The bill to defend an independent Scotland would be £1.5bn a year less than if the country remains under London rule according to a new report.
A new study by the Royal United Services Institute claims that annual costs would drop from £3.3bn to £1.8bn.
The report – co-written by economist Richard Marsh and Stuart Crawford, a former British Army Lieutenant Colonel – examined what the armed services of an independent Scotland would look like.
“A’ the Blue Bonnets: Defending an Independent Scotland”, states that a Scottish Defence Force would be ‘necessary, feasible and affordable.’
The authors envisage a Scottish a defence force with an army, navy and air force but without nuclear weapons.
The report detailed a Scottish Navy with a surface fleet of up to 25 ships, including Type 23-class frigates but with no submarines. A Scottish Air Force would include about 60 aircraft including BAE Hawk, C-130 Hercules, Chinook and Sea King helicopters but no Typhoons or Tornados.
The report also suggested a Scottish Army could have 10,000-12,500 personnel.
The document continues: “Scotland can argue that it has paid its share towards the British armed services’ inventory and therefore should be able to negotiate most of what it needs to an independent Scotland.”
It also says, “As for whether an independent Scotland can afford its own armed forces, the answer seems to be an unequivocal yes”.
The cost of their proposals is half the cost of what Scotland currently contributes to the MoD.
SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP said:
“This is an interesting analysis which demonstrates, not only that an independent Scotland is perfectly able to maintain well-resourced capabilities across the armed forces, but that we can actually reverse the mammoth decline that there has been of the defence footprint in Scotland over the last decade as a result of cuts by successive Westminster Tory and Labour governments.
“Taxpayers in Scotland contribute more than £3.3bn a year to the MoD, but less than £2bn is spent on defence in Scotland – and we are still bearing the brunt of UK Government cuts.
“The Scottish defence and peacekeeping forces will initially be equipped with Scotland’s share of current assets, including ocean going vessels, fast jets for domestic air patrol duties, transport aircraft and helicopters, as well as army vehicles, artillery and air defence systems.
“Instead of the anti-independence parties scrapping Scotland’s regimental tradition and dumping Trident on Scotland, with independence we will keep the historic units and get rid of Trident.”