With even more last minute leaks from the SDSR coming out it now seems that the RAF is hell bent on keeping it's Tornado's. After previously offering up the MRA4 for the chop they are now (once again) trying to get rid of the Harrier GR9.
Axing the Tornado fleet now will save £7.5 billion over the next 10 years. This is largely due to the fact that the Tornado requires a new upgrade to get it through to it's planned retirement date of 2022. Lets face it £7.5 billion is a tidy saving for a defence budget that is f**ked for the next 10 years.
Getting rid of the Harrier will save £1 billion. Hardly worth the bother.The Harrier has only just finished being upgraded from GR7 to GR9. Axing the MRA4 will save £3 billion over the air crafts life time as we have already just spent nearly £4 billion building the things.
Axing the Harrier now will leave the Royal Navy with two Invincible aircraft carriers and an entire carrier strike group with no aircraft until the F35's are ready in 2018. It will also leave fleet air arm pilots with no planes until 2018. In-fact this may be the RAF's motivation. Scrapping the Harrier will instantly destroy the fleet air arm and leave the new carriers with no pilots for when they do eventually get their planes.
Scrapping the MRA4 will leave Britain with no long range airborne maritime patrol. Making it more difficult for trident submarines to depart the UK. It will also leave the RAF with little in the way of reconnaissance aircraft to provide the Army with its required C4 ISTAR capability.
The RAF is once again proving that it does not get the concept of joined up operations. One service covering another service to deliver a full spectrum capability. The RAF top brass (Known as the Tornado Mafia) are so hell bent on keeping their shinny toys to play top gun in that they are prepared to deal a death blow to any part of their service that is actually useful. Maybe we should all be asking the bigger question. If the RAF is going to behave so irresponsibly can we afford to keep it? Transferring RAF assets and personnel back to the Navy and Army could save billions and give us the type of joined up military we so desperately need.