Latest NAO Report – Doing Less with Less

The National Audit Office publishes an annual summary of major projects and a commentary on the performance of the Ministry of Defence. 2014 is no different

The National Audit Office publishes an annual summary of major projects and a commentary on the performance of the Ministry of Defence.

The full report and project sheets are at the link below;

The summary of findings from the Head of the NAO, Amyas Morse, was;

Our work on the Equipment Plan reveals a number of positive features, not least the relative stability of forecast project costs and control over in-year variations in approved timings and costs of major projects. The Ministry of Defence has, however, chosen a higher risk approach to managing the affordability of the equipment plan by relying on over-optimistic forecasts of costs and future savings, not all of which might be achievable in reality. The Department will need to be watchful and swift to react if costs start to grow.

The first thing to remember about the Major Projects Report is it is only published after some consultation between the NAO and MoD, inevitably it is slightly out of sync with the very latest developments.

The MoD Equipment Plan is forecast at £1.4 billion less for the 2014-23 period than it was for 2013-14. Over a tend year period this is not massively significant but it is interesting to see a reduced equipment plan cost.

It also describes how £4.1 billion has been removed from the Equipment Support Plan reflecting a reduction in equipment to support and general efficiency savings.

Another view is that by shifting costs from the support plan to the equipment plan is a method by which the politically promise of a net 1% increase in equipment can be maintained.

Of course, that would be a wholly cynical view and is unlikely to be reality.

The underlying tone of the report is so far so good but the MoD is being very optimistic with its assumptions on savings and future costs. I don’t think one needs the wisdom of Methuselah to understand the vast majority of major military equipment projects do not come in under budget. What happens is the budget is extended or a combination of capabilities and quantities reduced.

Seems like business as usual to me but I think the MoD does deserve credit for getting most of the big ticket items under some sort of control, a process that started before SDSR 2010 and continued by successive ministers. Cost forecasts are largely stable across most of the big ticket items.

This comments from the summary is particularly ominous

If this contingency were insufficient, the Department would need to draw on the £9.2 billion set aside to deliver equipment needed for wider defence capability currently outside the core programme.

Another section reports the assumptions on Treasury funding

For the years beyond the current 10-year Equipment Plan the Department has assumed that it will continue to receive an increase in the budget of 1% above inflation, although this has not been formally agreed with HM Treasury. For the non-Equipment Plan element of the budget the Department assumes that funding will match inflation from 2016-17, with no further funding reductions or increases.

The Treasury is in no position to agree anything because there is the small matter of an election, this is the reality. We can all make assumptions but those assumptions cannot be relied upon.

For some reason, the NAO has opted to exclude the £754 million cost increase on the QE carriers it reported in the last report.

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The Army is judged as most vulnerable to capability gaps than the other services unless it can obtain equipment outside the published Equipment Plan. Although 50% of unallocated budget has been provisionally apportioned to the Army this is not enough this will make future negotiation increasingly difficult. The Army simply does not have enough in the Equipment Plan over the next decade, hoping for windfalls and an increasing share of any unallocated budget seems to be the strategy, you can judge for yourself whether this will be successful.

The table below shows the major items forecast cost for those already post main gate.

Major-projects-report-2014 04

Interesting to note that the total allocated to F35, £5.036 billion, Scout , £1.394 billion, Warrior CSP, £1.315 billion and Typhoon, £18.242 billion all in.

Further reading reveals that the F35 cost of just over £5 Billion covers the first 4 demonstrator AND the first squadron, note the singular. A second Squadron will be extra.

