The UK arms industry came in for a shoeing from the parliamentary defence committee yesterday, as MPs criticised continuing cost escalations in several major kit projects for the British forces. The soaring bills were seen as especially worrying in light of the fact that the services are struggling to recruit and retain …
Our poor belligured forces spend most of their time fighting guys with AK-47's, carbombs and sodding morters.
What the hell do we need nuclear attack subs and anti sub planes for?
Are we preparing for an imminant invasion by france?
Cold wars over, we won, there is no big bad enemy, just a s--- load of mess left over from years of covert projects and war by proxy.
Jeez, are they reading my mind?
I posted that problem on the BBC HYS yesterday about whether our forces are overstretched. Someone said they were happy to pay £200 more for "our brave boys" and I'd said I would too if they stopped buying toys and withdrew from places we should never have been (even if they went then to places we SHOULD have been, like Darfour).
232 Eurofighters (typhoons). Why in Satan's Name would ANYONE think that the UK forces would need 232. Unless someone somewhere is planning a MAJOR WAR? I think we should be told.
Re: MPs slam costly war-tech projects at MoD
> One reason the forces struggle to balance their books - and to attract recruits - is that they are always short of cash because of budget-busting hi-tech equipment projects
Isin't the reason because they start off building a class of a dozen ships, so the design costs get spread over those dozen ships. Then, due to the fact that we are fighting on several fronts and the government dosen't want to pay for the wars they have started the military is forced to cut the unit number to be able to do meet the costs of ongoing operations.
Then the price per unit goes up significantly because they cut the number of units significantly, making the cost overrun. Then having caused the problem the politicians complain about it.
I don't know that this is correct, but I don't think its to far from the truth.
I have no idea of the author of this piece as i write
but i sense the distinctive style of Lewis Page, and once again you are essentially wrong.
There has been no substantial budget increase.
Defence spending is falling as a proportion of total Government spending.
Defence inflation is rising much faster than increases in Defence spending.
The Armed Forces ARE paying for operational costs.
Equipment is wearing out much faster than planned due to constant operations.
The Armed Forces are on top of all this suffering from 15 years of underinvestment.
If the MOD can find a way to ditch tranche 3 of Eurofighter without paying nearly as much in penalties then all to the good, perhaps the saudi sale is how they will achieve this.
The Navy needs to order at least eight Astute subs in order to maintain a healthy sub industry that will be able to provide a Vanguard replacement.
The Navy needs eight T45 AAW destroyers.
The Navy needs eight larger ASW destroyers to replace the T23 frigates.
The Navy needs eight Global Cruisers able to act independently of the now non-existant flotillas on global duties.
The Navy needs eight small multirole warships otherwise defined as C3.
Yes, that cold war was won, but unles you haven't noticed, another one is kicking off between the UK and Russia atm...
Perhaps they are wanting all those Eurofighters for that!
"another one is kicking off between the UK and Russia atm..."
Especially if they turn the gas off. ;)
I'm so scared of aging migs and su fighters.
We could just get some f-18 and f-22's if that were even a remotely plausable problem.
Time makes fools of us all......
The Cold war may be won (probably) but with BAES' legendary project management skills the kit we thought we needed to fight it has yet to arrive. No we don't need Sub Hunters, Hi-tech Fighters or Attack Subs, but we thought we did when they were ordered and probably still did when they were first due to be delivered.
On the subject of recruitment and retention I'd think that the dramatic change in the Jolly:Work:Actual Danger ratio is a factor. For much of the cold war it was about 30:70:0. Since TWOT kicked in this has changed to more like 0:60:40. Combined with serious completion for good candidates at all levels the Armed Forces staffing levels will suffer.
They are preparing for the unexpected. It's easy to be able to plan to fight the last day of the last war, but the next one may be very different indeed!
All those aricraft won't be in the same place, they'd be stationed on carriers and bases across the world. Not to mention some kept as spares, trainers and test aircraft. I doubt they would be in one big order arriving on a Tues, they'd probably be arriving over an extended period.
They may be anti-sub designed, but consider also patrolling our coastal shores for smugglers, illegal immagrents or the flavour of the day; terrorists. What about when they are used to look for little kids that are swept out to shore due to a boating incident?!
