The defence budget is facing cuts of up to £4bn next year because of a commitment that was supposed to bolster spending. With their funding pegged at a minimum of 2% of GDP, defence chiefs fear the looming economic crash will hit the armed forces hard. Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, has sought assurances from the Treasury that his £41.5bn budget will not fall because of the downturn but Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, has made no promises. If national output shrinks by 10% or more as economists predict, there are fears the Ministry of Defence (MoD) could take a huge hit. Defence chiefs have started war-gaming for budget cuts with nothing reportedly off the table, say military sources. A top candidate for the chop is the nuclear submarine HMS Vanguard, armed with the Trident missile, which has been languishing in a dockyard in Plymouth for five years. A project to refuel its reactor is more than a year late after serious technical hitches, raising fears that its £400m budget is out of control and could double, according to a senior defence industry source. The ministry may stop work on HMS Vanguard and cannibalise it for parts to keep the remaining three Trident submarines going until the Dreadnought-class submarines replace them from 2030, the source said.
Times 31st May 2020 read more »