possessions (apart from Hong Kong) after the early 1970s was independent in all but name, 1984 only saw a legal and constitutional formalization of separation between Brunei and the UK.