The thing was (as Ginetta Girl said) that the Nimrod was the only alternative. After spending all of the money, getting the planes months from service to then scrap them, when there is nothing that could touch it, is down right stupid and dangerous of Cameron & the Government. It has been rumoured that it was his decision to cancel it. Even at the last minute top brass were meeting with Cameron to ask him to change his mind, but in his wisdom he chose to override those in the military and scrap it. Don't forget all of the simulators, and relevant equipment was there ready for the planes to go.
Now the only other plane available is the P8, which will not be suited to low level operations, not got the equipment fit, has only twin engine survivability, IIRC less than half the range, and less payload than the MRA4.
Considering the MRA4 was so close to service and virtually paid for, what the hell was Cameron doing overriding the RAF & Navy, destroying the years of world leading experience in the maritime role, dumping experienced crews, leaving a huge capability chasm, without there being any viable alternative?
It doesn't make any logical sense, especially if they are going to now U-Turn and buy off the shelf American kit in 3-5 years time, when we could have had what we'd paid for now. Unfortunately what we have paid for is probably now holding baked beans on the shelf at Sainsbury's!!
This to save a few million bringing it into service and operating, when we are spending what, £1 billion by September in Libya?
Running costs for the fleet were rumoured to be £200 million a year. From what I have read that would have included operating from Kinloss, so you could have saved from that by relocating to Waddington or another base. Again I can't confirm, but BAe Systems support costs were rumoured to be in the region of £70million - £80million a year. Less than the cost of a new Typhoon each year.
Liam Fox was defending Nimrod quite openly before the SDSR, but months after his leaked letter, he changed his tune (toeing the party line??) trashing the project as being unsafe and not ready.
I still believe that Cameron needed a high profile example of Labour waste (when in fact it was a Tory decision to proceed with the MRA4 in the 1990s) to kill off something in his review. I have no doubt he would have also killed off our new carriers aswell, citing them as an example of waste. Being a PR man more than a man of any substance, I am sure he wanted to bin the "toxic" Nimrod name who in the mindset of the general public was a dangerous aircraft.
Also another aircraft that is to be scrapped in a couple of years is the Sentinel R1. Currently being used in Afghanistan (considered by some to be a one trick pony for that conflict only), they were to be retired after they return in 2014. They have currently been in service for less than 6 years.
We then go bundling into Libya and some of the first planes down there were two Sentinels, spying on enemy positions. I'm sure the RAF and Army will be fighting long & hard to retain these aircraft in a few years time.
I personally have no confidence in the current Government's Defence policy, however it seems like Liam Fox seems to have his finger on the pulse more than Cameron.
I somehow think the Libya mission (apart from the oil) is also a partial "willy waving" excercise, by Cameron and Sarkozy to show that our depleted force can work as an effective "Euro" fighting force together with the French. The trouble is they have "ballsed up" that conflict, as we don't have the sufficient money of equipment to deal Gadaffi the knock out blow, we are just giving him the equivalent of a "dead arm" at the moment. This is why we have sent 4 of our Apache force off to operate off the only Aircraft Carrying platform we have, over the last few weeks. The "Euro Force" seems a bit "half arsed" and we are having to put the bulk of the effort in with a depleted airforce in a post SDSR world.
It was reported in the papers recently that the US Navy P3 Orions were providing top cover and protection for our ships.
I'm beginning to think it is dawning on the Government that, (as those in the real world were saying from day one), it is going to be a long haul there.
It is a shame that on one hand there are indesciriminate cuts to defence of our country, such as aircraft patrolling our own waters around the UK, yet on the other hand we find money to go piling into Libya or increase International Aid handouts.
If this is true about a purchase of 5x P8's then this is mind boggling, as surely 9 paid for Nimrods are going to be more effective than spending out more money buying hardly enough "inferior" P8's.
Am I the only one thinking something is really