back to article Sort your spending habits out, UK Ministry of Defence told over £20bn black hole

Britain's Ministry of Defence's spending plans for the next decade "lack cost control" and contain a £20bn black hole, according to the House of Commons' influential Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The committee's latest report into the MoD's finances follows years of public concern as a largely static or shrinking defence …

  1. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    FAIL

    No Hope

    Having had to spend some time in MOD Abby Wood for my sins there is no hope of the MOD ever fixing their budget.

    They have the frying pan of budgets shrinking in real terms and the fire of ever-growing costs of military shiny, and in the middle you have a bunch of idiots who learned everything they need to learn in life at [Insert Private School Tie of Choice Here] and as such have no understanding of what money is and where it comes from.

    All in all the situation is a total disaster.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No Hope

      On a related note, this is your annual reminder that the agency responsible for buying all of this kit is about three times the size of Her Majesty's Corps of Royal Marines, and well over half the size of the RAF and RN. And that's before we start counting the endless numbers of bodies from BAE and their merry band of subcontractors actually designing and building things.

      So if you ever wonder where all your money's going, you can start looking there.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: No Hope

      Well, if you have worked there then you will know that if the MoD is accused of hiding a £20Bn hole in their finances then it is far more likely to be a £40Bn commitment that they have entered into. Luckily the USA transparency on the F35 allows us to get a vague guesstimate of what they are actually up to.

      The golden rule with government finance: the actual amount is always at least 1.5 times higher.

      (©Capita 2018)

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Simple solution

    Have a war.

    Nobody complains about defence spending during a war

    It could also distract public attention from Europe (note don't have a war in Europe)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simple solution

      note don't have a war in Europe

      Why not? Plenty of local grudges to settle, plenty of historic animosity, lots of varied territory to make the fighting more varied, some even worth fighting to own. To judge by the two last parties, when Europe holds a war, it is so popular that most of the world want to join in.

      And it would make a change to the usual dull, sandy places that have been fought over for the past half century. Those places might even want to return the compliment by sending a few divisions of troops.

      Now, if the Germans could invade some adjacent territory,. or the Serbs shoot somebody we've never heard of that could be a suitable excuse. Or maybe the UK should guarantee the Italian sovereignty of Mont Blanc, on the basis the French would kick off about the matter. Or if the mainland Europeans aren't willing to participate, England could just declare war on Scotland, and invoke NATO article 5.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Simple solution

        How to solve the Brexit negotiation problems? Reclaim the historic territories in what is now France.

        1. ZSn

          Re: Simple solution

          Or us Celts kick out those $^&%ing Angles and Saxons and reclaim our isles. Bloody foreigners coming over here...

          1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

            Re: Simple solution

            @ZSn

            Don't forget the Jutes! And the Danes, and the Vikings, (bloody vikings!) and the Normans, and the Huguenots (Farage!)...

            1. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
              Alert

              Re: Simple solution

              Or us Celts kick out those $^&%ing Angles and Saxons and reclaim our isles. Bloody foreigners coming over here...

              Don't forget the Jutes! And the Danes, and the Vikings, (bloody vikings!) and the Normans, and the Huguenots (Farage!)...

              well if a few lines in a book written nearly 2000 years ago about a tribe a couple of thousand years before who was promised some lands for them to live on by a mysteriously absent magician, that has a resemblance to Charlton Heston, gave a bunch of displaced people in the late 1940's, that didn't feel safe going home alter some world wide fisty cuffs, the right to occupy some lands in the eastern Med.

              Then we have to welcome all invaders right to stay wherever they want......

              1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

                Re: Simple solution

                Bloody Celts - us Beakers got a bad deal.

                1. cantankerous swineherd

                  Re: Simple solution

                  there we were, neandering in our valley and then some sapient homos turned up. ruined our whole day I can tell you.

            2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

              Re: Simple solution

              "And the Danes, and the Vikings, (bloody vikings!) and the Normans, and the Huguenots (Farage!)"

              Well, that's me stuffed then. Just include Jewish immigrants from the Netherlands and I'll have to be sent back where I came from in quite a lot of pieces. My wife gets to stay unless the Beaker People get to have a say in the matter.

              Though don't forget a lot of the Normans were really Vikings who had spent longer in Northern France than expected on their European tour.

              Come to think of it, if you send everybody back where they came from the defence budget will be a lot smaller owing to the shrunken population. But it should pay for quite a lot of spears and woad, which might even be more useful against realistic threats than the F35.

              1. Stork Bronze badge

                Re: Simple solution

                If everybody were sent back where they (or their ancestors) came from, Africa would get rather crowded and the rest quite empty...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simple solution

        England could just declare war on Scotland

        No that's something I could get behind......

