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Thursday, April 22, 1999 Published at 00:58 GMT 01:58 UK


Counting the cost of Kosovo

A single Harrier's bomb load costs £400,000

With the conflict in Kosovo in its fifth week the total financial cost of Nato's military action in the Balkans has soared into the hundreds of millions of pounds.

Experts predict the financial burden of the air strikes will soon be measured in the billions.

Kosovo: Special Report
The cost of this conflict to the UK alone has reached £17m, according to the Ministry of Defence.

Defence analysts now estimate that military action against Serbia is costing the UK £2m a day, a small amount compared to the sum being spent by the US.

These costs are, so far, easily meet from contingency reserves.

But experts predict that current expenses are nothing compared to what it would cost to pay for a full ground invasion of Kosovo and foot the bill for the province's eventual reconstruction.

Years of cuts

Each of the 100 cruise missiles already launched at Serb military targets by Nato costs more than £835,000.

The cost to the RAF of keeping Tornados and Harriers in the air is £21,000 and £15,000 per hour respectively.

So to keep Britain's 12 Harriers and eight Tornados in action for just one hour costs nearly £350,000.

This increased strain on the UK's military comes after years of defence cuts.

Since the end of the Cold War at the begining of the decade UK defence spending has been reduced by nearly half.

The current government's Strategic Defence Review sees the continuation of this process.

Brits in Balkans
And how the armed forces will be stretched by the conflict remains to be seen.

But there are some branches of the military who are not taxing the Treasury as much as they might.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that UK troops, of whom there are 6,500 in the region, will see a 60% reduction in their overseas allowances after spending 17 days in the Balkans.

By contrast their German colleagues involved in the campaign are picking up an extra £40 a day.

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