Feeds

Parliament to probe military kit issues

Troops, taxpayers should definitely write in

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A new inquiry has begun into the way the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) procures and maintains the nation's defence equipment. Parliament's Defence committee - a cross-party group of fourteen MPs - says it's happy for people to email them with information of interest.

According to the Committee's announcement the inquiry will be a wide-ranging one, looking into "the MoD's progress in improving the way it procures and supports defence equipment, and issues about the future equipment programme and the Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS)".

The defence committee chairman is the Tories' James Arbuthnot, a great fan of the DIS. The statement goes on to say that the MPs intend specifically to examine "the progress made to date in implementing the DIS and the delay in publishing the updated version of the DIS".

The original DIS document of 2005 was written by the then minister for defence procurement, the erstwhile sweets'n'pharma millionaire biz kingpin Lord Drayson. It effectively guaranteed that most of the British onshore defence industry would continue to exist in perpetuity at the taxpayers' expense. British-produced kit would be bought wherever possible, regardless of price or delays. Some factories would not even be required to produce anything - they would merely "provide expertise" related to things made in the past.

All this would be worth doing, according to the DIS, because it would provide "appropriate sovereignty" for the UK. No foreign nation would be able to cut off spare parts or tech support or ammo, so paralysing a future British war effort.

The DIS was warmly welcomed by industry, as one might expect. The only worry was that, in fact, the government might not make good on its lavish promises.

There was good reason for the arms-biz types to suspect this. For a start, despite Drayson's claims, "appropriate sovereignty" was and remains a pipe-dream. A typical example is furnished by the DIS plan to buy Future Lynx helicopters from the AgustaWestland factory in Yeovil. Better, cheaper choppers could be had much more quickly from overseas factories - for instance Sikorsky in America - but we are to buy Lynxes so as to free ourselves from dependence on US parts and support.

Except we don't free ourselves, because the Future Lynx will use American engines - and engine hours are the main limiting factor on helicopter operations. America will be well able to ground the UK's Future Lynx fleet if it so wishes, just as it could one from Sikorsky or Boeing.

In fact, "appropriate sovereignty" is often even worse than it seems: French and Italian support will also be required to keep Future Lynxes flying. Not only do we pay (a lot) more, get smaller helicopters and wait years to do so, we actually make our forces dependent on the goodwill of more foreign governments - not fewer - by following the DIS. The Future Lynx is entirely typical of DIS thinking.

Funnily enough, people have long suspected that the extremely cash-strapped MoD might not be able to fight two wars at once, sort out squalid barracks and housing, pay its troops and also afford piles of DIS velvet for BAE Systems plc, AgustaWestland et al.

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy
Why, we might as well have been buying AIR
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.