      3. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Simple solution

        There's a fair chance the Spanish government would welcome an annexation of Catalunya.

        1. ciaran

          Re: Simple solution

          False flag operation against Gibralta, then declare "justified" war on spain.

      4. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: Simple solution

        No, I quite like haggis and I don't want to be tarred as a traitor so an Anglo-Scottish skirmish could be bad form. What about having a severe squabble with the Isle of Dogs instead? It would even work - start squabbling about whelk exports, UK sets up blockade for a week (we've nearly got enough ships but we can rope in local Oligarcs' yachts to fill the gaps and it would be a multinational expeditionary force ...) As sovereign territory the UK could arrange a 'Berlin Airlift' to deliver jellied eels and Red Bull to save it's citizens and HM Government could take the credit for everything!

        Anonymise everything by calling the island "Pimblico" and there may be even be a film in it ... :-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simple solution

      Have a war.

      Isn't that what the politicians have been trying for with all the anti Russia rhetoric?

  3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Another wee problem

    At the moment HMG manage to effectively attribute a proportion of defence spending to the budgets for Wales and Scotland.

    Come IndyScotland and, hopefully, IndyWales, there is unlikely to be any strong demand for a fleet of carriers, nukes and strike aircraft bearing the Saltire or Ddraig Goch. Both will be looking to go more down the Irish route, which has a per-capita defence spending of approx 20% of the UK's.

    Some will say that leaves the Celtic countries unable to defend themselves against attack. True. But 1) who is going to attack them? and 2) if it was the UK/USA/Russians how much would we have to spend developing and deploying nuclear weapons to defeat them? Spending which would be at the expense of schools, hospitals, infrastructure, pensions etc - all the things that make it worth having a society for anyway.

    So good luck to the English and their over-inflated and largely pointless 'defence' budget. But count me out.

    1. }{amis}{ Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Another wee problem

      Given that the 2 White Elephants New aircraft carriers were commissioned primarily as a bribe to keep as Scottish MP employed I think that Scotland would miss the military budgets.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another wee problem

        I think that Scotland would miss the military budgets.

        As an independent country the SNP would be able to come up with any number of socialist make work projects, paid for by a budget deficit.

        Not much different to how Westminster funds defence now.

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Another wee problem

        Err... Why do you think the Dreadnought class sub is not a white elephant?

        It is the only nuclear missile submarine in the world which does not have any other armament besides ICBMs. Yanks have torpedoes and cruise missiles on Ohio class, Russians have torpedoes and cruise missiles on the Borei class, so have the french on the Trioumphant and the Chinese are building the same spec.

        The only ones which, once again, are building a single use white elephant is UK. A sub which cannot even fend for itself or give the fleet a hand in need.

        So that is not 2 white elephants. Six. At least. If we add here the destroyers which have absolutely no anti-ship armament that will make it double digits.

        This is just on the white elephant front. On the "idiot in charge" front we can add the lack of landing ship(s), lack of helicopter carrier(s), lack of... While there is a long tradition of idiots in the Admiralty in peace time, the current lot probably beats the record especially as far as "we have infinite amount of money so nothing will be multi-purpose" is concerned.

        1. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Another wee problem

          Ssh. You forget that the main Royal Navy budget is spent upon copious amounts of gin. Sod the technology bit - that's just for the engineering monkeys like the RAF.

        2. Rudeboy

          Re: Another wee problem

          Errrrr.....this is spectacularly wrong.

          The Dreadnought Class will have 6 Torpedo Tubes and will be armed with Spearfish Torpedo's....

          All US Ohio Class carry Torpedo's. They DO NOT carry ICBM's and Cruise Missiles. 4 Ohio Class had their Trident missile systems removed. These were replaced with Tomahawk cruise missile VLS cells. Their designation changed from SSBN to SSGN. The US has the luxury of another 16 Ohio Class to undertake the SSBN mission.

          The Triomphant carrys Torpedo's only. No cruise missiles. The MdCN has not, and will not be fitted.

          The Borei's also only carry Torpedoes. No cruise missiles. They do have the Starfish, which is a missile that delivers a torpedo. But that is all.

          It's clear you do not know the first thing about the use and deployment of SSBN's, with comments like "give the fleet a hand in need."....that's embarrassing. Please stop.

          1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: Another wee problem

            The Borei's also only carry Torpedoes. And torpedo tube launched cruise missiles including nuclear armed. Read the spec on RPK-2 before commenting.

            The Dreadnought Class will have 6 Torpedo Tubes and will be armed with Spearfish Torpedo's....

