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09 Oct 07. The run up to the Comprehensive Spending Review published last week required the Armed Forces to find ways of cutting expenditure. Jane’s reported that UK Royal Air Force chiefs are considering plans to cut their force structure as a result of budget short falls in the July 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), including the disbanding of frontline Panavia Tornado GR4 squadrons, as well as closing training and helicopter bases.

Jane’s Defence Weekly has been told by Ministry of Defence officials close to the CSR process that the need to divert resources to elements of the RAF that are heavily committed to current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, such as the air transport, support helicopter, force protection and BAE Systems Harrier GR7/9 forces, are the main drivers behind this process.

Jane’s reports that proposals include keeping RAF’s veteran Tornado F3 air defence aircraft in service until 2015 because of delays in bringing the Eurofighter Typhoon into service at RAF Leuchars in Scotland.

Safeguarding funds for major procurement projects, such as the Future Carrier, Joint Strike Fighter and the army’s Future Rapid Effects System (FRES), has also forced the frontline commands to trim their force structure to meet the Ministry of Defence’s spending targets over the next three years, say ministry insiders.

Jane’s has been told by military sources that the proposed RAF “efficiency package” includes:
* Two squadrons of Tornado GR4 strike aircraft to be disbanded
* Delays in delivery of Typhoon aircraft to RAF Leuchars until 2012, forcing at least two squadrons of Tornado F3 aircraft to be kept in service up to seven years after their out of service date. This is to allow the first 24 Tranche 2 Typhoon aircraft to be diverted to Saudi Arabia but production will not be accelerated to fill the RAF’s capability gap.
* Closure of one Support Helicopter base, either RAF Benson or Odiham.
* Close of one flying training base, believed to RAF Linton-upon-Ouse.
Government ministers are expected to consider the plans prepared by the Royal Air Force’s Air Command headquarters at High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire before the end of year.

The Army is looking for cuts of £500m which many observers see coming from cuts and delays to the FRES Requirement. The Roayl Navy is expected to cut more frigates.

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