MOD Procurement Policy

The article from the Telegraph is also of interest:

MoD cost cuts 'will put troops in peril'
By Thomas Harding and Graeme Wilson
(Filed: 15/05/2006)

The lives of troops will be put at risk if the Ministry of Defence goes ahead with plans to refurbish a fleet of vintage helicopters as a cost-cutting measure, defence sources said yesterday.

Servicemen, already concerned after the shooting down of a Lynx in Basra last week, said that if 30 Sea King helicopters were taken out of mothballs their low speed and poor performance in the desert heat would make them "sitting ducks".

An RAF helicopter flies over Iraq: the cost-cutting measure would ‘severely endanger lives’

A shortfall in the number of troop transport helicopters has led to defence chiefs proposing to bring former Royal Navy anti-submarine Sea Kings out of storage for use in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The move has prompted a military engineer working on the helicopter programme to condemn the cost-cutting measure that would "severely endanger the lives of my colleagues".

"Why is it that the MoD insists on putting costs of equipment above its duty of care to the service personnel they ought to be providing the best kit to?" the source said.

"Compounding the catastrophe is that its maximum speed at its maximum height is a mere 50 knots - in other words they will be sitting ducks." He added that the "hot and high" performance of the Sea King was "woeful".

While the Sea Kings are generally regarded as robust by troops, their age and poor hot weather performance have led to several being grounded in Iraq.

Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, who has previously criticised the lack of troop transport being sent to Afghanistan for the three-year deployment, said: "This could seriously impact upon the ability of British forces to operate in such a hostile environment where travelling by road is so dangerous.

"It would be very worrying if following recent events in Iraq we were to put helicopters back into service that could pose a threat to the safety of our troops."

Concern over the military's plans comes amid repeated warnings by commanders that the 3,300 British troops deploying to southern Afghanistan face a torrid time at the hands of Taliban insurgents.

The troops, who are providing security for a reconstruction programme in volatile Helmand province, face the constant threat of attack and have already been the target of a suicide bombing, in which two soldiers were injured.

Powerful warlords, heavily-armed drug traffickers and the resurgent forces of the deposed Taliban regime, with weapons including rockets at their disposal, all have the British forces in their sights.

Taliban and al-Qa'eda propagandists are attempting to bolster their ranks with a recruitment campaign in Pakistan for "martyrs" prepared to kill British soldiers across the Afghan border.

The Conservatives see the proposals as the latest evidence of the financial squeeze on the armed forces under Labour.

The defence budget has fallen from £34.6 billion in 1999-2000 to £31 billion in 2004-05 in real terms, putting pressure on the armed forces at a time when senior officers are issuing warnings about overstretch.

The Army's current strength is 101,000, about 10,000 less than when Labour came to power.

The situation is even worse in the Navy, where the number of sailors has fallen from 46,000 to less than 36,000, while the RAF has seen personnel numbers drop from 57,000 to 48,000.

Next month the MoD will decide whether to use the redundant Sea Kings, which are stored in Fleetwood, Hants, or to extend the service life of the RAF's 38 Pumas, which should be retired in four years.

Even if the ageing Sea Kings are refurbished at £10 million each, they will only be able to carry about five troops each with extra weight added by the crews' body armour, new radios, machine guns and anti-missile devices.

Almost a quarter of Britain's Joint Helicopter Command is either unusable or under repair, leaving commanders in Afghanistan dependent on the huge US helicopter fleet.

Tim Ripley, an aviation analyst at Jane's Defence Weekly, said: "They are wheeling out planes to extend their shelf life because there is not enough money for new helicopters until 2015."

The MoD said it had no plans "at the moment" to send any Sea Kings to Afghanistan. "We are currently looking at a number of options and no decision has been made yet," a MoD spokesman said.

He added that £4.5 billion had been set aside for the next decade to develop the "future rotorcraft capability programme".

