Feeds

Parliament to probe military kit issues

Troops, taxpayers should definitely write in

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
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.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?