Wednesday, 6 February 2008

MoD: The Borrowers - new Lend Lease deal

A couple of weeks ago it was reported that the RAF has been buying secondhand Merlin heliocopters from Denmark. Last week we learnt that the RAF may be borrowing RC135 Rivet Joint spy planes from the USAF. And today we are told that the Army has had to go cap in hand to the US to see if they would lend some heavy machine guns needed urgently in Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Defence is apparently having to borrow spy planes from the US because it doesn't have the £600 million needed to provide a short-term replacement to the current R1 Nimrods. The R1s now have restrictions on their operational use due to faults identified by the inquiry into the Nimrod MR2 air disaster in 2006. The RAF sounds a little annoyed at this state of affairs - “I am incandescent with rage that we are even considering ditching what is a world-class, ‘gold standard’, war-winning capability in the name of economy and the dubious claimed benefits of greater interoperability with the USAF,” one insider said.
The Sun today published details from a leaked Army document reporting that UK forces are short of 400 heavy machine guns and numerous Minimi light machine guns. Training firing-ranges are being ramsacked to find guns and spares desparately needed on the frontline. Manroy, the suppliers, are busy shipping their stocks out to Saudi Arabia whose need, apparently, is greater than that of the British Army. The MoD has now arranged for Manroy to increase production but it will take until June to get levels back to what they should be. Meanwhile, approaches made to the US Army to "lends us a few" have been met with the rebutal "Lend Lease ended in 1945, pal".
But then again, perhaps this is the answer to the MoD's cash shortage: ask UKNDA if they would send Winston off to Washington to see if he could broker a new Lend Lease deal with the Yanks.

Link> The Times: RAF forced to borrow planes
Link> The Sun: Army runs out of machine guns