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back to article Eurofighter Tranche 3: Oh please, God, no

So the fix is in. The Treasury's attempt during recent weeks to kill off the final UK tranche of cripplingly expensive Eurofighter combat jets will be quashed, on the personal orders of Gordon Brown. Money will be taken from taxpayers, and lives will be lost among British troops, to buy aircraft which won't be any use - some may …

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Good Article!

Completely agree with the sentiment, BAE have too much power over the Government. But: "But the Treasury people know: if they thought it would cost more to cancel than it would to carry on, they'd never have tried to cancel."

You have obviously never come across the commercial people within MoD. They probably have only just read the cancellation clause!

The basic problem is that the Treasury approved procurement "process" used in MoD (CADMID) has been in operation for many years and simply doesn't work! It has taken a team of nearly 200 people (nearly half are consultants) 8 years to run the precurment process for DII, and they achieve nothing! Complete waste of money!

Eurofighter's team is only 40 people, but still useless!

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Cheers

Another great article, thanks Lewis.

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Anonymous Coward

Yawn.....

I was suprised to see a comment about the conservative from you Lewis. Still no mention about the conservatives cancelling the carriers if they ever get in.

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Wrong Lewis!

"who are often enough housed like pigs when they're at home"

There are laws against keeping animals in the conditions which the MoD consider suitable for service personnel.

I really _REALLY_ wish that some of the MPs who vote on the forces budgets could have stayed (I won't say lived) in 5G7 mess on the old Ark for a deployment. If they had been forced to live in those conditions then, maybe, things might have started changing.

Sorry, I realise that my pervious statement was just a pipedream. Our political 'masters' would improve _their_ lot, not anyone elses. Silly me.

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Black Helicopters

Interesting, insightful, articulate, but in the dark

There is an awful lot of assumption with this article.

Having some inside knowledge of the whole Eurofighter project, i can say that the project was out of date by the mid nineties. The aircraft was designed as a replacement for the tornado and jaguar with multirole capabilities, supercruise and all that is needed to fight russian made weaponry (not the reds themselves). We found out quickly that we dont necessarily need anything as clever as the Typhoon, and that good ol' fashioned gumption still kicks ass.

Good money has followed bad, penalties have been charged and threatened and partners have fallen by the wayside. The whole thing was a white elephant over 10 years ago. Then there was the whole "tranche" thing. This was never on the cards early on, but changed to that when they realised how beaurocrats can severly screw over a project.

Comedic proportioned then ensued, with specs changing all over the show. The gun was replaced by a lump of concrete, due to the cost to run being outside of RAF ability. Then it was back in, but disabled (For the same reason). It couldnt be removed completely because the flight computers were modelled on the original design and we cant change that now can we?

Anyway, as all this went on, it became apparent that we no longer design a plane round a task, we design a plane, change the task, botch the design and then cost it all at several time the far-too-low original budget.

If you want to talk about money, it may well be worth the while cancelling. If you do, then say bye bye to the last shreds of the UK aerospace industry. This will knock on far beyond the eurofighter.

It is a shame because in every simulation, calculation and test, the plane was possibly the most capable on the planet per unit cost. Our boys regularly flew rings around the Yanks even in inferior equipment, and the Eurofighter would have been able to handle even F22s (no matter what the yanks claim).

Sadly it has all ended like up like the UK car industry. We could have produced the Aston Martin of the sky, but instead we produced the Austin Allegro.

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Anonymous Coward

Now you know

why the French pulled out of the whole sorry affair. The Rafale, that was started, if I remember well, more or less at the same time as Eurofighter, is now in service. OK it's not stealth and bloody expensive, and no one wants to buy it, but it's French tech (i.e. no NSA rootkit in it, maybe just a few old camemberts) and available now.

Blame the UK gov that seems to think they're a subsidiary of the US dept of defense.

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@ Lewis Page

I've read several of your articles over the past couple of years, and the criticisms of the British defence industry are familiar. Although I don't know enough about the industry to say whether they are true, they do sound plausible.

The question is *why*; why are Boeing, Lockheed (or even MiG and Sukhoi perhaps?) capable of what BAE are not?

Is it something as simple as manufacturing volume?

(an article explaining this would be appreciated...)

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Interesting, Lewis

Thanks for that polemic, Lewis. I agree with most of it, especially the need to support troops who are actually in harms way (leaving aside the moral case for them being there, for which they are in no way responsible).

