by DAVID AXE
The Royal Navy seemed to escape major cuts in the most recent British defense drawdown. The Senior Service lost just two of its roughly 100 ships: a mine-hunter and a survey vessel. The Royal Air Force, on the other hand, took big hits, losing its Nimrod maritime patrol planes plus some Tornado and Harrier jets.
Now the new British First Sea Lord reveals that the RAF cuts will have a big effect on the Navy. Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope spoke to Warships International Fleet Review magazine. “Let us be clear about the importance of those RAF cuts in terms of maritime impact,” Stanhope said. He explained that the Nimrod force had provided top cover for the Navy’s ballistic-missile submarines, presumably during transit in and out of port.
Now the Navy will have to take up that task with its Merlin helicopters and frigates equipped with the new Sonar 2087. “It means those frigates we have with Sonar 2087 … may not be deployed to the Gulf or the South Atlantic,” Stanhope pointed out. The loss of the Nimrods effectively also means the loss of at least one deployable frigate.
Likewise, the reduction in active Harrier numbers — from around 60 to around 40, unless I’m mistaken — translates into “less embarked time at sea for Joint Force Harrier squadrons,” Stanhope said.
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