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SDSR - Creative Accounting or alternative title "Sale of Harriers to the United States Marine Corps"

Published: 25 Nov 2011

From the Guardian

Redundant Harrier jump-jets sold to US marines for spares. Defence minister Peter Luff describes £110m sale as 'a good deal for both countries'.  By Richard Norton-Taylor.

Scrapping Harrier jump-jets is expected to release £900m between now and 2018, the MoD has said.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that 72 Harrier jump-jets scrapped last year are being sold for spares to the US Marine Corps for £110m in what the defence minister Peter Luff described as "a good deal for both countries". Scrapping the Harriers is expected to release £900m between now and 2018, which will be spent on RAF Tornado and Typhoon jets, and the US Joint Strike Fighter, whose cost is rising rapidly, the MoD said. Two Harrier aircraft will also be offered to museums in order "to preserve the Royal Navy's military heritage", it added.

The defence website reports:

Harrier sale.

Various media report that the MOD has sold its fleet of Harrier aircraft to the US for $180m which takes into account the airframes and associated spare parts.

The value of the sale, added to the savings made from retiring the Harrier fleet from service, takes the total estimated receipts and savings to the MOD to around £1bn. This will enable investment in a more modern and capable mixed fast jet fleet, including the state-of-the-art Joint Strike Fighter. The Harrier airframes and associated parts will be used as a major source of spares to support the US Marine Corps Harrier AV-8B fleet of aircraft.

Difficult decisions had to be taken in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) to tackle the Department's £38bn black hole. Cuts predating the SDSR left the Harrier Force too small to carry out enduring operations in Afghanistan whilst maintaining the contingent capability we need for other operations such as Libya. Also, Tornado delivers the full range we need in terms of precision weapons and reconnaissance.

Peter Luff, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, confirmed the sale to the House of Commons yesterday. He said: "Harrier served this country with great distinction, but retiring it eight years earlier than planned was the right decision. Had we taken the decision in the SDSR to decommission Tornado instead we would not have been able to carry out the missions that were required simultaneously in Libya and Afghanistan.

"It was essential to retire older, less capable aircraft to allow us to invest in more modern, cutting-edge fast jets. As our operations over Libya proved, we have the capability to project decisive air power and can utilise our extensive basing and overflight rights to great effect. The sale of Harrier is evidence of our commitment to working closely with our allies and represents a good deal for both countries."

The sale of equipment to the US includes spares and associated support equipment. Two aircraft will also be offered to museums in order to preserve the UK's military heritage.

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