I saw the egregious General Sir Mike Jackson on the Weekly Politics last night, talking about the defence shortfall. Needless to say, monster failures such as FRES and A400M were not mentioned. Portaloo was saying that projects such as the future carriers were at risk, which if true would effectively mean the end of the Royal Navy, and cannot be allowed to happen.
Jackson is still arguing for a new Trident force, arguing that it will "only" cost £3.5 billion per year. At this Dianne Abbot rolled her eyes, and for once I agreed with her. Jackson does not seem to get it at all.
The military needs to think laterally. If we wish to maintain a nuclear deterrerent, it must be at the least cost, since it is a doomsday weapon which leaches funds from systems which are actually in use day by day. It seems we cannot get out of buying the final tranche of Eurofighters. Why not designate them as Bomber Command and equip them with nuclear bombs? The RAF will be happy, as strategic bombing was really the only good reason for having an independent air force in the first place. The Eurofighters, which have to be bought, will have some use, and the rest of the forces can get on with doing what they do. Is this as good as Trident? No, but we no longer face a four minute warning from the USSR, and have to cut our coat according to our cloth, something Mike Jackson really needs to learn.
Against a sophisticated air defence system, Eurofighters would not prevail. Any attack must be superceded by air defence suppression, taking out missile systems and radars and degrading command and control systems. That requires a range of assets and a capability which is far beyond that available to the RAF. Acquiring that capability - including the support infrastructure such as air bases - would undoubtedly cost considerable more than an upgraded Trident fleet and its supporting infrastructure. On balance, Trident is the cheapest mechanism for survivable delivery of nuclear weapons.