16 Jan 2014

UK defence remains ‘formidable’ according to MOD

The MOD has said that the UK’s defence forces are ‘formidable’ and that cuts to budgets have not affected military standards or capabilities.

The statement comes in response to former US defence secretary Robert Gates claimed that cuts to the UK’s armed forces will limit the country’s ability to be a major player on the world stage.

£160bn defence spend

In its statement, the MOD said: “Over the next decade, we plan to spend £160bn on equipment, to ensure our armed forces retain their formidable range of cutting-edge capabilities and ability to project power across the globe, including by maintaining our major naval presence in the Gulf Region.

“Construction of the first new aircraft carrier, the largest ship the Royal Navy has ever operated, is almost complete and the navy will also operate state-of-the-art Type 45 destroyers, new Type-26 Frigates, and seven new Astute Class submarines.”

Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox said that Britain was “one of only four or five countries inside NATO” to meet the target of spending 2% of GDP on defence.

He added that while America is the world’s biggest economy with the world’s biggest defence budget, the UK is currently the world’s eighth biggest economy with the fourth biggest defence budget, calming fears that standards had slipped.

UK defence capability

Speaking on the UK’s defence budgets recently, former US defence secretary Robert Gates had suggested that the squeezed budgets would limit UK defence capability and would mean that the UK could no longer be considered a full military partner with the US.

Mr Gates said: “With the fairly substantial reductions in defence spending in Great Britain, what we’re finding is that it won’t have full spectrum capabilities and the ability to be a full partner as they have been in the past.”

The statement comes a month after the UK’s top military officer said that the cuts meant that the military had the right equipment but not the personnel to operate it.

General Sir Nick Houghton, Chief of the Defence Staff, said the structure of the army, navy and air force were “critically deficient” in crucial areas, particularly in terms of manpower.

Under the government’s plans, by 2020 the Army will lose 20,000 personnel, the Royal Navy 6000 and the RAF 5000.

Cuts to budgets have also affected the Navy’s capabilities. At present the UK has no operation aircraft carrier, and just weeks ago the Navy scrambled to respond to a Russian ship entering Scottish waters. A lack of ships based in Scotland due to defence cuts meant that the closest warship, HMS Defender, took 24 hours to reach the ship after sailing from Portsmouth.

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