            Not in the official spec. Official spec lists Trident only. If 6 torpedo tubes have made it as a late addition, that has not made it to all sources yet.

            All US Ohio Class carry Torpedo's. And they can launch cruise missile from the torpedo tube. Same as US attack submarines.

            It's clear you do not know the first thing about the use and deployment of SSBN's, with comments like "give the fleet a hand in need."

            Count the number of subs UK has - attack and SSBNs. Count the number of times it was down to zero on South Atlantic watch (where there always should be one for "obvious" reasons). So the case where there may be a need to torpedo a second-third hand 50 year old light cruiser in neutral waters may still arise you know and with the current active sub fleet numbers beggars cannot be choosers. Ditto for whacking it with a cruise missile.

        3. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: Another wee problem

          @Voland's right hand

          There is logic to having the nuclear missile boats "one role only". For good or ill they are the absolute last line of defence for the UK. There is only one boat guaranteed to be on station at any time. It may be a good thing if it cannot be diverted to another task, possibly making it more vulnerable to enemy action.

          Preventing admirals and politicians from playing with "their" train set is, in this instance, a good thing.

          Self defence can be a two edged sword. The process of firing a torpedo will give the enemy a very good fix of the bomber's location.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: Another wee problem

            Preventing admirals and politicians from playing with "their" train set is, in this instance, a good thing.

            Oh, definitely - with you on that.

            My point was different - the overall "specialized white elephant" building across all of the Navy and to a lesser extent other forces.

            If you look at USA, Russia, French, Chinese subs even the nuclear deterrent ones carry torpedoes and can launch cruise missiles out of their torpedo tubes. While that is not their normal function they can be in extreme circumstances pressed to give a hand in need as a normal attack sub.

            The official spec for the Drednaught when I looked it up did not list any torpedo tubes so it looked like yet another typical Navy dedicated white elephant. Just like the destroyers and frigates which can do only AA or only ASW and have no anti-ship or land attack capability. Just like the two ultra-bespoke special carrier white elephants which have no aircraft for them and can launch only one ultra bespoke model of aircraft. Just like...

            In this day and age even a Tier 1 fleet, army or air force cannot afford dedicated white elephants. At the same time - this is the only thing UK is building and buying. No wonder the budget does not add up.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Another wee problem

          Where do I start with this one...

          1. Dreadnought has torpedo tubes; although if you're ever in the situation to use them something's gone badly wrong.

          2. The "Yank boats" you mention are actually re-purposed into SSGNs - i.e. no longer carrying ballistic missiles but "General" purpose which makes use of the vertical missile tubes to launch TLAM and other stuff.

          3. There are two classes of nuclear-powered submarines in the Royal Navy: SSBNs - trident ballistic-missile carrying bombers (US missile but with British nuclear warhead), and SSNs - multi-purpose attack boats performing intelligence gathering, coastal water protection, land-attack (TLAM), underwater defence (torpedos), carrier task-force protection (soon), and more besides.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another wee problem

      Remind me how many jobs there are in the Scottish bases, and the ports, and the contractors.

      Shall we take one base...

      Oh look, 11,000 jobs.

      "Faslane is the second largest single-site employer in Scotland, after the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow with around 11,000 jobs directly and indirectly reliant on the base."

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Another wee problem

        @lost all faith

        If it's jobs you want, you can build and staff a lot of schools and hospitals for the price of the jobs created in looking after nuclear subs and building white elephants.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another wee problem

      So good luck to the English and their over-inflated and largely pointless 'defence' budget. But count me out.

      Pen-y-gors, how did you get (at time of writing) five downvotes for that? Simple matter of fact.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another wee problem

        Pen-y-gors, how did you get (at time of writing) five downvotes for that? Simple matter of fact.

        A few more by the time i read it,.. but its more opinion than fact.

        1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

          Re: Another wee problem

          @Ledswinger Ta. (Now 9 down votes and rising)

          The basis is fact, or at least strong possibility - an independent England would almost certainly still be trying to re-live its dreams of imperial glory, and keeping up the same silly defence willy-waving as now, but it's a fact they would have a noticeably reduced tax base - due to losing the Scottish, Welsh and NI tax income, and the negative economic impact of Brexit.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: Come IndyScotland and, hopefully, IndyWales

      Why IndyWales ?

      Wales very publicly and firmly shackled it's fortunes to England by voting to leave the EU. Now we can both sink together.

      Scotland, on the other had (a) clearly voted to Remain, and (b) was promised that the UK would keep Scotland in the EU. As far as I (as an English voter) am concerned they're entitled to rerun the independence question in the light of new facts. And that's where my political support would go from south of the border.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: RE: Come IndyScotland and, hopefully, IndyWales

        Why IndyWales?

