Even more defence cuts could be on the horizon

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THE Ministry of Defence will have to make further cuts of between £1bn and £2bn over the next four years in order to prevent an overspend, a government think tank has warned.

The Security Review (SDSR), announced by David Cameron in October last year, cut 7.5 per cent in the defence budget until 2015,

Cuts, including the scrapping of HMS Ark Royal, Harrier jump jets, Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft and the loss of 42,000 jobs in the MoD and armed forces, are expected to save the government 4.7bn over the next four years.

However, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) said the cuts had 'not done enough' to fill a 38bn black hole in the MoD's budget.

RUSI's Michael Clarke and Malcolm Chalmers, speaking at a RUSI conference, said the MoD's 2011 planning round will be a 'nightmare', argued the measures announced in the review were 'not sufficient', and said annual spending would still remain too high.

Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey, who was at the event, did not contest the experts' view that more cuts would have to be made. Instead, he blamed the previous Labour government for allowing a 'massive unfunded liability in defence to build up'.

He added that the MoD had to 'develop and refine' its efforts to stay within its budget. This, he said, was something the department was yet to achieve.