back to article Wheels are literally falling off the MoD thanks to lack of cash

British military helicopters are at risk of crashing while wheels are literally falling off Army Land Rovers thanks to poor maintenance and funding cuts, according to a damning report by the Defence Safety Authority. The UK watchdog's six-monthly report, published earlier this week, is a blistering look at Ministry of Defence …

  1. JimmyPage Silver badge
    FAIL

    It's great to know the price of everything ...

    if you can afford it.

  2. NoneSuch
    Mushroom

    Re: It's great to know the price of everything ...

    Ditch the American F-35's and you'll have billions to play with.

  3. Ledswinger Silver badge

    Re: It's great to know the price of everything ...

    Ditch the American F-35's and you'll have billions to play with.

    With MoD's procurement skills, you don't think we're already on the hook, and would pay a vast sum in cancellation costs? And the RAF has no proper strike aircraft to replace the Tornado, so we'd have to buy an alternative strike fighter (few visible options there). And we'd be left with two very expensive helicopter carriers that couldn't do anything useful in military terms (I know, even with F35 they probably can't either). A disaster though the F35/carriers programme is, unfortunately most of the costs are incurred for the ships, and contractually committed for the aircraft.

    This is what happens when MoD don't keep options open properly - so the carriers should have been cat'n'trap fitted regardless of the aircraft they intended to buy (not only because they wouldn't be tied to F35, but also to give NATO inter-operability); they should have explored other options like funding a Harrier 2020 design concept to cover navy and RAF strike needs, as well as evaluating Rafale M for the carriers, since that's already navalised. And they should have set red lines on F35 performance, so that the UK taxpayer didn't pay for the failures of Lockheed Martin to get the damned thing working, and included a clause that required LM to provide suitable alternative aircraft until they had the F35 fully operational. The LM delays on F35B mean that Queen Lizzie will spend the first five years of a c40 year operational life without aircraft - so 12% if its working life as a useless toy.

    It was the same thing with the Nimrod MRA4 - MoD didn't keep their options open, they tied the avionics to an ultra-high risk airframe and engine concept, and ended up with nothing. If they'd had the avionics in modular form, they could have stopped the airframe work when that went out of control, and stuck the avionics into some near off the shelf A330 (even second hand A330 airframes).

  4. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

    Re: It's great to know the price of everything ...

    Hard to ditch something you haven't got.

  5. Danny 14 Silver badge

    Re: It's great to know the price of everything ...

    i bet theyd still save money of they said ditch the f35 ditch the carrier and buy a pocket carrier and f18s from the US.

  6. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

    Re: It's great to know the price of everything ...

    Queen Lizzie will spend the first five years of a c40 year operational life without aircraft - so 12% if its working life as a useless toy.

    Can't we lease it out to some banana republic for a while?

  7. Ledswinger Silver badge

    Re: It's great to know the price of everything ...

    Can't we lease it out to some banana republic for a while?

    Looking at the state of the British government's finances, the sleaze in Westminster, the incompetence, dishonesty and wastefulness of government, we are a banana republic.

    Hold on, you meant some other banana republic? Well why not, so long as they pay up front, and have sufficient seizable assets to cover the cost in case they lose it. But who'd want a big flat top naval ship with no weapons, and where you have to have your own VTOL aircraft if you want to play with it?

  8. ISP

    Re: It's great to know the price of everything ...

    "But who'd want a big flat top naval ship with no weapons, and where you have to have your own VTOL aircraft if you want to play with it?"

    The US Marine Corps

  9. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    It would be very interesting to know what Lewis would say about this. If its anything like his book I expect he would insist the MoD stop blowing the money and actually put it into the necessary equipment.

  10. Hollerithevo Silver badge

    Re: Hmm

    Why, that sounds...sensible!

