back to article MPs: Axe Nimrod subhunters to balance MoD budget

As the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) confronts yet another looming annual budget shortfall, Parliament's Defence Committee has issued its 2008 report into British military kit procurement. The oversight MPs say bluntly that it is time for the MoD to start axing major equipment programmes, rather than spreading its cash ever- …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    "The only other project which the MPs see as a possible candidate for the chopper is the plan to build two big new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy. These, however, have top-level political protection - they are to be built in a yard within sight of Gordon Brown's constituency seat - so their axing would appear unlikely."

    You mean that Dearly beloved Gordon would actually BUY votes! Oh SHOCK; HORROR!


    Paris because she doesn't have to buy ANYTHING

  2. Hollerith

    Totally for binning

    The fewer toys we have, the less the temptation to help out our good buddy George. I'd rather have fewer £292m planes and more telescopes.

  3. Simon Elliott

    Not broad enough

    In our modern fast warfare scenarios, why do we still hang on to archaic divisions in the armed forces where all three operate aircraft, yet we have the RAF, etc.

    Maybe the real saving could come with having just one armed force, that works together and has one set of equipment. We could then concentrate on always having the best for each job.

  4. Les Matthew
    Thumb Up


    Avro Shackleton for the win. ;)

    There was always something about that wedge shaped nose that did it for me. ;)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where does the money go?

    Every single year, we hear of various government departments having to carry out budgets cuts, embarking on cost-saving exercises, and cutting the workforce.

    Every single year, my company and personal taxes go up.


  6. Frank Bough


    I do hope you're not naïve enough to believe that dumping Nimrod will mean more cash for Gemini. As if. It'll all be spent on road-pricing infrastructure, the olympics and re-equipping government ministers with Toyota hybrids.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Lets face it...

    .. we aren't the global superpower that we once were, yet we (the Gov) insist upon these impossibly grand projects in the sad belief that it will save our reputation and reinstate potential adversaries' fear of our ability to bloody their noses.

    We had a MUCH more formidible army, navy and air force back in the 1980s, yet it didn't stop the Argies having a pop at us. Its about time we realised that we need to concentrate upon defending our borders and stop interfering in far flung wars - leave NATO for that. We simply can't afford to pay for modern high tech warfare - especially when its managed by expensive suited incompetent imbeciles (you know who I mean!).

  8. rob

    re: Where does the money go?

    It makes our overlords richer! (by various financial vehicles obviously)

    Just work, consume and pay your taxes

    Everything will be just fine....

  9. John Latham

    The obvious solution

    The problem with defence procurement is that it takes so long, by the time you have the capability the threat has gone.

    The obvious solution is to pair up projects (sub + sub-hunter) and split the costs with your near-future industrialised enemies (e.g. China).

    You are then guaranteed that come delivery-time, you'll have a threat to counter, your enemies won't be any better off, and you'll both have kept your respective defence-tech industries alive.

    You also can split the work as suits your economies - Germans design, Chinese build, Brits push paper, Yanks start conflicts (beta-testing).

    Additionally, it's quite possible that the threat posed by your tooled-up enemies is negated by the fact that they're no longer your enemies, because the geopolitical landscape has changed completely in the 30 years it took to deliver working kit.

    Do I get to be defence minister now?


  10. Anonymous Coward

    simple MP's are idiots


    The MOD spend over the odds to get kit that comes in late or over budget because of the issue of planning stupidity and the fact they are clueless morons, added to the fact R&D boys can talk them round and the need to preserve jobs so our lot can provide weapons overseas to dodgy places, knowing jobs are safe by our govt faffing.

    It then gets bought already off the shelf from someone else that did it years ago when the MP's send the boys off to die in some daft combat and the fact the kit isn't there is actually made a head line. Under so called emergency funds (mp's reacting to bad headlines???? Never) which is also going to be cut.

    They can't sack off the carriers as we already don't have carriers, we have toy cargo ships converted. We don't have a navy anymore, it is second rate in the world and only just second rate by the subs which most of the world don't have. So losing the pocket carriers which old age means will happen loses our effectiveness at anything remotely useful overseas and giving us a third rate navy. As we are an island overseas means anything.

    Add in we already have lost sea based air to air because harriers were scrapped about five years too early so nothing to replace them and you realise how much of a shambles things are.

    AND the fact lessons of the falklands said a plane or helicoptor is needed to fly over a navy to act as recon for missiles, because large waves ground the radar of ships to limited ranges and you realise why the nimrod is used, as well as the sea kings. (major lesson learned to the point the US have two pieces of hardware doing that task at all times, we are scrapping one of ours)

    Right now we couldn't have another falklands as we don't have the planes to use from carriers or the carriers. Seeing as we have two pocket carriers now??? and fewer chopper carriers.

    The air force can't afford to put bullets in the eurofighter because of frame stresses when firing it so the RAF isn't much better off, and if cuts continue it will be the service as 40000 makes it a force. Below that it isn't allowed to be called a force.

    What we need is the govt to resign and the MOD to get people with brancells on board. People who visit a front line and ask squaddies what is needed, not some desk jockey from white hall.

    A typical good question might be.

    "Squaddy on the front lines, Do you have a gun that works or do you use the 1945 designed SA 80 that has had 3 redesigns at least because of a bad flaw in that it can't be used in bad weather, mud, sand etc, and whose heavy caliber support version has around 3 seconds of fire before needing a reload because the clip is 30 bullets? Meaning under emergency funds we needed to buy you all a Belgian heavy machine gun before sending you over seas? A gun so good we are the only country in the world to use it for the army and who is considered pants by the police force which chose alternatives when looking to replace their weapons."

