PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS FROM PS2 THE UK’S LEADING GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS ORGANISATION
Modernising Logistics Provision
09 Nov 05. 3.32 pm
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): I am pleased to have been able to secure the opportunity to make an oral statement to the House today in place of the written statement that I had tabled.
As the House knows, the Government are committed to the transformation of defence logistics support as an essential part of the ongoing and extensive programme of modernisation of the armed forces. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence made an announcement to that effect to the House on 21 July. We believe that logistics transformation is a critical part of providing more effective support to our armed forces while releasing resources for the front line and making the best use of taxpayers’ money. The National Audit Office recognises that the Ministry of Defence’s logistics transformation programme will deliver about £2 billion of efficiency savings to the Ministry by 2010–11.
Our objective is to deliver more adaptable, efficient and effective support structures—forces that are better configured to enable our expeditionary operations. Let me make it plain to all hon. Members that every penny that we refuse to release by not implementing our modernisation programme is a penny less that is available to provide our forces with the life-saving support they need. Let me also make it plain that I know how much our employees have contributed to providing that support over the years and how proud they are of the role that they have played. Nevertheless, we have to accept that we must adapt to the changing strategic environment, and that means having more adaptable, efficient and effective support structures, which are better configured to enable our armed forces to conduct expeditionary operations.
We support those forces with two businesses that provide depth support in the air and land environments. They are DARA—the Defence Aviation Repair Agency— and ABRO—the Army Base Repair Organisation—which provides depth repair for the land and armoured vehicle fleet. DARA and ABRO were established as trading funds in 2001 and 2002 respectively, thereby recognising their need to operate on a largely commercial basis at arm’s length from the Ministry of Defence. In common with all parts of logistics support, DARA and ABRO are significantly affected by the modernisation programme. It has already led to a number of significant savings, including a planned reduction of more than 2,000 RAF personnel by 2007–08. After careful analysis by my Department, it was determined that there was no strategic need to retain in MOD ownership the capabilities that those trading funds provide. I announced that to the House, in respect of DARA, in December 2004. Instead, judgments on their future must be based on the best balance of value, cost and risk, compared with the alternatives.
In the case of DARA, on 25 November last year I announced in a written statement to the House the introduction of new depth repair arrangements for the Tornado aircraft, in addition to those made earlier for the Harrier. Under those arrangements, maintenance and repair is being consolidated at two RAF main operating bases. Previously, there had been four levels of support for aircraft, stretching from industry to the front line. These are being reconfigured to just two—depth support and deployable forward support—concentrated at the most cost-effective location.
Those arrangements are proving successful and have already increased operational effectiveness by reducing the number of aircraft in maintenance. In the Harrier fleet, for example, the number of aircraft in maintenance and upgrade at any one time will reduce from a planned 24 to an average of 13, freeing 11 additional aircraft to the front line at any one time. Similar benefits are expected once the Tornado future support arrang