Senior defence sources revealed the Government has been forced re-open its Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) which was confirmed and finalised last year by David Cameron.
Within the defence review spending plans – which were expect to last until 2020 – Cameron promised to increase defence spending to the equivalent of two per cent of the country’s GDP in order to meet Britain’s Nato commitments.
But the “increase” meant that expenditure including pensions and UN peacekeeping were also included within the two per cent GDP commitment, resulting in cuts to the force’s budget, according to the Telegraph.
The source said: “The problem is the SDSR wasn’t really properly funded for the first couple of years. The other problem is that there were so many other things rolled into the two per cent that didn’t used to be there before.
“On top of that, the Treasury demanded efficiencies and then when we have to make those efficiencies it’s very painful. It’s looking like 2018 or 2019 before things get any easier.”
Britain made an order for nine American surveillance jets and a Boeing jet to replace the outgoing Nimrods, but the first delivery is not due until 2019.
Professor Malcom Chalmers, Deputy Director-General of the Royal United Services Institute, added to the condemnations and said the Armed Forces were in for a “tough few years”.
He blasted the Government for boasting about the defence budget growing over the next five years when they reportedly knew in reality it will largely flatten out and not increase significantly until the end of decade.
Professor Malcom added: “It’s only good in comparison with the first Cameron term. The five years after 2010 were very tough indeed.
“The Government likes to give the impression we are now in a steady period of growth but the magnitude of those increase is very, very small.”
“It’s very tight for the next three or four years and what’s happening to the exchange rate is adding an additional strain.”
In an attempt to defend budget cuts, an MoD spokesman said: “We spend more on defence than any other country in Europe, exceed Nato’s two per cent target and have a budget set to hit £40billion a year by the end of the Parliament as we invest £178billion in equipment over the next decade.”