It has also been revealed that the Army's Apache fleet will not be going to Afghanistan fitted with its special £15 million radar, a move which will allow the aircraft to carry more fuel.
Am I alone in thinking that referring to this cluster-fcuk as a "policy" is a little over-ambitious?
Flying death traps more like, worn out from years of hard work.


Book Reviewer
How much are blackhawks to buy? I would have thought these are much more versatil, plus can be adapted for pretty much anything! Plus i heard the raf actually prefer them to the present aircraft...
Bringing them out of mothballs may be a good money saving idea, but not for that theatre. Perhaps they may be able to take over a role in UK/Germany/Cyprus/NI etc relieving some other aircraft for the Iraq/Afganistan role? It would be better than sending Sea King out to the wrong theatre. I have to say that although I have worked with the RAF and AAC, I have no idea on which aircraft are suitable for what role, and what is available/replaceable.
chrisg46 said:
How much are blackhawks to buy? I would have thought these are much more versatil, plus can be adapted for pretty much anything! Plus i heard the raf actually prefer them to the present aircraft...
But of course we won't be allowed to buy the straigh off the yanks, we'll have to purchase the licence and then make our own, full of bugs, at 5-10times the price. :evil:
You know what they say Crabby..."smart procurement..isn't"
The book mentioned in the article "Lions Donkeys and Dinosaurs" by Lewis Page is a good read actually, no area of the forces is spared scrutiny and it's shocking where the money goes. That is, assuming all the figures are completely true (Assumed as otherwise it'd be a load of rubbish)
It is a good advert for Lewis Page's book. I'm about 1/2 way through and it contains many of those conversations that we have all had on stag, when bored, p*ssed off etc.

Given that something over 3,000 H-60 variants have been built by Sikorsky, I'd imagine the unit price per basic Blackhawk would be pretty low. Certainly a lot cheaper than e.g. more Merlins and probably less than the £10m they're talking about to upgrade an old Sea King to give it a few more years of relaticely useless service.

Possibly they could use the Sea Kings to backfill and release more capable helos to the front-line - but I don't think the UK actually has any capable transport helos to spare even with backfilling:

38 or so Pumas - as old as the Sea Kings. Heavily tasked.

30+ Chinooks - very heavily tasked, too large for some roles. Wish we had those HC3s!
Let me get this right.....They're willing to waste £300 million on refurhishing 30 mothballed Sea Kings.... can't they pick up some cheap Pumas from the French...?

Or, let me be radical here...Buy some more Merlins....? Tricky one I know, but gota certain ring to it...Or wait....Why don't they buy back the Supacat Armoured vehicles that RE EOD used to have in the Balkans that were flogged off cos they weren't needed...?
We might as well cam up all those redundant London Routemaster buses and use them. On second thoughts, withdraw that suggestion, the folks at MOD procurement might latch on to the idea......
Just spotted that line about "....He added that £4.5 billion had been set aside for the next decade to develop the "future rotorcraft capability programme"...."

How many new transport Heli's will that buy? Say Merlins....Or Blackhawks. Or is that money going to be pissed up the wall on Projects that never get built and underweight overpriced Euro projects that take twice as long to come into service and cost twice as much as first annouced. If the Swedes can bring a Fighter into production and service largely on time and in budget why the **** can't we...?
Or go even cheaper and buy some UH-1N's?
The Swedes brought Gripen into service on time and to cost because a)they decided what they wanted and stuck to the spec b)didn't have to waste hod-loads of cash on beefing up frequent flier accounts for middle ranking officers and officials dashing between Munich, Paris and Wharton and c)did not put in technology just because it was (purportedly) available.

Collaborative procurement was a good idea when it was used to develop something and split the costs, now it seems to be a device to increase the costs in order to subsidise defunct military-industrial capability. The off-take from collaborative products no longer seems to be directly related to the manufacturing and development commitment/deployment. Somebody call the NAO please...
Dear MOD,

I would like some better body armour and nicer respirator that doesn't mean I have to breathe in when I change the filter. Better boots would be nice if it's not too much trouble.
Any chance you could spare any of your budget to help?

Pte. Ytomk.

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