To clarify;

The Lightning II Main Gate 4 Business Case (MG4 BC) was endorsed by the Investment Approvals Committee in October 2013 and obtained HM Treasury approval in January 2014. The Lightning II MG4 BC sought approval to procure the aircraft for the first UK Squadron with all associated support equipment and capital spares. The Business Case also approved the procurement of Freedom of Action facilities, and all associated support contracts, which will enable the transition of the aircraft from the US to the UK, delivery of Initial Operating Capability from RAF Marham in December 2018, and permit initial First of Class Flying Trials to take place aboard the new Queen Elizabeth Class Carrier in the same year. The MG4 BC approval provides for the support contracts to cover the period 2015 to 2020. Main Gate 4 set the operational In-Service Date for the UK Lightning II aircraft as 31 December 2018

The key to understand these figures is to understand what the ‘Freedom of Action’ facilities actually are, what support contracts include or don’t include and what is included in Initial Operating Capability. You cannot simply divide £5 Billion by a squadron of 12 aircraft and come up with a unit price. Subsequent squadrons will of course benefit from some of these ‘start-up’ costs.

We also have to be clear about our £2 Billion plus initial investment as a Tier 1 Partner, big rounding to the numbers but the first Squadron of perhaps 12-14 aircraft, fixed assets, flight trials and support contracts is £3 Billion.

It does show what the cost of entry into the F35 club is though.

Expensive is a the word I think we are all searching for !

As ever, the individual project sheets provide a few interesting snippets

A400M will be £514m over budget, 73 months late and supplied with 3 fewer airframes.

Astute, £1.273 Billion over budget and at least 58 months late but at least the top speed risk status has changed from last time

Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers, 29 months late and £2.728 Billion over budget

Scout, amusingly, the MoD have sought fit to report completion of garaging for the prototypes as ‘in year progress’, am not even going to say anything about cost and time.

Crowsnest downselect in April this year

Morpheus is the project name for a number of communication and ICT replacement projects including BOWMAN

Successor, the concept and assessment phase is forecast to be a whopping £4.172 Billion and a project that covers both, the Core Production Capability, will be around £1.2 Billion

Brimstone 2 forecast ISD may 2016

FSTA (Voyager) cost just under £480 in PFI charges in 2013/14

Warrior CSP, current affordable fleet is reported as 445 Warrior (different variants) and 65 to ABSV which might make for some interesting organisational challenges and keeping FV432 in service. These numbers will have also no doubt changed in the interim so to be honest, I would not place too much faith in them.

For complex weapons, it has written £1.2 billion worth of savings from the Support Plan, yet how much of this is due to genuine efficiency and how much is due to not bringing equipment into service like the Fire Shadow Loitering Munition that seems to be in some sort of ‘incommunicado’ where everyone seems to think that saying nothing is the best answer in the hope that it will just go away.

So the overall theme of the report is OK so far chaps, but you are being optimistic and if your optimism is misplaced during the next ten years, something will have to give.

This approach is obviously based on making the equipment plan affordable by forecasting savings that the department has very little idea how to make and hoping for the best.

Ten years is a long time isn’t it.

Finally, shifting items from the Support Budget to the Procurement Budget is a completely transparent and cynical method to maintain political pledges on equipment spending.

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January 14, 2015 12:50 pm

From an IT perspective, disappointed to see the paltry level of info on the DCNS project. This was covered in the last MPR but barely gets a mention in the current iteration. Although p.30 notes an increase of £760m for Defence Information Systems, unclear as to where this is allocated. Good to see Cipher has been rebooted though.

January 14, 2015 1:48 pm

Possibly related to the RAF 2019 post, that second F-35 Squadron (much like the 48 aircraft number that used to get trotted out) is notable by its absence.

January 14, 2015 1:58 pm

It’s interesting to see quite how much the Airbus Air Tankers cost!

There also has to be a case across both the RAF and the RN of having second tier fleets, (OPV’s with hangers) and Cheap aircraft like the Jaguar.

You just cannot (at least in my mind) justify having 1 unit, in very few numbers costing hundreds of millions each. Let’s follow the 80/20 rule a little bit more….

The Limey
The Limey
January 14, 2015 2:37 pm

The problem with that attitude is things like MPAs, etc when the base aircraft is $100m+ just by itself, even without considering systems, and integration. Some things just cost a lot of money. Commonality, re-use and ISOs absolutely – but there are some capabilities that will never be cheap.

