UK to Cut 37,000 Forces Jobs and Decommission the Ark Royal

On Tuesday 19th October, the UK government announced the results of its Spending Review 2010 and the Strategic Defence and Security Review. Among the measures announced to tackle the UK’s £38 billion deficit were the loss of 37,000 forces personnel (including the loss of 25,000 civil servants in the Ministry of Defence) and the immediate decommissioning of the Ark Royal, which is expected to be out of service by December. The changes to the armed forces have been summarised below:


  • Reduction of Army by 7,000 service personnel to a total of around 95,000 by 2015
  • Reduction in number of brigades by one to five in total
  • Purchase of 12 Chinook helicopters
  • Keeping Puma helicopter, upgrading the Merlin
  • Continued introduction of Wildcat
  • Further investment in special forces
  • Review of reserve forces
  • Reducing number of Challenger 2 tanks by 40%
  • Reduced heavy artillery by around 35%
  • Withdrawal of all forces in Germany by 2020 (first half to be returned by 2015)

Royal Navy

  • Reduction of Navy by 5,000 service personnel by 2015 to a total of 30,000
  • Completion of two aircraft carriers, which will be based in Portsmouth. One will not be used and the other will be fitted with a catapult to enable the use of the Joint Strike Fighter on board.
  • Decommission of the Ark Royal
  • Decommission of either HMS Ocean or HMS Illustrious
  • Decommission of four frigates
  • The Harrier will be retired
  • Royal Marines will be retained
  • Six Type 45 destroyers will be built at a cost of £1 billion each
  • Operational launch tubes on nuclear submarines to be reduced from 12 to 8
  • Number of nuclear warheads on submarines to be reduced from 48 to 40

Royal Air Force

  • Reduction of RAF by around 5,000 personnel to a total of around 33,000
  • Use of a modernised Typhoon fleet
  • Use of the Joint Strike Fighter
  • Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
  • Introduction of A400M  transport aircraft
  • C17 maintained
  • Rivet Joint aircraft will be maintained
  • Nimrod MRA4 Maritime Patrol Programme will be cancelled
  • Remove TriStar from service by 2013
  • Withdrawal of the VC-10 by 2013
  • Withdrawal of the the C-130J Hercules tactical transport aircraft from service by 2022
  • Withdrawal of the Sentinel airborne ground surveillance aircraft once it is no longer required to support operations in Afghanistan

Other changes include the sale of Defence estate and cuts to running costs expected to save up to £350 million. Sales of the Defence Support Group, Marchwood Sea Mounting Centre, the Defence stake in the telecommunications spectrum are expected to fetch around £500 million in total. Extended use of simulators for pilots and live-firing exercises will be used to save money alongside renegotiated contracts with industry and cuts to personal allowances.

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