        Because every day makes it clearer that Wales would be a better, happier and wealthier country when it can run its own affairs. How effective has 800 years of English rule been for the fortunes of Wales? West Wales is the poorest area in Northern Europe! (Inner London is the richest)

        https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=4575424

        - shows how lucky we are to be in the 'Union'. I'm sure some other people were talking about 'taking back control'. What was that about?

        As some wise person pointed out, how many countries have wished they had never become independent?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: RE: Come IndyScotland and, hopefully, IndyWales

          So Wales could return to be the globe bestriding colossus it was before the C12 ?

          1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

            Re: RE: Come IndyScotland and, hopefully, IndyWales

            @YAAC

            I was thinking more of a happy globally-trading prosperous small country like Iceland, Lithuania, Ireland etc. rather than globally-bestriding. That's silly. Who wants to run an empire? And 11th Century Wales was at least on a par with 11th century Mercia and Wessex - and had a rather better legal system

            England really when to shit when those violent, feudal Norman bastards moved in.

          2. handleoclast Silver badge

            Re: RE: Come IndyScotland and, hopefully, IndyWales

            So Wales could return to be the globe bestriding colossus it was before the C12 ?

            The Welsh still have a global presence. There are between 1,500 and 5,000 Welsh speakers of Welsh descent in the Chubut Valley of Patagonia.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: RE: Come IndyScotland and, hopefully, IndyWales

              There are between 1,500 and 5,000 Welsh speakers of Welsh descent in the Chubut Valley of Patagonia.

              Attracted by the sheep or just really bad at map reading ?

              1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

                Re: RE: Come IndyScotland and, hopefully, IndyWales

                Attracted by the sheep or just really bad at map reading ?

                Actually suckered in to emigrating by a highly fanciful advertising campaign, extolling the beauties and fertility of Patagonia. After they disembarked from the 'Mimosa' on a bleak desert shore it was a miracle that any of them survived. But they did, and the language is strong in Chubut and Trelew. As is the 'té galés y sus exquisitas tortas' (Welsh tea)

          3. Stork Bronze badge

            Re: RE: Come IndyScotland and, hopefully, IndyWales

            A country does not have to be a globe striding colossus to gain from independence. Iceland did well to break from Denmark during WW2, and I also think Ireland has done well in breaking from UK.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: RE: Come IndyScotland and, hopefully, IndyWales

          As some wise person pointed out, how many countries have wished they had never become independent?

          A post which I agree with very much. Except that sentence above. After all, didn't Wales vote to remain vassals of the ever-broadening powers and increasing direct law making of Brussels?

          I can credit the advantage of a trade bloc, and policy alignment. But it's pretty clear that the EU have gone well beyond that, and don't intend to stop now. I suppose as an independent country you could vote to join the EU in your own right, affirm the primacy of EU law making over Welsh law making, and thus surrender your sovereignty again?

          1. JimmyPage Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: RE: Come IndyScotland and, hopefully, IndyWales

            After all, didn't Wales vote to remain vassals of the ever-broadening powers and increasing direct law making of Brussels?

            Er, no, Wales didn't. Wales was a clear Leave majority. Like their cousins the English.

            Now Scotland and Northern Ireland on the other hand did vote Remain ....

          2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

            Re: RE: Come IndyScotland and, hopefully, IndyWales

            @Ledswinger

            After all, didn't Wales vote to remain vassals of the ever-broadening powers and increasing direct law making of Brussels?

            Not exactly. They voted to leave the EU, but you have to allow for the fog of confusion generated by the referendum campaigns. You also need to allow for the sizeable contingent of retired English immigrants, many of whom are convinced they still live in the far-west Midlands, and have a tendency to support UKIP. I think we can be sure that with an independent England, and its permanent Tory government, they would be pleased to move back home.

            Recent survey suggested that only 14% of Welsh-speakers voted Leave. That may or may not be accurate.

            1. 10forcash Bronze badge

              Re: RE: Come IndyScotland and, hopefully, IndyWales

              Recent survey suggested that only 14% of Welsh-speakers voted Leave. That may or may not be accurate relevant.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: RE: Come IndyScotland and, hopefully, IndyWales

          West Wales is the poorest area in Northern Europe

          ... and the wealthiest nations per capita in Europe (Norway and Switzerland) aren't in the EU. They were also neutral in WW2 which saved a lot of money. If we'd done likewise, we'd be richer today and probably governed from central Europe, which is exactly what remainers want. Plus participation in a European army would have happened much sooner - how progressive!

