View Full Version : Scottish Air Force
16th Jan 2008, 09:45
While chatting in the office the other day the subject of Scottish independance came up and we were wondering what resources the Scottish Air Force would get should the unthinkable occour and the Scottish Nats get their way and break up the union.
Four Tornados and a Nimrod was the general opinion, but what about other airframes and how many personnel?
And how many would be willing to serve in the Scottish Air Force instead of the Royal Air Force?
16th Jan 2008, 09:54
And how many would be willing to serve in the Scottish Air Force instead of the Royal Air Force?If they promised to ditch JPA, and pay correctly on time, I think they'd get plenty of volunteers to join the RSAF (Republic of Scotland AF) :ok:
16th Jan 2008, 10:07
A_A, JPA? No that would be part of the deal. All units in Scotland would switch to Scottish ownership. Now that would ensure the English Air Force and English Regiments voted for the move.
However we have been round this buoy over 30 years ago.
Winnie Ewing that wonderful SNP for Moray and Nairn wrote to ISK seeking their views on becoming one of the SAF bases. The letter was filed in a SECRET folder in the intelligence cell. Who says Int Os are stupid :)
16th Jan 2008, 10:11
I think they'd be entitled to more than just one Nimrod and four Tornados.
Leuchars has three F3 squadrons, Lossie has four GR4 squadrons and Kinloss has two Nimrod squadrons. At the very least I'd say they could push for 16 of each Tornado variant and maybe three Nimronds.
However, thats just the assets North of the Border, Scottish tax payers have been paying for Typhoon, A400, FSTA etc aswell. Would certainly be interesting.
16th Jan 2008, 10:12
I remember googling that phrase a few years ago (god alone knows why!) and someone had put together some pages on what he assumed would happen -
Far less on there now - there used to be maps and pictures too!
So would the Scottish taxpayer fund the mod to the Nimrod galley to accommodate the deep fat fryer for the Mars bars ?
16th Jan 2008, 10:24
If you were to discard the the Jocks, Micks and Welsh who serve in the British armed forces, the forces would be in a very sorry state. Proportionally, the numbers from the 'colonies' are way above English representation.
Any move to have a seperate SAF or whatever you want to call it would be detrimental to all parties in the UK!
As for mods for deep fat fryers, don't the Scottish squadrons already have them?
16th Jan 2008, 10:37
It would seem from an outsiders POV that you chaps are already part of the Scottish Air Force, U K'S PM is (living up to the old clique of Scottish people bing a tad........Parsimony) Scottish.
I wont labour the obvious but it would seem the bean counters have long ago taken over, if the Scottish Nats really want this then let them have it and kiss the buggers goodbye......forever.
Reminds me a bit of the some of the people in Quebec's push for independence.
Time to put up or shut up.
16th Jan 2008, 10:50
"I think they'd be entitled to more than just one Nimrod and four Tornados."
yes but what would their poloticians be willing to pay the running costs for
the SNP are keen on peacekeeping and not much else, i wouldn't be supprised if they follow the Irish Repulics model on this
would they remain in NATO?
16th Jan 2008, 10:56
"Reminds me a bit of the some of the people in Quebec's push for independence."
speaking of which maybe we should fly all the expensive kit out the night before the vote! :-)
the uncertainty didn't help Qubec attract invesent in the long run, it may well be time to "put up or shut up" for scotlands sake
16th Jan 2008, 11:16
Just give them their Bulldogs back and leave it at that.
16th Jan 2008, 11:19
Bearing in mind the current location of the Evil JPA secret volcano lair I would suggest that the Jocks would have to take it on as part of the deal, leaving those south of the border to resume service as normal with a system that works, and dare I say it, cares about it's people!
That alone should make them think twice about a push for independence!
16th Jan 2008, 11:21
Bob, what I said in post 4 :)
Now remember how long ISL hosted the Jaguar OCU. We could transfer all the Jaguar to the SAF; the US does that with lots of its surplus aircraft to equip smaller free-world airforces :)
16th Jan 2008, 11:27
Ah hah. It makes more sense now! I didn't quite get your point first time round!
16th Jan 2008, 11:31
When a scottish independence politician called on the Stn Cdr at Leuchars a few years back, his opening gambit to the english Staish was, "of course you'd never be the Stn Cdr here once we have independence". How to win friends and influence people! "So would you like a coffee .. or have you said enough already before you go?"
16th Jan 2008, 11:54
Operating a reduced fleet of aircraft would increase the cost of maintenance dramatically, I'd guess to an unrealistic level. If Scotland wanted to go it alone wouldn't it be better to tailor the forces to the nations defence policy, border control, fishery patrol and homeland defence? CDS could be Mel Gibson :}
Hopefully the day will never happen, first nationalism then what, clans? Just look at the rest of the world, Balkans, FSU and recently Kenya all fighting over who comes from where even though they have lived together for years :ugh:
16th Jan 2008, 11:56
The International institute for fiscal studies worked out the English would be 5p in the pound better off without the Scottish and Welsh.