But I fear you do not justify Trident, perhaps because it is unjustifiable. The only potential enemies for which we require a MAD strategy are Russia & China. No-one else (and maybe not China) could be reasonably sure of knocking out all air and ground launched nukes to ensure no retaliation. Iran, Pakistan, North Korea will not be close to that capability in the lifetime of Trident, so we don't need sub launched nukes to deter them.

Are you saying we need Trident to deter Russia? Despite the posturing on both sides, it hardly seems high on the list of likely conflicts.

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Its fucking disgusting!!

Forget the whole Defense companies are baby killers argument, we are paying something like £30,000 PER YEAR PER PERSON for everyone person who works in the defense industry in tax subsidies and hand outs to BAE. Can you imagine the kind of car industry we would have if the Government handed out the £900 million a year it does to the defense industry?

Its some sort of nostalgic bollocks to have a defense industry in this country. If BAe want to leave the country, let them, just dont pay them to do it! There is no rational economic argument to pay any sort of subsidy to the defense industry. The fact that they are all a bunch of murdering bastards is just icing on the cake.

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Anonymous Coward

My calculator says

My calculator says that £20bn for 16000 jobs is more than a million pounds a job.

Are there not more cost-effective ways of preserving ordinary decent working peoples' incomes?

Eg let the Eurofighter Tranche 3 die, and use that £20bn (or whatever) to put 16000 cheques in the post direct from treasury to former Eurofighter employees, say £30K per person per year for 30 years? That would still cost less than Eurofighter and the 16000 people involved might actually be able to do something useful with their time instead.

The government could even hold some money back from the £20bn for use by the military in supporting Our Troops out at the sharp end.

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A rare occasion...I agree with Lewis Page

Not totally though.

Having come from the dark side and worked for a our American but British named friends I believed we were doing the right things for the guys on the front line and we were at office foot soldier level, heck I was proud of what I did. But I have to say my view has been changed since the real problems have come to light and I agree 100% this should have been delayed or cancelled.

As long as we have enough to replace the current aging Tornado and Harrier strike force then Tranche should be developed into a more sophisticated fighter-bomber. With said jamming or bombing or even something more advanced, it will never be a marine carrier fighter though.

Or better still cancel them as said and develop some focused UAVs which the man on the ground can control and cut out the risk of injury. I know that we have several promising ones in the pipeline as long as our wonderful friends at MoD and BAE don't make it cost the earth, and they are as guilty as each other for delays etc.

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US Tech no thanks

Fact is Europe does not want to depend on the US for mil tech.

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So Sad

There's no doubt at all you know a dam sight more than I ever will about the current state of the MOD or the rest of the worlds Military for that matter.

But it's so difficult to accept what you have to say as Gospel when I can't remember ever reading a single positive story about anything Blighty gets its hands on.

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There is a need for "work experience" here..

I'd like to see those wonderful decision makers actually where it counts. Half a year at Defense Procurement in any nation may actually enlighten them as to just how much money is thrown away thought the entertaining "change control" process where the game is basically to be the cheapest in procurement, because via change control you get it back multiple times. Oh, and by shifting those responsible every 4 years without the ability to come back to them for what they have done before.

The supplier process is simple: join with a couple of buddies to undercut the more honest vendors (if any are left) so the politicians and people involved can claim huge savings, then suck the blood from underneath the taxpayer through change control because the original contracts "accidentally" left out critical details (if MoD would contract for a car the original specs would leave out wheels, engine, brakes and the steering wheel, but make huge publicity about a new revolutionary upholstery). The aim of the game is to string MoD along long enough to make it impossible to back out without making headlines about wasting money. Oh, and watch where people go after they "retire". Look back over the last 10 years what they have done and it all starts to become very interesting..

After that it's simply a matter of managing the press coverage. Next tranche received: huge headlines about successful continuation "as planned". Political problems? Huge headlines about the potentially wasted money (and this is about Billions, not millions).

Meanwhile, people are sent to war zones without adequate equipment (remember the bulletproof vests fiasco?) because the money that was available to protect them is mostly exported to other countries. So, that's where the next half year "political base camp" should be: at the front. Make the compulsory for everyone involved and the focus would suddenly change. Supplier meetings? No problem - tent near Basra. Contract negotiations? Get some capable people involved. Heck, get some people back at a decent pay - if you take the price of a consultant that's a decent salary for someone, and the knowledge stays inside for a change.

And next time a guy stops a round instead of his kevlar, get the man/woman in charge to tell his relatives that he'll be coming back in a box, and see how that family is going to cope.

Because that is the direct consequence of these games. You cannot blame a soldier for doing his duty, but you sure as hell can blame those in charge for then ignoring the fact that these people need protection to survive. Sure, nothing new here, but to me we're simply talking about a wilful, indirect version of blue on blue.

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Isn't it obvious

That war is a load of shite that does nobody any good?

Why is the government wasting our money on stuff they shouldn't be using in the first place? We don't have an empire to defend any more.

The rest of the world see us as a bit of a joke (except the people we're fighting). Our military is huge and let's face it, we don't really need it. Who's going to attack us? The French?

Problem is that other countries look up to us and think "Oooh, the UK have got fancy new guns/planes/whatever. We need to buy some from them so we can be as cool as they are". Which is a pretty fucking retared attitude when a significant percentage of your population are living in squalor.

We need to set a better example!

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Anonymous Coward

Theres Editorial comment

And then theres using it as your own personal soap box.

If your going to do this please keep the "brave forces defending our realm" out of this. That works when you have conscripts fighting an enemy at the door, not when you have troops who chose to do that job, on the other side of the world, fighting someone elses war. They are doing the job they were paid to do, same as everyone else.

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Anonymous Coward

Go on Lewis...

...Don't hold back, tell us what you REALLY think.

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How very nice.

I realise that this article is tagged as "Comment". No really, I do. But it's not comment, really, is it?

Where's the analysis? The balanced arguments? This sort of unchecked, soapbox ranting seems to be becoming more and more prevalent on El Reg and it does not reflect well. If correspondents want to shamelessly promote their views (rather than reporting/commenting on the news) we might all be better served if they just wrote a letter to The Times.

Unless... Could it be... Was this a wrongly attributed Otto Z. Stern missive?

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Predictable, on so many levels

Lewis, you're ranting. Let's face it, this isn't really journalism anymore. And would it be too much to ask you to substantiate exactly what American kit the Eurofighter is 'full' of?

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Ash
Pirate

I know what I'm voting for

G'ingTFO of here.

This place is messed up.

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Black Helicopters

Quite a rant...

... but he is 100% correct. And this from someome who does work for that certain (less than) British Aerospace company.

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Same old...

Afraid it is not as black and white as presented here. Buying American is not always cheaper, look at the F35 today where the costs are going upwards or to the F111 in the 60's. I agree the UK should never have committed to the A400M but then again the C130J is also pretty worthless, the automated cargo system doesn't work, you can't drop paratroops out of them (due to the risk they end up wrapped around the tail) and the range increase sold by Lockheed isn't there in reality because the aircraft don't fly high enough. What the RAF personnel would really like to see is some new build C130Ks that actually do what is says on the tin but it will never happen.

Yes there have been some pretty disasterous purchases (Tornado F3, SA80) but then there has been with other countries as well. It does not mean that everything produced by UK manufacturer's is crap. A good example of this would be the Littoral Combat Ship (US Navy project) where the costs are eye watering.

No other country is so determined to get rid of a) its defence industry b) its manufacturing base. Can you imagine the French agreeing to buy foreign defence equipment?

Reality is that the defence budget should be bigger to properly accommodate current operations (supporting troops in the field) as well as normal acquisitions (long term purchases that mean the armed forces continue to be capable of defending UK interests).

The UK defence budget has barely increased in real terms since 1997. It represents 5-6% of all government spending (twice as much is spent on benefits), covers the first and most important part of government (defence of the realm) and yet it is always the first to be culled. Indeed, the interest charge on government debt will be bigger than the defence budget from next year!

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We need the fighters

The role of bombers is being take by drones and cruise missiles. Taking a feisty jet like this and strapping iron bombs to it will be very wasteful.

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Keep up the good work Lewis...

Although you may be a lone voice in the wilderness. If only the Torygraph had as much concern for this waste of taxpayers money as it does for MP's expenses maybe somebody would care, but the mainstream media just go "Ooooh, nice shiny fast plane" & swallow the guff about British jobs & so forth...

Having worked for GEC at the time of Nimrod AEW I would at least accept that Eurofighter is a plane that can do the job is was built to do, it's just that the job no longer exists. As for needing a third tranche when the RAF can't even use what they already have. Idiocy!

Not so sure about the Trident argument though Lewis - why not sub-launched cruise? Good enough to take out anyone bar a superpower with 21st century air defences, and I doubt we could use Trident against the USA.

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ok, so where ...

.... is that nr 10 petition ?

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Lewis is an idiot

The contract for Eurofighter is designed so that cancelling Tranches costs more than actually buying them.

You're actually suggesting we should have paid more and ended up with no extra aircraft?

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Unhappy

what a strangely depressing article.

Why is politics so fucked up

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What the ....

This article is so written with such an unbelievable slant/bias I can scarcely believe it.

Is it a joke?

When Eurofighter was developed BAE were a british company. The other partners on the plane are fellow europeans, not americans.

The plane is urgently needed to replace aging, and outclassed Tornadoes.

The Saudis are taking Tranche2 planes, which will be taken from the original RAF allocation... so whilst the RAF originally ordered 89 Tranche2, they'll actually get less than that, with the balance coming through the Tranche3 order.

Regarding the other areas lacking in the ministry of defence, yes I agree that is dreadful, and needs to be resolved urgently.

Also as you failed to mention, cancelling Tranche3 would have resulted in penalty payments to other european countries of almost as much as fufilling the order itself... not to mention the political fall out of such a move.

However I doubt it will happen under this Government.... they're printing hundreds of billions of pounds to cover the financial crisis... which was caused by Mr Brown's ridiculous deregulation and statements that "boom and bust" was a thing of the past.

So why not focus your attention and anger to that?

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Hard polemic to argue with

Thanks Lewis for a great piece of angry informed polemic.

A much quicker way to put an end to the maiming and killing of soldiers would be to get out of Afghanistan. Remind me, someone, why we're trying nationbuilding in a country that's famous above all over past three hundred years for having eaten occupying forces whole, and burped up the crunchy bits? Going in post-9/11 to get bin Laden made sense. Knocking over the Taliban regime made sense as a means to accomplish the first objective. Whilst it's a nice thought that we're fighting for democracy and human rights, it's undeniable that we would never have tried to do it on it's own merits without the psychosocial need to "get" bin Laden. (We'd have moved on to Somalia, Zimbabwe, Burma/Myanmar and so on if that was the goal.)

None of that affects Lewis' points about the relative utility of relatively cheap choppers, body armour and other such kit vs. Eurofighters, but it's the sad little convoys of Wootton Bassett that make it such a bad time to make the wrong call in a defence spending review. Given that politicians will always be prone to stupid or wrong decisions, not being shot at in the first place is the best way to mitigate the consequences of their dumbness.

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@vishal vashist

"Can you imagine the kind of car industry we would have if the Government handed out the £900 million a year it does to the defense industry?"

You don't have to imagine it - it's already been done in the 1970s and it was called British Leyland.

I think this is one of Lewis' points - massive government subsidies don't work because they don't incentivise the companies that receive them to produce what the market actually wants.

He's certainly not making the case to apply the pork barrel principle across other industries.

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Alert

Easy Maths..

so it costs

100% to go ahead

80% to cancel

and can recover 40% by selling on at a knock down...

whats the best option for the Tax Payer????

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Anonymous Coward

@Lewis

Again it appears you are completely incapable of putting forward a balanced, reasonable argument on anything related to UK defense without ranting, raving and trying to solve everything by buying American (yet strangely enough criticising the Eurofighter for using US tech...)

Some rational thoughts here:

70,000 per job per annum is rather misleading don't you agree, in hindsight? Surely you need to take into consideration the actual costs of making the planes, such as materials, manufacturing processes, overheads as well. Or do you thing Eurofighters are just magicked up out of thin air?

Although we may not need an air superiority fighter at the moment (OK, don't need) we may later on. And if we don't have one we are royally screwed.

All the other references I have seen at least strongly suggest that cancelling tranche 3 would cost at least as much as buying it. We may not nee them, maybe not ever but how fucking stupid would you have to be to pay more for not receiving something you can sell on than receiving it for less and then making money selling the ones you don't need?

If we just bought American we would be entirely dependant on the US for everything defence related. We might as well then just join up as the 51st state. You might want that but many of us are happy as we are.

There are developmental offshoots of the whole defence industry. New engine technology developed for faster / more efficient / longer lasting / more compact jets gets used in civilian engines, so benefiting us all, and the same for composite materials, electronics etc. etc. etc.

And regarding the line:

"Did I hear that right? £20bn for Eurofighters is value for money, but £20bn for Trident isn't?"

You are really having a giraffe, right? Please tell us you are not serious?

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Pirate

Need Trident to take on the yanks

There is another MAD target - the USA.

When we are all being flooded by sea-level rises because Americans refuse to give up gas-guzzling cars and air conditioning, we may need to take out the planet polluters with nuclear missiles, aimed at places like Florida and Midland, Texas.

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Passionate but all too probably right

Spending priorities do seem to be out of kilter. While the forces need money across all areas to cover for improvements and future possibilties certain areas are falling behind.

Certain PPI attempts haven't helped - contracting out training?

And I read a good one yesterday, in Private Eye, privatising recruitment into the forces!

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Government is wasteful - end of

I'm sick of the military getting flamed for buying expensive kit.

The facts are you can't predict what you are going to need in 10-15years, the procurement cycle of a technologically advanced piece of kit. You design it to meet the current threat with guesses about what you are actually going to need in the future. When the future gets here the goalposts have moved - it has always been thus since the Industrial Revolution.

Development and ironing out of design flaws are the biggest problems - but the kit is needed NOW so they have to be overcome whilst the kit is in use. Operational evaluation is the best evaluation.

Instead of moaning about it pay the extra money and get the new kit that will keep these planes / ships / tanks etc awesome. Those of you who slate our kit, have obviously never seen any of it in the field. We have created some excellent and effective systems independantly and with our allies but all you hear about are the failures as it's a more interesting read.

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Black Helicopters

So you're saying...

... we could afford a world class defence force AND a nucleur deterrant if we canned the olympics and ID cards and a few other domestic funding black holes?

Because frankly I find the 20-odd billion spent on those two things to be far more offensive.

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drones

The argument that we should concentrate on spending kit on things we actually need seems largely redundant due to the fact that troops need to call in fast air. we are completely dependent on the USA to provide fast air cover in order for are troops to operate in Afghanistan. the fact is that the most verstile way to provide air support is with a fast jet, and so we need the euro fighter. drones and helicopters might be able to plug the gap in Afghanistan while the enemy have virtually no anti aircraft capabilities, but against a country with even old soviet antiaircraft equipment they would be useless. look at how badly the Russian helicopters fared against shoulder launched anti aircraft missiles.

its sems preety stupid to say we dont need an aircraft while at the same time rellying entirely on the Americans version of that aircraft to conduct our combat operations. couple that with the fact that we wouldn't be able to create another fighter quickly enought to meet any demand we might face in the next 20 years, it seems pretty stupid to turn our entire armed forces into essentially a special forces battalion capable of doing nothing other than supporting American conventional forces. if after Vietnam the Americans had desided it was a waste of money to develope the m1a1 abrams becuase it cant be used in the jungles of south east asia then they could not have defended saudi arabi in the first gulf war.

If the critics of the euro fighter had there way any country with a squadron of sukois would be superior to our entire armed forces

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Reading between the lines...

Reading between the lines of SuperTims comments near the top here it sounds like the Eurofighter has the curse of the TSR2 upon it. If you don't know what the TSR2 was, just google it.

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@SmokeyMcPotHead

I wish it was as good as TSR2 was back then, but British defense spending has always been pulled just as success was around the corner. Chuck Yeager would never have broken the sound barrier if it wasnt for us developing a supersonic aircraft that DIDNT spiral out of control near Mach1. That project was shelved too early.

At least we are getting our Eurofighters now, even if they are only 80% of their intended outcome.

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One further comment from me...

I think it would be true to say that throughout more recent history military aircraft have taken so long to develop that by the time they hit the shelves so to speak they are either outdated or not suited to the job they need to perform at the time they hit those shelves. It would also seem that these days this country, like many others, no longer has the ability (or perhaps skill set) to stand on it's own two feet and develop it's own defence equipment. During the early days of the Cold War we made some cracking aircraft, they may not have all been perfect, and true enough some weren't as good as others, but they were ours, and they pretty much did what they said on the tin. We have now reached an age where technology rules the roost, and developments take 10s of years rather than maybe 5, and therefore the associated costs are huge, and do we ever really get what we want during thes elong development times.

Is there an answer to the multitude of problems discussed in the article and amongst these comments? Well if there is it will surely lie in sorting out the mess behind the scenes, cleaning up the procurement process, actually reading contracts before they're signed and coming up with proper forward looking specifications for equipment before any development orders are issued. As someone quite rightly said here one of the things that does the most damage in terms of cost is the change of specification part way through. It's like ordering a Mini and then deciding you need a Mondeo!

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Anonymous Coward

From an American, Brits need their own defense capabilities

Being an American, I would say that you Brits, need some of your own defense infrastructure. Tax payer money should be spent on its own soil, having alies have their own capabilities provides for a more dispersed capability. Different countries have different needs, their are many capable Engineers over their (where do you think early US population came from ).

What you do need as we do is to rain in the cost of the defense programs(better oversight). Cooperation is fine but when you really need something you need to be able to do it yourself. As far as I am concerned a strong Britain is a plus to us. When it comes down to it looking at the recent past the only real Alies we have both had have been each other. Go forth and develop.

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Stop

More Spending?

The idea we should just spend more doesn't wash I'm afraid. We spend more than anyone else in the world, except the USA, China and France. We spend nearly 50% more than the Russian Federation, for goodness sake.

Inevitably, a good deal of that is either wasted, or directed to the wrong shiny new toys.

It's not as if our service personnel get most of it spent on them, is it?

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That rant again?

Boy I'm I bored of this article getting reprinted. Any chance of something interesting or insightful?

I know Lewis believes that the US military do everything better than everyone else so here's an idea for his next article:

We all know what Lewis thinks of the Nimord replacement aircraft, MRA4. Perhaps rather than rehashing this old tripe again he can compare and contrast the US project to replace their P3 aircraft with a new Naval patrol aircraft?

I'd be interested to see if we can get insight and information rather than a polemic peppered with numbers from press releases.

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Re: Reading between the lines...

"Reading between the lines of SuperTims comments near the top here it sounds like the Eurofighter has the curse of the TSR2 upon it. If you don't know what the TSR2 was, just google it."

Hello? The Eurofighter is a production aircraft; it's already out there. Ask the Russians: their penis-waving bomber tours d'Europe have been intercepted by Eurofighters, you know, not by RAF pilots astride some kind of giant ostrich, Joust-style.

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Stop

Oh Come On Lewis..

Think of the poor politicians, their expenses are likely to be [DEL]obfusticated[DEL] subject to reduction and tranparent scrutiny and now you're asking them to give up their pension plans too.

For shame.

Seriously, Defense spending is the perfect place for corruption, profiteering and abuse of public funds because of the huge amount of money involved and the quality excuses available for hiding dodgy dealing behind;

safeguarding jobs, national security, commercial confidentiality and national pride being the prime examples.

As someone above mentioned it will be interesting to see which politicians and civil service official that were involved with this debarcle end up with cushy positions within the beneficiary organisations further down the line (and I'd bet my left nut that there are some already in those cushy positions, will be interesting to see how many entties in the list of MP's outside interests are redacted when the list finally gets forced out).

We need sanity, transparency, honesty, integrity and accountability returned to all aspects of UK politics in order to save this country but I am not holding my breath because it is never in the interests of those in power to ensure that power is used fairly, honestly and wisely..

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IR

Yawn

"Blah blah blah, Typhoon is awful, blah blah, BAE Systems are evil, blah, blah, blah"

Page, change the record, or at least get a little more informed/unbiased about what you write in your articles. Inaccuracies litter it all over the place. I notice the article is listed as a "Comment" because it doesn't contain any actual news and is mostly opinion, while the facts are misleading and incomplete. It's worse than the Daily Mail. Yet again.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Fredly "Government is wasteful - end of"

Oh, I like this one..

"We have created some excellent and effective systems independently and with our allies"

One word. Bowman.

I'll get back to you when I've stopped laughing. May be a while.

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Boffin

Iron bombs

I think people are getting carried away with the whole multi-role thing.

Just because you fly in bomber config (if there is such a thing, sounds computer gamey to me!) doesn't mean you strap some huge bomb on, take off and just drop it! It was more like adding technology on the flight systems to allow different weapons to be used.

I know because I worked in a place where they tested the concept not the matey up top who wanted to be important. Nobody builds planes based "on old fashioned gumption" anymore, and if anything the Eurofighter comes closest witha great performance envelope only really rivalled by some exotic American kit which I am not mentioning because eveyone will say should have bought that!

The fact is that all these specialised planes we had in the cold war are just relics and nobody wants a hugely expensive plane that does just one job (the yanks thought they did but just cancelled a load of them!). I think we just accept what we got until we get a decent UAV fleet...doesn't make the past right but lets face it we can't change the past!

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Cancellation Clauses

What the hell are the MOD doing signing a contract where it costs as much to cancel as to proceed?

Good article Lewis.

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