According to the BBC, the Royal Air Force had to call on the help of aircraft from NATO allied units after a reported sighting of a submarine periscope off the west of Scotland last month. The search was suspended last week with no information on whether or not a submarine was located while the Ministry of Defence would not confirm of deny it was looking for a foreign submarine.
The incident highlights the severe capability gap that has appeared in Britain’s maritime patrol force with Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government decision to scrap the Nimrod force in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). This left Britain as the only western European country not to have a fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft. The SDSR argued that delays and cost overruns in the Nimrod MRA.4 program was unsustainable and that other platforms including the Hercules, Sentry and the Royal Navy’s helicopter based assets could cover the gap until a new aircraft was acquired. Clearly this has proven incorrect with Britain having to embarrassingly ask for help to secure its maritime borders.