The strategic defence and security review sets out the requirements for the armed forces’ contribution to standing commitments and identifies the restructured forces we will need over the next 10 years to meet them. Changes to the armed forces will not affect our non-discretionary standing commitments.
In respect of the cancellation of the Nimrod mark IV maritime patrol aircraft, does the Minister agree with the First Sea Lord, who said earlier this month that he was “very uncomfortable” about it and that
“I don’t welcome the loss of the Nimrod”?
Are there any plans to replace the Nimrod and is it acceptable to make such cuts to our capability when military personnel are so concerned?
I entirely agree, as do all Ministers, with the discomfort that the First Sea Lord feels about this; the decision not to bring the Nimrod MRA4 into service was very difficult. We will have to bear some risk—it would be wrong to claim otherwise—but we will mitigate that risk by using other assets in the meantime, just as the previous Government had embarked on doing.