    /end rant

    All our armed services are in a shambles.

  11. jason

    As said earlier, just buy 'off the shelf'!

    Yes I dont really understand why we have to spend bilions on useless kit that doesnt work or never arrives.

    Who do we go into battle with the most? The Americans.

    Who spends the most on weapons R&D? The Americans.

    So why dont we just let them spend billions developing this junk and then we just cherry pick what we want, license it and build it in the UK if we can?

    I can handle a few hundred folks being let go in Vickers/BAE etc. R&D dept if it saves me the taxpayer, 20 billion quid+ a year in wastage.

    Plus if we buy US kit it might stand a chance of being compatible with our allies.

    Not saying US kit is necessariliy the best but the vast majority of defense spending is wasteful anyway cos the vast majority of the real 'killer' stuff never gets used.

  12. Ash


    IMHO, The forces should be totally restyled into two branches 1) purely rapid response peacekeeping force 2) defence/deterrent

    These uber-expensive nimrod style projects are just enormous pointless cash cows to prop up a sickly defense industry. There are far more important things the money should be spent on, such as education and healthcare.

  13. Edward Rose

    Here they come £££

    @Simon Elliott

    Not the best option (IMO). The tri-services works fine, although sharing equipment and training could (and I think is) be further encouraged. The competing between helps.

    The AC above summed it up well. Govn are a bunch of idiots with spending. They'll spend £bn on a project worth £th because a few thousand doesn't sound grand (again pun not originally intended) enough.

    Companies see an MoD project as a high value project, oh the MoD can afford it..... and the daft bastards just cough up. High time some real people with real commercial awareness teamed up with people with frontline awareness to do procurement. Not just tosspots straight from uni into a blinkered head-up-arse job.

    I've stopped using rant tags these days, it seems the govn keeps me in a constant rant.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Best, Plane, Ever.

    The Nimrod may be over 50 years old, but it regularly runs rings around other nation's equivalent kit. The guys and the kit inside are second to none. That's why we're still using it and looking to upgrade. It's also why a sub hunter is being employed over a desert.

    The AEW version got canned in a similar cost-cutting move years back. At this rate our flyboys will be soon be kicking about in a 75 year old airframe.

    @Simon Elliott

    Joint operations and cost-cutting are the reason that the forces are falling apart, we should be stopping the rot, not encouraging it.

    Posted anon as I worked on the mighty 'rod for many years.

  16. PaulK

    All ur sqaddy r belong to us

    nuff said

  17. SpeakerToAliens
    Black Helicopters

    I was told the real reason is...

    ...because there are more civilians employed by the MOD than there are soldiers, sailors and airmen in the armed forces!

    Perhaps if we chopped the number of MOD civilians down to a reasonable level (10%, 5%, 3?) there would be enough money to pay for proper military kit instead of the half-arsed stuff we have now.

    Mine's the bullet proof vest made of cardboard. Can you bring it out to my soft-skinned land rover please?

  18. Sean Aaron

    Hi, we need new nuke subs because?

    I'd rather have subhunters than new nuclear weapons delivery systems. How much are those new nuke subs going to cost again?

  19. Dave Bell

    Have they missed something?

    They've wrecked agriculture, so we have to import more food.

    They're gutting the Royal Navy and its RAF support.

    I just hope none of our enemies invent U-boats.

  20. Nordrick Framelhammer
    Black Helicopters

    Does it strike anyone else about the irony of...

    nimrods talking about Nimrods?

  21. Mark

    Why Nimrods?

    Someone please explain to me why they're still putting their sub-hunting stuff in 45 year old Nimrods when there are nice shiny new Airbus planes rolling out of Toulouse which are at least partially UK produced, could be serviced at almost any commercial airport, are wide body and could hold all this kit in much more comfort?

    I notice the new Nimrods use Airbus technology already, so why not go the whole way and simply use something that is as close as possible to an existing product off the production line?

    Even the Americans are (trying to) do this with their tanker fleet (assuming pork barrel politics doesn't stop it).

  22. Slaine

    two hundred and ninety two million pounds sterling

    gosh - don't get much for £300 million these days do you... a 45 year old rust bucket, held together with spare parts from a commercial airliner... justonefuckingminutehere, I thought inflation was about 3% (must be one of those new government approved percentages that are out of 5 because politicians have lost the ability to use their other hand for counting - too busy stuffing used tennerrs in their back pockets). See icon for further details.

  23. john Durrant

    OAP Aircraft

    The Dh Comet from which this derives first flew in 1949. As, for some reason (It's a tradition, and old charter or something © rankin) these are thought of as female It'a bout due to be retired anyway. I recall engineers who worked on these in the'60s describing them as "leaking hydraulic fluid like a sieve" even then.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Avro Shackleton

    AKA "forty thousand rivets flying in close formation".

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Nimrod MRA4

    The Nimrod MRA4 (previously called the Nimrod 2000 - that's how far behind schedule it is!) was an absurd idea from the start. It basically involved taking the existing 30-year-old (now nearer 40-year-old) Nimrods, sawing off the wings and tail, gutting the rest, then bolting on newly-designed wings (with new engines), tail, landing gear and electronics.

    It should have been obvious from the start that if they were designing 75% of a new aircraft they might as well have gone the whole hog and done the other 25% while they were at it. Then at least they would have something they could try selling to other countries to defray the costs.

    It certainly did become obvious when they first attempted to physically bolt the new wings on the first prototype and they had no end of problems actually getting them to fit! I expect lot of the delay and cost escalation in the programme has come from the need to reuse the ancient carcasses of the old Nimrods.

    And now they've reduced the order to 12 aircraft, it makes things even more ludicrous.

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