Britain’s Hercules transport aircraft used in Special Forces operations will be among the most high-profile victims of a major overhaul of defense equipment, part of an evaluation of the military designed to make it fit for the 21st century .
The last 14 Hercules, or C-130Js, are among the country’s longest-serving transport aircraft and have served in Iraq and Syria.
Known as the workhorse of the Royal Air Force’s transport fleet, the Hercules entered service in the mid-1950s.
They would continue to fly until the mid-2030s. Their missions will be picked up by the RAF’s fleet of 20 larger A400M Atlas transport aircraft, according to people familiar with the plan, which will be unveiled Monday.
According to two people familiar with the situation, the army’s more than 700 infantry fighting vehicles will be phased out. In the meantime, the deployment of the Mechanized Infantry Vehicle (MIV) Boxer is being brought forward.
It was not clear last night whether a planned Warrior upgrade would go ahead. Lockheed Martin, the US defense group, is in talks with the Department of Defense about modernizing its decades-old vehicles. The program is several years behind schedule and has been under fire for a long time, according to defense analysts. Cancellation could put nearly 2,000 jobs at risk.
A planned life extension program of the army’s main battle tank, the Challenger 2, is expected to be announced shortly after the publication of the review.
The military is expected to bear the brunt of cutbacks during the overhaul, which is heralded as the biggest military transformation since the Cold War, shifting Britain’s conventional equipment programs to cyber, space and unmanned technologies.
Boris Johnson announced a £ 16.5 billion funding increase for the Department of Defense last year, but some of this will be used to close a £ 17 billion hole in the equipment budget.
Defense insiders said painful decisions had to be made to balance the books while investing in new digital capabilities.
It was “one of those tough decisions to be made,” one person said, referring to the decision to retire the Hercules.
Francis Tusa, consultant and editor at Defense Analysis, said part of the Hercules fleet would have needed a “significant upgrade to help them through 2035”. The range and speed of the A400M, he added, were “significantly greater than the Hercules.”
One of the winners of the review will be the UK’s combat air strategy, including its new jet fighter, Tempest. The government last week confirmed a commitment to spend at least £ 6.6 billion on research and development, including the development of the so-called Future Combat Air System for the RAF.
Defense insiders said they were not expecting a major announcement about the final number of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter planes the UK would order. The UK has contracted 48 of the fighter jets as part of a potential order of 138. The fighter jets will fly from the two Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers and 48 is not enough to make both ships operational.
Monday’s whitepaper will underscore the government’s investment in technologies such as artificial intelligence to better integrate its land, sea and air operations and transcend the industrial age of warfare into an information age.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the white paper would be an “honest assessment” of what the UK could deliver. He said the British armed forces have been held back for too long by “government overambition and underfunding”.
“We are locked in by sentimentality and a sort of Top Trumps game of numbers on paper,” he told reporters at a special surgery demonstration in Dorset on Friday. “What you are left with is a lot of ships that are stuck and not really available and deployed, because you cannot afford to maintain it properly. [them]
By suggesting that the restructuring of the armed forces will entail austerity, he added: “It’s about availability. What matters is employability rather than just numbers on scraps of paper. ”
The Ministry of Defense said on Saturday that the increase in defense spending last November would “support the modernization of the armed forces.”
“When threats change, our armed forces must change and they are redesigned to face future threats, not to fight old wars again. The armed forces will be fully staffed and equipped to deal with those threats and such coverage is only speculation at this stage. “