Scrapping Nimrod hitting UK Search and Rescue obligations

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
The UK Government has been accused of failing to meet its international search and rescue obligations after a huge drop in international missions.
 
Angus Robertson MP, SNP Defence Spokesperson and Westminster Leader claimed that the scrapping of Nimrod had left the UK vulnerable in the event of an emergency.

Mr Robertson received answers to written questions which reveal a huge drop in international missions following the MoD’s abandonment of Nimrod aircrafts.

Mr Robertson said:

“The creation of these gaps adds up to negligence by the UK Government who have recklessly run down our search and rescue and maritime surveillance over many years.

“When the MoD announced Nimrod being scrapped they promised that they would replace it with Hercules, but we now know this is not the case and the current situation leaves the UK unable to properly assist its neighbours in the event of an emergency.

“The decision to scrap the state-of-the-art Nimrod fleet after spending billions on their renewal in 2010, was an act of gross vandalism and a scandalous waste of public money. This, along with the commitment to weapons of mass destruction, perfectly illustrates the bad decisions being made by the MoD.”

Mr Robertson said the UK’s defence priorities were all wrong and that conventional equipment had been sacrificed in order to satisfy an obsession with weapons of mass destruction.

He added:

“While essential conventional capabilities are being run down or are completely absent it underlines just how wrong the UK Government’s priorities are, that they still obsess about replacement of Trident.

“We should make better defence decisions ourselves in Scotland – we only need to look at our northern European neighbours of comparable size, all of whom maintain appropriate capabilities including fast jets, ocean going vessels and highly trained personnel.”

The UK received an average of six requests a year for search and rescue help from neighbouring states prior to the withdrawal of the aircraft.

But only Ireland has requested assistance since the publication in 2010 of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which terminated a £3.6 billion order for new Nimrod MRA4 aircraft.

The UK is obliged under international treaty to provide SAR assets and it is required to list them annually.  However, has UK has not listed the Hercules aircraft, which were supposed to replace Nimrod for search-and-rescue operations.