Give them all the F3's, and F22 here we come!:E
16th Jan 2008, 12:11
I happen to know the SNP spokesman for defence (and he knows even less about it than any of the other politicians who claim to be "experts"!) - he was the one who claimed all RN ships based at Faslane should have scottish names as it was "Imperialistic" that they were named after towns elsewhere in the UK
He thinks they would be intitled to 10% of everything as they form 10% of the population (actually more like 8% but who is counting)
So they would have an exteremly diverse range of aircraft / ships and land vehicles (except submarines as they run on nuclear power or have big bombs which the SNP say is very naughty).
So from the navy point of view that is about 5 lynx's, 5 Seaking mk 4's, 1 or 2 Mk 5's, 1 mk 7 and a couple of jetstreams. This would obviously be extremely expensive to maintain and even more to train the aircrew. We could also assume the same across the RAF again costing them loads of money.
With regards ships I vote we give them: Invincible (doesn't work - much like their parliament), a type 42 (one named after a scottish town) a couple of minesweepers and a p2000. that should be just about enough to look after their ever dwindling fishing fleet. This would hardly enough to keep the workforce on the Clyde and Rosyth employed.
The good news for us as we can charge them a fortune for training their pilots and selling them spares. We could also build our own ships and resurrect the english ship building industry.
As a committed unionist who is married to a Scot and lives North of the border (although I made sure both my children were born in England) I hope it will never come to anything, but if it does I am sure it will be a disaster along with the rest of the SNP policies so I shall move back to Gods own country.
Fatobs - now a civvy so really an Exfatobs
16th Jan 2008, 12:17
How would an independent Scotland afford its Air Force?
I think that they assume that the border with England turns a sharp right and runs East/West once it hits the North Sea at Berwick. However, if you extrapolate the border North East in the same general direction as where it lies over land, then guess who owns most of the oil (and its not the Jocks).
Mind you, as long as they take back all those d**ned bagpipes that ruin an otherwise perfectly good at dining in night....... good riddance.
16th Jan 2008, 12:20
Serving the crown surely means there would be no need to split the military in the event of independence.
HM the Queen would remain monarch of Scotland as well, reverting to the situation when the James Stuart was James I of England and James the VI of Scotland.
Jointly fund the operation, and show the EU how an integrated defence force should work.
16th Jan 2008, 12:37
now that is an outstanding site! I didn't think anyone actually used language like this anymore:
the Scottish Nation will be internationally vindicated in standing firm against the latter-day colonialist posturing of that proverbially perfidious country
Wherever England has painted a corner of the globe red, it has usually been with the blood of the native, indigenous people which it suppressed with a ruthlessness far exceeding any so-called terrorist act ever perpetrated against it. And yet, the propaganda machine and the associated anti-libertarian legislation have sought to paint the suppressed people as the violent, blood-lusting barbarian.
16th Jan 2008, 13:16
But where would they get the money from to run an air force?
North Sea oil output is in rapid decline
16th Jan 2008, 13:22
HM the Queen would remain monarch of Scotland as well, reverting to the situation when the James Stuart was James I of England and James the VI of Scotland.
So that would make Elizabeth II of England..... Elizabeth I of Scotland.....as Elizabeth I of England was never Queen of Scotland.
I do stand to be corrected however although I think An Teallach may be better versed than I on the subject.;)
The numbering of monarchs is part of the royal prerogative. The custom is that the monarch is allowed to choose their own royal title and that is numbered according to the number of preceding English or Scottish holders of the title, whichever is higher, to prevent confusion.
So, for example, if Charles elects, if it should ever come to pass, to be called George (Charles being unlucky for obvious reasons), he will be King George VII of the Scots.
16th Jan 2008, 13:42
You wouldnt happen to be the fatobs who recently got his CPL the hard way and is now fatpilot would you?
If so, I thought your kids birth certificates had a thistle on them?
16th Jan 2008, 13:49
Well North Sea oil may be in decline but if we cut you 'sassenachs' off then we will be fine, you southerners will be screwed because most of your productions in the Southern North Sea are Gas only and you can't run an air force on water! :)
16th Jan 2008, 13:56
Sarco said, "Well North Sea oil may be in decline but if we cut you 'sassenachs' off then we will be fine, you southerners will be screwed because most of your productions in the Southern North Sea are Gas only and you can't run an air force on water! :)"
Just how do you intend to defend your oil against the English, perhaps we arrive back at the start of the topic.:)
16th Jan 2008, 14:00
But where would they get the money from to run an air force?
North Sea oil output is in rapid decline
The increasing costs of oil are likely to make the exploration West of Shetland more economic, so thatmight have to be factored in. there is also the question of raising revenues by offering basing and operation rights to the remaining UK.
