The Daily Mail today claims that the MOD is considering buying a replacement for the Nimrod MRA4. This is not true. The paper has inaccurately reported the comments made by Air Vice-Marshal Mark Green at a House of Commons Defence Committee meeting yesterday. He was answering a hypothetical question asked by the Committee about which aircraft the MOD would look to buy if it was felt a replacement was required.
We assessed the implications of removing Nimrod from service and are confident the threat can be managed without the need for a replacement maritime patrol aircraft. We constantly monitor the threat but there is no evidence to suggest our assessment will change in the short term.
We are buying a number of Rivet Joint aircraft, known as Airseeker, which will provide the UK's airborne signals intelligence capability until 2025. This is not because of a gap left by the MRA4, as the Daily Mail suggests, as it will replace the Nimrod R1 which is not a maritime surveillance aircraft.
The RAF is deploying maritime-experienced aircrew to operate alongside international partners on a range of aircraft where our reconnaissance and surveillance skills are being exploited. We are also using other military assets for maritime patrol, including frigates, Merlin helicopters and Hercules aircraft.
The decision in the Strategic Defence and Security Review not to bring the Nimrod MRA4 into service was difficult but our ability to operate maritime patrol aircraft is being maintained. Only one Nimrod MRA4 had been delivered to the RAF and it had not passed air worthiness tests, the project was hundreds of millions of pounds over budget, years late, and needed considerable extra funding to rectify long-running technical problems.