December 24, 2009:
To pay for army operations in Afghanistan, Britain has ordered the Royal Navy and Air Force to make cuts. Two support ships (a survey vessel and a minesweeper) will be retired, along with dozens of older helicopters (Merlins and Sea Kings). The navy will retire a squadron of Harrier vertical takeoff fighters, along with all remaining Nimrod anti-submarine aircraft and older helicopters (Lynx and Merlins). The two services will absorb most of the 2,500 personnel shrinkage in the British military. For all this, the army will get new helicopters, armored vehicles, and equipment (especially night vision gear, UAVs and weapons.)
Britain, like other European nations, cut defense spending considerably after the Cold War ended in 1991. But Britain maintained a lot of Cold War era equipment (modern jet fighters and nuclear subs) and troops trained and equipped for overseas service. But when Britain began sending a lot of those forces overseas (to Iraq and Afghanistan) after September 11, 2001, they found that they had insufficient stocks of spare parts, and cash, to support the troops in a combat zone. This evolved into a political issue, and that pressure has led to the current cuts.