Britain Forced to Ask NATO to Help Track ‘Russian Submarine’ in Scottish Waters

Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft, July 18, 2009Britain called in Nato sea patrol planes to hunt for a suspected Russian submarine off Scotland last month, after the Government scrapped its own similar aircraft in defence cuts, it has been disclosed.

Maritime patrol aircraft from France, America and Canada flew to Scotland to join Royal Navy warships hunting for the suspected submarine after it was spotted at sea, west of Scotland.

At the height of the hunt in late November and first days of December, four allied patrol planes flew to RAF Lossiemouth to join the search, Aviation Week reported.

Britain scrapped its own maritime patrol aircraft after the cost cutting 2010 defence review, leading to warnings from defence chiefs that the country would be left reliant on others for aircraft to search its own waters. . . .

Angus Robertson MP, SNP defence spokesman, whose constituency contains RAF Lossiemouth, said: “This is hugely embarrassing for the UK which is totally exposed without such critical maritime patrol assets. It is not the first time they have had to depend on the goodwill of allies to fill this massive capability gap.”

Julian Lewis MP said: “It’s inevitable that we will have to call on our allies to meet capability gaps, but what it also shows is the absolute necessity of ring fencing the defence budget at least to the Nato minimum level of two per cent.”

The revelation came as Matthew Barzun, the US Ambassador to London, urged Britain not to cut its defence budget, saying the two countries have a shared foreign policy interests.

Image: Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft, July 18, 2009 (photo: Mark Kent)