From the Times on the latest cuts (and on the same day the Type 31 program kicks off with Fallon & clique spouting on about increasing budgets!):
"Warships and battlefield training to be axed in defence cuts
Deborah Haynes, Defence Editor
September 7 2017, 12:01am, The Times
Two Royal Navy ships and battlefield training for thousands of troops will be cut to save money from the defence budget, The Times has learnt.
A slowdown in the purchase of next-generation F-35 Lightning II warplanes from the United States is under consideration as military chiefs and mandarins struggle to find up to £30 billion in savings over the next decade. Twelve helicopters used by special forces will also be taken out of service.
Defence sources said the cuts risk damaging morale. The armed forces are several thousand short of their personnel target and struggling to retain talent.
The cost savings come at a time of global crises including a nuclear stand-off between North Korea and the United States and as Russia prepares to conduct a military exercise along Nato’s eastern flank next week.
General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander, said Britain was taking a risk with defence because the public has lived through a period of relative peace in western Europe, a status quo that is not guaranteed.
“There are potential risks to our homeland and our vital interests abroad that we cannot address with our capability,” he said, adding that the top brass, ministers and parliament should be making a national debate of whether the country wants the military to be in this state.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is trying to close the funding gap that emerged when a defence review in 2015 included the purchase of jets and ships part-funded by unspecified “efficiency savings”.
Underestimating the cost of new kit and a drop in the value of the pound have added to the shortfall.
One push is focused on balancing the in-year budget, which has a hole of about £2 billion. Another strand forms part of a capability review led by the Cabinet Office. There are also proposals to save money by improving internal structures across defence.
Royal Navy minehunters are being targeted. The fleet of Hunt-class and Sandown-class ships will be cut from 15 to 13 in the coming year, freeing sailors to man the rest of the fleet.
The number of armoured battle groups, each comprising about 1,000 soldiers, deploying to British Army Training Unit Suffield in Canada for training this year will be reduced from four to three. Over the same period light infantry battlegroups sent to British Army Training Unit Kenya will be cut from five to three.
The temporary move, expected to save about £20 million, will reduce the army’s overall readiness, although soldiers bound for Iraq, Afghanistan, Estonia and a high-readiness brigade in the UK will not be affected.
In another move, 12 Lynx helicopters operated by 657 Squadron of the Army Air Corps and used by special forces will be taken out of service. The aircraft were being funded by the Treasury but that money runs out in March.
The MoD source said that this was because the special forces said they wanted a better aircraft. A detachment of Puma helicopters would fill the gap until a new aircraft is bought so the SAS and SBS would not lose capability, he said. Another source said the reason was likely to be financial: “I find it hard to believe that special forces would do away with any capability that has been proven in theatre.”
More significant cuts are being looked at as part of the Cabinet Office-led review including the possible slowdown in F-35 purchases, four sources said. A plan to buy 48 of the jets by 2025 — at a cost of at least £100 million each — could be slowed to 38 over the same period. The total purchase of 138 over the programme’s lifetime is unchanged.
The MoD said: “In the face of intensifying threats we are looking at how we best spend a rising defence budget to support our national security.”