Guardian: 'What the armed forces can expect from the defence review'

In further entirely unofficial speculation about the SDSR outcome, The Guardian's defence correspondent outlines in today's paper the potential impact of cuts on the army, navy and RAF. Richard Norton-Taylor suggests that this includes:

The army

Many of the army's 380 Challenger 2 main battle tanks are likely to be mothballed, as is much of its other heavy armour and artillery. This includes the AS90 self-propelled long-range howitzer, a weapon that was last used in anger in Basra during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

... Some 20,000 British soldiers who are still based in Germany are likely to come home, but they may have to wait to be put up in abandoned RAF bases in Britain.

The navy

The navy would like up to 18 new frigates but this could be reduced to just six. A number of its minesweepers are at risk as is its amphibious capability despite their potential importance in future expeditionary and humanitarian operations. For example, the number of Albion-class landing platform dock vessels in service and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary's Bay-class landing ship docks could be reduced. Question marks remain over ...

The RAF

The entire fleet – eight squadrons – of the RAF's two-crew Tornado GR4 strike aircraft, which have been active in Afghanistan, is expected to be withdrawn from service. ...The Nimrod MRA4 maritime reconnaissance aircraft could also be at risk. The RAF originally planned to acquire 21 aircraft, then cut the number to nine after a series of delays, cost overruns, and manufacturing problems.The Nimrods, if kept, could be moved from Kinloss in the north of Scotland, to Waddington in Lincolnshire...

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