Troops pay ‘blood price’ as ex-MoD chief protects £1bn deal

#1
From the Mail. By Glenn Carlin & Brendan Owen. What do ARRSE aviation experts, and others, think about this story?

Troops pay ‘blood price’ as ex-MoD chief protects £1bn helicopter contract

Former civil servant now running helicopter firm refused to budge on deal - even though Lynxes won’t arrive until 2012


The row over equipment shortages for British forces in Afghanistan was reignited last night, following the release of highly sensitive MoD documents.

The secret papers reveal how the former head civil servant at the Ministry of Defence lobbied behind the scenes to protect a £1billion contract for Lynx helicopters - a deal some experts believe has contributed to the soaring death toll in Afghanistan.

They detail how Sir Kevin Tebbit, who was the MoD’s permanent secretary when the deal was struck and now chairs Finmeccanica, the company that makes the helicopters, appears to threaten a hostile media campaign if ‘any decision was taken to derail the [helicopter] programme’.

Last night, Tory MP Douglas Carswell said that Sir Kevin was part of a ‘carve-up’ for which British troops were paying the ‘blood price’.

The minutes also reveal officials’ surprise when Sir Kevin unexpectedly brought one of his senior company executives to a meeting and record Sir Kevin announcing that he was poaching an ex-Whitehall colleague, Sir David Omand, to sit on his company’s board.

Sir David, the former co-ordinator of UK security and intelligence, is currently advising the Government on the Strategic Defence Review.

The 2005 contract to buy 62 Lynx Wildcats is controversial because the first of the £27million machines is not due until 2012. The deal - the cost of which has escalated to £1.9billion - has been under scrutiny since the former Chief of the Defence Staff, Lord Guthrie, led a public outcry last year over a shortage of helicopters in Afghanistan, which he said was contributing to the high casualty rate among UK troops.

One of Finmeccanica’s rival manufacturers, US firm Sikorsky, has made repeated offers since May 2007 - all rejected - to provide 60 Black Hawk craft.

If the MoD had accepted the first offer, Sikorsky says all of the machines would have been delivered by the end of last year.

The MoD announced its intention to buy 62 Lynx Wildcats from AugustaWestland, a company owned by Finmeccanica, in March 2005, when Sir Kevin was permanent secretary to the then Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon.

The contract to supply cockpit voice and flight-data recorders went to Smith Industries. No other firms were invited to bid. Sir Kevin left the MoD in November 2005, and the final contract agreeing the price for the Lynxes was signed off in May 2006.

One month later, Sir Kevin joined the Smith board and in May 2007 he became chairman of Finmeccanica. He receives in excess of £100,000 a year from Finmeccanica, and £52,000 a year from Smith.
MailOnline source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...ts-1bn-helicopter-contract.html#ixzz0kk52uK6g
 
#2
I can give you my non aviation expert view which is that Sir Kevin should be sent to the bloody tower the unscrupulous tw4t.
 
#3
Absolutely typical of the UK; we're offered a sound and proven airframe in the Blackhawk in a shorter frame of time, but we insist on paying over the odds and waiting God knows how much longer for a custom-made alternative. Maybe the Lynx is worth waiting for, I'll leave the experts to comment on that, but to me this stinks of pocket-lining at the cost of lives by Kevin Tebbit.
 
#4
This was talked about at the time and last year, there was something not quite right about the Sikorsky deal, can't remember what but it's not as cut and dry as the paper report makes out.

I'd say it's more lazy journalism, reheating an old story that died a death a year ago, plus the story doesn't really say much about what the deal was in the first place, delivering helicopters is all good, but do we have access to the software, what exactly do we get, who carries out the training, are BOM's, pubs, etc provided, etc, etc, etc.

It's not as easy as just nipping out and buying a helicopter and hey presto we can use them, there's the whole logistics chain, the training and modifications to bring them up to UK spec, that takes a hell of a lot longer than a year!
 
#5
The Blackhawks would have been basket cases and very old versions. Logistics chain would have been massively costly. As for Wildcat? I'm saying nowt as I'd like to keep my pension for a bit longer thanks ;)
 
#6
The Sikorsky deal was genuine and there were no catches. The subject of Wildcat viability has been covered well here on Arrse in the Aviation forum.

The deal for Blackhawks is still on the table if the MOD ever wanted a re-think. The chances are Nil.
 
#8
Argee2007 said:
but do we have access to the software
Quite. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't that the very reason that the Mk3 Chinooks were mothballed for umpteen years - the fact that Boeing/the US DoD refused to let us see the software code to allow the aircraft to be certified as airworthy?

Clearly what we need in the current environment is a new ASW helo [/sarcasm], but how much better would a Blackhawk option have been? Would it have taken until a lot longer than 2012 to get a fleet of UH-60s and all of the associated logistics support, not to mention crew training on a completely new type?

If the MoD had gone down the Sikorsky route, I reckon we'd be sat here now complaining that they didn't procure the Lynx as it's taking to long to get the Blackhawks into theatre. It is ARRSE, after all :roll:
 
#11
It seems very suspect that he joined Finmeccanica 1 month after leaving the MOD, he must have know that he was going there months before, since it is an important position in a large company. I wonder how much impact he would have had into the decision to sign the contract, as Permanent Secretary to Geoff Hoon. It would be interesting to see a timeline of events for this, could show any possible motives. Hopefully there will be an inquiry.

Without trying to defend this cnut, it is debatable how true Sikorsky's claims are that they could have delivered the choppers by now, they could be looking for some cheap positive marketing.

If Tebbit was influential in originally agreeing to the contract, then he needs jailing.
 
#12
Jail time all round.
TCHoon, again.
Has there ever been a more disgraceful or corrupt government ?
Now even the Civil Service Stinks.
And who pays the Butchers Bill ?
Tom.

john
 
#13
Ruddles said:
It seems very suspect that he joined Finmeccanica 1 month after leaving the MOD, he must have know that he was going there months before, since it is an important position in a large company. I wonder how much impact he would have had into the decision to sign the contract, as Permanent Secretary to Geoff Hoon. It would be interesting to see a timeline of events for this, could show any possible motives. Hopefully there will be an inquiry...
As a civil serpent, he was bound by the rules of 'due diligence' which would normally mean there was recourse against him, should he be shown to have not acted in the interest of the taxpayer. Not sure how the rules apply now that he is no longer in HMs employ.

As an aside, Finmeccanica gave us each a pack of playing cards at Xmas. We played one game with them, and ditched that pack plus several unopened ones, as they were shite.
 
#14
Ruddles said:
It seems very suspect that he joined Finmeccanica 1 month after leaving the MOD, he must have know that he was going there months before, since it is an important position in a large company. I wonder how much impact he would have had into the decision to sign the contract, as Permanent Secretary to Geoff Hoon. It would be interesting to see a timeline of events for this, could show any possible motives. Hopefully there will be an inquiry.

Without trying to defend this cnut, it is debatable how true Sikorsky's claims are that they could have delivered the choppers by now, they could be looking for some cheap positive marketing.

If Tebbit was influential in originally agreeing to the contract, then he needs jailing.
If, as you say, it was just a month after he left MOD, He must have known his future well in advance of that time.

It strikes me that there is an argument for Senior civil servants, who obviously hold significant influence in such policy making, should be obliged to declare any business/financial interests in the same way that MPs do/should.
 
#16
Joe_Private said:
As an aside, Finmeccanica gave us each a pack of playing cards at Xmas. We played one game with them, and ditched that pack plus several unopened ones, as they were shite.
I bet they weren't a compilation of the 52 fittest girls working for them then?? Still, I bet the lads on the ground would have been more than happy with a set of shite cards to replace the odd helicopter or two...
 
#17
Caveat - I don't know anything about aviation and my only knowledge of Tebbit is briefing him a couple of times in a former existence, he seemed a decent enough stick, and I seem to recall he was one of the few senior people who tried to act with some decency towards Dr. David Kelly during that unhappy saga.

I do know that decisions like the purchase of Lynx are not made by PUS alone. Tebbit's decision would not, could not, have been to go for Lynx had there been a strong case otherwise made by officials in MOD and other departments, and also a considerable political input. So any suggestion that Lynx was bought solely to secure Sir Kevin's future employment is a bit off the mark.

The article does raise (again) the whole question of former military and civil servants working for the defence industry after retirement. Tebbit's transition from civil servant to industry does appear to have been obscenely short. But it was approved, as have been similar rapid moves by senior military officers. Perhaps the rules should simply be made absolute and hence avoid any possible appearance of corruption - Ceaser's wife, etc. Incidentally, my only experience of corruption in defence is at a much lower level than PUS - a SO1 in his last 6 months who was happily providing inside information to the commercial company he intended working for.

C_C
 
#18
The Brits have tested a Blackhawk with the new BRITISH engines that are in th AH64D Apache, surpassed expectations. The Corps wants them, the Government are doing 'mates rates'...hence Wildcat!!

It has urined the Corps alot over this. We could have also bought the Navy version to facilitate our Ships.

I am led to beleive that with the contract, we could have paid off Westland employees with £1m each and still have enough to pay for the Blackhawk Aircraft.

Blackhawk also comes with 'off the shelf' universal fits for all requirments.

We have now had to pay out more to upgrade current Aircraft to cope with the 'hot and high' environment of Afghanistan, hence the MK9a going Operational as we speak.

MAKES ME MAD :x :x :x
 
#19
Senior serpents are required to seek permission from the Cabinet Secretary before taking employment (within 2 years of retirement/resignation) for any employment related to their official duties.

So it should be east for him to demostrate that he acted honourably - if indeed he did.

Not sure what the sanctions are for those who break the rules (I'd strip pension and debar from all future public appointments - but I dare say it'll be less than that).

Similar rules in place at a lower level for all staff involved procurement. Perhaps re-energizing the application of these existing rules would help efficiency in procurement and aid the public purse?
 

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