Shake-up threat­ens the Red Ar­rows

Sunday Mail (UK) - - Opinion -

The Red Ar­rows could be axed af­ter the elec­tion no mat­ter which party forms a gov­ern­ment.

It fol­lows the dis­clo­sure that se­nior of­fi­cers have been told to “think the un­think­able” amid a ma­jor mil­i­tary shake-up.

Fa­mous units face be­ing axed or merged in a bid to stream­line the Armed Forces.

Plans be­ing con­sid­ered in­clude ax­ing the RAF’s £10mil­lion-a-year Red Ar­rows aer­o­batic team, the merg­ing of the Para­chute Reg­i­ment and the Royal Marines into an elite Army com­mando unit and the dis­band­ing of the RAF Reg­i­ment.

The fu­ture of the Guards Divi­sion is also in doubt and ques­tions asked about whether 50-ton tanks have a fu­ture in war­fare.

Ev­ery as­pect of the Armed Forces will come un­der scru­tiny next year dur­ing a de­fence and se­cu­rity re­view.

A se­nior mil­i­tary source said: “What does the mil­i­tary want – the Red Ar­rows or greater in­vest­ment in the in­fantry or the special forces?

“We have been told to be pre­pared to slay sa­cred cows and to think the un­think­able.”

David Cameron’s Tory gov­ern­ment planned to axe the Red Ar­rows in 2013 but even­tu­ally backed down.

A Min­istry of De­fence spokesman said that the depart­ment was un­aware of any im­pend­ing cuts or re­or­gan­i­sa­tion but had no idea what the win­ner of the elec­tion would do.

He added: “The MoD will al­ways en­sure that our Armed Forces are equipped and re­sourced to ful­fil their role.”

But the Royal A ir Force’s su­per­planes will not be able to take off from their new per­ma­nent Scot­tish base un­til 2021 be­cause they won’t have a run­way.

De­spite the planes be­ing sched­uled to ar­rive in Mo­ray in Fe­bru­ary, a con­tract to de­sign an up­grade to RAF Lossiemout­h’s run­way was only awarded in Oc­to­ber.

The Min­istry of De­fence has in­sisted that while the pro­ject has been de­layed, a tem­po­rary home for the air­craft at nearby Kin­loss was the plan all along.

Work to up­grade the run­way there as a short-term mea­sure – the cost of which the MoD has re­fused to re­veal – is not ex­pected to be com­pleted un­til next month.

The de­layed Lossiemout­h up­grade has been crit­i­cised on an on­line mil­i­tary avi­a­tion fo­rum.

One mem­ber said: “Strange tim­ing?

“One would have thought this should have been done and

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