London: Britain does not have sufficient military resources to engage in an immediate war with Iran, as most of its resources are directed towards the Afghanistan campaign, a leading defence expert has warned.
“When it comes to the RAF (Royal Air Force), it is not a question of trimming the fat. The RAF has been cut to the bone and all resources are being directed to Afghanistan. We are unable to take part in any other conflict that should suddenly occur,” The Daily Express quoted Andrew Brookes, head of The Air League, as saying.
Iran’s nuclear ambitions and President Ahmadinejad’s boast that he would wipe Israel off the face of the earth have caused alarm at NATO.
Last week, satellite images revealed that a rocket launch site east of Tehran is capable of firing nuclear-armed Simorgh missiles.
Tim Ripley, a defence analyst at Jane’s, said: “In December, the Government shed GBP 900 million from the budget. The cuts have affected our ability to engage with Iran.”
“The bitter truth is that, with the exception of a nuclear strike, we would not be able to contribute to any conflict, even in a coalition.”
Experts’ warning comes after it emerged that Royal Air Force Tornado crews are getting barely 10 hours of flying time a month because of drastic cuts imposed by the Government to fund the war in Afghanistan.
The MoD said: “In Afghanistan, crews fly about three times the rate as they would in the UK. The RAF concentrates the Tornado effort on safe flying that wholly supports operations in Afghanistan.”
It follows a decision made in December by Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth that the RAF is to lose a squadron to save cash.
December’s cuts are the clearest indication that all of Britain’s military resources are geared towards the Afghan war.
First Published: Sunday, March 21, 2010, 15:13