Scrapping RAF Nimrods 'perverse' say military chiefs

Published on Thursday, 27 January 2011 09:22
Posted by Scott Buckler

Leading military figures have warned that scrapping the £4bn fleet of new RAF Nimrods will create a "massive gap" in British security

In an open letter to the Daily Telegraph, six ex-defence chiefs said interim measures to fill the gap left by the spy planes "fall far short". They describe the decision to destroy the aircraft as "perverse".

Gen Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, said the move to cancel the Nimrod MRA4 was not taken lightly. Work on scrapping the nine planes began in Greater Manchester on Wednesday.

Sir David said that none of the aircraft was yet operational, or had passed flight tests.In a statement he said "severe financial pressures" had led to the "tough decision", and that the project was both delayed and overspent.

The Telegraph letter is signed by Marshal of the RAF Lord Craig, the former chief of the defence staff and chief of air staff; Major General Julian Thompson, the commander of land forces in the Falklands conflict; Air Vice-Marshal Tony Mason, the former air secretary for the RAF; Major General Patrick Cordingley, the commander of the Desert Rats in the Gulf War; and Admiral Sir John "Sandy" Woodward, commander of the naval task force in the Falklands.

Advice 'failure'

They warn that national security will be dangerously exposed without the aircraft, which would have continued to provide long-range reconnaissance and surveillance, and protect the Royal Navy's Trident submarines.

The Ministry of Defence has also been accused of failing to advise ministers of the full cost and impact of the loss of the planes. Almost £4bn has been spent on the project and it will cost £200m to scrap the aircraft and pay compensation to the manufacturers, BAE Systems.

The government says cancelling the aircraft will save £2bn over 10 years.

Source: ©BBC News

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