Someone mentioned the Irish model, based on economic protection - another comparator might be the current New Zealand model (eeek!) -transport and recce, but no combat capability.
Most projections seem based on the idea of an SNP Govt - however, the possibility exists that if we ever voted for Independance, a subsequent Government could be of another persuasion.
you can't run an air force on water!
Yes you can, it's called the Fleet Air Arm.
Now to the name: the Scottish Nationalist Air Force Unit, or SNAFU for short. (Seen that somewhere, methinks, and probably very apposite.)
Then my best advice is for all members of the Royal English Air Force (REAF) to join the SNAFU (who would have ditched the JPA as suggested), get their pay sorted and then apply for exchange postings back to the REAF.
Then everyone is happy. :O
16th Jan 2008, 14:51
Surely we English oppressors won't have to pay tax if posted to Scotland in the future as we will be serving abroad.
I think that the SNP think tank is called 'Flying Republic Independant Scottish Power' or FRISP for short....Hmmm, FRISP.....now that rings a bell.
16th Jan 2008, 15:56
Who needs an Air Force when you have your own nuclear deterrent?:}:}
16th Jan 2008, 16:06
I think it's a splendid idea-----just so long as they took the Scottish Group Captain back.
16th Jan 2008, 16:07
How many Caledonian Uniformed Non-commisioned Troops would the Scottish Army Air Corps require. :ouch:
16th Jan 2008, 16:08
Scottish security? No problemo. That nice Mr Putin would be happy to be the Scottish Parliament's outsourcing partner - I'm sure they can shoehorn their SSBNs into Rosyth. Intercepting Flankers would be so much more fun for the English Typhoon crews than those slow old Bears :D
16th Jan 2008, 16:10
Francis Tusa's always entertaining, always thought provoking and often insightful Defence Analysis carried the following piece on Scotland....
Issues For The Sake Of Auld Lang Syne ...?
The topic hasn’t been an elephant in the living room. More like it, it is an elephant that has just burst through the wall intothe living room. And the pachyderm in question is that of Scottish independence. To many, it might seem strange that this is an issue of any real interest/importance to Defence Analysis at all. But once you start to look at it, the defence and the defence industrial implications of Scottish independence are, to put it mildly, eye-watering .... And after quite a lot of mulling and thought between Christmas parties (pass the liver salts Ethel) and the mince pies, Defence Analysis believes that it can say two things with conviction: firstly, independence would be very bad news for Scotland from a defence and defence industrial point of view; and secondly, although it might look like an unmitigated, expensive disaster from a London base, the options open are actually quite good ....
The topic of independence has come from next to nowhere over the past 2–3 months. Of course, there has been a Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) for decades, and there have been referenda on the topic before now. And, sure, the matter of previous elements of devolution of powers to both Edinburgh and Cardiff had also added some fuel to the fire. But for most – and during the research of this article, it was as true for Scots as anyone else – the idea of Scottish independence has seemed another issue among many. It didn’t seem to be at the top of that many peoples’ lists.
But it is the up-coming elections for the Scottish Parliament in May 2007 that has suddenly raised the spectre that independence could actually be on the cards. Firstly ,there are signs that the governing party of the UK, the Labour Party, could yet see major losses in the May Scottish elections, perhaps even suffering a similar fate to that of the Conservatives over the past 10–15 years “North of the Border”.
At this stage – mid- December 2006 – the polls suggest that there won’t be an absolute SNP majority, and that the Nationalists are likely to have to enter a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. However, even in such a case, the pressure, according to the Scottish opinion polls, for independence is high, and at the time of writing – mid-December 2006 – the polls suggested that 50–60% of the Scottish electorate would support such a move.
On this basis alone, Defence Analysis is going to look, on a hypothetical basis, on what might happen in the aftermath of a referendum on independence at some date over the next five or so years.
Policy Number One, and at the top of the SNP defence policy list:
“The SNP reaffirms that no nuclear weapons will be based on independent Scottish soil. On Independence we will negotiate the safe removal of Trident from Scotland.”
OK, fair enough: that’s Faslane and Coulport for the chop right away! Without so much as a by-your-leave, the SNP is declaring that it has no wish to see these facilities, and one has to assume the nuclear submarines in Faslane, too, would not really be welcome. As a point of financial reference, the money that flows through the nuclear facilities at Coulport and Faslane amount to £200–250-million per year, and this does not take account of any local spend by service personnel. The departure of the nuclear deterrent force will deprive the local area of a welcome source of revenue.
But what would the so-called Scottish Defence Services do as a set of roles and missions, and so what would it look like? Once again, it is probably only fair to look at the small details held in the SNP’s policy document, and try to extrapolate from that ....
“Our armed forces will initially be equipped with Scotland’s share of UK defence resources.”
So how will you calculate the “share” of the UK’s defence resources?
