Mark Francois: Civil servant in charge of military homes should ‘consider his postition’
Britain must be ready for conflict with Russia but is let down by a “broken” system for arming the military that puts personnel in harm’s way, a damning report claims today.
Westminster’s defence committee warns the UK could find itself fighting Russia with little warning or opportunity to build up military and industrial capabilities.
It is concerned the country has an “extremely limited” reserve of “fighting equipment” including:
– Modern armoured vehicles;
– Combat aircraft.
The MPs warn: “With a war in Europe now raging on the eastern border of Europe, we can no longer afford, strategically, militarily, or financially to continue the broken procurement system which we have been operating for decades. If we are to keep our nation safe, our adversaries deterred and our allies reassured we now urgently require full-scale reform of the way we be buy and support our fighting equipment.
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“In short, it is broke–and it’s time to fix it.”
High-profile fiascos have convinced the MPs that the way Britain arms its military is “crying out for change”.
They single out failures surrounding the commissioning of the Ajax armoured vehicles. When the programme began in 2010 it was expected these would enter service in 2017. But in March the Government admitted Ajax is not expected to have full operating capability until between October 2028 and September 2029.
Trials were suspended in November 2020 due to concerns about excessive noise and four people were medically discharged. The report calls for a rigorous overhaul of the Army’s safety system.
They claim delays in anti-submarine Type 26 frigates to the “comes at a cost of £233 million”. It also says the £1.89 billion deal to order three of E-7 Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft is “extremely poor value for money”.
The MPs describe defence procurement as “highly bureaucratic, overly stratified, far too ponderous, with an inconsistent approach to safety, very poor accountability and a culture which appears institutionally averse to individual responsibility”.
They call on the Ministry of Defence to “stop rewarding failure,” saying: “On too many occasions, the industry has been able to delay programmes with no financial sanctions. There is a reluctance from every part of the procurement system to cancel a failing programme.”
Former defence minister Mark Francois, who chaired the six-month investigation, said: “Bureaucratic buck-passing and the shirking of responsibility has meant that there is all too often no one to hold personally accountable when highly expensive programmes fail… Worst of all, this dysfunction has put armed forces personnel in harm’s way, with some troops suffering permanent injuries.”
Labour shadow defence procurement minister Chris Evans said: “If this was in the private sector heads would roll but unfortunately nothing seems to happen. It is deeply concerning at a time of great threat in Europe we don’t have the capabilities we need but this is down to years of neglect.”
An MOD spokeswoman said: “Defence procurement is not broken. There is no evidence to suggest poor oversight on the Type 26 programme, and through decisions on E-7, we have made savings of £720million.
“We are delivering next-generation capabilities on programmes across the defence portfolio, including Ajax which is now delivering vehicles for the British Army. With £5billion over the next two years to improve readiness and resilience, we continue to ensure we deliver world-leading equipment and provide our people with the capabilities our armed forces need.”
“With an uplift of £5billion over the next two years to improve readiness and resilience, we continue to ensure we deliver world-leading equipment and provide our people with the capabilities our armed forces need.”
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