19 Oct 05. Defence Procurement Minister, Lord Drayson, today outlined the key
values which will be crucial in ensuring that the Defence Industrial
Strategy, when published, can be delivered. He said: “These values will drive the way in which we will deliver the right equipment and services to the front line and I expect them to shape the behaviour of all those involved in Defence acquisition. “Where properly applied, they will help us ensure that we have the right people, the right processes, and the right attitudes so that we understand risks better, achieve value for money for the taxpayer, and most importantly provide the Armed Forces with the Equipment they require both today and in the future. “I am committed to delivering this culture change and the Ministry of
Defence will rise to the challenge – but we cannot deliver it alone. We look to industry to play its part.” Today also sees the launch of the latest issue of The Acquisition Handbook, which sets out the key values in detail.
Comment: A Defence Industrial Policy can only work if changes to Procurement strategy are made at the DPA. Currently the ‘cheapest takes all’ concept is eroding our industrial base and there is no sign, given lack of Government support for the Defence Industry and budgetary constraints that this will change.
19 Oct 05. The Ministry of Defence has delayed its final sign-off on the Royal Navy’s two new £3.5bn aircraft carriers until next year at the earliest, raising questions from MPs about whether the first ship will meet its scheduled delivery of 2012. The carriers will be the largest warships to be built in Britain.
The final investment decision by the MoD, which would allow the government to sign a contract to begin construction on the ships, was originally scheduled for December 2003. It has been repeatedly pushed back because of the ministry’s multiple attempts to restructure its agreement with the companies selected to build the carriers. The MoD told parliament earlier this year that it would have a final sign-off, called “main gate” approval, by December, but John Coles, the government’s manager of the programme, said yesterday the department was unlikely to meet that deadline. Giving evidence to a parliamentary committee, Mr Coles declined to say when approval would come, but officials involved said the department is aiming for the end of March. There is, however, debate within the ministry about extending “main gate” approval even further in order to spend more time solving complex technological issues before moving to a production contract. Mr Coles’ declaration provoked anger from MPs on the defence committee, who accused the MoD of hiding the likelihood that the Royal Navy would not get the first ship by 2012, forcing the navy to extend the life of its two ageing carriers. Mr Coles insisted that a delay in “main gate” would not affect the construction schedule, but declined to say definitively whether the first ship would arrive in 2012, saying only that it remained a “target date”.
The debate over the carriers’ schedule came amid signs that the French government is moving closer to joining the UK programme by purchasing Britain’s design for the French navy’s new carrier. Mr Coles said France had put off a decision on whether to join the UK programme from this month until December. But officials briefed on French thinking said the two-month delay would be used to come up with a more detailed assessment of potential cost-savings, a sign France is taking the prospect of joining the UK programme more seriously. Even if France uses the British design to make it a three-carrier programme, it remains unlikely French shipyards will build any of the main parts of a UK carrier. Defence insiders said British industry had agreed to split the Royal Navy carriers into five “mega blocks”. The three rear sections would go to BAE Systems’ yards in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria and Glasgow; the middle section would be built by VT