          1. Joe Werner

            Re: RE: Come IndyScotland and, hopefully, IndyWales

            Norway was occupied by ze krauts in WW2. They were one of Europe's poorest countries until the oil was found. Quite sensibly they put a lot of that income to the side for times when 1) there is no more oil or 2) prices go down. They had to use some of the money... dunno... two or so years ago. Norway got lucky with the oil. They mostly did not want to be part of the EU due to the fishery rights.

            And one thing: the EU was meant originally as a political union, not a purely economic free trade zone. Basically a political union to stop going to war with each other (mostly Germany and France (der Erbfeind!) ), which was quite en vogue in the 19th and 20th century.

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another wee problem

      "So good luck to the English and their over-inflated and largely pointless 'defence' budget."

      Inadequate defence costs more, in the long run, particularly if you manage to be vaguely efficient about defence, rather than treating it as an industrial corporate/employment pork barrel.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Another wee problem - particularly if you manage to be vaguely efficient about defence

        So basically we should outsource defence procurement to China and Russia instead of buying that expensive US kit? At least we could probably get stuff serviced a bit closer than Turkey.

        Yup, St. Petersburg's quite a bit closer than Ankara, and much further from politically unstable areas.

  4. Wolfclaw Silver badge

    Scrap the F35B's, refit the carriers for CATs, yes extra cash and buy F18 Super Honets, along the way we will get a better deal !

    1. Banksy

      A truly excellent plan....

      ....apart from the small detail that it is completely impossible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A truly excellent plan....

        apart from the small detail that it is completely impossible.

        Not at all. Retrofit of steam catapults has been done before (eg HMS Eagle, c1960). It is just very expensive and time consuming. Arguably such a change (and cancelling F35) would still be a better outcome than continuing what government are currently doing, but it would cost more.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: A truly excellent plan....

          It is completely impossible if you require the same company to do it that you are intending to pay a gazzillion $ for the F35

          1. Rudeboy

            Re: A truly excellent plan....

            "It is completely impossible if you require the same company to do it that you are intending to pay a gazzillion $ for the F35"

            F-35 to the UK is almost half the price of Typhoon....(Typhoon's real cost is c $160m per copy, F-35B on FRP is c$90m per copy). The UK also gets more industrial benefit from F-35 than it will from Typhoon.

            Discuss...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A truly excellent plan....

          There is nothing to provide the steam for any steam catapults. HMS Queen Elizabeth has electric propulsion, powered by a combination of gas turbine and diesel generators.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A truly excellent plan....

            There is nothing to provide the steam for any steam catapults. HMS Queen Elizabeth has electric propulsion, powered by a combination of gas turbine and diesel generators.

            I doubt they'd be running on diesel in most circumstances. And what you've clearly overlooked is that around 50%+ of the energy into a gas turbine is wasted. You get better numbers on combined cycle operation, but I doubt that's an option on any ship. There's ample "spare" energy to power a steam catapult.

            But what would I know, I've only worked for a company running gigawatts of the devices.

            1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

              Re: A truly excellent plan.... There's ample "spare" energy to power a steam catapult.

              Genuine question: AIUI the waste heat from efficient turbine and Diesel plants is relatively low grade so that the steam pressure raised from waste heat boilers is not high. Is this still correct nowadays and if so what is the implication for steam catapults? The numbers I've seen suggest around 30 bar for a steam catapult, and for waste heat boilers around 6.

          2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: A truly excellent plan....

            There is nothing to provide the steam for any steam catapults. HMS Queen Elizabeth has electric propulsion

            Perhaps British electrical tea making technology could be adapted to other uses ?

    2. }{amis}{ Silver badge
      Pirate

      Deviation From Plan

      The 2 new Aircraft carriers were bought too soon.

      They were intended to use the new-fangled electromagnetic catapults but Gorden Brown brought their commissioning forward by about 10 years in an attempt to keep his seat.

      Which meant the new catapults were not ready for prime time and BAE took the opportunity to screw the taxpayer.

      So we are left with a pair of nearly useless boats that can only fly 1 hyper-expensive and just as useless airframe.

      Without any alternative, the Yanks can price gouge us to fill the ultimate pork barrel fund that is the F35.

      If S£$% politics was not involved we should have had a pair of nuke carriers using the production tested reactors the RR built for the subs and be able to fly any naval air-frame.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Deviation From Plan

        we should have had a pair of nuke carriers

        Could, not should.