Rocket Banana
January 14, 2015 2:50 pm

The approved cost of the Demonstration and Manufacture Phase has risen from £2,873 million in our 2013 report to £5,622 million in this report. This is because the 2013 amount only covers the first 4 demonstrator aircraft, but the 2014 number covers the first squadron of aircraft.

The difference is therefore £2749m for the first squadron.

Any idea how many are in this “squadron” because if it’s 12, each aircraft is £229m and a complete waste of money!

shark bait
shark bait
January 14, 2015 3:01 pm


I completely agree with second tier fleets. The UK and the US seem to be spending billions on very capable platforms that they will almost never use. New equipment seems to be used as more of a deterrent than a usable weapon.

Its complete overkill using a T45 for disaster relief, or a typhoon for bombing pickup trucks in Iraq. I fully support having a fleet of cheap, numerous platforms, for rolls such as these, that are becoming more common. Then the big expensive toys can play war games and go on parade to show off how capable we could be and deter aggressors .

I’m not saying I disagree with top tier programs, far from it. My point is would it be nice to have 1 less astute, and swap it for 10 small multi roll vessels such as the back swan class, that would arguably be more usable?

The Other Chris
January 14, 2015 3:14 pm


To quote @TD’s article:

“The key to understand these figures is to understand what the ‘Freedom of Action’ facilities actually are, what support contracts include or don’t include and what is included in Initial Operating Capability. You cannot simply divide £5 Billion [or £2,749m] by a squadron of 12 aircraft and come up with a unit price. Subsequent squadrons will of course benefits [sic] from some of these ‘start-up’ costs.”

I think the initial £2b seed cash is included in that £5b-ish figure as well.

The Other Chris
January 14, 2015 3:18 pm

“The UK and the US seem to be spending billions on very capable platforms that they will almost never use.”

Good! There must be some deterrent effect in there and wouldn’t we all rather that shots were never fired in the first place?

shark bait
shark bait
January 14, 2015 3:26 pm

chris, I agree its good we have them, but I think we could do with a fleet of cheap ships and planes that we can actually use.
If we use typhoon or F35 for Iraq it will cost a fortune. The operational costs per hour are 80K+.
Surely a fleet of cheap aircraft would pay for them self over time, as well as not using up the flying hours on our precious airframes.

Rocket Banana
January 14, 2015 3:46 pm


If it didn’t quite clearly say “…The approved cost of the Demonstration and Manufacture Phase…” before the numbers in the bit I quoted then I would agree.

Demonstration and Manufacture does not include “Operation” or “Support” in my world.

Personally I’m hoping that the first squadron is 24 aircraft. In which case the second takes us to the touted 48 and the unit price is a around £115m. Muchos Betteros ;-)

January 14, 2015 4:08 pm

Ref budget platforms – I’m pretty sure it would be possible, for example, to get the plans out of the drawing chests for Lightning (the real English Electric one) and make some more, possibly substituting modern engines and avionics in place of obsolete stuff. The aerodynamics would be understood; the certification should be quicker and I’m positive it would be cheap & cheerful compared to clean-sheet modern equivalents (more basic materials, designed to lower stress levels & so on). If you don’t like Lightning pick another aircraft instead. While it might be technically possible, what would scupper such a project?

By way of comparison, it would be very straightforward to recreate (again picking an example) a mk1 Escort – cheap basic uncomplicated transport – and start punching out new copies. But. It wouldn’t meet EU emissions rules. Or crumple zone rules. Or recyclability rules. Or rules on airbags, noise, side impacts, collapsing steering column, rear seatbelts, etc etc. So although making new versions is technically feasible and would work just as well as the few that remain on the road, the new ones would be illegal in exactly the same way the old ones aren’t.