● Population. Well, if you were to assess matters on the size of Scotland in population terms relevant to the UK as a whole, then Scotland might be hopeful of getting 5–6% of the total.
● GDP. Depending upon the figures, and the fact that even within a “united” government, there seem to be so many different ways of calculating things, Scotland has somewhere between 8% and 10% of the UK’s total GDP.
● Tax Take. Another figure which can, in all honesty, be read in a number of ways. Defence Analysis has seen Scottish Independence figures from 4% to 7% for the share of taxes collected in the UK that come from Scotland.
Defence Analysis isn’t going to get into the nitty-gritty of exactly, down to the last decimal place, the size of Scotland’s share of the UK economy. But an upper limit of 10% is, on the basis of all readily available, independent figures, fair, and a good basis to start work on.
So where does one go from here? Well, let us put some maxima and minima on what the various percentages of the above calculations would provide as regards the Royal Navy and RAF:
DA then runs a table with assets and Scotland’s max and minimum shares – including between 0.4 and 1 SSNs, 6 and 14.5 GR4s, 3 and 7 Harriers, 9 and 23 Typhoons, 1.5 and 3.6 Hercs, 0.5 and 1.2 Nimrods, 1.6 and 4 Chinooks, and 1 and 2.5 Merlins.
Many of the fleets or flotillas that a break up of the RN and RAF would provide would create utterly useless and unmanageable “units”. What military value does 0.12 of an aircraft carrier provide you? Of course, no military value at all.
● It is – just – viable to talk about a squadron of 10–12
Tornado GR4s with 4–5 attrition aircraft. It is also very rational to look to a “wing” of 18 Typhoon with a reserve of five aircraft. A group of four Chinook – just – might make sense. But four C-130s? Or one Nimrod, at best? These are numbers that simply do not make sense.
● And even if one can make a case for a small unit of aircraft, or even a couple of ships, what are the implications for supporting so few? Thinking of ships, looking around the world – and countries such as Norway, New Zealand and so forth do spring to mind as comparators – you tend to need at least three ships of a kind so as to provide cost effective support. So the – at best – two Type 23s would not really make a worthwhile flotilla. Think about it: Chile bought three ....
Of course, it is certain that the SNP would say that in the case of a break up of the British armed forces, there would – of course – be a bit of give-and-take, as well as some haggling as regards who got what. But you know what? In most cases, an independent Scotland would be in a weak negotiating position. If you “own” 0.12 of a ship, you are not in a very good position to demand top dollar for it. It is pretty much the same as a small minority stake in a company: it gives you no control, and has limited value.
Likewise, if you have the “right” to one Nimrod MRA4, you, too, cannot ask top whack for it if you are trying to sell it back to London. After all, it would be prohibitively expensive to support a single Nimrod on its own. But can England take another Nimrod airframe, and with the mission systems already bought, convert one to replace that “lost” to Scotland? Of course. And if you cannot agree on a price, what would Edinburgh do? Go on e-bay with an advert: “I am selling: one Nimrod MRA-4”? An orphan aircraft will not command a top price. Defence Analysis feels that this is true for most calculations of the ship split, as well as for the Harriers and many non-fast jet types.
Of course, as far as the Army is concerned, the independent SNP would probably ask, as a matter of right, for the following:
● The five regular battalions of the Royal Regiment of
● The Scots Guards.
● 45 Commando, Royal Marines.
● The two TA Infantry regiments, plus elements of 4 (V)
● The Scots Dragoon Guards, plus elements of 1 Royal
● 19 (Highland Regiment), 40 (Lowland Regiment) Royal
● Elements of 16 and 32 Regiments Royal Artillery.
Points to note:
● Apart from the fact of bad recruiting, Scotland would
“take” a disproportionate share of infantry regiments,
15% or so if 45 Commando is included.
● The share of armoured units is light on that basis of
calculation, but more in line with the figures of share of
population or GDP.
● Scotland also looks about right as regards artillery
● An independent Scotland seems to be “short” of signals
and logistics units.
It is certain that as far as the SNP, as political masters of an independent Scotland are concerned, the haggling could be along the lines – reasonable lines, too – of, “OK, we’ll return the seven Harriers, if you will give us 2.4 more C-130J’s”. A trade for their share of C-17, and a Nimrod might net some more Merlins or a Chinook or two extra.
In a similar fashion, trading in the SSN – if they can get that agreed upon – as well as the shares in the CVS and LPD/LPH might get an RFA oiler or two, and perhaps one or two more escorts, and even an LSD(A) or so.
This is all assuming that there is a very logical, and reasonable process of assessing who gets what, and at what value. Naturally, the SNP will try to pitch at somewhere around a rather ridiculous 20–25% share, and London will obviously start at the 4–5% level. That is why Defence
Analysis feels that a 10% share is probably defensible on most sides, and could be justified.