The guys risk their lives to fight to protect the peace all over the world, to protect us, to prevent conflicts escalating, to bring others to a close, all sorts.
Remember also our commitments to the UN, NATO and other treaty groups?
Consider also maintenance costs for everything we have. It can actually, often, be cheaper to replace something with a new device/component/vehicle, then to look for older pieces, sometimes from some groups who no longer make that part. Oh, lets ebay for a wing for a nimrod or scavenge it from a crash somewhere.
These guys are going out there and they deserve not only our support, but also confidence in the quipment they are using. Their families and friends expect them to come back and they place their trust on the line too.
We need to be able to stand on our own if need be, not have to rely on other countries to have to ferry our forces from A-B.
How about, next time there is a conflict, the government just make BA and the other airlines use all their lovely aircraft to ferry our troops to wherever they need to be and we all sit around and NOT fly on holiday or to work or wherever. That's one alternative to our underinvested transport services.
If you were out in conflict, you can't afford doubt about what you're doing and is it right? You have to act to stay alive, keep your team alive and complete the objectives of your mission. You trust in the chain of command and those in power, that they are making the right decision.
Why is the government so terrible at procurement?
It's standard practice with government contracts to go in with a low bid ( because they always go for the cheapest bid, regardless of other considerations ) and then use a clever contract to ramp up the costs inescapably every year from that point onwards.
The government need to get smart with that so that if BAE add another billion to the cost of something they can just walk away and spend our money somewhere else. There comes a time when it's still better value to cut one's losses rather than keeping throwing good money after bad and they seem to have missed it altogether.
shock - MOD and costs over runs
just read up on MoD PE history and see same song despite constant changes to improve it going back decades
improvement needs to be making people take both responsible and have the authority - not the usual lot who dance to the prime contractors tune
"I'm so scared of aging migs and su fighters."
Well, neither am I, but since when do the MOD need a real reason to ask the government for massive wodges of taxpayers money?
"They may be anti-sub designed, but consider also patrolling our coastal shores for smugglers, illegal immagrents or the flavour of the day; terrorists. What about when they are used to look for little kids that are swept out to shore due to a boating incident?!"
You might already own a commuting-designed vehicle, but consider also commuting to work in a 40 ton dump truck! It will do the job. It might cost 100 or more times more than a standard vehicle designed for the job at hand (commuting), and you might have trouble parking it, but it will get you there.
So would you consider buying a 40 ton dump truck to commute to work (and perhaps do the shopping)?
Noone said there shouldn't be S&R helos (or other vessels) patrolling the shores, or equipment for the troops. Lewis is just saying that the UK gets the WRONG equipment for the job at the WRONG price at the WRONG time.
As for the not having to rely on other countries argument, best let it rest. Billions upon Billions, upon Billions of pounds haven't achieved that. So I would take your proposal to continue spending Billions trying to achieve that as foolish at best, doubly so if this means that for the sake of self reliance the effectiveness of the existing force suffers. Badly.
A major factor in delays to projects is usually the MoD themselves moving the requirement goalposts on a regular basis; usually called feature creep. The Bowman radio system could have been in service much earlier if the MoD hadn't wanted to keep incorporating new features that were "just around the corner".
The other problem is allied to the desire to keep our defense manufacturing base intact, what's left of it. Previous governments all conspired to wipe this out in one way shape or form, from the forced company amalgamations of the 50's onwards.
As a result we're left with virtually one huge supplier, who we daren't upset in case they're not able to service all the obsolete/inadequate/worn out kit the forces are forced to use because the Govt are busy spending money on far more important things than the poor souls they send off to get shot at.
"Not Invented Here" is the Enemy
Britain's defence can't really be separated from European defence but, apart from a few high-profile projects, there's not much evidence of this in procurement.
Most of Europe's defence is run on a mixture of misguided nationalism and not-invented-here self-interest by each country's local defence industry; and Britain leads the way on this. Consequently European defence budgets don't buy much kit but do employ a lot of people designing and procuring ten systems to fulfill the same role, the USA gets more bang-per-buck through vastly reduced unit costs.
The only way the UK will get a better procurement deal is to either:
a) Become neutral like Switzerland (joke)
b) Scrap local defense development in favour of buying US systems (poodle)
c) Develop an integrated EU defense policy (cloud cuckoo land)
BAE seem to be leaning towards poodle-policy, but with 1 dollar = 1 pound as the exchange rate...