        I've not yet seen any use case for the carriers other than backing up the US when bombing a third world country with neither powerful allies nor any home grown air or sea defences. That's not a very compelling scenario, given the consequences of "Allied" military interventions.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Deviation From Plan

          we should have had a pair of nuke carriers

          Whose total role, outside of their brief appearance (and then disappearance) in a global thermonuclear war - would be to cause a political row and bad publicity everytime they visit any country other than the USA?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Deviation From Plan

          "we should have had a pair of nuke carriers "

          Large carriers versus AIP subs, hypersonic cruise missiles and highly maneuverable re-entry vehicles is a losing scenario for the carriers.

          Best cut your losses by keeping the cost down, and if you must have carriers, having a bunch of small, relatively inexpensive, simple carriers rather than a couple of extremely high value targets that are not likely to survive much better, and are more damaging to lose.

        3. Rudeboy

          Re: Deviation From Plan

          "Could, not should.

          I've not yet seen any use case for the carriers other than backing up the US when bombing a third world country with neither powerful allies nor any home grown air or sea defences. That's not a very compelling scenario, given the consequences of "Allied" military interventions."

          Carriers have been used (or in 1 case should/could) in every single conflict involving the UK since 1935....

          And you say they have no use?

      2. Rudeboy

        Re: Deviation From Plan

        "They were intended to use the new-fangled electromagnetic catapults but Gorden Brown brought their commissioning forward by about 10 years in an attempt to keep his seat."

        Nope. The UK was looking at developing its own electromagnetic system called EMCAT rather than EMALS. A trial system called EMKIT had already been operated.

        "Which meant the new catapults were not ready for prime time and BAE took the opportunity to screw the taxpayer."

        Again Nope. The design was decided on earlier on for far more sensible reasons. BAE is also not the Prime Contractor....its Thales. Design work was done by BMT in Bristol. The decision to go STOVL made far more sense for loads of reasons (see my other post on this thread for why CATOBAR is not all what people think it is today).

        "So we are left with a pair of nearly useless boats that can only fly 1 hyper-expensive and just as useless airframe.

        Without any alternative, the Yanks can price gouge us to fill the ultimate pork barrel fund that is the F35."

        F-35 is far cheaper than Typhoon, by pver 30% at the moment.....the price increases and development cost increases have all been borne by the US. For once the UK MoD has bought them sensibly. When the main UK order goes in under full rate production the price of F-35B will be c$90m. An absolute bargain (Typhoon's real cost is $160m each).

        "If S£$% politics was not involved we should have had a pair of nuke carriers using the production tested reactors the RR built for the subs and be able to fly any naval air-frame."

        Why not 10 if money is no object? In reality if we'd have gone nuke we'd have a 1 carrier, with a reactor not designed for surface ship use, that cost twice as much and would spend far more time in port....like the French. Again the MoD got it spot on.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Scrap the F35B's, refit the carriers for CATs, yes extra cash and buy F18 Super Honets, along the way we will get a better deal !"

      Why waste billions on catapults, and billions more on F35As.

      Scrap the F35s, or better, sell them to someone who is on the waiting list for them, and order Gripens (which already work) and Sea Gripens (that will probably be fully operational before the F35Bs) and cost about a quarter of the amount per hour to actually fly, relative to F35As, and which have a much higher availability.

      As a bonus, you can also get two seat Gripens, for missions that need it and for training, and a wider choice of weapons, already integrated and tested.

      Only France and the US still use catapults, and only the US does fighter STOL from carriers without ski-jumps. Other navies do STOBAR with ski-jumps.

      Using a ski-jump cuts the required takeoff roll approximately in half.

      1. Rudeboy

        You'd still need arrestor gear....

        And that would cost pretty much the same to be fitted as the Cats alone would do.

        We're talking c£10bn to get a deeply inferior aircraft onboard ship.

        And no, more weapons are cleared for F-35 already...

    4. Rudeboy

      I'll post this again to all who think CATOBAR is a good idea...

      The point around being able to operate less types of planes holds less and less water by the day.

      Right now there are a grand total of 4 types of aircraft in production that use CATOBAR systems. They are:

      Rafale (France)

      F-18E/F/G (US)

      F-35C (US)

      E-2D (US)

      And, errrr.....thats it. The only other possible aircraft is the unmanned MQ-25 which is on the drawing board, and will be procured in limited numbers from 2025 onwards. Nothing else is on the horizon.

      Of the remaining already operational CATOBAR aircraft the EA-6B and F-18 A/B/C/D have been retired from shipborne operations, the S-3 is long gone and the C-2 Greyhound is being replaced by the CMV-22 Osprey in the Carrier Onboard Delivery role. Which will of course be able to operate from a STOVL carrier.