POLICY AND SHAPE
But the above analysis does assume that an independent Scotland wishes to be a “Mini Me” of the current UK armed forces. And from the policy statements of the SNP, this is not very likely.
“Scotland will maintain active defence commitments with its friends and allies through the United Nations, European Union and Partnership for Peace.”
OK, this might sound totally cynical, but any defence policy that bases all of its activities on the UN, the EU, and PfP is going to have a similar outcome to the defence policies of Ireland, Belgium or Portugal. If your poster idol for defence policy is the EU, then there is one truth: you aren’t going to get involved in any serious operations. If someone might shoot back at you, you will decide to not deploy. That has been the logic seen in countries that have championed the EU/UN lines of development in defence. Sorry, but it’s true.
As a by-the-by, although Partnership for Peace is a NATO initiative, isn’t it interesting that the SNP does not explicitly mention NATO as a driver for its defence policy? Does that mean that Scotland might try to obtain only observer status in NATO? Does this mean that, looking at recent events, when the NATO Secretary General and SACEUR were calling for more troops and helicopters for Afghanistan, an independent Scotland would be firmly on the side of France, Germany and Italy, sticking to reservations, and failing to find any news assets?
One implication to draw from this, as regards shape and so forth, also comes from the SNP’s defence policy document, which states that the chief aims of an independent Scottish defence policy would be, “... the defence of Scottish land, sea and air ....”This does not really suggest that an SNP-run Scotland would be keen on deployed operations. We are not seeing the type of policy being implemented in another smallish (in population terms, at least) country, Australia, whose defence policy is firmly expeditionary in nature and fact.
In which case, would an SNP-run Scotland want, for example, Main Battle Tanks? Would Edinburgh go down the path of Canada or Belgium and simply sell off all heavy artillery, tanks, and MICVs, instead opting to buy LAVs in myriad roles?
Would such a Scotland want attack aircraft, Storm Shadow cruise missiles? Of course, they could try to bargain them away for things that were desirable for an independent Scotland. But once again, the rule is applied: an eager seller never get as much as a cautious one. And if the United UK won’t pay inflated prices, the chances of getting good prices for small batches of kit on the export market are equally limited. Want to buy 52 Challenger 2 MBTs, squire? Slightly used ...?
BUDGET AND SHAPE
Another key guide to what happens after an independence referendum is what sort of budget an independent Scotland would have. Take the following figures, and as started above, trying to get what a normal human being would describe as “definitive” ones is difficult:
● UK GDP £1.16-trillion
● Scottish GDP £76-billion
● UK GDP/Scottish GDP ratio 6.5%
● Other GDP ratios 8–10%
From this, we can take the low of 6.5% and a high of 10%, although the latter has been regarded by all who have seen it as insanely high. Nevertheless .... Scottish GDP could be as high as £120–130-billion.
But now let us look at what the existing spend on defence is as a proportion of GDP in the UK: 2.3%. So what range does this give for an independent Scotland?
● High Defence Spend: £2.76-billion
● Low Defence Spend: £1.75-billion
So what? What are the metrics against which we should examine these figures. Well, what about the defence spends of a few other European countries, including the one that SNP politicians love to compare themselves to, Norway:
Defence Spend (£) % of GDP
Norway £2.28-billion 1.7%
Belgium £2.25-billion 1.3%
Ireland £450-million 0.5%
Points to note:
● Even while spending less in GDP terms than the UK, both Norway and Belgium spend very close to what the upper range that an independent Scotland might spend on defence, basing that on the UK figure of today.
● Norway’s GDP is slightly more than twice that of an independent Scotland, and yet there seems to be little drive to boost defence spending.
● The last two countries are used as examples of what happens to defence spending when you decide that you want the UN and EU to be your guides.
The point of the comparison with these countries is to reinforce another point: all of these countries have had to make serious decisions about which military capabilities they drop, simply because they cannot afford them to cover all the bases. Defence Analysis feels very comfortable in stating that the example of places such as Belgium and Norway is that they have had to make hard choices: and Scotland would have to make the same type of decisions. Capabilities would be
dropped. Belgium decided to drop all heavy armour and artillery, Norway has also shaved its heavier forces, as well as some aspects of overseas operations capability. It is simple: if you are only spending £2–3-billion, then you will not have that many options open as regards military capabilities.
more to follow
16th Jan 2008, 16:11
Audex, that's a bit close to the bone that is.....
16th Jan 2008, 16:13
Would an independent Scotland actually raise defence spending, so as to allow more options to be explored?
Anything is possible, in theory. But an article in the London Financial Times in early December pointed out that the budget situation of Scotland today is one of imbalance, and the probability of major deficits is high. As such, the idea of a major hike in defence spending looks unlikely.
And there is a further factor which would distort Scotland’s defence options if the SNP were to win an outright majority. Once again, let us take some comments from their defence policy statement:
● Scotland’s armed services should be well-remunerated, equipped and trained.
