Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Semper_Flexibilis, Jul 18, 2010.
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New Army chief is ready to pull the plug on ¿over-priced¿ UK defence firms | Mail Online
We don't 'prop' up such companies - our impact on their order books isn't always particularly significant.
Still, it's time for Wastelands to scrape the dust off a couple of ex-DAAvns and get them lobbying....
We 'prop them up' by giving them almost exclusive access to MOD orders even when products that are better/cheaper are available from outside the UK.
Lets hope this means the MOD will start buying cheaper and better kit like those BlackHawks for example.
You mean a battlefield helicopter that costs 1/3 of the price and carries 3x the troops
Bit radical is that.
Not so, without going into confidential work related territory, each contract is tendered on the open market ( of course we, like all other countries have preferred contractors ) Each tender bid is then technically proofed, and audited , if you can find products that are " better/cheaper "you should buy them and submit a bid to be the main contractor/supplier. You could end up very rich, The last thing that our armed forces need is for procurement to be based on a sod it its cheap we will buy it culture. As victorian-major has said our purchasing has very little impact on most of these companies . The big money will come from R&D spinoffs
And you honestly believe that?
Show me a single grown up that thinks the Wasteland FLynx was better in any way, shape or form over the the Blackhawk. The ONLY advantage FLynx had over Blackhawk was that the bloke responsible for the much touted 'technical proofing and auditing' was going to get a job with Wasteland within months of signing off on the contract and tendering his notice.
Your post read "GIVING THEM ALMOST EXCLUSIVE ACCESS" i made no reference to any particular project or organisation, i happen to be involved in the proofing/auditing side of some very interesting projects, as to the final outcome regarding awarding contracts that thankfully is way way above my level of responsibility. I do how ever agree that we should open our horizons when asking for project tender bids, ever aware that it is not always wise to procur from outside sources who could potentially hold a sword over our heads in future conflicts or even in commercial negotiations, a very complex subject, that cannot always come down to the bottom line financially.
Do you mean like we did with Boeing,
Sorry tropper, had a hard week, 2 rounds of golf, jetlagged and hungover, you will have to expand on that one for me!!
The Chinooks that took about a decade to get in the air because somone blundered
Unpossible! MOD technically proofs and audits it's projects before signing off on them, even when Boeing tells them that what they want to do will end in tears.
Ah yes, if i remember rightly it was a cock up in interpretation of the contract, vis a vis installation of avionics etc, mind you watched that v. good programme the other night "How to build" this particular episode featured the reversion of said Chinooks to british spec'
lot of skilled guys making good money, also the company involved?? Iam on dangerous ground job wise commenting.Same thing with Apache ours are way beyond the spec' on the yanks versions. As i said i support the concept of "opening up " tendering with reservations, interesting that the chief of the army has suddenly decided to stick his oar in to government procurement policy publically, well prompted by the condemmers , Cameron could not come out himself then? no too many big business guns would take the umph with him,the sacrificial lamb has been offered up just in case there should be any fall out perhaps.
Why shouldn't Richards have an opinion. I dare say he kept his own counsel until he was in a position to do something about the procurement gravy train.
Procurement policy per se,needs to be opened up,as has been pointed out,to many hidden agendas going on. It's simple really,it should come down to need,and cost,and if that means the likes of Westland,and BAE,don't get the contracts that's tough,the whole point of running a business,is make something people want,at a realistic price,it's called being competitive.
Its nice to see the old chestnut of 8 million quid blackhawks emerging again. Its a great story and sadly one thats only partly true. While it may be that the UK was offered the Blackhawk at 8 million per copy, (and thats the line that Sikorskys PR is keen to spin), what is never mentioned is the huge additional costs that the UK would have incurred to bring the type into service.