  11. jmch Silver badge

    Re: Hmm

    "t would be very interesting to know what Lewis would say about this"

    +1

    "Landrover wheels falling off"

    You would think that if a wheel is properly put on then it doesn't matter what conditions it's subject to, that at the most it will become immovably stuck in place with rust/dirt etc accumulation. To have even one case is atrange, several cases is beyond bizarre and means the maintenance is being done by people several grades below basic competence

  12. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Joke

    Re: Hmm

    > You would think that if a wheel is properly put on then it doesn't matter what conditions it's subject to, that at the most it will become immovably stuck in place with rust/dirt etc accumulation.

    Ah, but you're confusing the civilian landrover - where what you say is perfectly true - with the 'MoD procurement spec' landrover where, no doubt, much money was spent redesigning the standard wheel into a combined wheel/Captain America shield which squaddies could whip off and hold up in front of themselves to protect against bullets, Thor's hammer and other whatnots.

  13. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Re: Hmm

    You would think that if a wheel is properly put on then it doesn't matter what conditions it's subject to,

    Not the case if the vehicle in question has had armour and accessories bolted on top of it in excess of the manufacturer weight spec.

    Normal landy weight is 2 tons +/- a few 100 kilos for different specs. Max payload is 1 ton (and only for some of the models, most models is lower).

    Commercial armour kits (loved by mobsters) are 500kg or less so they are well within that spec. Army armour kits, however are 1.5 tons bringing the kerb weight to 3.5 tons. That is way past the suspension and wheel mounting specs so it is not surprising they suffer from material fatigue and breakage.

    Landy is the wrong vehicle to try to armour to a modern army specification. There are other 4x4s which have been designed with significantly more room for extra weight and which have special suspension, wheel and transmission options. There is no way the UK army will buy any of them though as this is to some extent a matter of national identity/pride in addition to 50+ years of incestuous relationships in the procurement department.

    Actually, if you look at it, any off the shelf 4x4 is the wrong vehicle for modern army operations in the first place. Russians carefully observed our trials and tribulations in Iraq and Afghanistan and retired ALL of their personnel vehicles to be replaced by new ones for a reason. Germans, AFAIK are doing the same. French are also building new ones. You cannot get the required specs unless you design it from the ground up. Trying to bolt on armour on a commercial 4x4 in the 21st century is in the realm of first degree idiocies to start off with. The Landy as an army vehicle needs to be retired - plain and simple.

  14. Ledswinger Silver badge

    Re: Hmm

    you cannot get the required specs unless you design it from the ground up....The Landy as an army vehicle needs to be retired - plain and simple.

    MoD have already visited their many talents in this area. They spent c£400m on the Foxhound, at roughly A MILLION QUID apiece, and are now having to deny reports that they breakdown in the heat of our currently favoured warzones.

    to some extent a matter of national identity/pride in addition to 50+ years of incestuous relationships in the procurement department.

    Yeah? So why is Foxhound built by US based General Dynamics (albeit in Wales, IIRC), using an engine made in Austria by US owned Magna Steyr?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: I read that as...

    Literally putting money in the equipment. And at this rate it may be cheaper to load everything with pound coins...

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    ""Repeated incidents of Landrover wheels falling off""

    That sounds like a sight gag in a silent movie.

    IRL. WTF?

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    " So why is Foxhound built by US based General Dynamics ("

    Because they were cheaper than the (inevitable) BAe bid.

    IIRC BAe gave the usual whine about "Thousands of British Defense jobs will be lost blah blah."

    In fact the factory got transferred to GD and the same staff built the US design, rather than the Nx more expensive BAe thing.

  18. Danny 14 Silver badge

    Re: " So why is Foxhound built by US based General Dynamics ("

    just look at what the locals use. toyotas. they can mount all sorts of kit on the back, spares are cheap and they dont kind sand.

  19. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Re: " So why is Foxhound built by US based General Dynamics ("

    just look at what the locals use. toyotas.

    The ones with Sugar daddies. The ones without use Isuzu and (less often) Mitsubishi. These are the vehicles I meant when I said that there are better 4x4s for the purpose of off-the shelf adaptation.

