Liam Fox is getting rather annoyed with the Government, industry and MoD for rushing to place orders for, amongst others the FRES SV Recce Block 1, before the General Election in the next few months.
At a recent industry event, Shadow Defence Minister warned those sitting there quaffing their expensive wine that any deals struck in the next few weeks would be re-examined if the Conservatives win the next election.
I think it is quite wrong for the civil service to be going along with the government signing up contracts using future taxpayers’ money. It’s wrong for industry to be going along with projects at this point, so close to a general election, when everyone knows we need a major review on the other side of the election. I hope everyone will reflect strongly on that
Quite right too, we are on the verge of a major defence review (the first one in over a decade) so orders for any major equipment project should quite naturally wait on the outcome of the review. There is usually a period of ‘no major commercial activity’ for ministries once an election has been called, hence the unseemly rush.
Making reference to previous Conservative papers on defence and security Liam Fox said that all equipment programmes would be tested against a number of criteria;
It has only been 20 years, so another couple of months wait for a replacement for CVR(T) would hardly seem a great concern.
Leaving the best comments for the Labour Party, Liam Fox went on to say
They have no money for the current programs in the budget, and are now promising to spend future taxpayers’ money on other programs, they are like bankrupt shopaholics having their last binge before going to jail
BAe seem to have resigned themselves to losing against General Dynamics, the same General Dynamics that bought us BOWMAN, for Recce Block 1.
Given that the ASCOD2 variant proposed by GD hasn’t progressed beyond ‘nice drawing’ stage is this an opportunity to think again?
In our previous post we resigned ourselves to the fact that we have run out of time and have to go for the lest worse option.
Innovation is not dead, just look at this video of the South Korean K21, they went from a standing start with little or no industry experience to production in less than ten years. It is a genuinely innovative product, with advanced fire control, integral amphibious capability and a 40mm canon with air bursting ammunition.
The German Puma is an equally innovative vehicle with modular armour, single crew compartment and unmanned turret.
Is going back to the drawing board an option, creating something out of the ashes of SEP and TRACER, a genuinely innovative system that meets the Conservatives tests.
TRACER went from an idea to a pair of demonstrators in 4 years and these contained some of the most innovative technologies available and many of these have matured considerably.
We have an enormous body of expertise to draw upon, a skilled workforce and given some political will we could recapitalise the entire armoured ground vehicle fleet after decades of under investment.
As we come out of Afghanistan, the existing fleet of vehicles including UOR’s will be completely battered, there exists a golden opportunity to not only rejuvenate the UK armoured vehicle industry but the armed forces as well.
Along with the MALE UAV Mantis, there exists a unique opportunity to push the UK back into the ‘we make things others want to buy’ category rather than simply being a franchise opportunity for overseas designers and manufacturers.