Chancellor's budget - good news for defence but don't break out the Champagne

Chancellor’s budget – good news for defence but don’t break out the champagne

Yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and a former defence secretary, Philip Hammond, announced he would provide the MoD an additional “£1Bn to cover the end of this year and the next”. Any new money for defence is to be welcome and it is right to celebrate rare good news but this modest sum must be seen in the perspective of a bigger financial crisis.

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Friget ploughs through stormy seas

Cutting more frigates? The Royal Navy facing a ‘perfect storm’

Last weekend Sunday Times carried an article highlighting the mounting pressures faced by the Royal Navy. The story quoted rather vague ‘defence sources’ but suggested the future of HMS Albion and Bulwark had been secured with two Type 23s frigates sacrificed instead. Here we examine this speculation and the growing range of issues confronting the naval service.

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Trident submarine approaches Faslane

Scottish nationalism continues to cast a shadow over the Royal Navy

At the SNP conference last weekend, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted she was “more certain than ever before” of achieving her dream of Scottish Independence. For now she urged members to focus on “winning the argument” rather than pushing too soon for another vote. Here we look at how Nicola’s ‘dream’ would actually be a nightmare for UK security as a whole. The RN would arguably be the single British institution to suffer most, with both its main submarine base and shipyards under threat.

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Type 26 Frigate, Plymouth Sound

Will the Type 26 frigates be based in Devonport?

On 6th June, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, Luke Pollard opened a Westminster Hall Parliamentary debate on the base-porting of Type 26 frigates. A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the future of Devonport and the MoD is under pressure to make an early decision on the basing arrangements for the Type 26 and Type 31 frigates.

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Russian Kilo class submarine Krasnodar in the English Channel

Understanding and responding to the Russian naval threat

Russian naval activity is now at its highest levels since the Cold War. This threat posed to Britain and NATO is often counter-balanced by those who say that the Russian Navy is actually in decline, hampered by budget problems and shipyards struggling to deliver new vessels. With the head of the British Army publicly admitting this week that we are ill-matched to counter the Russian threat on land, it is also instructive to consider what threat they pose at sea.

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Type 31e frigate Arrowhead concept

Should the Type 31e frigate be reclassified as a corvette?

Plymouth MP, Luke Pollard, suggested last week in Parliament that “the debate around the Type 31e Frigate could be resolved simply if we renamed if from a frigate to a corvette“. This proposal is unlikely to be welcomed by the Navy, the MoD or industrial partners but does raises questions about the Type 31’s capabilities and results from the general confusion over how surface combatants are to be classified.

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RFA Tidespring conducts first RAS with HMS Sutherland

“The year of the Royal Navy” – a review of 2017

On 1st January 2017 the MoD published a press release that proclaimed it would be “the year of the Royal Navy”. Ministers may have come to regret such a bold statement but it certainly helped shine a spotlight on the service during turbulent times. Here we review some of the highlights and some of the difficulties the RN has experienced this year. 

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Has the time come to the move the cost of Trident replacement out of the MoD budget?

On 29th July 2010 the then Chancellor, George Osborne, announced that the MoD would have to fund the capital costs of replacing the Vanguard class submarines (Successor) from within its own core equipment procurement budget, instead of from the Treasury Reserve as had been expected. Defence Minister at the time, Liam Fox argued strongly that funding Successor from within the MoD would be hugely damaging to the rest of defence. He lost his argument with Osborne, but time has proved him right about the consequences.

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