RAF widow hits out at "cutbacks"

#1
The widow of one of 14 men killed when an RAF Nimrod aircraft crashed in Afghanistan believes defence cutbacks are putting lives at risk.

Flt Sgt Stephen Beattie, a father-of-two from Moray, died when the aircraft exploded in September.

His wife Shona said he could not remember the last time he flew a plane "with all the parts working".

The MoD said Nimrods were maintained to highest standards and the maintenance budget had risen by 50% in two years.

Mrs Beattie claimed cutbacks had been particularly felt among ground crew.

Twelve Kinloss-based airmen, a Royal Marine and a soldier died after a suspected technical fault.

Inquests into the deaths are to be held by the Oxford Coroner under English law.

Flt Sgt Beattie, who was born in Dundee and brought up in Perthshire, was the only Scot aboard the Nimrod surveillance aircraft.

Mrs Beattie and their children, Bethany and Cameron, live in Forres, Moray, a few miles from where he was stationed at RAF Kinloss.

She told the BBC: "I find it very difficult to accept I have lost all, and my children have lost a father, because of a technical fault."

Mrs Beattie said cutting back on the armed forces was a mistake.

"The ministerial powers-that-be make these decisions especially on safety terms, but there is something seriously wrong here," she said.

"All I can remember is Steve coming in in the summer-time and saying 'I cannot remember Shona the last time I have taken off on a plane with all the parts working'.

"They have cut back, cut back, ground crew especially and, you know, they've got to listen to this.

"Obviously if you have 10 men on a job as opposed to 20 you are going to have different outcome."

Air Vice-Marshal Ian McNicoll said the loss of the Nimrod MR2 was desperately sad news and the RAF's priority was to support the families and loved ones of the aircrew who lost their lives.

He added: "At this stage, the indications are that the accident was caused by a technical failure, but we must wait for the Board of Inquiry to report.

"The Nimrod MR2 has been a very successful aircraft, with an excellent safety record. It is maintained to the highest standards by dedicated RAF ground crews.

"Over the past two years, we have increased the amount spent on Nimrod aircraft maintenance by 50%, from £2m to £3m per aircraft per year."

Flt Sgt Beattie joined the RAF in July 1982 and had served as an air electronics operator, instructor and in the intelligence section.

A tribute written for a ceremony at RAF Kinloss described him as "fiercely committed", "courageous" and "highly respected".

The 13 other victims were: Flt Lt Steven Johnson, Flt Lt Leigh Anthony Mitchelmore, Flt Lt Gareth Rodney Nicholas, Flt Lt Allan James Squires, Flt Lt Steven Swarbrick, Flt Sgt Gary Wayne Andrews, Flt Sgt Gerard Martin Bell, Flt Sgt Adrian Davies, Sgt Benjamin James Knight, Sgt John Joseph Langton and Sgt Gary Paul Quilliam.
Source: BBC News

BBC News 24 have started a series this week, interviewing parents who have lost family in Iraq/Afganistan. It started me wondering are the flood gates now been opened in the public and media interest in the supply and support of HM Forces. Considering the bias of the BBC, the article appeard very pro Forces, but Anti Government for not maintaining the Nimrod. Should be an interesting week to see the other interviews.
 
#2
It smacks of the sodier who had to hand over his Flakjacket and lost his life. My heart went out to his wife who has remained composed throughout and it still irks me when I think of that selfcentred parasitical sh-i-t called Hoon strutting around as if he couldnt care less.
 
#3
The press release following the article was typical spin saying how they have invreased by 50% the maintainence funds for the Nimrods. I can see far more interest is going to be shown into the management of defence funding.

Having seen another thread on here about an ITV interview, it seems the media are out for scalps when the whole piece is titled " Betrayed? An Investigaton - We probe how Britain treats its frontline wounded"

Source: ITV News
 
#4
When one "crashed" in Iraq an investigation found that because of the lack of fire retardent material the aircraft was in a bad way. I am no rocket scientist so forgive me if I miss somethimg out but the Yanks had the stuff in their aircraft as did other nations. When Crony Grayson was asked he siad it wasnt cost effective but funny how it takes the sacrifice of our people to make these tossers take notice and "forget" any previous statements as Grayson did when questioned after the Govt announced it would "look into" this fire retardent material.
 
#6
FABLONBIFFCHIT said:
It smacks of the sodier who had to hand over his Flakjacket and lost his life.
To be fair though from what I've read the guy was a RAC bloke and since there was a shortage of enhanced body armour he had to hand it back over for someone in the infantry, with a Challenger 2 being pretty much top of the line in regards to bullet proof protection seems fairly logical the infantry got first dibs compared to tank crews. Of course then he got out of the tank which is when he got shot in the chest.

Edit: Just to be clear I'm not trying to be disparaging to the guy and the sacrifice he made, just saying it wasn't as cut and dried as the press sometimes wrote it.
 
#7
still no excuse for having to hand over your body armour! The Cav don't fecking live in their panzers.

As for Crab Air, I might not be the organisations biggest fan but a life is a life no matter what uniform its wearing. Crab Air do not have to conform to CAA standards and that might be their let down - I for one was very nervous when travelling by Chinook, but never by Lynx or Sea King!
 
#8
Brick,

Just remember why we plan. We do so to look at all contingencies, to take them into account and to mitigate risk.

To deploy to a war zone without body armour (when even the journos accept it as a must have) because some fool has dictated that we can always buy it "just enough, just in time", is idiotic whatever way you want to look at it.

Tankies need to get out of their wagons. When they deploy, they will not operate in a benign area nor a partially secure area. They are therefore subject to being shot at. Therefore they needed body armour to wear.

I don't see a problem with that logic - do you?

Article says that MOD have raised the expenditure in maintainance from £2m to 3m an aircraft per year. Anyone know how much additional flying these aircraft have done in the same time period?

If, as I suspect that the flight numbers and duration have gone up at least in proportion to the increased expenditure and there were crew worries that not enough money was being spent in the first place, the AVM's comment is invalid or to put it another way, simple spin.

Any of our RAF brethern able to comment?
 
#9
The Maintenance Budget might very well have gone up by 50%........ but 50% of what, exactly? A fiver? So, £7.50 to spend on maintenance.... crikey! My legs have gone all shakey.

The system is running on empty. When you have the Brass racking their brains to find ways of making money and asking their staff to think of ways to make money from their services and facilities, then we are seriously in the crap.
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#10
Malteser said:
The 13 other victims were: Flt Lt Steven Johnson, Flt Lt Leigh Anthony Mitchelmore, Flt Lt Gareth Rodney Nicholas, Flt Lt Allan James Squires, Flt Lt Steven Swarbrick, Flt Sgt Gary Wayne Andrews, Flt Sgt Gerard Martin Bell, Flt Sgt Adrian Davies, Sgt Benjamin James Knight, Sgt John Joseph Langton and Sgt Gary Paul Quilliam.
Source: BBC News
A pity the BBC having done a good job then let themselves down by only name 11 of the 13 dead.

Left out are:
Cpl Oliver Dicketts Para:
http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/D...ralOliverSimonDickettsKilledInAfghanistan.htm

Marine Joe Windall RM:
http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/D...arineJosephDavidWindallKilledInAghanistan.htm
 
#11
Or perhaps look at it from the other angle: the Nimrods are so knackered that they've required 50% more maintenance this year...
 
#12
There was not enough body armour for the infantry soldiers in the BG. The CO made the command decision that the dismounted infantry doing house assaults and attacks were more of a priority than the tank crews.

It was a sensible decision that was made BUT shouldn't have had to be made if there was enough body armour in the first place.

IMHO
 
#13
nimrods are rebuild of 50s comets of course there going to need rather a lot of maintenace there pushing 50 for go sakes :(
 
#14
in_the_cheapseats said:
....Article says that MOD have raised the expenditure in maintainance from £2m to 3m an aircraft per year. Anyone know how much additional flying these aircraft have done in the same time period?

If, as I suspect that the flight numbers and duration have gone up at least in proportion to the increased expenditure and there were crew worries that not enough money was being spent in the first place, the AVM's comment is invalid or to put it another way, simple spin.
Exactly - and on airframes that are already very old!

Litotes
 
#15
FABLONBIFFCHIT said:
When one "crashed" in Iraq an investigation found that because of the lack of fire retardent material the aircraft was in a bad way. I am no rocket scientist so forgive me if I miss somethimg out but the Yanks had the stuff in their aircraft as did other nations. When Crony Grayson was asked he siad it wasnt cost effective but funny how it takes the sacrifice of our people to make these tossers take notice and "forget" any previous statements as Grayson did when questioned after the Govt announced it would "look into" this fire retardent material.
It was a hercules which crashed in Iraq, not a Nimrod
 
#16
I reckon the 50% increase is pure spin. What if, in the previous years, the projected funding had been cut because they expected the upgraded MRA4/RMPA (whatever its called this week) in service, which would theoretically need less maintenance? They are late, which means the funding had to be resurrected at the old MR2 level. This would not be a true increase, but actually an admission of failure. Or, does the “increase” perhaps include UORs which should have been fitted long ago anyway. Much like foam in Hercules.
 
#17
Brick said:
FABLONBIFFCHIT said:
It smacks of the sodier who had to hand over his Flakjacket and lost his life.
To be fair though from what I've read the guy was a RAC bloke and since there was a shortage of enhanced body armour he had to hand it back over for someone in the infantry, with a Challenger 2 being pretty much top of the line in regards to bullet proof protection seems fairly logical the infantry got first dibs compared to tank crews. Of course then he got out of the tank which is when he got shot in the chest.

Edit: Just to be clear I'm not trying to be disparaging to the guy and the sacrifice he made, just saying it wasn't as cut and dried as the press sometimes wrote it.

in_the_cheapseats said:
Brick,

Just remember why we plan. We do so to look at all contingencies, to take them into account and to mitigate risk.

To deploy to a war zone without body armour (when even the journos accept it as a must have) because some fool has dictated that we can always buy it "just enough, just in time", is idiotic whatever way you want to look at it.

Tankies need to get out of their wagons. When they deploy, they will not operate in a benign area nor a partially secure area. They are therefore subject to being shot at. Therefore they needed body armour to wear.

I don't see a problem with that logic - do you?

Article says that MOD have raised the expenditure in maintainance from £2m to 3m an aircraft per year. Anyone know how much additional flying these aircraft have done in the same time period?

If, as I suspect that the flight numbers and duration have gone up at least in proportion to the increased expenditure and there were crew worries that not enough money was being spent in the first place, the AVM's comment is invalid or to put it another way, simple spin.

Any of our RAF brethern able to comment?
I think we all get caught in same way on this, Sgt Roberts gave up his body armour,, because there wasn't enough in theatre to issue each soldier with his own set. We can all question the decision that was made, whereby Steve ended up without his CBA. The fact remains though, that shortages like these are bought about purely because the treasury is not releasing enough money to fund the basic equiping of our forces. We were thousands of sets of CBA short. But nobody was going to say that in March 2003, were they?

It's a simple risk calculation: Upside (soldier lives, doesn't get injured) minus Downside (soldier loses life, badly injured) equals regret. Now put a value against the soldier living, and put value against the regret (worst case) and some given scenarios in between. Now take the cost of ECBA, and multiply by the number of soldiers in theatre. Then work out whether the risk is one you're prepared to take. The UK Government has, it's conclusion is that it's cheaper to underequip and bear the losses, then it is to properly fund and equip our forces. You vote, you decide.

The outcry surrounding CGS's recent comments and the understandable voice from the ranks saying; "At last, somebody with authority, who is prepared to break this conspiracy of silence." My only surprise is that it hadn't happened previously.
 
#18
You are very wrong about body armour. There were enouh sets in theatre at the start of the war. However, logistically the army was not given enough time to distribute the equipment. Blair did not want to show his hand and upset the useless European leaders. General Jaacksson declared UK Forces ready when he knew they were not. Sgt Roberts should have had his protection. The MoD agreed an out of court settlement as a result. It is time our General's stood up to weasel politicians. Needless death is the biggest tragedy of all.
 
#19
nigegilb said:
You are very wrong about body armour. There were enouh sets in theatre at the start of the war. However, logistically the army was not given enough time to distribute the equipment. Blair did not want to show his hand and upset the useless European leaders. General Jaacksson declared UK Forces ready when he knew they were not. Sgt Roberts should have had his protection. The MoD agreed an out of court settlement as a result. It is time our General's stood up to weasel politicians. Needless death is the biggest tragedy of all.
nigegilb - agree with your sentiments and understand the logic of what your stating - Blair not wanting to show hand, Gen Jackson saying ready to go, etc. I have a bit of problem on the CBA front though. If there were adequate stocks of CBA in theatre (and although not picking an argument, I would say British Army CBA), then the logistical breakdown that sees us begging the US Army for "000's of sets" needs investigating, if we can't locate and distribute this amount of essential kit between Southern Kuwait and Southern Iraq, there is / was a serious problem. Please don't think this an arsey response, but I witnessed with my own eyes exactly what was going on. As regards the MOD paying an out of court settlement to Samantha Roberts, that's the downside risk that the MOD takes, and I agree with you 100% that needless death is the biggest tragedy of all.
 
#20
Is the lack of logistics, just another facet of the cut-backs endured by the army and air-force? Logistics is something which in peacetime must be kept at levels FAR in excess of those required so then when it is required during hostilities, it is available. Unfortunately, governments do not think like that. they simply see excess resources and get rid of them, with the predictable outcome during times of war.


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