MoD announces new defence tech wishlist
X marks the spot on pork treasure map
The new UK defence purchasing minister has announced the production of a Defence Technology Plan, intended to lay out the kind of new military tech the UK armed forces would like to see developed.
Baroness Taylor, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support has just replaced the outgoing Lord Drayson, who quit in the run-up to a comprehensive update of UK defence-industrial policy saying he wanted to spend more time with his alcohol car. (It seems clear that the noble lord's plan on how to deal with the remaining £1bn hole in the UK defence budget may have not been approved by the new PM.)
Announcing the new Defence Tech document, the Baroness said:
We are taking the Defence Technology Strategy forward by developing the Defence Technology Plan. This plan will enable transparent prioritisation and coherence across MoD's R&D programme by setting out the research programme in the form of technology roadmaps derived from key R&D objectives. It will form the basis of our national and international partnerships with academia, industry and allies.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) will develop the plan "in consultation with the wider stakeholder community". It will "take forward" the direction already provided in the Defence Technology Strategy of 2006 (warning - 200 page gov pdf). ®
Sometimes low tech is fine
"There's a real risk we do another Eurofighter - tarting up an old design with new bells and whistles. "
If only the Eurofighter was just a tarted-up old design. The French Rafale was based on existing technology and hence was relatively cheap and put into production in a few years. In contrast, Eurofighter is technologically very ambitious, and as a result, twenty years have passed since its prototype first flew (the "EAP": I forget what that was an acronym for). During this time, the enemy has changed, and technology has moved on anyway, and this multi-billion pound project has drained resources from more sensible procurement programmes. Being a four-nation procurement programme didn't help. Meanwhile, the RAF has lacked a credible fighter since at least the 1970s.
Pushing barriers in defence technology is very expensive and can just trigger an arms race with your enemy. We should only do so where there is a credible threat and a shortcoming in our capability. In the Eurofighter case, a bread-and-butter fighter would have met our needs.
Prepare for Alien Mail, M'Lady. Brain in Gear, Think, Sign off on the dotted Line. Simple.
"Where is the plan that says "we'll go after totally new ideas and fund them well"?"
That the third party proposes, spells out and outlines funding management, for the new Minister to say ...We've got a new plan which we'd rather keep under wraps for now although all the best plans will be the ones under wraps that you might never get to hear about ....except all the glory pieces/flag waving stuff.
And everyone knows that as soon as you start sharing anything over the net, any spooky Tom, Dick, Vladamir, Ming or Hajime deserves his share.
'transparent prioritisation and coherence'
I hear the whale song calling...
...but she loses marks for failing to mention 'sustainability' or indeed 'public/private partnership end-to-end conflict resolution scenarios'.
Very disappointing, and from a New Labour minister at that.