January 14, 2015 4:11 pm


That’s most likely for the first 14 a/c we will procure up to 2020 to stand up 617 and marham. Why this number is a shock is beyond me it’s in the ball park for what South Korea will pay for there f35a in a similar timeframe.

The Other Chris
January 14, 2015 4:16 pm



EDIT: @Mark – Spot on!

The Other Chris
January 14, 2015 4:33 pm

I’d love to be involved on that project, however I doubt we could obtain certification with the MAA/CAA without significant expense, and even then my gut suggests it wouldn’t pass.

It’s also quite an expensive aircraft to operate for a limited amount of payload and a very restricted radome. There were designs involving a replacement nose section, moving the intakes to the sides, to create space for a larger array. You can also see this element in even later designs for a swing-wing “Sea Lightning” proposal.

The Other Chris
January 14, 2015 4:40 pm

@shark bait

Engaging ISIS is deceptive. On the surface the action appears asymmetric, however the theatre includes a modern Russian IADS nominally in the control of a hostile faction (Assad-lead Syria) which is under threat of capture, defection or even gifting/alliance by/to ISIS.

Whatever operates in the theatre needs to take into account a possible Peer-on-Peer level Surface to Air engagement

Which is likely the real reason F-22’s are in-theatre: Nominally present to monitor and engage the serious threat while testing their systems against a Peer or near-Peer system.

January 14, 2015 4:44 pm

TOC – like I said if Lightning doesn’t suit, pick another. The question was really whether recreating an airframe of known behaviour and with historical flight clearances and then doing minimal changes to replace obsolete parts and getting the modifications cleared would be a cheaper route to your general purpose budget aircraft than starting from scratch designing all new. I think there ought to be an argument for carry-over of earlier clearances perhaps with some spot-check verification test flights, rather than creating the entire flight envelope (and other clearances) from scratch.

The Limey
The Limey
January 14, 2015 5:11 pm

– unfortunately modern H&S and airworthiness regs don’t work like that. Any new build that incorporated the slightest update to design/materials would (AIUI) have to comply with the whole set of requirements.

January 14, 2015 6:08 pm


Nope you’d be recertifing the aircraft as if it were a new one (why they didn’t want to remanufacture the nimrod pressure fuse and attempted to claim it was only a mod under grand father rights) Manufacturing processes, parts supply, paperwork everything would be different. Indeed you may no longer be able to put certain things that were in an old design in the new one and meet the curent safety requirements.

F35b for the UK has for some time looked like costing in the 7.5b pound range for 48 a/c. I’ve mentioned a few times the piper has not yet been paid for carrier strike.

January 14, 2015 6:14 pm

Interesting how “Typhoon missile integration” is now ole cost line
– so that the RAF can play with the priorities?
– as se have sen, A2G seems to be pushing Meteor to the right; or is it that a much better version will Sion BE out with the Japanese and there is no hurry to build up stocks?

January 14, 2015 7:16 pm

and ToC
Same era , half the power but even more SPEED ! The SAAB Draken ,way ahead of its time.

shark bait
shark bait
January 14, 2015 7:57 pm

I do often think how much it would cost to put an old aircraft back into production.
Unfortunately I don’t see it being cheaper than starting from scratch.
For a start all the parts are designed to manufactured by hand, there is considerable work converting to cad and automated manufacturing.
All the parts will be obsolete, one that aren’t probably won’t interface with new ones.
Skills and knolage on the product will likely be lost.
It would be a nightmare.
Im sure it would be easier to design from new , off the shelf.

The Other Chris
January 14, 2015 8:00 pm


Took an eternity to reach those speeds!

January 14, 2015 9:32 pm

Are we including the Jordanian F16 that was shot down over Syria as part of the 80/20 mix???

January 14, 2015 9:33 pm

But it had stamina over the Lightning , could land on rough roads and be refuelled and rearmed by trained monkeys :-) Every one else was sticking a pair of stubby wings on an engine(s) and perching the pilot on top ala Mig 21, Starfighter even the Lightning.This has double delta wings and looks like a latest generation plane ,well a gen 4 but conceived over 60 years ago.