    As far as the FoxHound - it leaves (as some people noted) a lot to be desired in terms of reliability. For the money in costs the army could have bought the same number of Boxers which are infinitely more capable, infinitely more versatile and offer better protection too.

  20. Ledswinger Silver badge

    Re: " So why is Foxhound built by US based General Dynamics ("

    For the money in costs the army could have bought the same number of Boxers

    According to Wikipedia, the Boxers cost about €3m a piece, so we'd have had less than half as many?

    Sadly though, the history of Boxer as a joint British-German-Dutch project implies that MoD paid somewhere around 40% of that vehicle's development costs. Presumably something of the order of ANOTHER £300m pissed up the wall.

  21. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Coat

    Re: " So why is Foxhound built by US based General Dynamics ("

    £1m+ for an armoured 4x4?

    They don't have to have DVD players in headrests you know, ease up on the options and I'm sure they could drag that price down a bit.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Hmm

    "Actually, if you look at it, any off the shelf 4x4 is the wrong vehicle for modern army operations in the first place."

    I wouldn't argue with the "modern army" part but I think you'll find that the most common 4x4 in warfare today is a Toyota Hilux with some brave soul standing in the back trying to aim a Browning machine gun without being thrown from the vehicle or shooting the driver.

  23. wolfetone Silver badge

    The DSA seems to forget there's no magic money tree though?

  24. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Yes, but as one of the worlds richest countries you do have to ask where billions upon billions upon billions of taxpayers money IS going. It certainly isn't going on making ANY improvements to any service provided by the Government.

  25. Ledswinger Silver badge

    he DSA seems to forget there's no magic money tree though?

    Nope, but if the MoD would get a grip of defence procurement processes (to reduce overspend risks) and get a grip of its customers (to stop "kid in the toyshop" specification) then there would be plenty of money to go round.

    In terms of helicopter pilot training, the privatisation of ASR now looks to be proven as the sort of insane and stupid "money saving" idea that it was forseen to be by many.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Money is created as debt, and that debt as a means of control and wealth extraction. The end product is a few very rich individuals controlling all as governments are weakened. Welcome to neoliberalism. As long as the great unwashed keep blaming immigrants, scroungers, Muslims, and Russians then they can keep the scam going.

  27. Hollerithevo Silver badge

    The phrase is 'horizontal hostility'

    As long as you can keep the lower echelons under you blaming each other, then you are safe. And if you build in a tiny bit of hierarchy (eg. poor white men are better than non-white poor men, and all straight men are better than all gay men, and all men are better than all women, all white women are better than all non-white women, and so on and so on), then you get to watch them fight to get one inch higher on the hierarchy ladder, the one they foolishly think reaches all the way up to you.

  28. Peter2 Silver badge

    In theory, the defense budget goes:-

    Wages: 30%

    Equipment Maintenance 30%

    Future equipment development/production 30%

    contingency 10%

    However, in practice everything in development and production is overbudget and the contingency budget goes into the development/production. When more money is required, it comes out of maintenance. Without a maintenance budget parts are then robbed from production to keep the existing equipment running, so building equipment takes longer, making it more expensive. Then order numbers are cut to keep the programme cost down, which forces higher utilisation of the next generation of equipment so there is more wear and tear, and maintenance periods are reduced as higher uptime is required from individual bits of equipment.

  29. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    Interest payments on the debt is larger the the defence budget.

  30. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Re: The phrase is 'horizontal hostility'

    As long as you can keep the lower echelons under you blaming each other, then you are safe. And if you build in a tiny bit of hierarchy (eg. poor white men are better than non-white poor men, and all straight men are better than all gay men, and all men are better than all women, all white women are better than all non-white women, and so on and so on), then you get to watch them fight to get one inch higher on the hierarchy ladder, the one they foolishly think reaches all the way up to you.

    Spot on, for the 19th-20th century.

  31. jmch Silver badge

    "Interest payments on the debt is larger the the defence budget."