      3 of the above 4 aircraft in production (the Rafale, F-18E/F and F-35C) do roughly the same job, fighter bomber. F-35B is clearly superior to Rafale and F-18E/F. It's also the same as the F-35C with only a marginal reduction in range. In fact the UK's F-35B will be a better fighter than either of those 3 due to its VLO characteristics and Meteor and Asraam missiles (F-35C's Amraam and AIM-9X aren't in the same league).

      So essentially, what it comes down to is the E-2D Hawkeye.

      E-2D's cost around $250m each. The UK would need at least 12 to equip both carriers, do training, maintenance and have an attrition replacement. Thats $3bn right there. With shorebased support, training packages, spares, maintenance contract its more like $5bn. And thats before we get to the increased manning and lifetime costs.

      To run a CATOBAR based CVF you'd need at least 3 (probably 4) sets of EMALS and arrestor gear. 1 for each carrier, 1 for a shorebased training facility and 1 spare. Thats at least $2-3bn just there. Those systems will also need lots more people to run then and maintain them. That would double the cost over the lifetime at a minimum to at least $4bn.

      The question then is if you think getting E-2D is worth at least $10bn....and thats more than both carriers cost....together.

      Personally in an age where persistent UAV support is almost here (think lots of Airbus/QinetiQ Zephyrs overhead at $4m a pop) I think it would be an enormous waste, particularly when Crowsnest will deliver a decent capability for far less.

      STOVL carriers also have much safer, faster launch cycles than STOBAR. They can also conduct air ops in worse weather conditions. The disadvantages have mostly gone now, weapon bring back will be fine with the F-35B and SRVL, at least comparable with any CATOBAR fighter. The range issue is a lot closer than most people think as CATOBAR aircraft use far more fuel on launch and recovery, and have to retain a larger reserve for Bolter situations. In practically all situations the real range of an F-35C will be the same as a F-35B.

  5. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Strangelove

    The Department is reluctant to present openly an assessment of the affordability gap

    Mr President we must not allow a mine shaft affordability gap!

  6. Banksy

    Procurement process

    For projects where we are purchasing a number of 'items' e.g. submarines, fighter planes, etc. I do not understand why they don't have an initial contact for the first of the type to establish cost and then contract for further units as required. As opposed to the current situation where they don't know what it's going to cost, we order a batch upfront and then BAE (or whoever) pass the cost on to the taxpayer for their costing mess ups. Also fixed price contracts, obviously.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Procurement process

      This occurs not because of a contractor mess up, but because MoD order their toys without finishing the specification, and even if they did, they are incapable of sticking to that. So all through the design, MoD are asking for endless changes, and then that continues through testing.

      It is a convenient fiction for government to make out that it is all BAES' fault, because that distracts from the real cause of blame, which is the bunglers of MoD and the idiots employed as defence ministers and chancellors. I'm sure BAES and other contractors could do better, but if you or I took on a contract to build something very complex without a clear final specification, and then the client fucked with the specification all the way through to and including series manufacture, do you think we'd be able to deliver for any originally agreed budget estimate?

      Often these things do work out as fixed price in a different way. MoD estimate that 100 aircraft are needed at £100m each. The programme will cost £10bn. As the project continues, the costs rise so that it is looking like they'll hit a programme cost £200m each. MoD cut the number of aircraft to 50 to stay within the £10bn budget. The military end up with half the amount of equipment that they wanted, the tax payer gripes at the higher cost per plane, but spending is actually capped.

    2. Grikath Silver badge

      Re: Procurement process

      Ummm nope... For big items like that you need to have a pretty good idea of how many you want beforehand. Simply because making them requires a *lot* of specific infrastructure/production capacity that pretty much can't be used for anything else. Those costs will be spread over several items if you order in "bulk", but will fully appear in your "prototype" *and* any follow-up orders if you order those things piecemeal. "Order extra as required" would make the things even more expensive.

      Plus there's shift rotation of the Big Stuff, given that there's maintenance, refit, shore leave, etc. So you need more than One Thing of Each if you want the Big Stuff to be actually useful. It's not like you can order one extra, and it'll be available next week, or even month...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Procurement process

        "Ummm nope... For big items like that you need to have a pretty good idea of how many you want beforehand. Simply because making them requires a *lot* of specific infrastructure/production capacity that pretty much can't be used for anything else. Those costs will be spread over several items if you order in "bulk", but will fully appear in your "prototype" *and* any follow-up orders if you order those things piecemeal. "Order extra as required" would make the things even more expensive."

        Which is why ordering 'off the shelf' from an existing production line is more predictable, more cost effective, and gives you more weapons and spares.

