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“Let us be very clear: Scotland is getting all the Royal Navy’s submarines, a major Army base is growing at Leuchars, and there is huge investment at Lossiemouth with an additional Typhoon squadron and the deployment of our new maritime patrol aircraft. Scotland plays a huge part in the defence of the United Kingdom.”

Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon said the above in response to Mark Francois, Member of Parliament for Rayleigh and Wickford.

Recently, Fallon visited Scotland to confirm £1.7 billion of funding for military bases.

“Scotland is on the frontline of defending the United Kingdom from growing threats at sea, in the air and on land.

Our commitment to the future of defence in Scotland is underlined by increasing investment in better infrastructure for the Armed Forces, helping to keep us safe.”

This followed an announcement in November that eight military sites in Scotland will close in the next 15 years, cutting the defence estate by 20%. At the time, Fallon told the House of Commons:

“First we will transform an estate built for previous generations of war fighting to one that better supports the needs of our armed forces.

It will help deliver Joint Force 2025 by bringing people and capabilities into new centres of specialism clustering units closer to their training estate. Today based upon the advice of Chiefs of Staff I am announcing the release of a further 56 bases by 2040.”

At the time, Deputy First Minister of Scotland John Swinney said:

“Today’s announcement is a huge blow for the country. Our defence footprint has been worn away through successive cuts, so it is unacceptable that the UK Government has announced a near 20% reduction to our defence footprint. 

This comes just three years after the last Army Basing Plan, billed as offering stability and certainty.”

Leuchars Station, formerly an RAF airfield, is be expanded to become ‘the main hub for Army activity in Scotland’.

According to the Ministry of Defence, Scotland currently has 14,000 military regular and reserve personnel and 3,930 MoD civilian staff. There are also over 11,000 industry jobs supported by various shipbuilding efforts in Scotland.

The £1.7bn includes £1.3bn for upgrades at Faslane and £400 million for a new runway and related facilities at RAF Lossiemouth which will host the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft fleet and an additional typhoon squadron.

Faslane itself is the second biggest single-site employer in Scotland, after the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow which employs around 11,000 staff.

Direct employment at the base is currently around 6,500 with many more thousands dependent on the base for jobs through the supply chain. It is understood that around 11,000 are directly and indirectly reliant on the base.

All 11 Royal Navy submarines will be based on the Clyde at Faslane from 2020, seeing the number of people directly employed at the base rising to 8,200.

The visit by Fallon to announce this was criticised by the Scottish National Party. MSP Gordon MacDonald said:

“Only months after Michael Fallon announced drastic cuts of £140m to defence in Scotland” the Defence Secretary was treating military bases facing closure like a visitor centre.”

In November 2015, then Prime Minister David Cameron announced to the UK parliament that the RAF would be purchasing nine new Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft as part of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review. The aircraft and 400 extra personnel are to be based at Lossiemouth and at least three aircraft would be operational by April 2020.

At the Farnborough Air Show in July 2016 the Ministry of Defence and Boeing confirmed the a deal had been agreed and that they intend to work together to build a new £100m P-8A operational support and training base at Lossiemouth, creating more than 100 new jobs.

Additionally, Michael Fallon announced at the Scottish Conservative Conference in March 2016 that Lossiemouth was a preferred option to accommodate an additional Typhoon squadron and 400 personnel.

An independent Scotland ‘would not inherit UK military assets’ according to the SNP defence spokesman. The information came to light at their annual party conference where it was also announced that plans to set up a separate Scottish intelligence agency are to be scrapped in favour of working with the existing UK setup.

The SNP are currently working on “a comprehensive, robust, costed and stress-tested defence policy for an independent Scotland”, we’ll report on that when it’s released.

32 COMMENTS

    • LOL, me too, giggle and all. And that’s me an Indy supporter.

