UK calls on allies to help find Russian submarine

After significantly cutting the size of its military in recent years, Great Britain was forced to call on France and Canada to help look for a Russian sub they believed was patrolling off the Scottish coast, according to a report in the Telegraph.

According to the report, the Russian sub was spotted more than a week ago and has yet to be found amid fears that it might be trying to spy on the UK’s Trident program — a sub-based nuclear warhead delivery system stationed in Scotland.

The French support for the hunt — an Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft — has being searching for the Russian sub, along with a British frigate and attack class submarine, for the past 10 days, according to the report. Over the weekend a Canadian aircraft joined the search.

The British scrapped their own sub hunting aircraft — known as the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod — after the landmark 2010 Defense Review wherein the British drastically reduced manpower and equipment across the United Kingdom’s entire military. Before that program was cut, a number of newer variant Nimrods were slotted to be based out of a Royal Air Force base in Kinloss in Moray, Scotland, according to another Telegraph report. The program was canceled, in part, because of safety concerns.

The lack of sub-chasing aircraft is a far cry from the days of World War II, where, with the help of the United States, the British pioneered tactics to protect allied merchant shipping from German U-boat attacks. Using RAF bases across the country, U.S. and British forces conducted long-range patrols with radar-mounted aircraft that were able to hit U-boats cruising on the surface before they had a chance to submerge. During the Cold War, the British capability was just as robust.

Recently, Russian submarine activity has raised Cold War-era concerns. Last month, The New York Times reported that Russian subs and spy ships had been spotted along undersea fiber-optic cable routes, while Sweden has repeatedly claimed its waters were violated by Russian subs in recent years.

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