Strategic Defence and Security Review
The Strategic Defence and Security Review was announced by the newly formed Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government of the United Kingdom in May 2010, and published on 19 October 2010. The previous major review of United Kingdom defence posture was the Strategic Defence Review, published in 1998, updated in 2003 by the Delivering Security in a Changing World white paper.
As well as wishing to see an updated security policy, both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties wanted the £38 billion overspend in the Ministry of Defence's (MOD) procurement budget addressed. Given that this coincided with the new government being committed to deficit reduction, the Treasury asked the MOD to prepare options for a 10–20% real terms reduction in its budget. However, the final figure was an 7.7% reduction over four years.
All three services would take cuts in manpower (see below). Overall, the largest overseas deployment was expected to number no more than 30,000 personnel, including maritime and air force units. This compares to the 45,000 involved in the invasion of Iraq.
- Personnel to be reduced by 5,000 to 30,000.
- One of the Albion class landing platform dock ships will be in extended readiness at any given time. Later confirmed that HMS Albion would be put in to extended readiness till 2016, HMS Bulwark will enter extended readiness after.
- Either HMS Ocean or HMS Illustrious to be decommissioned, whichever is least capable as a helicopter carrier. It was announced in December 2010 that HMS Ocean would be retained and HMS Illustrious would be withdrawn from service in 2014.
- One of the Bay class landing ship dock vessels would be decommissioned. The Bay-class landing dock RFA Largs Bay was subsequently sold to the Royal Australian Navy in January 2011 for £65 million as an interim replacement until two proposed RAN Canberra Class Helicopter Landing Decks are commissioned.
- The number of warheads carried on each Vanguard class submarine to be reduced from 48 to 40, and the number of operationally available nuclear warheads is to be reduced 'from fewer than 160 to no more than 120'.
- Replacement of the UK's nuclear deterrent, based on the Vanguard class ballistic missile submarines, to be delayed by four years, deferring £500 million in spending. Changes to the size of the missile tubes to save £250 million.
- 7 Astute class submarines to be built as previously planned.
- The surface fleet of frigates and destroyers to be reduced to 19 ships; the current thirteen Type 23 frigates and the six active Type 45 destroyers. The remaining four Type 22 frigates: Cornwall 2011, Cumberland 2011, Campbeltown 2011 and Chatham 2011 (all 4 have since been sold for scrap, Cornwall to Swansea and the other 3 to Leyal, Turkey) and five Type 42 destroyers: Manchester 2011, Gloucester 2011, Liverpool 2012, York 2012 and Edinburgh 2013 would be disposed of. "As soon as possible after 2020", the Type 23 frigates would be replaced by new Global Combat Ships.
- The Wildcat (Super Lynx) to be the main helicopter in the future.
- A UK Response Force Task Group to be established.
The SDSR called for the almost immediate decommissioning of the Royal Navy flagship aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal rather than in 2016 as previously planned. This occurred on Friday 11 March 2011.
The Report also announced the early retirement of the Joint Force Harrier aircraft, the Harrier GR7/GR9. Both of these measures were to save money for the purchase of the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. The Harrier fleet made its last operational flights in December 2010. 72 British Harriers were sold to the United States in 2011 as a source of spares for their fleet.
The SDSR proposed that one of the two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers currently under construction would be certain to be commissioned, with the fate of the other left undecided. It was suggested that only one carrier, routinely equipped with 12 fast jets, be in service at any one time, with the other carrier held in extended readiness. These plans to be reviewed in 2015.
The SDSR announced the Government's intention to switch its purchase of F-35Bs to the carrier-variant F-35C to allow a larger range and weapons load as well as interoperability with the United States and French navies. However in May 2012 this decision was reversed and the F-35B was chosen instead, as the previous government had intended. This was because the cost of converting the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers to accommodate the carrier-variant F-35C had risen to twice the original estimate.
- Personnel to be reduced by 7,000 to 95,500 by 2015. The changes will take place with the overall mandate of reducing the army's size to 82,000 regular personnel and 30,000 reservists by 2018.
- The British Army presence in Germany to end by 2020.
- The number of Challenger 2 tanks to be cut by 40% to an estimated number of just over 200.
- The number of AS-90 self-propelled heavy artillery guns to be cut by 35% to an estimated 87.[dead link]
Royal Air Force
- Personnel to be reduced by 5,000 to 33,000.
- After long delays, technical problems, and a total cost of £3.2 billion, the Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol aircraft project was scrapped. RAF Kinloss where the aircraft were to be based, ended its 73-year association with the RAF on 26 July 2012 when it was transferred to the British Army.
- Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft procurement to go ahead to replace the ageing VC10 and TriStars. The VC10 made its final flight in RAF service on 20 September 2013.
- The purchase of 22 Airbus A400M military transport aircraft was confirmed, with the aircraft to operate alongside the RAF's 8 C-17s.
- The C-130J fleet to be retired by 2022, 10 years earlier than planned.
- The proposed purchase of 12 additional Boeing Chinooks a cut to the original order for 22. However in 2011 the Ministry of Defence signed a contract for 14 Chinooks.
- The RAF's future fast jet fleet to be based on the Typhoon and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, with the latter also to be flown by the Royal Navy.
- The Sentinel R1 would be retired once it is no longer required to support forces in Afghanistan. The utility of the aircraft in deployments over Libya and Mali has led to some calls for the retention of the aircraft.
There was much criticism about the SDSR, for example, coming from the "The Phoenix Think Tank". On the 3rd August 2011, the House of Commons Defence Select Committee published a critical review of the SDSR.
- "Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review" (PDF). HM Government. 19 October 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
- Taylor, Claire and Lunn, Jon (2010-10-13). "Strategic Defence and Security Review (House of Commons Library research note)" (PDF). Retrieved 19 October 2010.
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- Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent (17 October 2010). "Next generation of Nimrod 'spy in the sky' surveillance planes to be scrapped". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
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- "Lords Hansard text for 15 Dec 201015 Dec 2010 (pt 0001)".
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- David Cameron to delay Trident replacement 19 October 2010
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- "Final farewell for decommissioned warship HMS Ark Royal". BBC News. 11 March 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
- "Last trip for one of Britain's iconic aircraft". BBC News. 15 December 2010. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
- "UK sells 72 retired Harrier jump jets for $180m to US". BBC News. 24 November 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
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- "Army to reduce by 23 units".
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- Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor (19 October 2010). "Defence review: £3.6billion Nimrod programme scrapped". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
- "RAF colours come down at Kinloss airfield". bbc.co.uk. 2012-07-26. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
- "Vickers VC10 jetliners fly last mission from RAF Brize Norton". BBC News Online. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
- "Defence review at-a-glance". Bbc.co.uk. 19 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
- "MoD to buy 14 new Chinook helicopters in £1bn deal". BBC News.
- Reed Business Information Limited. "Royal Air Force lifts lid on Sentinel's role in Mali".
- "On board the RAF's Sentinel R1 spy plane over Libya". BBC News.