      ‘Tis sad, Scotland has some great defence expertise, but for some reason the SNP don’t – so far – seem to be interested in using it. Ho hum. They also seem to have the idea that they should keep on and on and on and on about how disgusting and expensive Trident is, as that defence MP did it seems – preaching to the already converted.

      Well hello SNP, Trident will be gone in Independent Scotland (around 10 years). Concentrate on defence and get a cloo.

      I think the idea is that the rUK will say “Oh, you don’t want a share of our mlitary assets? No problemo, here’s £10 billion.”

      Riiiiiiight.

  1. Q; How much of this investment should be reconsidered in light on IR2 and SNP defence policy? I’m really struggling justifying ongoing investment in Faslane re sub base expansion and Lossiemouth re P8s. I also worry re Type 26 on Clyde. Interested to hear people’s thoughts.

    • My attitude has never wavered. As long as Scotland remains part of the UK and its Government remains committed to the UK for a generation I am happy to see defence spending (including Type 26) go to Scotland and for the Scots to reap the benefits of that spending. I would also like to see Type 31 investment spent in other yards around rUK but that is for another day.

      However now that the SNP have embarked on yet another deliberate policy of damaging the UK itself, its prospects in Brexit negotiations with the EU and are calling for IndyRef2 in less than 2 years I think the position is now very clear. Type 26 is a long terms major investment that requires a stable environment. We cannot possibly allow ourselves to embark on a multi-million Pound spend in the Clyde only for us to have to halt, back up and then move to another location in 2 years time. That will mean £ Millions totally wasted. We must now tell the Clyde shipworkers that after the OPVs there will be no Type 26, we should follow the Shipbuilding Strategy and arrange for them to be built in modules (as per carriers) on the Tyne, Mersey, and in Devon and assembled in Portsmouth. In itself it will deliver more ships faster as we will deploy more resources and will create the manufacturing ethos for Type 31 and later RFA builds. No more must we spend UK taxpayers money abroad in places like Korea. And that includes Scotland.

      Fallon has laid out well the economic benefits Scotland already gets, will be getting and what it therefore will lose post Indy. Lossiemouth investment should also be paused while alternatives are found. Like in Wales or Northern Ireland who are not well served by Defence spending.

      And of course the elephant in the room is Faslane / Coalport. The SNP want that moved anyway and we cannot risk having our nuclear deterrent and other subs trapped in a foreign land. So we must pause further investment and find an alternative location. And where better than in Cumbria where our nuclear specialists are located, near where they are all built in Barrow and I am sure Cumbrians would welcome 11,000 new highly paid jobs.

      We cannot have the Scots off on an Independence game every 2 or three years until they get the result they want. Given the unique position they have in warship building and our nuclear deterrent they either put up and take the consequences or shut up. Of course the SNP will never shut up so we must do whatever we must do to safeguard our investments and future defence. its a damn shame but we are where we are

          • I thought giving a detailed and thoughtful response expressed a genuine concern that unless we are very careful we will be pouring £ millions into a black hole called “oops they DID vote for independence!”

            I am personally in two minds: I am a committed Unionist because of all the combined benefits we all derive but then again I am hacked off with the neverendums that are the core of SNP policy. And as they are the duly elected Government (albeit a minority one) then the UK Government must take them at their word and act accordingly. And that is to act carefully and not even start Type 26 building. I regret the impact on the Clyde but sadly “as ye sow so shall ye reap”.

          • Chris, Ian’s comment wasn’t aimed at you – or me!

            As for Barrow in your earlier posting, the channel is tidal and means particularly the SSBNs but perhaps the SSNs as well have too much of a draft to leave at low tide. And dredging wouldn’t do the job.

    • Pass Ian. It needs two “separate” plans. First is for the UK as a whole, second is in terms of rUK with us in Scotland gone.

      But as below, it also needs a hybrid plan, a transitional one. Or one that can even lead to a more or less permanent way of working. That’s as non-Indy political as I can get on that.

