MoD black hole ‘gone’ after navy jets U-turn

SPEECH Philip Hammond
SPEECH Philip Hammond
Victorious Festival on Southsea Common

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THE Ministry of Defence has balanced its budget for the first time in a decade, the defence secretary has announced.

Philip Hammond said last week’s U-turn on the type of fighter jets it will buy for the navy’s new aircraft carriers was the ‘final piece of the jigsaw’ to ‘eliminate’ the £38bn black hole in the budget.

It comes after the government has axed 5,000 sailors, 10 warships – including HMS Ark Royal – and the Harrier jets.

‘These have not been easy decisions but they have been the right ones,’ the defence secretary told MPs.

Last week, he announced the navy will go back to having the F-35B jump jet version of the US-built Joint Strike Fighter on the flight decks of the new Portsmouth-based carriers.

The move saved spending £2bn on fitting catapult gear to one of the new warships.

He said: ‘The decision I announced last week on carrier strike being the final piece of the jigsaw, I can tell the house today that after two years of work the black hole in the defence budget has finally been eliminated and the budget has now been balanced.’

The defence secretary said the MoD will spend £160bn on military equipment in the next 10 years. This includes finishing the £6.2bn project to build the two new 65,000-tonne carriers, constructing a fleet of new Type 26 navy frigates and buying the F-35B jets.