Re: 40 ton dump truck
Sounds good idea for commute - at least no worries about tailgaters then ;)
Budget Proposal : get rid of the airforce
It seems to me that the armed forces have large scope for streamlining their structure. Take the Air force for instance. They have three main duties 1. Home defence / air superiority 2. In theater air superiority / ground attack 3. Strategic air lift. *
The navy accomplishes 1 and 2 quite easily with added benefits of not needing foreign nations help with airfields, fueling, etc. The new super carriers will give us the airfields we need, and quite frankly, the Americans are good for a landing or two as well. The army and navy have quite an accomplished past with their own attack helicopters. This leaves just the strategic air lift, which i would happily see in the hands of the army, since they use it the most.
The huge savings in administration costs, scale of economies in acquisitions and the general costs of not having a third command chain would boost the front line significantly. And what do we loose? Functionality? no. Diversity? possibly, but needs must. History? Air force hasn't done anything significant since the battle of Britain, and even there is doubt cast about that.
for further info.
Maybe its time to think about workable solutions rather than moan about the small slice of the pie the armed forces always gets. We live in the same society that craps on its police officers, nurses, general workers and the rest. No wonder society is free falling to hell.
* SaR is a joint navy/air force command, with the majority of staff and platforms being navy. The force protection duties are already replicated by the Marines and Royal Engineers.
"I'm so scared of aging migs and su fighters.
We could just get some f-18 and f-22's if that were even a remotely plausable problem."
You should be... The Russians haven't just sat still either you know, IIRC, their air to air missiles are actually longer range than the American ones.
As for getting some help from the USA, we've only just finished paying for them helping us out the last time thank you very much! And even then they turned up late.
talk in my circles
is not of the old Cold war, whoever won that one,
but perhaps the upcoming "Energy War", will that happen before the "Water War" or the "over-Population War" "Great clarkson CO2-Tax Revolt" or the "deep packet Cyber War" or the "SLV Space launched War"?
I'm sure the 2004 CIA_2020 report promises 15 years of peace....in which period....the UK *will* need some acquatic toys to defeat the Pirates raiding the Med' coast...
and Happy New Year (#4706) begins next week, not that that has anything to do with Energy Wars...
Per Ardua ad MetaAstra ........ I Kid U Not, but is Defence up to ITs Task.....
..... or do they need to go cap in hand to whoever they go cap in hand to? Who Controls Things whenever you want something Major done? ....... http://cryptome.org/spy-bah.htm
Seems like the MOD could do with AI Stealth Program which delivers them as much Wonga/Cash as they would/will ever need. It would then be unlikely that Defence Forces which Attack forces, would be needed, at all.
AI Master Pilot Conversion Unit would be right up their Street, albeit IT being supplied to them from Civvies on Civvy Street. Just such an Unbelievable program is available and should be debuting here, ..... http://comments.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/28/galileo_satnav_uk_gov_admits_its_powerless/ ... entitled, Control CyberSpace and you Distribute Power to ITs Grids ... and it has a sister post called .... "Ping Dynasties ....... Future Destinies. Read at your Pleasure" ..... which could have been here ... http://comments.regdeveloper.co.uk/2008/01/29/project_watch_two/
I will Ponder the Controls which decide upon their Web Fate for they are Revolutionary in their Zeal, Eminently Doable in their CompleXXXX Simplicity and Harmless in their Application........ although Radical Change would be Inevitable and Unavoidable but there would be nothing Wrong with that, given that Change is always what is being Energetically Pimped but never Really Delivered.
And the Skull and Bones, because that is the cage being rattled, too. .......
"232 Eurofighters (typhoons). Why in Satan's Name would ANYONE think that the UK forces would need 232."
No-one but various troughs need filled before various people can get their snouts into them and defense is always a good bet for dodgy money shuffling.
I mean, BAE are involved FFS.
Black helicopter icon only because there is no platinum one available.
"There has been no substantial budget increase."
"Defence Secretary Des Browne has welcomed the announcement by the Government today, Wednesday 25 July 2007, which will see a £7.7bn increase in the defence budget over the next three years....
Defence Secretary Des Browne said: "This CSR means an additional £7.7bn for Defence by 2011 - the longest period of sustained real growth in planned defence spending since the 1980s.""
As for your other one liners, none of those actually contradict anything Lewis said.
'Why in Satan's Name would ANYONE think that the UK forces would need 232. '
At any one time half of them will be out of service waiting for a component to come through under the Mastercare extended warranty.
Another fifty or so will have been filled with red diesel to cut costs at the RAF and are having their tanks drained round the back of the hanger.
Thirty of them will be back at BAe because they've been delivered with two left wings.
The pilots of the next twenty will all be on patenity and or maternity leave for the next six months and no one knows how to adjust the cockpit seat for another pilot.
Of the remaining twelve, five of them will be on loan filming episodes of 'Top Gear'; leaving just seven to defend the nation - one for each day of the week as they'll each need six days with their bonnets up just to get them working again.
All very simple really
Yes we get ripped-off by arms contractors because of MoD incompetence/infighting/whatever. The plain fact is that we still spend far too much on "defense". Firstly we spend substantially more than the European average as a percentage of GDP. Secondly (and this is the main reason for the first) our politicians still bear the imperialist delusion that we are some kind of great power that has an inalienable right to use our "defences" to illegally invade (i.e. attack, not defend) foreign countries.
Cut the budget to the European average or less and each time the MoD oversees an overspend take that off of next year's budget. Then we might end up with armed forces that reflect our true position in the world - a fairly average European nation that should neither want nor be able to do anything other than defend itself or make a proportionate contribution to legally sanctioned UN interventions.
Just an observation, but: The Spitfire was very nearly canceled because it wasn't thought to be a necessity, AFAIK the only reason that its development carried on was because it didn't use too much metal.
Sorry, what was that about killing the Eurofighter?
It's not the current enemy, but the future ones that we have to develop the equipment to deal with.
@ Mr Chris
"Defence Secretary Des Browne said: "This CSR means an additional £7.7bn for Defence by 2011 - the longest period of sustained real growth in planned defence spending since the 1980s"
A one and a half percent increase when defence inflation is running at closer to eight percent, at a time when the armed forces are on a war footing with consequent high equipment wear, whilst UOR equipment purchase is in part being clawed back from the defence budget rather than the supplementary operations budget.
All of this after we sunk below the 2.5% of GDP post cold-war Defence spending threshold (now at ~2.1%), and as a consequence failed to fund the Strategic Defence Review of 1998 which was the definition of our Defence priorities and requirements, the result of which has been nearly 15 years of underfunding.
There. Has. Been. No. Substantial. Budget. Increase.
The fact that you use Des Browne as the source to refute Gov't under investment in the Armed Forces is laughable.
> It's not the current enemy, but the future ones that we have to develop the equipment to deal with.
With logic like that, any amount of spending on anything whatever is perfectly Ok.
Hmm - that's more or less the argument NuLabour uses for its latest liberty/privacy restrictions - every damn week, it seems.
Then again, it seems to work Ok for them. Worrying...
You got that one right and hit the nail on the head that is for sure , but the real rot can be traced back as far as VJ day when their parents over indulge the current batch of elected wankers !
What a pity we cannot send every MP out to do their duty at the sharp end for at least two years prior to them being allowed to settle their fat faces in the Treasury Pork trough , for it is a given that he who yells the loudest on any parliament bench is always the one seeking the biggest slice of pork from the feeding trough so as to speak !
As for Tony B-Liar , that POS sent his troops off to a war and never ever bothered to fund them properly and he truly deserved to be shafted when he was on holidays as to why people still listen to that wanker given past of his do nothing for the people except reduce their rights of freedom and expression and then do zilch is beyond my comprehension ! As a cynic would say once a crap charlatan always a charlatan there after period no if buts or maybes !
Such an action would open their greedy little porcine eyes to the realities of life of that all men and women in the modern armed forces face with the cheap cost cutting ideas needed to divert urgently needed funds to feed their fat ass are never the brightest idea going down in both the short and long term !
Paris is chosen because to be honest she would have more brain cells in use then most of the entire elected current lot in Westminster combined !
What, no amanfrommars?
Presumably he's only activated when there is less than three times the LD:50 of wild speculation and rhetoric on the page.
The main reason that BAE's products come in over due is: Crappy Management including groupthink, compulsive re-orgs, a worship of meaningless targets and huggy-feally-crap over actual Perofmance, Milestones and Competence. They're too busy looking up the spellings to care about the definitions.
The main reason that BAE's products are over budget is: They over run and are cost-plus, or worse.
The main reason they haven't been told to sling their hook?: No government could survive dumping that many people onto the job market at one time.
The reasons that BAE sucks?
* Because the moral is dreadful (Watching prototype aircraft showing off should
rock, but you're too busy dodging bullshit to care.)
* The pay is so lousy that too many of the people there are simply too incompetent to get work elsewhere. I once saw two management tw@s set a project back by six months because they refused to listen to their staff.
* The people who should be fixing this are too busy covering their own arses, dishing out bullshit and booking hookers for saudis.
If the MOD looked elsewhere, they'd save a mind buggering amount of money. Also if BAE was renationalised and populated with a few more ex-forces managers. (Who seemed to actually CARE about the end product for some reason... as if they new people who'd use it!) It might start behaving more like a supplier, and less like a charity case.
Mate, you are priceless!
Random bit of quotage...
‘Defence inflation’ means that the cost of sustaining the Armed Forces grows every year, even if no new equipment is ordered, or personnel recruited.
So while defence spending has been increased in real terms from £23.3 billion (€32.5 billion) in 2003 to £33.4 billion (€46.6 billion) in 2006, this only equates to a measly 0.3% rise in spending as a percentage of gross domestic product. And given that Britain has been engaged in two sizeable conflicts during that time (Afghanistan and Iraq), along with one in 1999 (Kosovo) and a number of other small interventions (in places like Sierra Leone), such a small increase seems unacceptable and gives credence to those arguing for higher spending.
- Sourced from a tarted up blog I know *shrug* http://tinyurl.com/22y8zc
So from the sound of it spending's gone up over the last four or so years, but not by much as a percentage... equally it's probably way down, relative to GDP, when compared to the cold war period but I'd imagine that's no huge surprise to anyone...
One question, why the hell is defence inflation so much higher than the common or garden variety that the rest of us have to make do with?
I know military spec stuff is supposed *ahem* to be bigger and better than the civvy stuff but... ;-)
"One question, why the hell is defence inflation so much higher than the common or garden variety that the rest of us have to make do with?"
Answer: because the main supplier is BAE?
>"One question, why the hell is defence inflation so much higher than the common or garden variety that the rest of us have to make do with?"
Our military has a not inconsiderable amount of old equipment. How much equipment do you have around your workplace thats between 20-40 years old?
Investment in capital equipment for commercial organisations is usually related to its price and its ability to affect profitability; I'd guess that the majority of Reg readers (IT workers?) are sat in front of computers that are less than three years old and are better, cheaper and more reliable than the machines they replaced (Vista excluded).
Military kit is now so expensive that, as a nation, we can't afford to replace it in the way that commercial organisations can (how many companies have any piece of equipment, including entire factories, that cost anything like 100m pounds?). Combined with procurement cycles that are glacial at best, the armed forces will always have to make kit last a long time, causing planners and designers to overcomplicate systems in order to make them longer lived, adding even more cost and time to the budget.
Defense, for major western nations, has become a gravy train for contractors like BAE who continue to develop ever more complex systems. I won't argue the efficacy of these systems, but do we really get good value in what seems to be a single-supplier market?
I'll cheerfully give you the advantage on the microscopic difference between what you'd like 2.5% of GDP and what you're claiming is paid 2.1% (although the CIA website, which is normally pretty hot on that kind of thing, says 2.4%).
I'd argue that, even if you're right, you are still getting 87.5% of the money you want. Its clear we're not getting 87.5% of the capacity we expect for the money and the microscopic difference isn't the problem. The problem is that the MOD simply wastes cash everywhere. Britain spends more than every other country in world other than the US and we're simply not getting value for money, our armed forces should be significantly better than the other non-US ones in NATO, and lets face it, they aren't.
But you're simply not thinking the implications through. The UK is not growing quickly when compared to the rest of the world. In other words the issue is going to get worse, not better. This is part of the problem with the 1997 Strategic Defence Review - it simply wasn't grounded in economic reality and rapidly raced off to la-la land. To be fair the new government was just in and the MOD hadn't done any thinking about the future.
Lewis merely points out these issues with some style.
Now lets look at these mad spending plans you / the MOD have:
"The Navy needs to order at least eight Astute subs in order to maintain a healthy sub industry that will be able to provide a Vanguard replacement."
So in order to replace some vaguely useful subs in the future, which might carry missiles that the Americans don't control, we must have useless subs now. The current replacement plan is the Astute class, which will cost us the same amount as a half dozen (actually useful) infantry battalions (£1.7bn, around $3.5bn). No one is sure what the mission of the Astute will be, or why we want it. I note in passing that 6,000 people will work, in some way, on Astute - we could pay them each £250k to stay where they are for 5 years (who wants £50k a year to stay home? Any takers? Its 3 times more than an Infantryman earns)and still come out ahead of the deal as we'd never have to pay for operating the Astute-tat when it launches.
More seriously we could as easily by off the shelf American kit at a quarter of the price. By comparison the cost of refitting the ancient American OHIO class came in at less than £600 million quid (around $1.2bn). Hm, lets see... The US can upgrade her old nuclear weapons kit at the cost of 1/10th of our prototypes for a future nuclear weapons submarine. I'm starting to spot a reason that British military procurement has a problem. Can anyone else see it?
That's it in one, like a acne covered teenager with Mums credit card the UK always wants the latest 3G kit. The Yanks on the other hand make do with what they have. The OHIO class was out, and now its back. They do the same in the air, the USAF have just extended the operational life of the B-52 to 2030 - that's 80 years. So they spend a lot more, but they also save more, whilst the MOD just wastes cash.
"The Navy needs eight T45 AAW destroyers."
No, it really doesn't. There is no mission for the Type 45, we simply haven't fought anyone with an air force in decades and, as a nation, have no intention of doing so. Preparing to re-enact the Falkands isn't on the agenda, we haven't got the money. In fact the one thing that might be argued to be a vaguely useful thing they could do would be to carry Tomahawks, but they don't. Each of these useless future-Admiral-creators will likely cost us a billion quid. That's another 2 actual infantry battalions a time. Simply losing these items will allow us the money to add 50% to our infantry strength.
"The Navy needs eight larger ASW destroyers to replace the T23 frigates."
Oh god. Not more useless Anti Submarine Warfare crap. Look we're got the Merlins, at £105m a pop - whole squadrons of the useless things. Never mind the Nimrod Mark 4 deathtrap. By comparison the Iranians have three submarines, which cost about £400m, so we spend £10bn in a whole different string of job-creation strings to stop them; assuming they ever set sail.
Its frankly appalling that anyone should even consider ordering any more ASW stuff for the next decade or two. Look, the only submarine sunk since 1945 was on the surface. Even having so much ASW kit looks a bit dim, unless we're planning to go to war with the US, China or Russia - in which case neutrality is our only sane strategic option.
"The Navy needs eight Global Cruisers able to act independently of the now non-existant flotillas on global duties."
Errrm. Sure. Those "Global Cruisers" (weren't the Future Surface Combatant cruisers laughed out as complete madness in 2004?) are well known for their ability to handle the rivers of Afghanistan. Not really Global, are they? If by "global duties" we mean a sun-drenched jolly down in the Carribean on "anti-drugs patrol" I'm not completely sure that a multi-billion pound warship is the way to do. I think club 18-30 would be cheaper all round.
"The Navy needs eight small multirole warships otherwise defined as C3."
C3? I assume that this stands for Crap-Cubed? Are these even in existence on the drawing board? Why do we need them?
Now if you'd said more Anti Minewarfare ships for use if things went pear-shaped in the Gulf I'd be bang alongside. Maybe some small fast craft for patrolling with proper guns on for the Marines to play with. A half dozen copies of HMS Ocean, absolutely. Lots and lots (and lots) of lovely transport planes and utility helicopters? Darn straight. A few UAV's? OK.
But buying silly things like more Attack subs, or ASW or AAW ships, at silly prices, for no reason is the reason that we're currently stuffed. Getting unstuffed is the way to go.