      • I said ‘near’ Barrow and for the base to be in Cumbria but obviously in a suitable location. There is already a huge nuclear handling capability there so storing nuclear warheads and all the associated highly secret equipment isn’t anything new. It is a current resource. My point about Barrow was that given they are built there the capability to maintain and handle nuclear subs is also clearly there and would make training and supervision a lot easier and less expensive. And presumably as they sail out of Barrow they could be towed in for major refit and dry docking

          • dadsarmy – You get my general point so why the nitpicking? The fact that Scotland will lose the huge economic benefit of Faslane / Coalport is the real issue. I am just saying there are other alternatives to Scotland. And as that is ‘Scotland’s Will’ then we should move it. Along with ship building on The Clyde if the Scottish Parliament votes for Independence today.

            As I said before: “As Ye Sow So Shall Ye Reap”

  2. Will love to see what the SNP come up with as a viable defence force, defence infrastructure and basing plan.
    let alone coherent force structure and all fully funded by a proposed newly independent country.
    That will be fun and induce giggles especially in Russia.

  3. The UK in my opinion is reluctantly looking towards the Arctic and trans-Arctic passages which are emerging with global warming and melting of the icecap. Clearly the Russians are already in there, and the Nordic nations – and Canada – are fully aware. But then they have few other distractions whereas the UK does.

    If you look at the basings at Lossiemouth, 3 Typhoon squadrons with 1 more to come (perhaps 3F?), it’s very clear that Lossie is not just “on the frontline” for this, it is THE frontline as indeed Leuchars was in the previous Cold one, but both air and sea. 1 and 6 are fairly clear air defence sqns primarily, wth 11AC being in the multi-role – which I believe can include anti-ship. Though all would have the capability. As an aside Leuchars needs to keep its runway in god condition as an alternate, and perhaps regularly for combined army exercises, and there should be mobility to rebase at least one sqn of Typhoons there in a crisis and at need.

    For me, Coningsby’s role in QRA though would become fairly limited to the southern UK and surrounds. Lossie is 15 mins at Mach 1.8 nearer the “action” than Coningsby, but that’s at max fuel consumption and reduces combat time.

    All of this I think makes it inevitable that defence sharing between an iScotalnd and the rUK is inevitable, when it comes to air ops. And it seems to me Fallon and co realise this. So the answer is that the ScotGov and the UK Gov need to have some interaction before the Ref, so that the day the YES vote comes though if it does, some sort of sensible dialogue gets underway immediately, and totally parallel on a sensible military not daft political level, to the overall negotiations.

    • Morning Dadsarmy. As a Unionist I would be immensely saddened-nay stateless(!) should Scotland leave the Union, but if that sorry day comes then surely a better solution would be an Independent Scotland within a Confederal UK,key elements being the retention of the Three services, joint Embassies and joint administration of our 16 Overseas Territories? My personal belief is that there is no economic case for a split and for the bulk of Scots who support Independence it is of the heart. I respect this although again in my case I have no problem with being British and Scots,Welsh Irish English as the case may be. The costs,and logistics of disentangling and duplicating Army Navy and Air Force makes no senses at all.
      Regards

      • Confederation is a possibility some people would consider, mostly those who wanted Devo-Max or FFA (Full Fiscal Autonomy) rather than Independence. I’m solid Indy have been for years but if it could work I’d accept it. You can see from my postings I think the sensible way is shared defence, certainly in transition and perhaps longer than that – as long as Scotland has the ultimate control of its forces to say “we’re not going there”, as in the past in Iraq or Afghanistan, Syria for instance (if that was the decision).

        Question is, could it work if Scotland was in the EU, and the rUK out of it? I have no idea! Except that the EU doesn’t legislate over member states’ defence policies.

