THESE are interesting times for the British armed forces with yet another defence review being ordered by the government as British forces withdrew from Iraq to concentrate on Afghanistan. Despite defence spending being the highest in Europe the British armed forces always appear to be short of equipment. Over the last five years billions of pounds have been spent on new armoured vehicles and helicopters. The British armed forces now operate similar vehicles to their U.S. counterparts but still the rumours of a lack of equipment persist. I would have thought that all Britain´s best kit would have been sent to Afghanistan. On paper there is no shortage of helicopters within the British armed services but they do not appear to have been sent to Afghanistan. Why? The Royal Air Force has two squadrons of the new Merlin helicopters (designed to carry troops) which have not been sent to Afghanistan meanwhile the Royal Navy has another three squadrons. The army has at least 60 Apache helicopters but only eight are in Afghanistan. There is either a major shortage of spare parts which means that the whole fleet has to be cannibalised to keep the eight aircraft in the air or someone somewhere is not doing their job properly. Britain does have the kit, but where is it?
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