The Ministry of Defence has lost £150million in potential savings for the RAF Lossiemouth spy planes due to the drop of British pound caused by Brexit.
Nine Poseidon P8-A maritime and patrol aircraft will touch down at the Moray base in 2020 and will be tasked with protecting the UK from nuclear threats.
They will locate and track potentially hostile submarines and surface ships and enhance maritime Search and Rescue capability.
The arrival of the aircraft forms part of an investment of more than £400million in the base’s infrastructure that will eventually lead to nearly 500 extra personnel being deployed there.
The MoD was going to make £207million worth of savings on the programme, however Stuart Andrew, the minister for defence procurement, has confirmed that has now dropped to £52million.
These budgetary changes were made to “reflect a Forex (foreign exchange market) variance identified for 2017.”
Planning assumptions for the programme were based on currency rates set before the result of the EU referendum in June 2016.
Sterling has dropped 16% against the dollar since then.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead stressed how important the expansion of RAF Lossiemouth is to the region.
He said: “The National Audit Office has already expressed concerns that the defence equipment budget is unaffordable and facing a significant funding gap, and now we learn that the bill for the P-8 Poseidon aircraft set to be based at Lossiemouth is rocketing due to the collapse of the pound caused by the Tory Government’s Brexit chaos.
“The expansion of RAF Lossiemouth for the Poseidon aircraft is hugely important to Moray and I’ll be writing to the UK Government to seek assurances that these increased costs won’t impact plans for the base.”
An MoD spokesman stressed that the programme still remains under budget.
He said: “The P-8A programme forecast remains well below its approved cost and there has been a significant reduction in costs due to efficiencies secured through effective negotiations.”
Moray MP Douglas Ross said: “It is concerning that the savings are less than initially thought, as it is important that defence procurement costs are protected against changes in the exchange rate, in order to ensure the best value for the taxpayer.
“But it is rich for the SNP to criticise the defence budget when their blueprint for the armed forces in an independent Scotland would slash defence spending and substantially compromise our defence capabilities.
“By contrast, the Conservative UK Government is committed to RAF Lossiemouth, investing millions to expand the site. This will bolster our defence capabilities, and substantially increase the number of personnel based in Moray.”