        A big problem I have with defence of Scotland + rUK in the case of Indy is Lossiemouth as you can see. Independent Scotland would be able to afford 1 squadron of Typhoons, perhaps even 2 if we put more resources into air than the other two arms. But not 4. So the ideal answer from my point of view would be co-basing, similar perhaps to (I live on the Clyde) the way it worked with Faslane and Holy Loch.

        • Thanks for your reply dadsarmy. Nice to be able to discuss the Indy question in a civilised manner. Things can get quite nasty in the mainstream press…!
          Regards

          • Indeed they can.

            What’s needed though is a sensible behind the scenes talk about defence, away from the cut and thrust of politicians pushing either side of the big debate. Defence needs to be done on a practical basis. Maybe it happened first ref, but I doubt it. For one thing UK Gov were near certain it would be a NO – I think the polls just 2 months before were 38% to 40%, having risen from 25% to 28% at the start of the campaign. Now they’re between 45% and 50% mostly (Referendum was 45%).

            One thing that’s good news is a quiet article in the National last weekend (the only pro-indy newspaper – so far): “SNP conference: Russian ‘threat’ to small nations must be addressed by Scotland says MP”. Too many Indy supporters have the line “we’re friendly, who’d attack us?”. OK! Nice, nice world. Good to see more hard heads talking.

            Basically Fallon and say O’Hara should have a quiet word, nominate a couple of actual non-political experts from each side, and let them talk privately behind the scenes so the politicians can get on with the job of being – politicians. For the UK perhaps Chalmers he’s quite impressive as long as he loses his UK-centric POV which seemed to be happening later on. For Scotland? Maybe Tusa, or the authors of that paper I pushed, who knows. Must be other candidates as well.

  4. Re the subs going to Scotland
    They are being taken away from Devonport to placate the Scots just the same as all the warship building has gone to the Clyde yards
    Look at all the jobs that have been lost because of that but no one seems to mention that
    You could assemble the new vessels at Devonport as Portsmouth seems to be getting everthing
    Devonport is a rather large base with plenty of space so why not use it to its full capacity

  5. Dadsarmy dream on. You are a typical nationalist you want your cake (independence) but then want rUK to continue to base forces in your newly independent country to defend you. In previous postings you have even alluded to rUK having to pay you for this honour by leasing your bases.
    No way! Here is a more realistic plan that is palatable to rUK and not just the deluded SNP.
    QRA north will move south of the border to Cumbria or Northumberland. I am not an expert on military bases but I know of 3 disused airfields in these 2 counties that could have a compulsory purchase order and £400-750 million spent on them to make them suitable frontline airfields. They are reasonable distances from large population centres and would give a real boast to those counties.
    I am a unionist as well and never want to see the sad day when Scotland votes to leave the rUK. However be in no doubt that the uk armed forces will leave your country. QRA north will have to be undertaken by the Scottish air force. As you say you will have a small force of typhoons. Certainly enough to intercept intruders.
    co basing is a non starter the rUK armed forces will need to move out.
    nuclear subs back to devonport. Nuclear deterrent to a new base possibly devonport possibly Cornwall.
    all type 26 and type 31 frigate construction can go back to Portsmouth with modular construction for type 31 from appledore in Devon and from Merseyside and the Tyne.
    This is all likely to cost a lot but we can just add to the national debt. After all Scotland will have to take their fair share of the debt they have helped accumulate.
    I would think an emergency tax paid over 3-4 years of £1500-2000 per uk tax payer probably would cover the defence and other infrastructure costs of moving out of Scotland and bringing all that wealth and jobs back to rUK.
    I would favour RAF valley or another Welsh airfield becoming the new home for the P8A Poseidon fleet.
    Until the new QRA north (cumbria or Northumberland) airfield is built the QRA typhoons could be based at Leeming as an interim measure.
    in short basing will not be a problem. Just need to hold onto some of the current bases that are earmarked to close. The current uk armed forces are not huge.

