FRENCH AND CANADIAN maritime patrol aircraft have been called in to help track a Russian submarine off the Scottish coast.
A Sunday newspaper report has revealed further embarrassment for the UK amid fears that a Russian boat is tracking a Trident nuclear submarine.
The RAF has not been able to call on its own maritime air cover since the 2010 defence review ordered the scrapping the of the Kinloss-based Nimrod fleet. Defence chiefs are hoping that is a situation that is reversed when the Defence review is revealed this week.
In the meantime the RAF must call on help from allies – and, according to the Sunday Telegraph, that is why a French Atlantique has joined a Canadian maritime patrol aircraft at RAF Lossiemouth to help locate and track the Russian submarine.
It is the third time this year that the UK have been forced to seek help from Nato allies to protect UK interests, with a Ministry of Defence spokesman saying: “We can confirm that allied maritime patrol aircraft based at RAF Lossiemouth for a limited period are conducting activity with the Royal Navy. We do not discuss the detail of maritime operations.”
Prime Minister David Cameron is reported to be ready to announce today that the RAF will receive a new maritime patrol replacement for the Nimrod, with many seeing that as an admission the 2010 review made a “serious blunder” in scrapping the Nimrod replacement programme.
However, fears have been growing that there will not be a future for basing any new Maritime force in Scotland, with RAF Waddington being widely tipped as the single base for the aircraft rather than a return to Kinloss or basing the aircraft at Lossiemouth.
SNP Defence spokesman at Westminster, Brendan O’Hara, said that if that was the case it would be seen as a seen as a “betrayal and unacceptable” in Scotland: “Since their scrapping after the 2010 SDSR, the SNP has continually called for the government to replace the maritime patrol aircraft and for those aircraft to be stationed in their historical and logical home, Scotland.
“With the new SDSR imminent we reiterate that call. Our fear is, however, that not only will there be fewer MPAs ordered than is required but that they will be based at an RAF base outside of Scotland.
“If that does happen, the MoD will have gone back on its promise not to further shrink Scotland’s military footprint and yet again the UK’s conventional defence footprint will have been undermined by this government’s obsession with renewing Trident, regardless of the spiralling cost, which currently stands at £167 billion.”