Britain called in NATO sea patrol planes to hunt for a suspected Russian submarine off Scotland, after the Government scrapped its own similar aircraft in defence cuts.
Maritime patrol aircraft from France, America and Canada flew to Scotland to join Royal Navy warships hunting for the suspected submarine after it was spotted west of Scotland.
At the height of the hunt, in late November and the first days of this month, four allied patrol planes flew to RAF Lossiemouth to join the search, Aviation Week reported.
It came a month after another suspected Russian submarine was spotted off Sweden’s Stockholm archipelago, and with relations with the Kremlin at their worst since the Cold War.
Britain got rid of its own maritime patrol aircraft after the cost-cutting 2010 defence review, which prompted warnings from defence chiefs that the country would be left reliant on others for aircraft to search its own waters. The Nimrod spy planes had been mainstays of the RAF’s reconnaissance fleet since the late-Sixties and had a central role in anti-submarine warfare. They were scrapped as an upgrade programme ran nine years late and $1.25-billion over budget.
Angus Robertson MP, the SNP’s defence spokesman, whose constituency includes RAF Lossiemouth, said: “This is hugely embarrassing for the UK which is totally exposed without such critical maritime patrol assets. It is not the first time they have had to depend on the good will of allies to fill this massive capability gap.” Julian Lewis, the Conservative MP, added: “It’s inevitable that we will have to call on our allies to meet capability gaps, but what it also shows is the absolute necessity of ring-fencing the defence budget at least to the Nato minimum level of 2 per cent.”
Full article: Britain had Canadian plane look for suspected Russian sub off Scotland due to defence cuts (The Vancouver Sun)