● Historic regiments will be protected and, if abolished, re- established as part of the SDS.
● Military facilities, including strategic air force stations should not be downsized at the present time.”
There is a common strand through all of these statements: they are manpower and property focussed, and thus expensive.
At face value, Defence Analysis has absolutely no complaint about paying soldiers well: in fact it is a surprise that there has not been more debate about this south of the border. But take it this way: you resurrect the amalgamated regiments (Note: what is the cut-off point for deciding whether a regiment is open for re-establishment? 2005? 1993? 1971?); this will incur an extra cost as regards administration duplicated across the regiments; you pay everyone much better, raising personnel costs as a proportion of the total defence spend, which has implications elsewhere (see below); and at the same time, rather than taking a rational view of what facilities are needed to support the new force, the SNP suggest that as much real estate should be kept in the hands of a Scottish MoD regardless of whether it is needed or not, and, one assumes, at any cost. With such a policy in place, one can doubt – seriously – the statement that Scottish armed forces should be well-equipped: there is unlikely to be the cash to afford this.
BASES – WHICH WILL BE LEFT?
“Military facilities, including strategic airforce stations should not be downsized at the present time.”
Sorry to say, but no-one in the SNP has worked out that they might not have much of a say about this! Think of it this way: a referendum, a unanimous vote for independence, and no small amount of crowing about the victory. Why will an English and Welsh Parliament decide to keep bases open in Scotland? They won’t, pure and simple.
On top of this, decisions affecting the next generation of bases will not go Scotland’s way. Look at the basing decisions open for Typhoon and JSF:
RAF Leuchars (Scotland)
JSF (Options Open)
RAF St. Mawgan
RAF Lossiemouth (Scotland)
RAF Leuchars might have been selected as one base for Typhoon: but a third base is yet to be chosen. If there is independence, it isn’t going to be in Scotland ....
No decisions have yet been taken for JSF basing, but – again – even if there are good candidate bases in Scotland – RAF Lossiemouth to the fore – why would an English and Welsh Parliament opt for it over facilities which could help the local economy? Strange to tell, but Cornwall in south west England is about as deprived an area as one can find in England, even with the tourist trade. Think what an impact as regards the local economy a major air base would make!
And while we are talking about this, there are the 11 Nimrod MRA4s which would be England’s share of the fleet. Will they stay at RAF Kinloss? There’d be no reason for that, so they could go to the base which had been the favoured option, RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, allowing the RAF to have an ISTAR hub with Nimrod, AWACS, and ASTOR all-in-one.
Let Defence Analysis put it in simple, if brutal terms: an independent Scotland means that at least one, and probably two of the current RAF bases would, when judged on economic terms, have to close. And there would not be enough coming back into Scotland as part of the division of the spoils to justify, on economic grounds, opening up new facilities. For reference, below are some basic data for the running costs of some major Scottish bases over the past few years. It gives an idea of the level of impact of the local economies of base closures:
● £ Millions
Location Name 2001–02 2002–032003–04
RNAD Coulport & HMNB Faslane 229.14 291.56 207
RAF Kinloss 193.45 211.5 162.3
RAF Leuchars 124.62 162.72 217.87
RAF Lossiemouth 210.66 238.42 240.69
Rosyth HMS Caledonia 31.82 44.69 20.85
Perhaps the core of the debate about the impact of Scottish independence on defence is what it would do to defence industry in Scotland. There are two factors to consider here: first is the politics of defence spending as regards England/Scotland; and the other is the attractiveness of Scotland as a defence market.
To take the second point first, would an independent Scotland be a market that people would be racing to enter? Well, in so far as any new market would have some attraction, sure. But how “must have” would Scotland be? To return to the discussion of budget earlier in this piece, Scotland’s budget, basing the calculations on the current UK defence spend, ranges from £1.75–2.5-billion. The UK today manages to spend about 40% of its total budget on procurement, one of the higher figures in NATO, let alone the world. This would give a range of figures for Scotland of;
● High Procurement Spend £1-billion
● Low Procurement Spend £700-million
Now, the high figure doesn’t look bad, does it? Especially when you consider that the “baseline” Italian procurement figure is only some e1.4–1.6-billion (£950–1,100-million). But the basis of this calculation includes in “procurement” consumables, fuel, commercial equipment and services, which might not equate in any respect to war fighting procurement. Trying to pull out from the whole what might be relevant to an understanding of what is, and what isn’t “Equipment Procurement” is – as ever – difficult. But one can cut the headline figures by at least 50%, and possibly even by 65% to arrive at the following figures for the procurement spend of Scotland:
● Equipment Procurement (High) £500-million
● Equipment Procurement (Low) £250-million
There is a further effect to consider: the points made previously about the spending priorities of the SNP being expensive on the part of personnel and facilities, and the fact that this militates against spending on equipment, unless there is a major rise in expenditure as a proportion of GDP. If this has the effect that Defence Analysis believes that it would have, to lower the proportion spent on equipment, then one might look towards the lower of the two figures as the realistic future Scottish defence equipment spend.
