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PM U-TURNS OVER PATROL AIRCRAFT AS FRENCH HELP HUNT FOR SUB.

Byline: CHARLIE GALL

DAVID Cameron made a humiliating U-turn on spy planes yesterday - as the MOD had to turn to the French to hunt a Russian sub in Scotland.

Five years after scrapping the Nimrod spy planes, he confirmed plans to buy nine new US-built Boeing P-8 Poseidon s.

They will be stationed at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray to plug the gap left by the decision to scrap the Nimrods. Cameron said the planes would protect Britain's nuclear deterrent, "hunt down hostile submarines' and "enhance" maritime search-and-rescue.

Their location at Lossiemouth means another 200 personnel will be based at the north-east base by 2020, rising to 400 in future.

Cameron's announcement came as Britain called in the French to help search for a Russian submarine detected off the north coast of Scotland.

A French sub-hunting aircraft has been searching for the vessel for at least 10 days amid fears it could be trying to spy on a Trident sub. A Royal Navy frigate, HMS Sutherland, and a hunter-killer submarine - designed to sink other subs - are also taking part inthe hunt. It's the third time this year that Britain has called on allies to search for Russian subs.

A spike in Russian naval activity near undersea cables has fuelled concerns that Moscow could be developing plans to have subs sever internet communications in any future conflicts.

Retired squadron leader Bob Hellyer, who flew Nimrods at RAF Kinloss, said of the decision to buy the P-8s: "I don't find this surprising because it's essential.

To me this is a logical step which needed to be taken anyway and the only thing which got in the way was the Nimrod Mark4 and the fact that we wasted PS4.6 billion on it. "For the last three years we've been flying maritime aeroplanes from all nations out of Lossiemouth to do the job that the Nimrod used to do - that job we cannot talk about.

We have missed the maritime force, unbeknown to the public because the public don't actually know what they do. We have missed it dramatically over the last three years. "And it must have cost a fortune to get foreigners to come and do our job for us and they can't do it as well as we can."

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 24, 2015
Words:388
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