Royal Navy cuts could be reviewed

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Prime Minister David Cameron is to look again at cuts to the defence budget in light of operations in Libya, it has been reported.

Mr Cameron is understood to be ‘actively engaged’ in reassessing the planned reductions in personnel and equipment, the Daily Telegraph said.

It is understood some of the Strategic Defence and Security Review’s (SDSR) recommendations, which included cuts to all three services, could now be postponed or even reversed.

On Thursday night, the Ministry of Defence said ‘significant inroads’ had already been made in to the £38 billion black hole in the department’s budget. A spokesman insisted that operations in Libya and Afghanistan had not been affected by the cuts.

According to reports, plans to scrap RAF Tornados and surveillance planes may be reversed by the rethink. It is believed the Treasury will give the MoD a reprieve on its 2011-12 budget, while the change of heart could cost £800 million.

A senior defence source said: ‘The debate is live. The Prime Minister is very much part of it. There’s a lot of objective thinking going on.’

But ministers insist the review will not be reopened.

The spokesman at the MoD added: ‘The Government sought to tackle a £38 billion defence shortfall and an equipment programme that was overcommitted and unsustainable after 13 years without a Strategic Defence Review.

‘Implementing difficult SDSR decisions has made significant inroads into the £38 billion blackhole. At the same time, we are ensuring operations are fully equipped and resourced.

‘As we are proving in Afghanistan and Libya, our armed forces have the capability to project power and influence around the world to protect our national security and uphold our values.’