In further reporting linked to the Strategic Defence and Security Review, The Daily Telegraph says (7 Aug 2010) that ministers and officials plan to scrap large parts of the Armed Forces.
If implemented, the cuts will mean that Britain will almost certainly depart the world stage as a major military power and become what military chiefs call a "medium-scale player".
According to the Telegraph, the Services would lose up to 16,000 personnel, hundreds of tanks, scores of fighter jets and half a dozen ships, under detailed proposals passed to the newspaper.
The Navy would lose two submarines, three amphibious ships and more than 100 senior officers, along with 2,000 sailors and Royal Marines.
The Army faces a 40 per cent cut to its fleet of 9,700 armoured vehicles and the loss of one of its two remaining 5000-strong armoured brigades.
But the RAF would bear the brunt of the planned cuts, losing almost one sixth of its total personnel – and 295 aircraft, including the entire force of 120 GR4 Tornado fighter-bombers which had been expected to continue in service until 2025. The scrapping of the GR4 fleet would mean job losses at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray and RAF Marham in Norfolk, totalling almost 5,000 personnel, out of a total loss of 7,000 air force personnel.
In further cuts to the Royal Air Force, the entire fleet of 36 Hercules transport aircraft, the workhorse in Iraq and Afghanistan, is to be phased out and replaced by an order of 22 new A400M planes.
Also said to be vulnerable is the £3.6 billion project for nine Nimrod MRA4 reconnaissance aircraft, to replace RAF Kinloss's Nimrod MR2 fleet which has already been stood down.