Government Accused of Making Britain 'Reliant On Others' for Defence As 37 Nato Aircraft Deployed to Scotland
(Source: The Independent; posted July 28, 2017)
By Lizzie Dearden
The Government has been accused of leaving Britain “reliant on the goodwill of others” for its security as figures revealed Nato allies deployed almost 40 planes to a key airbase.

Tobias Ellwood, the minister for defence, said 37 maritime patrol aircraft - including planes from the US, Germany and France - were temporarily deployed to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland last year.

The number of aircraft from Nato states at the base has increased by 76 per cent from 21 in 2015, according figures revealed in answer to a written parliamentary question from the Shadow Defence Secretary, Nia Griffith.

Maritime patrol aircraft are designed to undertake long journeys over water, on missions including reconnaissance and search and rescue.

The UK used Nimrod planes for the task for decades, but a project to replace its ageing fleet was scrapped by the Coalition in 2010 amid delays and rising costs in a decision Labour said now looks “downright reckless”.

"As an island nation, the ability to patrol our own shores and protect our key military assets is absolutely essential,” Ms Griffith said.

"As Labour said at the time, the Tories' decision in 2010 to cut up our Nimrod aircraft and sell them for scrap was a serious mistake. It now looks downright reckless."

She added: "These figures highlight the extent to which we are now reliant on the goodwill of others to keep Britain safe. We are thankful for our allies' support but this level of dependence is simply unacceptable.

“Everywhere you look right now - whether it is the shrinking of the Army, the loss of key capabilities or the failure to deliver a national shipbuilding strategy - the damage the Tories are doing to our armed forces is undermining our national security.”

Mr Ellwood said the US had temporarily deployed 20 maritime patrol aircraft to RAF Lossiemouth during 2016, while Canada had deployed eight, France five, Germany three and Norway one. (end of excerpt)


Click here for the full story, on The Independent website.

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Foreign Maritime Patrol Aircraft
(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued July 29, 2017)
BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, BBC Breakfast, The Sun and Telegraph all report that the number of foreign maritime patrol aircraft stationed in the UK has risen by 76 per cent from 2015 to 2016.

An MOD spokesperson said: “80% of the flights in 2016 were exercises and the actual number of operational flights was lower last year than in 2015.

“In 2010 there was a £38 billion black hole in the defence budget and difficult decisions had to be made including scrapping Nimrod which was 9 years late, £800M over budget, and had failed to produce one plane that was safe to fly.

“We work closely with our NATO allies on security in the North Atlantic and have robust force protection measures in place for our assets which we continually review. We are investing in maritime patrol aircraft as part of our £178bn equipment plan, with the first of our nine P-8 aircraft set to be delivered in 2019 as planned.”

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