True, but some of of 'newer' frigates were Batch 2 Type-22's, really designed for ASW, but they could have been re-fitted to something like a Batch 3, the more general purpose variant.
In truth, UK defence spending slowed from 1986.
I do not think the Jaguars went much sooner than planned-but long after they were assumed to be gone if we go back to before the 1991 Gulf War, which arguably prevented a much sooner phasing out.
For a long time, it was thought that the Jaguar force would retire by 2008, it's in fact been a year before, with the last Sqn disbanding.
Maybe it's at least in part due to the crews being needed as the Typhoon force ramps up?
On the credit side, the small arms were finally sorted out (the A2 fix for the SA80 range-the press will never admit it, but the 'A2' fix worked)-Major sent the troops out in 1991 with a weapon they knew needed a lot of improving and did nothing afterwards, a decent squad LMG at last (Mimini), like the US with the Hummer (despite their experience of Somalia in 1993), the UK was caught out with vehicle protection in Iraq, so FV432's have been updated as the 'Bulldog', as well as the Mastiff and other new protected vehicles, and the new weapon carrying light vehicles to supplement the armed Landrovers.
Some short term and longer term effort on UAV's, (Predator now and the 'Watchkeeper' programme ), helicopters are too few in number, just as when Flight International complained of the same back in 1986, though the Danish deal and at long last, sorting out the stored Chinooks will help some and do so quickly, (a lot of this shortfall might have been avoided if AST
.404 had not be canned in 1990-which almost certainly would have provided the RAF with around 75 Westland built, RTM
-332 engined WS
-70 Blackhawks), for the future, 'Future Lynx' (at last).
This is in no way trying to paint a rosy picture, which would be absurd to try to do, but a rounded view is usually (deliberately) not reported. I do not remember the Telegraph and tabloids being so scathing when very serious equipment issues were seen in the Falklands war, for example.
Major was fortunate with events worldwide, he really only had the former Yugoslavia on his plate after 1991, but it was Blair who stepped up and pressured for something to finally be done about Serbian aggression, Major's foreign Secretary when it kicked off, Douglas Hurd, was pretty appalling in his handling of it, he was far from the only one, but even so.............
(On retirement, he went to work for a bank which provided loans that criminal regime in Belgrade).
Blair happened to be PM
when the world changed, Iraq was a massive error, which soured and ended his time at No.10 sooner.
He was right on Kosovo, right on Sierra Leone, wrong on Iraq, right on Afghanistan, though being wrong on Iraq affected Afghanistan of course-though remember, the US government was unenthusiastic about much of the offers of help from NATO there, in 2001 at least.
But who wants to bet that any other PM
, likely to have been elected in this period, from either party, would have done a lot different with Iraq?
But with a post war perspective, the current government are no worse on defence than all the others, the worst being the Macmillan government with it's notorious 1957 Defence Review, the sudden hostility to manned aircraft was part of the real driving force of the review, reduce costs dramatically and end the unpopular conscription.
They had an election to fight soon after all.
The reviews/cutbacks of the mid/late 60's were inevitable, 'East Of Suez' was unaffordable, politically as well as financially, the NATO move to 'Flexible Response' meant much more emphasis on conventional forces in Europe, but the effects of 1957 had left the RAF with a tactical force almost totally obsolete, the mainstays still being Hunters and Canberras. Re-Equipment was needed and very fast, the previous 13 years had seen most projects cancelled, many sensibly but a lot of money had been spent for nothing.
In 1964, there were more UK service personnel East Of Suez, than in Germany.
TSR.2 is remembered bitterly, for good reason, but it had been an appallingly managed programme, subject to large inter service wrangling, likewise the planned CVA-01 carriers, which would have been huge floating lemons if built, and the RN
could never have manned more than one at a time, without serious effects on the rest of the fleet.
But, within 5 years from 1965, the RAF at last got a modern, versatile fighter/bomber (F-4), a VSTOL concept that unlike P.1154, was practical (P.1121 Harrier), what they should have had years before (Buccaneer), a practical patrol aircraft (Nimrod), a practical air lifter (C-130), a range of new choppers on the way for all 3 services (Sea King, Puma, Lynx, Gazelle), the start of a sustainable (multi national) new programme for an aircraft, that would be affordable in large numbers-(MRCA, later called Tornado), an interim strike aircraft project that proved to be affordable and a bit more than 'interim' (Jaguar), and a new programme to produce what would be a best selling advanced trainer (Hawk).
Compare that with the previous 13 years, accepting that the V-Bombers soaked up a lot of effort in the early years.
Many of these were for the future in the late 60's, but even so, the RAF at least, got a lot more new equipment 'in the metal' in this period, all against a background of entrenched and long standing economic problems.
But, all governments face the same, stark fact, there is no great public appetite for heavily increased defence spending, the Attlee government undertook a re-arming programme largely due to the Korean War, while only very minor cuts were made in the then new NHS, it was enough to help them lose power.
(At this time, the spending was 6% of GDP, unsustainable, with the nation will heavily affected economically from WW2, even then, still largely reliant on US military and economic aid-also unsustainable).
I also do not really think there are 'Global Ambitions' as such, more like the situation has changed, not helped, as we are seeing in Afghanistan now, by a reluctance by some large European NATO allies to pull their weight, or just do anything more than the absolute minimum with serious, self imposed, Rules Of Engagement limits.
A lot of new equipment is coming, it is however, hugely expensive, it won't be the first time that cuts have been imposed now, to (hopefully), pay for the future.
This has happened numerous times since 1945. And it was only in 1968,since then, that the UK forces were not engaged in action somewhere, often in more than one theatre at the same time.