        Better to buy frigates, nuclear attack subs, fighters, air defence missiles, tanks, IFVs, SP artillery, transport aircraft, helicopters, radars, and similar 'standard' equipment from existing manufacturers in any allied country. The 'not invented here' crowd will howl, but they tend to produce over-priced, under-tested mediocre solutions, and the occasional good one is not enough better to justify the lower unit numbers due to the enormous development costs.

        If you have concerns about the reliability of your source in a political/diplomatic/policy sense, buy from two sources - you were going to develop two small warships, anyway, so just buy them from different countries. The additional cost of running two types of frigates or two types of fighters (for example, Rafale and Gripen) pale beside the cost and delays of building your own. The competition, particularly if you split the buy 60/40 in favour of the most cost effective solution, may well produce additional savings... as well as moderating downstream cost increases for spares, etc.

  7. steelpillow Silver badge
    Joke

    Outsourcing

    The obvious answer is to outsource the MoD under a tower contract. I expect an Indian or Chinese company would win (Kind of like the old East India Company in reverse). It would save the taxpayer untold billions. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. I3N
      Coat

      Re: Outsourcing

      These guys have the best. https://twitter.com/vincent_wong666/status/995134760509886465

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    I love the smell of Austerity in the morning.

    One day this budget will tank.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: I love the smell of Austerity in the morning.

      One day this budget will tank

      It should. What we are observing is a misguided attempt to repeat the success of the Empire of Evil campaign by Maggie and Ronnie the Raygun by two feeble imitators without having the full understanding of the reasons for the success.

      When Ronnie and Maggie initiated the 1980-es weapons race which made USSR try to build superweapons and go bankrupt USA and UK had serviceable debts while the Warsaw pact was at 100% debt to GDP ratio. That was a direct result of the Suslov and Co 1970 insistence that borrowing is on "what the 5 year plan says as it will happen" instead of the actual economic metrics. As a result it took very little for USSR to go bankrupt - less than 4 years.

      At the moment it is not Russia which has 100% debt to GDP.

      Further to this, if you look at what we are fielding and what they are fielding it is us being irrational. Their recent weaponry is impressively rational, well engineered and CHEAPER than the previous generation. T90 is cheaper than T80. BMPT1 and 2 cost peanuts as they are reusing old T72 chassis out of the scrapyard. BMPT, Armata, Uran-9 all share so much that you can literally run a Ford style conveyor printing them for a fraction of what it costs us to build a lousy personnel carrier. Same for the drones. Same for the upgrades to all aircraft with new avionics, etc.

      Russians are not alone - if you take a careful look Germans, French, etc are all trying to make their weapons cheaper too. A German frigate has the same firepower as a USA destroyer and so little crew that it originally failed the reqs to be called a capital ship.

      So if US/UK are trying to bankrupt the Russians by trying to recreate the success of Ronny the Raygun it is the wrong strategy. We are not in the 1980es, the Russians have not forgotten those years and they are not taking this hook line and sinker the way Brezhnev and Andropov took it US/UK credit line will run out first.

      1. cantankerous swineherd

        Re: I love the smell of Austerity in the morning.

        nothing magical about 100% debt to gdp:

        https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8b/UK_GDP.png

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: I love the smell of Austerity in the morning.

          nothing magical about 100% debt to gdp:

          In the days before rating agencies - yes. As you can see in the days when there was an assumption that no matter what the government will pay its debt it happily borrowed 200%+.

          The 20th century brought some differences here. Rating agencies, central banks tweaking policies and interest rates, etc. That changed the game and as a result all raises significantly above 100% coincided with major recessions. That is exactly what happened in the Eastern block in the 1980-es and effectively finished it off.

          So while it is was not magical historically in this day and age it has become a magic number.

          In any case, the actual number is not important. Comparing their economic metrics and our economic metrics as well as the cost of "new toys race" the numbers do not look anywhere as good as the 1980-es campaign. In fact just the opposite.

  9. Dr_N Silver badge

    20bn / 350 mil

    Can have that all paid down in 58 months using magic moneytree funds.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Ahh, if they could only launch that at the enemy!

    Black Hole away Sir.

    Fire two

    Black Hole away Sir.

  11. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge
    Coat

    Wait a sec...

    Did you say the US DoD has greater transparency than UK MoD? Whoa! Quick, get your coat, we're going to Vegas!

  12. Anne Hunny Mouse

    The other thing with MOD procurement is that many things have to be on an approved list, which takes time and money to get on.

    Coupled with MOD SA's homework checkers endlessly rejecting documents for missing a full stop, by the time something is installed it is EOL or obsolete.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      "Coupled with MOD SA's homework checkers endlessly rejecting documents for missing a full stop"

      If that's a decimal point in the wrong place, just as well they do it.

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