A first round of UK armed forces defence spending cuts has been announced in a redundancy process that will potentially see 11,000 jobs go over the next four years.
An event hosted by the MoD took place on 1 March 2011 and, here, details of the initial impact of the cuts on the Royal Air Force emerged.
2,700 RAF jobs are to be cut in the first instance, as per the information supplied today. While fully-qualified pilots are thought to be exempt, these cuts will include 170 student pilots, along with ground staff and weapons operators.
A pair of RAF Tornado Squadrons is also to be disbanded – No. 14 Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, and No.13 Squadron at RAF Marham. These disbandments will occur on 1st June, leaving the RAF with 136 Tornado GR4 swing wing strike aircraft spread across five operational squadrons.
RAF Job Cuts
The RAF cuts announcement follows the UK Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), details of which were made public in October 2015.
This set out to reduce the UK defence budget by £4.7bn (about an eight per cent) between 2010 and 2015. This compares favourably to cuts of up to 19 per cent in other areas of spending but, still, the measures will be felt across all strands of the UK armed forces.
The SDSR called for RAF manpower to reduce from 38,000 to around 33,000, Royal Navy staff levels to drop from 35,000 to 30,000 and 7,000 British Army redundancies, to take troops numbers from 102,000 down to about 95,000. While this, combined, created a total of 17,000 job cuts, the MoD now intends to effectively decrease this total to 11,000, by deliberately scaling back its recruitment process and by not replacing departed staff.
This still leaves 11,000 job cuts to be made over the coming four years and, so, the RAF has become the first to publically detail its manpower reduction plans. Those to be made redundant will find out in September this year and, from there, they will serve a maximum of 12 months notice, depending on status.
UK Defence Spending Cuts
“We need to restructure our forces to ensure that they are sufficiently flexible and adaptable to meet the demands of an uncertain future”, Doctor Liam Fox – Secretary of State for Defence – explained in a UK defence spending cuts release issued by the MoD.
“The decisions we are making are not easy but they will help to defend the UK, protect our interests overseas, and enable us to work effectively with allies and partners to deliver greater security and stability in the wider world.
“We would prefer not to have to make these reductions, but the Government conducted the SDSR against the background of a dire fiscal situation in the economy and a £38bn black hole in the Defence Budget which requires difficult decisions.”
The RAF job cuts announcement coincided with the news that the RAF is seeking to cooperate with allied air forces to maintain a no-fly zone over Libya. So far, both the US and France are reportedly supportive of the plan, which would prevent airstrikes on Libyan residents if ordered by Colonel Gaddafi.
With a reduced Tornado force in prospect and alongside these redundancy measures, it’s unclear how the RAF could enforce this zone, but reports have indicated that RAF Typhoon multirole combat aircraft could be deployed. This, though, could impact on the UK’s ability to defend its own shoreline.