    And is that supposed to be a good thing or a bad thing?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used to work for the MOD. I recall one year that a frigate being built was behind schedule so the funds that had been allocated for it that year had not been spent. Instead that rather large pot of money was literally thrown at a bunch of MOD establishments who were instructed to spend it before the end of the financial accounting period which was only a few weeks away. We bough masses of top of the range kit. It was like Christmas. Apparently if the money hadn't been spent the next years budget would have been based on this years spend and so would have been down, and a rather expensive frigate would still need to be paid for. Effectively we were pissing the tax payers money up the wall buying kit we didn't really need and not taking the time to get a good price from the supplier.

    I hope things have improved since then ............................ ?

  33. annodomini2 Bronze badge

    Standard accounting practice, government or private

  34. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    "where billions upon billions upon billions of taxpayers money IS going. "

    A lot of it is going straight to landlords in the form of housing benefit. Without housing benefits rents would drop due to affordability. So you could say that the money is going to people like the Duke of Westminster. The housing benefit cap was intended to reduce this, but doesn't seem to have worked very well.

    In effect, taxpayer money is going straight into property bubble. Now how could that possibly go wrong?

  35. Peter2 Silver badge

    I hope things have improved since then ............................ ?

    Talk nicely to your account manager at the supplier, then order a bunch of gold bars on the last week of the year. These can then be billed for and paid, then found to be "unavailable" by the supplier, and the account had a credit note applied the first day of the new accounting year. Hence, the money is "spent" so that you don't get a budget cut, but also available for spending on normal equipment with that supplier the next year without wasting money.

    Additionally, the next year you basically have however many months worth of spending with that supplier carried across, so you maintain the same money available in the budget to spend on things actually needed if required without wasting a penny.

    *THAT* is how you deal with a budget underspend. Not wasting it buying crap you don't need.

  36. Steve Gill
    Mushroom

    This is why the govt rushed the Trident vote through straight after the Brexit referendum - they knew it wouldn't get through once the pound started slipping

  37. Rich 11 Silver badge

    The way things are heading Trident is going to become unaffordable anyway. I wonder how the proud nationalists are going to feel about that, knowing that their Brexit enthusiasm has scuppered the UK's independent (ahem) nuclear capability?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I wonder how the proud nationalists are going to feel about that, knowing that their Brexit enthusiasm has scuppered the UK's independent (ahem) nuclear capability?"

    The logic is weak in this one.

  39. Ledswinger Silver badge

    scuppered the UK's independent (ahem) nuclear capability?

    The original concept of the ballistic deterrent was that nobody sane really wanted to die in a global nuclear war. This meant that a first strike was unlikely, particularly if that first strike couldn't guarantee to take out the retaliation. So far so good. But in terms of deterring a serious war, nobody would respond to a minor cross border excursion to all out nuclear war, and to be a deterrent, you need a means of escalating at every tactical stage of conflict if you're in danger of losing that round, thus creating stop/escalation points (the détente in "détente"), and the prospect that launching ballistic nukes could be a possible outcome. Obviously you need to have the conventional fighting first, and that needs to escalate, but crucially, you need to be able to deploy a sub-strategic nuclear capability, tactical nuclear weapons, because other wise, if you're "merely" suffering a conventional defeat, it isn't a credible response to trigger Armageddon.

    The UK hasn't had any tactical nuclear weapons since the 1998 defence review scrapped our last ones, so the only purpose of Trident and its replacement is to make the world uninhabitable if most of the UK population are already dead. The deterrence argument that "we won't be attacked if we can strike back" might work for thermonuclear attack, clearly without the escalation capability it isn't protecting us against any conventional attack, but luckily there are no obvious territorial aggressors threatening the UK mainland.

    At current funding and programme costs, the British government can either have a competent, well equipped military and no strategic nuclear deterrent, OR it can have a strategic nuclear deterrent, and an under-funded, ill equipped conventional military. At the moment we're nearer to the latter of those two poles.

