How about banning the MOD from buying British?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by gobbyidiot, Oct 15, 2009.

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  1. The lunchtime news had someone banging on about how we have a massive defence budget yet it is used as a kind of industrial subsidy. We need to decide whether the cash is for buying kit or subsidising skilled workers in marginal constituencies.

    Now the obvious thing is to have a rule, "Only buy British if it is the best".

    But that's b*llocks, because of course you just know over any timeframe we will slide into buying the same stuff we always buy - politicians want to be good, just not quite yet.

    The only solution is a self-denying ordinance (pardon the near pun). Never buy British, on the assumption that we should only be buying British 10% of the time anyway. A 10% smaller arms industry is a price worth paying if it means we always buy the best.

    And if our wonderful arms industry - which supposedly produces the best anyway - ends up (say) 90% smaller, what does that tell us about their claim to be world class?
  2. Bouillabaisse

    Bouillabaisse LE Book Reviewer

    Firstly its been done, 3 times today; secondly, lewis page talks out of his arrse; thirdly, the equipment you get is increasingly made overseas by foreign companies. It's still late and overbudget.

  3. Big And Expensive would not like it.
  4. Prime Minister's questions this week had an MP asking why the Nimrod program shouldn't revolve around providing his constituents with work, and Brown entertained the question. Fuxache.
  5. So that some bunch of foreigners can have us over a barrel when we actually need to use the kit. No thanks!

    There are documented cases of foreign suppliers refusing to supply us when they didnt approve of what we were using the kit for but by then we didnt have the capability to manufacture our own(at least to the required timescale).

  6. You mean like the Belgians being huffy about suppling us 105 rounds in 1982 and Germans getting huffy about supplying us Tornado parts in 1990?

    And we've done what exactly about that in the intervening 27 and 19 years respectively?
  7. WRT Lewis Page, it would be very helpful to understand from those in the know what parts of what he has spouted is from the arrse (not just his TV appearance today), as some of his arguments seem reasonably logical on the surface.

    Now I do understand he might be an ex SO3 equivalent with strong opinions and get some technical details wrong, but the visceral reaction of some posters to his pronouncements does actually indirectly give him a degree of credibility - i.e. If he's provoking that sort of reaction, he must be hitting close to some sacred cows/white elephants etc
  8. I was thinking a lot more recently but wont say anymore as it may be unsafe/unwise to do so.
  9. Bouillabaisse

    Bouillabaisse LE Book Reviewer

    smallbrownprivates, I put my opinion about Page here. It's not that he's close to the mark, it's that he has an axe to grind because his career stalled (due to his own choices) and now he's cited as a "defence expert"

    Other thread on this subject
  10. Yes I saw that guy as well and although his reputation is dubious he had a point, although I believe our defence budget is now third or fourth (depending on source) than second. However, the point about buying British is true. And not-buying British does not necessarily mean worse quality. For example if we were to build the two new aircraft carriers in Korea then they would be of similar quality at far lower prices, and probably completed quicker as well. If the government does subsidise British defense firms then that should naturally be stopped as it leads to inefficiency and the opportunity cost of spending on subsidies is surely not enough to warrant lower procurement. Quality of British goods vary wildly, from the fairly disappointing Bowman at one end to Typhoon at the other (which is admittedly far over budget and far past its original in-service date). Perhaps the MOD should not develop a project but rather buy off the shelf for everything, should save time and money.

  11. I'm not sure either example could be remotely termed "British". I think if BOWMAN had been British it may have been a passable system. But the fact MoD scheduled its replacement 3 years before the BOWMAN contract was let, on the grounds that BOWMAN wouldn't be good enough, says it all. Worse, part of that replacement / upgrade was fielded before the users received their BOWMAN kit! (The final trials took place the same month the BOWMAN contract was awarded, and the users were allowed to retain the trials kit on free loan as a deployment was imminent).

    The underlying reasons for this and other similar cases is where we should look to improve.

    Successful user trials at first time of asking, early delivery, free loan, superb kit??? Bloody hell, that's verging on efficient. Can we have more of the same please?
  12. The world over governments are under pressure to produce military equipment using hidden subsidies. Imagine what a strong position we'd be in if we (metaphorically speaking) minced about the international arms markets like a hard-to-please customer, buying the best at the most eye-wateringly low prices. The more I think about it the more I like it.
  13. Given the economic situation and (what would seem to me) the obvious incentive to produce a better quality product what ideas does anyone have about the concept of a nationalised defence industry?
  14. The Irony is, this year marks the 200th anniversary of the retreat to Corunna, the battle and the death of Sir John Moore.

    The retreat was infamous for the poor supply and shoddy equipment the board of ordinance supplied, especially the shoes, which all fell apart.

    200 years later, we're still talking about it - it beggars belief. I know the Duke and "Black Bob" Craufurd would have them flogged!

    Can we not reintroduce this punishment for inept civil servants and politicos?

  15. Bowman is British ? - The main contract is with General Dynamics (UK) - so I'd suggest its American in any real sense of the word - or do you think the profit on the £2Bn + spend to date has stayed in the UK ?.

    From their own website - total R&D spend over the last 5 years was £14m - Hardly knocking their pans out to improve the kit are they ?