So, how attractive would that budget figure be for many players? Is that enough to want to invest in Scotland so as to grab the action? Well, you don’t tend to hear of too many multi-million euro investments in places such as, say, Belgium or Portugal to win business. The smaller the market, the less the foreign direct investment, and the fewer the chances for meaningful offset. Further, the smaller the budget, the smaller the buy, and the less opportunity for good pricing. Just bear in mind the following calculation:
● UK defence procurement spend £7-billion
● Scottish defence procurement spend £500-million
Which budget would be most business managers’ priority to capture? And if you had an industrial facility in Scotland, and knew that there could be some quite acrimonious relations between London and Edinburgh, where would you want your main effort to be, industrially, at least?
To put this into open terms: do you think that the English and Welsh Parliament would want future warships to be built on the Clyde and Firth of Forth, or would Parliament prefer to see them built in Devonport, Portsmouth, Southampton, and Swansea? Would an English and Welsh Parliament want to see major avionics systems to upgrade Tornado GR4s come from Edinburgh, or – say – from Chelmsford or Rochester? Is there anyone who thinks that English and Welsh taxpayers wouldn’t prefer to see their tax pounds being spent in England and Wales, and not Scotland?
In which case, how quickly would one see, say, Type 45 work transferred from BAES Govan and Scotstoun to the south? OK, it couldn’t be done overnight, but there is little doubt that such a move would be demanded as soon as Scottish independence had been voted on. How many ships would this affect? Well, if one assumes that a referendum could take place as early as 2008, then assembly of Type 45s 4–8; and a new assembly facility for the CV(F)s would have to be found, so Rosyth would look a little bit bare! And one could rule out any MARS auxiliary support work ending up in Scotland, too.
One industrialist who spoke to Defence Analysis with an oath of secrecy about his company’s name, said, “As soon as there is any sign of a referendum, then we will stop any investment into Scotland until we can see which way the wind is blowing. Until then, it would simply be too risky.”
This view was backed up by several others – strange to tell, but all ere nervous of getting anywhere near being quoted openly ...! – who said that they believed that any move towards independence would see facilities moved south, and investment going elsewhere than Scotland. “It’s simply business sense”, said one. “A Scottish Government would have to come up with some pretty attractive figures to make us want to keep the same size of facility post-independence”, said another.
To put it mildly, there does not seem to be that much enthusiasm that a post-independence Scotland is going to be as attractive a place to do business for defence companies, as a Scotland as part of the UK is for some at the moment.
OPTIONS OPEN ...?
OK, there might well be a little bit too much doom and gloom here: but might there not be a few silver linings if Scottish independence comes to pass? Well, if one assumes – and Defence Analysis believes that it is a defensible starting point – that there is going to have to be a re-shaping of Scotland’s armed forces, then two things come to pass: firstly a need to build and enhance many facilities; secondly, options for new equipment.
For the first point, it is unlikely that this would be open to many overseas tenders, even if EU rules dictate otherwise. It is likely that any construction opportunities would be used to provide local employment, and good luck to them! But as for the second point, then if earlier comments about what happens to defence industry do come to pass, then there should be much more option for outside players to come into win business. A “gendarmerie-isation” of Scottish land forces would require a new fleet of LAVs, so General Dynamics, Patria, and even Giat Nexter (the Auld Alliance anyone?) would all be interested in supplying such vehicles. More support helicopters would see the normal suspects queuing up.
Only in shipbuilding could one see an obvious area where there is local capability. Although, to be fair, one Scottish observer who spoke to Defence Analysis did observe that it as highly unlikely that there would be a massive drive to build the type of ships on the Clyde that are under construction at the moment: the SNP’s defence policy document, talking as it does of, “The priority of the Scottish Defence Services (SDS), in partnership with Scotland’s neighbours and allies, will be to safeguard our land, sea and air space.”This doesn’t sound like a “Blue Water” naval strategy, does it? Sounds more like the need for some OPVs. And the problem is that these tend to cost rather less than an AAW cruiser.
OUT OF ADVERSITY ...
Initially, the need to move facilities and bases south from Scotland to new locations in the UK, as well as the equivalent movement of industrial facilities, is going to cost money. But would it cost vast amounts? The only vital thing at HMNB Faslane is the ship lift, and as this is a floating dock, it could be towed to a new resting place in England. As there are still air bases up for consideration for use for Typhoon and JSF, the costs of selecting one in England or Wales would be equivalent to choosing one in Scotland, so that is cost neutral too. About the only facility that would have a major impact on budgets would be the nuclear warhead storage facility at Coulport, opposite Faslane. There is no equivalent base in England, and so one would have to be constructed, either in the south west, or close to Barrow. How much would this cost? Difficult to say, but £350–500-million seems to be a good headline cost, possibly excluding the costs of extra roads and infrastructure. A financial hit, but not an appalling one.
