UK & World News
MoD Attacked For 'Flawed' Jet Decision
The Ministry of Defence has been strongly criticised for its "flawed" decision to buy a different version of the new F-35 fighter aircraft for the Royal Navy's new carriers.
The F-35 has three main models. The F-35A is a conventional take-off and landing variant, the F-35B is a short take-off and vertical-landing variant, and the F-35C is a carrier-based variant.
The Commons defence committee attacked the move to adopt the jump jet version of the F-35 instead of the carrier take-off variant.
At the time, ministers said the F-35C would be more capable and increase compatibility with other navies - even though it would mean mothballing one of the two carriers to save money.
But last May, the MoD went into reverse and returned to the F-35B jump jet version due to fears the cost of fitting carrier landing equipment was spiralling out of control.
The defence committee said the original decision was a mistake that had led to higher costs and further delays to the carrier programme.
"It is clear that the decision was rushed and based upon incomplete and inaccurate policy development. It was taken without the MoD understanding how the change could be implemented," the committee said.
"Perhaps the primary example of how little the MoD understood about this decision is the fact that it was supposed to improve interoperability. This turned out to be incorrect.
"We urge the MoD to learn the lessons of this closed, rushed and flawed decision of 2010."
The report also complained that the lack of a proper defence industrial strategy put the UK at a disadvantage compared with competitor countries.
Defence equipment minister Philip Dunne said the MoD's newly published 10-year equipment plan would ensure the armed forces get the hardware they need in the years ahead.
"The increased financial contingency will help cover future risk and make our equipment programme affordable," he said.
"There is also greater information for industry about our priorities, helping them to invest in the future capabilities our troops need," he said.
Mr Dunne insisted that the switch to the F-35B version of the US-built jet had been "right at the time".
"Unacceptable cost growth, technical risk and project delays" meant the decision to revert to the jump jet was "in the best interest of defence," he argued.
Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said: "This is another blow to the country's confidence in the Government's competence on defence.
"Days after confusion and contradiction on defence spending, the chaos of the aircraft carrier decision is laid bare.
"This wasted time and money led to a serious capability gap and exposed lacking knowledge of defence procurement.
"The UK has paid at least an extra £100m to have no aircraft to fly from an aircraft carrier for years."
what do you think?
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Is there any area of the ruling elite that isnt guilty of rank incompetance?
The answer to your question Stevie is,unfortunately, no. This situation seems to have come about during the past few decades. I remember when the British forces were withdrawing from a Far East location and a ship was sent with a brand new operating theatre, ready for construction on site. When the powers realised that the ship carrying the equipment would soon dock the ship was given instructions to dump the expensive equipment- the lot, in the sea. Who paid for that? The taxpayers. Probably nobody lost their jobs.
Wonder if they all get increased bonuses this year.
Do the MOD ever make any decisions which are not flawed, rushed or end up costing us more money? Ministers are not experts and rely on the advice & recommendations from so called experts. Ministers change regularly but the Whitehall mandarins don't and my concern is that they remain in post to continue to make flawed decisions in the future regardless of the party in power.
Spot on. It happens right across government. For example, we are buying from Germany over-priced and over-specified high speed trains to replace the original HSTs, but no one in the railway industry wants them!
Been reading where the original decision not to fit catapult take-off system meant these 2 billion pound carriers would just be floating lumps of metal without jump-jets. What a country, as 2 billion is "other people's money", it's treated as pocket money to play with by clowns.
Meanwhile the cost of decommissioning the nuclear facilities at Sellafield has hit sixty billion pounds and rising according to yesterdays newspaper. Goverments are skilled at wasting other people's money.
Let civil servants who have never fired a gun, politicians and retiring senior officers make the decisions and you get a c o ck up - always argued they should be the first to go to war
The real trouble is that the aircraft chosen is flawed. For a start, it is not a jump jet as it cannot take-off vertically, but can only land in this way, so it is more of a flop than a jump jet. The ships are designed to carry just 40 aircaft, yet displace 66,000 tons, when 36,000 tons would be more like it. What we needed was three or even better four ships of around 36,000 tons,bigger than the Invincible-class but not as big as these two over-priced lumps of metal that we will be so scared of losing that they will never be used effectively.
Did anyone at the MOD think to take advice from the professionals who will be operating these planes?
I just thought, "What would I have chosen?" So, I read the first paragraph about the three types of jets and I decided the best option was probably the F-35B jump jet one because, Britain has a long history of using jump jet aircraft very effectively and if it can land vertically, it should be able to land easily on a boat? Also, if it can take off with a short distance then it could do so on an aircraft carrier? I came to the same conclusion as the government, without really knowing much about the subject, if anything. Why didn't they just "acquire" F-35 design features and adapt British jump jets to a similar specification?
UK having developed the jump jet my choice would have been to keep the money in UK defence business and develop an aircraft suitable for the 21st century and keep the technology on our soil,instead they squander our money on US manufactured craft and do nothing for jobs in UK,typical gobsmiths.