Cameron set to review defence cuts but “speculation” this could see reprieve for a Marham Tornado squadron
Prime Minister David Cameron is to look again at cuts to the defence budget in light of operations in Libya, it was claimed today. But while the disclosure could see a reprieve for threatened Tornado squadrons, it is unlikely to impact on the decision over whether the aircraft should be based at RAF Marham or Lossiemouth.
Earlier this week, the head of the RAF warned the service risked becoming overstretched without more investment in coming years.
It came as Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton said the air force expected to be involved in operations over Libya for at least six months.
Mr Cameron is understood to be 'actively engaged' in reassessing the planned reductions in personnel and equipment, the Daily Telegraph reported.
It is understood some of the Strategic Defence and Security Review's recommendations, which included cuts to all three services, could now be postponed or even reversed.
The Ministry of Defence said 'significant inroads' had already been made in the �38bn black hole in the department's budget.
A spokesman insisted that operations in Libya and Afghanistan had not been affected by the cuts.
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There was also speculation that plans to scrap two Tornado squadrons - Marham-based XIII and Lossiemouth-based XIV - could be reversed, although there was no official confirmation.
Aircraft from XIII, which is due to disband in June, have been flying 3,000-mile sorties from Marham to Libya, to attack Col Gaddafi's air defences.
Sources in Scotland said the decision to disband squadrons was 'not irreversible'.
But the latest disclosure is not expected to affect the decision to station the RAF's Tornado Force at a single base.
This summer, ministers are due to announce whether this will be RAF Marham or RAF Lossiemouth, in Scotland.
Ministers insist the strategic review itself will not be re-opened.
An MoD spokesman said: '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.'
In February, Mr Cameron told the Commons 'lessons need to be learned, including about the use of military assets' as a result of difficulties evacuating British nationals from Libya.
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.'