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article imageUK government spends millions to destroy new jets

By Lynn Curwin     Jan 28, 2011 in World
The UK government's decision to destroy a £4 billion fleet of new RAF Nimrod jet has upset many people who feel that it is wasting money while creating a massive gap in British security.
Nine Nimrod MRA4 reconnaissance aircraft were to be constructed. Three of them had been 90 per cent completed and one was complete and ready to take off when the decision was made to scrap them - at a cost of £200 million.
Six ex-defence chiefs wrote a letter to The Telegraph stating that "a massive gap in British security has opened" because of this move.
"Britain is committed to the support of the UN, Nato and the EU," they wrote in the letter. "The vulnerability of sea lanes, unpredictable overseas crises and traditional surface and submarine opposition will continue to demand versatile, responsive aircraft.
"Nimrod would have provided long-range maritime and overland reconnaissance, anti-submarine surveillance, air-sea rescue co-ordination and reconnaissance support to the Navy’s Trident submarines."
They said that some of Nimrod’s roles in home waters can be covered by frigates and aircraft currently in use, but they fall short "of replacing the strategic multi-role contribution of Nimrod."
The government claims destroying the jets, which were due to enter service in 2012, will save £2bn over 10 years.
"My concern was not just that this exceptionally important program had been cancelled for good but the total absence of reference to this strategic gap in our defences," Air Vice Marshal Tony Mason told BBC News.
SNP MP Angus Robertson said the destruction of the planes leaves a hole in national security and the communities where they should be based at RAF Kinloss.
The BBC reported that Leader of the Commons, Sir George Young, claimed the decision was made because of a "£38bn deficit in the defence budget which we inherited from the outgoing government."
Destruction of the nine airframes began in Greater Manchester on Wednesday. They are being cut up and there are plans to melt the aluminium.
The Telegraph reported that Labour MP Madeleine Moon wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to halt the destruction immediately.
David Cameron's official spokesman said the prime minister did not accept the argument that a security gap would be cause by scrapping the jets.
Selling the planes had been suggested but Keith Hayward, head of research at the Royal Aeronautical Society, said the planes are not highly desirable because they were designed 10 years ago and are no longer state of the art.
Storing them had also been suggested.
"Storage still incurs a lot of the costs associated with the capability," BBC News quoted an MoD spokesman as saying. "It was therefore not a cost effective option."
The Save the Nimrod website states: "The scrapping of the MRA4s will also see hundreds of job losses. The BAE Systems’ Woodford site that was making the planes will close earlier than planned (after those making the planes have had the indignity of having to cut them up) and aircraft support jobs at BAE Systems’ sites at Warton and Chaderton will also be lost. But that is not all, as the loss of the Nimrod will also see the closure of RAF Kinloss in Moray, Scotland with a huge impact upon the community."
Tim Ripley, a defence analyst, described the demolition of the aircraft to BBC News.
"First, you take a giant industrial cutter, like a pile-driver," he explained. "Then you hoist it up on a gantry, and smash it down onto the airframe.
"You gather up the pieces, load them onto lorries and drive them off to the aluminium smelter.
"A few weeks later, they are baked bean tins."
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