But there is one area where Scottish independence might be a boon, rather than a burden: the Maritime Industrial Strategy (MIS). The issue at the heart of MIS is that the UK has over-capacity in some areas of shipbuilding, but especially maintenance and overhaul. Well, ditch the Clyde yards, and then Rosyth and Faslane, and – hey Presto! – you lose the maintenance and overhaul overcapacity! OK, there is going to be a slight dislocation while relevant space is found in to ramp up surface ship production “Down South”.
And it doesn’t have to be that expensive: the incremental costs of expanding VT Group’s Portsmouth dockyard facilities to cope with Type 45 production was of the order of £15–20-million. Assume that you have to expand Portsmouth – again – Barrow, create new facilities at Devonport, and then expand the Southampton berth that is to be the CV(F) home to become the building yard, and one might be “unlucky” to have to find £100–150-million.
The one area of concern for the impact of Scottish independence is, as ever, a financial one. There has been a drive to get MoD facilities and bases out of south and east England into the cheaper areas of the UK. This has seen Scotland “favoured” as regards bases, with three major airbases kept there. There is still a drive to cut costs, and asset and estate sales seem to be likely ways of finding more money in the short-to-medium term. But if there can no longer be a movement of facilities into Scotland, then some asset sales of land in England will have to be pulled, with the consequent loss of revenue. Is this a deal breaker? Not really, as most of the land that is best suited for sale is not the type of land that would be affected by Scottish independence. About the only areas which might be affected would be Portsmouth and Devonport, where the full range of land sales probably couldn’t proceed as planned.
THERE’LL BE A WELCOME IN THE VALLEYS ...?
But Scottish independence would have a ray of hope for another part of the UK: Wales. OK, sure, there is a Welsh Nationalist Party, but it doesn’t have the same influence that the SNP have in Scotland. And it might be a factor to stay close to England if there is more investment to come out of Scottish independence. Think of it this way: there will be need for some extra training areas, as well as firing ranges. Wales has both of these, and, indeed, some have been slated to be closed. But if the need is there, then they could be kept open. Closure of Scottish garrisons could see the need for an extra brigade’s worth of troop being found a home, which could easily be in Wales. St Athan’s air base could find itself saved by being used as either a barracks or a new RAF support facility. And all of this would mean that there would be accompanying work to improve the infrastructure of Wales, especially south and west Wales.
Dare one also suggest that some work that might leave Scotland could well end up in south Wales: a skilled workforce, but with wage rates lower than south east England .... Those defence companies with a Welsh presence might be in line for more contracts ....
The objective of this analysis is merely to look in a depth yet to be seen elsewhere at the implications of Scottish independence. Originally, Defence Analysis felt that there might be enough for an interesting two page article, nothing more. But as the delving went on, so the options and implications increased apace. To return to the two fundamental conclusions, Scottish independence looks unlikely, on the basis of SNP policy published to date, to have many positives for Scottish defence, or for the Scotland- based defence industry. And although it might look like a nightmare to deal with from an English/Welsh point of view, there are some significant plus points arising from the exercise. What will happen now? Nothing until the results of the Scottish elections come along in May 2007. Then we will see whether a race has been started, leading to some quite profound changes.
To the great annoyance of Mr Salmond!
I am not Francis Tusa, as should be apparent from our respective command of written English - his being superb, mine being :eek: less so.
But I am his biggest fan!
Who would run it?
16th Jan 2008, 19:19
Well, so there you go; the question of Scottish independence will be decided upon by defence/defence industry economics. I know all matters defence rightly occupies our waking moments but someone better tell the Scottish voters. From where I stand, defence doesn't really have much of a profile in the voters mind. The question of Scottish independence will be decided upon on other matters.
16th Jan 2008, 19:23
The Francis Tusa analysis is all very well Jackonicko, but it fails to take account of one very important point which might change everything in the final analysis - the boss at Leuchars gets the opportunity to become an Extraordinary Member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. This should not to be turned down lightly, especially since there is no entrance fee, nor an annual subscription for an Extraordinary Member - quite apart from providing an interesting chat up line for the ladies!
16th Jan 2008, 20:36
"So would the Scottish taxpayer fund the mod to the Nimrod galley to accommodate the deep fat fryer for the Mars bars ?"
You deep fry one mars bar................ :p
16th Jan 2008, 21:50
probably need some COIN platforms fitted with big searchlights to spot all the brits getting out of this s:mad:thole, oh , and a useless ,slimy , funnymouthed english prime minister to balance things out:}:}:}
16th Jan 2008, 22:58
Well the CAS platform is sorted:rolleyes: