re. Lewis Page
I can't believe this person thinks this is true!
"While I'd prefer the ships to be entirely British, alas our obsession with open competition means our industries have not been protected, unlike the French. At least this ship is part British."
The only thing that the MOD's budget is used for is to keep British manufacturers (mainly one though) in business; whatever crap they turn out!
And as for the following statement:
"So, how come the US suppliers didn't win in the Invitation To Tender procurement process?"
The "tender" process at the MOD tends to start with "Does your company name have the word 'British' in it?" along with "Are any of your shareholder's British?" and "Does your company employ a significant number if British voters?". You could offer the MOD the fucking Death Star for a fiver, but unless you can answer yes to these they won't be interested **.
Seriously, we're left with a pathetic defense industry that doesn't have to compete with anyone for MOD money, it need only employ a few thousand British people (even though BAE employs more Americans than Brits) and it can use those jobs to hold the Governement and the MOD to ransom. The ransom will be paid in cash by UK taxpayers and blood by UK service personnel; money spent on crap like this means no money for quality infantry equipment and proper air support.
The UK defence budget should be spent on defending the UK, not keeping a few highly paid "engineers" in work; if BAE can compete then let them, but every project to date that they've been involved with has either been delivered late (e.g. Eurofighter), over-budget (Eurofighter), with bits missing (Type 45), a bit crap to start with (Tornado F3) and sometimes not at all (Nimrod AEW - I actually saw these at BAE Woodford). They couldn't even make a rifle, arguably the simplest and most basic weapons system, that works properly (the british made SA80 was eventually fixed by the German Heckler & Koch during the brief period H&K were owned by BAE). If these guys were builders, how many times would you use them before looking elsewhere?
As a graduate of aeronautical engineering, I feel very sorry for the employees of BAE; but not enough to keep paying for rubbish. The money wasted with them would be better spent elsewhere, developing a proper engineering industry that can compete on merit rather than the pathetic "buy British" mentality that seems to obscure some people's thinking on these matters.
** Note: Even if the UK were to buy a Death Star, the three services would argue whether it should be operated by the Navy (because it's a "ship") the RAF (because it "flies") or the Blues and Royals (because of the shiny helmets), before putting into storage for two years because BAE managed to get in on the deal and their bit is late.