It seems that some of the defence cuts may be undeliverable. It was widely expected that the government’s new planning assumptions would mean a second wave of defence cuts in MOD Planning Round 11 this year, but this now seems to have been kiboshed. Liam Fox has been sent out to make a profession of faith in the SDSR and the cuts agenda, but it does look like the MOD gets a £800 million let-off this year.
It will be interesting to see what gets saved - apparently at least one ship and some Tornado GR4 planes (as seen on TV lately) are likely, but the biggest decision is probably going to be whether or not to save the RAF’s reconnaissance capability (we covered the Tories’ apparent down on RAF ISTAR here). The Nimrod MRA4s have been broken up and the tooling at Woodford is being auctioned off bit by bit, but there are still the brand new Sentinels (saved until 2015 for Afghanistan) and the three Nimrod R1 electronic-intelligence aircraft to play for.
Of course, supporting the Nimrod R1s is going to be still more expensive and generally annoying when they’re the only Nimrods flying in the world. But who said the Government has to make sense?