  40. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    but luckily there are no obvious territorial aggressors threatening the UK mainland

    Can't we blame the French? That used to always work (up until about 1820 anyway).

  41. Ledswinger Silver badge

    Can't we blame the French?

    Not really. Holding holding back the lawless rabble at Calais, the French are doing more to protect British territory than (in particular) our own "Border Force" or Home Office.

  42. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Pirate

    Dinnae fash yersel, we will hold indyref2 up here, win it and you won't have anywhere to base the new boats (no way will ScotGov let you lease the base that long, we won't let them).

    They need easy access to deep water, which rules out the entire East Coast and Irish Sea coasts. Only the Cornish peninsula offers this and every possible pair of harbours* has a picturesque (to the tourists) fishing village on it. Mebyon Kernow would grow exponentially and you have Scotland in miniature, again.

    During last IndyRef Navy did a formal contingency study and came to the same conclusion. The risk to the good citizens of Plymouth in basing it there would be too high apparently. Not so those in Helensburgh or Glasgow they must be a cheaper sort of citizen.

  43. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "British government can either.a competent, well equipped military and no strategic.deterrent, "

    But, but,but

    No nukes means being subservient to the rascally Fwench.

    And even worse being patronized by the Americans, as (IIRC) the Foreign Secretary of the day was when he spoke to his US counterpart just after WWII. Getting his support to start an A-Bomb programme after that was no problem :-) .

    But the real horror would be the UK admitting it could no longer keep up with the US and Russia.

    I think it's interesting that of the G7 how many are world class economies without the ability to flash fry several million people, although they have very significant military forces.

    Of course if push came to shove you could always hand a rifle to every one of the MoD Procurement branch. IIRC that would increase the size of the fighting forces about 5x overnight.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My top 3 of the most incompetent government departments are:

    - the Highways Agency

    - Department for Social Security or whatever they are called now - the ones that deal with Mental Health

    - the Ministry of Defence

    In terms of money wastage:

    - The MoD

    - Everybody else.

  45. Rich 11 Silver badge

    - Department for Social Security or whatever they are called now - the ones that deal with Mental Health

    I think it might help your point if you were able to name the department whose competence you had so carefully assessed.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My top 3 of the most incompetent government departments are:......- the Highways Agency

    Highways Agency (now Highways England, being fattened for privatisation) are like MoD - subject to vagaries of political expediency. So all the major schemes are piecemeal (because MPs can't think beyond next week, never mind the next five years), and individually each major one is a political decision that HE have little control over.

    Highways England have many faults, but most of the road network problems are down to the stupidity of politicians.

    Take the A46, that changes from a cart track to three lanes plus hard shoulder in a few miles (and then back again). The obvious solution is to put in a motorway running from the M5 near Evesham right through to the A1 at Newark (and no common running from the M69 up the M1). That'd ease pressure on a series of desperate M5, M42, A42 and M1 bottlenecks. But they aren't in control. It is pea-brained arts graduate MPs who decide what is done.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Rick 11

    ""I think it might help your point if you were able to name the department whose competence you had so carefully assessed."", that would be the one that is charged with getting everyone off the new disability allowance in the manner of "got no legs? walk it off"

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They changed it from HA to HE and made it a GovCo - Government owned but run like a private business. The funding is fixed and guaranteed so that they can plan longer term without worrying about half-completed roads being mothballed when the Government changes.

    They were given lots of money as politicians love infrastructure, however loadsa money doesn't guarantee they will make the best decisions!

    And you're probably right about the fattening for privatisation - I hadn't thought of that!

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Department of Health.

  50. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    "My top 3 of the most incompetent government departments are:"

    And to think, you didn't even mention the Home Office...

    The folk behind.

    Unlimited Number plate, finger print, mugshot and DNA retention of everyone, regardless of criminal conviction.

    The Snoopers Charter

    10 year long asylum processing.

    Inability to deport foreign prisoners directly home.

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