The UK Royal Air Force is planning to delay the retirement of two Nimrod electronic intelligence aircraft and extend their services to June 2011.

The aircraft were originally scheduled to be out-of-service at the end of this month.

A UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) insider said the retirement delay could be in response to the current political unrest in Libya and the possible implementation of a no-fly zone.

The aircraft retirement would have left a three-month capability gap before UK crews began flying in US Air Force Rivet Joint machines.

The UK signed a deal with the US last year to purchase three Rivet Joint aircraft, according to Defense News.

The planned retirement of the Nimrods is not part of the UK Government’s strategic defence review, announced last year.