The 8 million quid is for your basic, no frills and no extras copy of the helicopter. Great if youre a country with no real threats, but pretty much useless for the environments where we plan to operate Lynx. Additionally this would be the US basic standard in other words, it would have no in service UK equipment in it. To get it to a decent standard, we would need to invest a lot of time and money in adding in all the UK bits that come as standard on our helo fleet (for instance weapon mounts, DAS, communications, even internal fittings). Wed then need to spend more time and money ensuring that the kit worked properly, and when integrating it all together, we had an airframe that didnt fall out of the sky. The moment you start adding kit to extant airframes, thats when things start to go horribly wrong and cost lots of money. To my knowledge no integration work has been done with current UK kit on the Blackhawk airframe, so wed be starting from scratch.
Once youve got the basic kit integrated, we then need to bolt on all the UOR kit to ensure its at Theatre Entry Standards (TES) or the level at which PJHQ and Theatre feel it has the necessary enhancements to operate safely and effectively on Ops. That again adds in a lot of time and money to make it happen.
While all this is going on, you need to consider the problem of where you get your spares and support chain from. The 8 million quid helo will not come with spares youll need to place a large supply contract to do this. Additionally, there are no Blackhawk maintenance facilities in the UK, so youd need to invest a lot of money in siting a facility which could be used. By contrast, the Lynx fleet already has spares contracts and fully developed maintenance facilities in place already weve been operating the type for 30 years, so the infrastructure is already there. If you have to start from scratch you will incur enormous costs to get this work done, and it will take several years to do (for instance we started preparing for the new tanker aircraft nearly 5- 7 years before they even fly, let alone enter service).
At the same time, we havent even touched on manpower constraints. We cant magic up aircrew and groundcrew to run these aircraft. Wed have to either recruit more (lots of money) or send existing aircrew on courses to run them. This means that not only do we have less aircrew to do existing jobs (which AAC commitment do you want us to stop doing to train the crew), but wed have to have a couple of years notice to set up and run the train the trainer courses required. The Apaches introduction into service is a classic example of this the training pipeline hadnt delivered enough pilots, so we had apaches sitting in storage waiting for bodies to fly them. The same would happen again we may well get the airframes in a year, but its going to be a lot longer than that before we can fly them, support them and repair them.
There is the issue of employability the Lynx buy covers both the Army and RN variants the Blackhawk is no use as a naval helo, so we face the decision to either spend lots of money converting it (and almost certainly failing or buying seahawks instead) or we run on both fleets in tandem. If we chose the former we waste lots of money in development costs, and spend a fortune to refit every air capable ship in the fleet to carry Blackhawk flights, not Lynx (Ships are designed to support certain a/c types you can land on a ship with a new type, but you cant maintain it navalising Blackhawk would mean massive costs to change the surface fleet).
Alternatively we could run a mixed Lynx / Blackhawk fleet, which suddenly doubles your helo fleets in service, and creates dual supply chains and associated J4 problems. The UK is trying to reduce the number of helo fleets in service to save money and free up manpower. Introducing a small new fleet to service would run against this, and cost far more money.
For those who think I am naysaying, I would suggest you look at the example of the Mk3A merlin, which we bought off the Danes. This was a modified variant of an in service design, for which we had a lot of expertise. Despite this, by the time the airfames had been modified and trialed extensively to make sure they worked, it cost tens of millions. It is not cheap to introduce a modified or new airframe to service, no matter how cheap the unit buy costs are.
In summary, we could buy Blackhawk now, but to do so would cost far, far more than the much quoted Unit price, and would almost certainly be far more expensive than the Lynx package. It would take longer to put into service, and there is no guarantee it would work as planned. The result would leave us with even less money than before to support the helo fleet.
Finally, the mail article notes that the UK could have bought the P8 at 40% less cost I dont think the P8 has even flown yet, and according to friends in the know, its turning into a disaster which makes Nimrod look like a model procurement by contrast. The mission system doesnt work, there are major issues with the airframe (its a converted jet airliner and not designed to operate in the way that the P3 does) and the whole thing is apparently an utter nightmare. Another classic example where cost up front does not always equal better value for money.
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