Saturday, 22 January 2011

Scare story of the day...

I awoke yesterday to Scottish MP, Angus Robertson, saying that security at the Olympics would be put at risk because of the government's cancellation of the Nimrod MR4A aircraft. Apparently the nine aircraft were due to play a key role in counter-terrorism for the event. The media have made a big deal out of his comments.

This sparked a few questions in my mind. The Olympics are going to be in July and August 2012. Yet the Nimrod was only going to be reaching Initial Operating Capability (IOC) in October 2012. Which is, I think you will agree, after the Olympics. (IOC is the time when a system can be used in a minimally useful deployable form).

Therefore he is worried that a system that would not have been ready in time will not be available for use.

There is always the possibility that the planes could have been used before IOC was reached, but would the Government really have wanted planes that they knew were acknowledged as not being ready flying over and around London at any time, yet alone during such a major event? Then again, given the delays that the project had suffered already (it was originally called Nimrod 2000), and other problems, we cannot be sure of the 2012 IOC date either. Only two planes had been delivered to the RAF before the cancellation.

The Nimrod MR4A debacle has been painful for so many reasons, and not just the cost. Yet the loss of the Nimrods means that there are operational requirements that we will not be able to fill. The government will have to look into this as a matter of urgency. This will not be easy; the American's project to fill similar requirements, the Boeing P8 Poseidon, is allegedly facing significant problems.

Of course, this stupid fear story might have more to do with the fact that Angus Robertson's constituency includes RAF Kinloss, the Nimrod's base, which is due for closure.

The media should have seen through in an instant and asked Robertson some pertinent questions. Instead they just went for the quick sensationalist headlines. It could be that he is right, although I doubt it; he should say *what* roles he says the (non-operations) Nimrods were going to be used for.

No comments: