Britain may close scale back its base in Cyprus

Britain is set to close at least one air force base and scale back its base in Cyprus as part of defence cost cutting plans, Channel 4 television said.

Britain may close scale back its base in Cyprus

Britain is set to close at least one air force base and scale back its base in Cyprus as part of defence cost cutting plans, Channel 4 television said on Friday.

Cuts amounting to hundreds of millions of pounds are due to be announced next week in an attempt to address a 6 billion pound ($10 billion) overspend, mainly on new aircraft, submarines and ships, with more cuts on the way, Channel 4 said.

It cited a senior Ministry of Defence official as saying the department was in "real financial trouble".

A ministry spokesman said: "This is speculation as no final decisions have been made. We routinely review our spending to ensure Afghanistan remains the top priority.

"Although some hard decisions will have to be made, no measures will affect the front line in Afghanistan."

Channel 4 said the cuts were due to have been made before this week's pre-budget report, but the MoD was unable to agree them in time. It was not clear which base would be closed. The government has pledged to halve the soaring national budget deficit over four years.

Channel 4 said the defence budget could be cut by up to 16 percent over three years, casting doubt on plans for two new aircraft carriers and for A400M aircraft.

The MoD said it was committed to Airbus's new military transporter, which made its maiden flight on Friday, two years behind schedule, but not at any cost.

"We regard the ongoing negotiations as the best means by which to determine a more deliverable programme," it said.

Britain last month offered to hand back half its remaining 3 percent of Cyprus's landmass if rival sides on the ethnically split island reached a peace deal. The offer by the former colonial power did not include a British air base in southern Cyprus, used to assist operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Reuters
Last Mod: 12 Aralık 2009, 12:04
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