11 Dec 08. DEFENCE EQUIPMENT. Statement by The Defence Secretary on 11 Dec 08
1. The MoD has been examining its equipment programme since May 2008. As well as the changes listed below, some decisions await the MoD’s regular planning round which is to conclude in March 2009.
2. As well as the protected mobility package, separately announced, HM Treasury has agreed an additional grant of £635m in 2009/10 for Urgent Operational Requirements (UOR).
Future Rapid Effect System (FRES)
3. The MoD has withdrawn General Dynamics (UK)’s provisional preferred bidder status.
[On 8 May 08, the former Defence Secretary announced the provisional selection of Piranha 5, as offered by General Dynamics (UK), as the preferred design to be taken forward to the next stage of the FRES Utility Vehicle programme.]
4. a. The highest priority is now to be given to the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme and the FRES Scout Vehicle.
b. The FRES programme is to be restructured, giving priority to the Scout Vehicle over the Utility Vehicle. A delay in the programme is forecast.
5. 12 Lynx Mark 9 are to be re-engined at a cost of £70m, in order to operate more efficiently in the ‘hot and high’ conditions in Afghanistan.
6. Future Lynx is expected to enter service, as planned, in 2014. (Although AgustaWestland pointed out that the programme had been adjusted, with the initial procurement now 62 aircraft; 28 for the RN and 34 for the Army.)
Future Aircraft Carriers (CVF)
7. The introduction of the Joint Combat Aircraft “is likely to mean delaying the in service date of the new carriers by one to two years”. [When placing the CVF order, the former Defence Secretary said that the two carriers were expected to enter service in 2014 and 2016, the dates having previously been 2012 and 2015].
Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS)
8. The MoD has concluded “that there is scope for considering alternative approaches to [MARS] procurement which is likely to involve the deferral of the Fleet Tanker element”. [On 17 Sep 08, the Armed Forces Minister confirmed that the MoD was in negotiation with four prime contractors for the procurement of up to six Fleet Tankers. The Fleet Tankers had been due for delivery between 2010 and 2016.]
9. The Defence Secretary has instituted a review, “to examine progress with implementing reforms through the MoD’s Acquisition Change Programme….”.
10. Any further significant changes to the equipment programme are to be announced “following the conclusion of the MoD’s current planning round in March” .
(Sources: Written Statement, 11 Dec 08 (Hansard Column 65WS).
AgustaWestland Press Release, 11 Dec 08. DR&A database.) (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 09/01, 29 Dec 08)