Go on Gordon, you know you want to.
The FT is reporting that Gordon brown is considering a fast track order process in order to get at least 20 Chinooks into service in the next couple of years, avoiding the usual tendering process and just handing Boeing a big fat cheque with a handwritten note attached that says crack on.
Hold on though, the FT also reports that low priority defence projects will be cut or stretched out to find the estimated £1billion needed. A new Chinook to the latest spec with all the optional extras is reported to cost at most £25million so for a billion, with some economies of scale surely one would expect anywhere between 40 and 50 depending on how hard a bargain we drove. The usual extras such as loogistics, training and documentation are already in place so either the previously reported costs of a Chinook are wildly out of kilter with reality or the sums are wrong.
It will be interesting to see what ‘low priority’ projects are just hanging around waiting to be cut without anyone noticing.
Helicopters have become symbolic of forces underfunding and the Labour Party know this is a serious political weakness that will be exploited by EVERY SINGLE opposition party at the next election, so for anyone to think this isn’t a political decison is somewhat naive.
The Future Medium Helicopter programme was expected to replace the Sea King junglies and Pumas in service with the Fleet Air Arm and RAF. As we have blogged before the logical winner of this would be a tail fold Merlin but it is quite feasible that FMH will be delayed or even cancelled in favour of this.
Expect lots of opposition from South West MP’s and the defence industry lobby.
When they are complaining about a lack of proper competition perhaps someone might gently remind them of the Lynx Wildcat contract and politely request they shut up.