    • Mr Bell. It’s not just a case of Scotland failing in our defence with the 1 squadron of Typhoons, if it was then what you say would be quite right – our defence is up to us, subject of course to NATO all for one one for all – once we’re in NATO (or Art 4 as a PfP).

      But if Scotland is overwhelmed quickly as would be likely to happen for a major attack, no matter how good proportionately our defences are with the full 2% GDP defence spend even, England is just over the border. It’s next, probably in the same attack i.e. within minutes. So clearly it’s best to field the whole combined air defence far out over the North Sea and beyond. And that means as I said before, from Leeming it’s 15 mins each way at Mac 1.8 – plus 1/2 hour less in combat if it’s a case of exhaust weapon load, return refuel and rearm, and re-engage, a serious disadvantage for the rUK based fighters.

      One alternative is to move the rUK sqns to Lossie in the case of a high alert, but then that movement itself increases tensions – in the same way as the LibDems idea of having just 2 or 3 CASD boats and only launch at a time of high tension – hello, that increases the tension, it has to be permanently at sea.

      A compromise is to have dual basing, where some of the RAF Typhoons were based at Lossie for combined exercies, and of course use of the (non-live) bombing range at Tain, or indeed live tests at Cape Wrath. Then in an alert the rest of the sqns could sneak up to Lossie for, cough, a bigger exercise. Just like the Cold War effectively, in a different way. The rUK could of course try to get a similar arrangment instead with Norway or Denmark, but that I’d think has more aggressive political overtones.

      Personally I don’t see Faslane / Coulport as a permanent problem, it doesn’t make much difference for a 3 month patrol if there’s a day or two extra – or less – getting on patrol 🙂

  6. So Independent Scotland won’t inherit any UK Defence Assets — so that’ll be the SNP refusing to take the Scotland’s population share of the UK National Debt then.

    Good job the chances of an independent Scotland are lower than Alex Salmond’s brow.

  7. Sorry, hang on, do we cover the defences of the Republic of Ireland or India? Erh no… why the hell would British taxpayers, newly freed from the bigotry of the SNP then fork out to protect them from Mr Putin or any one else for that matter?
    The Peoples Republic of Scotland will be Independent thats what an Independence vote means! It means bye, bye.
    I’m not entirely sure you’d even be in the Commonwealth let alone NATO or the EU.

  8. If people in Scotland vote to leave the UK thats exactly what that means.
    That’s no ifs or buts, they’ll be out on their own a very small country with the power of Estonia at best (no offence meant to any Estonians) except without NATO/EU/maybe Commonwealth membership, simple fact is that it’ll be the people’s republic of Scotland, bye bye. And because of the never ending racist clap trap that keeps on being spouted I have no doubt that Sturgeon and her cronnies would force a hard end to the Union in which case, you can see not only all defence money stopping at the wall but everything else too.
    I have spoken to people in businesses that trade North of the border who are game planning such an end!
    The last referendum was meant to be it for generation, now the SNP are just destroying all confidence any investors have. Genuine real damage is being done now, let alone what will happen if they get their way and destroy the Union.
    The weirdest thing is I don’t know anyone who can actually explain where all the hate comes from. Its there for sure but why?
    So if the Jocks are quite frankly gullible enough to vote for it good luck to them. It will be very very sad. But it will be bye bye.
    Why would anyone pay them any money for anything, let alone their national defences?
    Personally I quite like Russians met loads of them over the years and at least you know what you’re getting. I think I would not mind them setting up camp North of the wall. Good luck to them. Faslane and Rosyth would be a welcome addition to the Northern Fleet and it would great to see the odd Kirov more often.
    Would also force the UK to spend a lot more on defence.
    Also Vodka is a better mixer than Whiskey. I love single malts but you just can’t mix it with gin and nolly pratt.

  9. A nice injection common sense Chris and Ali. One hopes that our illustrious Defence Secretary will ingest an element of realism into the situation before adding £1.7 Bn to our potential IR2 losses.

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