January 14, 2015 10:00 pm

Instead of building new old stuff( is that English?) could we not just keep some of the old stuff for longer and resist the urge to sell perfectly good kit for a tiny amount after only a few years of ownership.

Like selling 3 almost new high end ASW frigates ( grafton was only 9 years old) for pocket change,134 million just about buys you a new BAE OPV. We could have stuck them in amber and rotated the fleet around to get a few more years out of all of the hulls, or as a replacement if one sinks or gets badly dented ( it does happen even in peace time, weather, rocks, fire or random cargo vessels can do you a nasty one)

Same goes for Largs bay, only five years old and sold for 65million ( that’s half an OPV) could we keep the bay fleet running for 25% longer if we had kept her ?

I bet we see the same thing with the Rivers.

So hands up who gets rid of their tornadoes first …… That will be us then.

Are the MOD slaves to an industrial complex that requires consumption/waste to ensure its profits ?

January 14, 2015 10:17 pm

Mark, Limey – looking over to the car domain again briefly, the Alvis Car Company (bought the name from BAE) which was already the sole supplier of Alvis parts for their old cars, has been building pre-war tourers to the original drawings on the proviso that they only build 70-odd of them, that number being the end of the 1939 production run that Corporal Hitler caused to be abandoned. These cars are being built to 1939 standards, so no add-on crumple zones, or side impact bars, or ABS, or all the other guff now required. It is a special case, but it does show that sometimes the rules can be flexed by reason.

So. Not that I have any reason to dispute your understanding of MAR or whatever its called these days, but has anyone ever actually asked the bods at Boscombe Down what they’d do if someone turned up with a new build old design? Clearly there is a process for recertifying elderly aircraft after rebuild, as several Meteors, Vampires, Spitfires, Sea Furies and just one Sea Vixen in private hands demonstrate.

All that aside though, by far the most logical thing to do is hang on to currently serving platforms until their replacement is in service ready to fight.

January 14, 2015 10:25 pm

I watched a video recently of the restoration to flying condition of the only Sea Hurricane. A very knowledgeable chap was called in at various stages of the rebuild , 7 years I think, and he signed off it was up the regulations. Fascinating to watch.

January 14, 2015 10:47 pm


You can “grandfather” the design as a mod to the certifying authorities if youve got an aircraft and are rebuilding it or moding an existing aircraft design. You can get into lots of arguments over certain safety risks doing that. The aircraft of ww2 origin ect would be given a restricted type certification and require a permit to fly within a restricted envelope as covered by part 21 easa documents.

But if you have nothing to start with and most likely next to no drawing nor maintaince or srm’s of an out of service aircraft your starting from scratch. You then get into certifying the type to current guidelines with attention to duty of care to your employees, both those that maintain the aircraft (certain materials now banded ect) and them that fly in it and manufacturing processes you may not be allowed to do anymore. The MOD has a history of flexing far to many rules when it comes to airworthiness.

January 14, 2015 10:54 pm

If we’re going to re-incarnate old designs, my vote goes to Buccaneer. In my opinion the best British post war design by some distance. Perfect for Iraq & Afghanistan type affairs.

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley
January 14, 2015 11:20 pm

We are worried that defence will not be properly funded.
If the equipment budget is kept a 2% of GDP, then we will be fine.
So we should get the government to commit to a 2% spending level.
They have.
The problem is, we have * no hope * that they will do what they have promised to do. We *absolutely* believe that they will find some way to weasel outy of it.

And that is the larger problem.
None of the political parties offer hope. Hence the appeal of the SNP and UKIP, who both offer a “big change for the better, if only you will believe in our premise, and vote for us”.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
January 14, 2015 11:35 pm

“Are the MOD slaves to an industrial complex that requires consumption/waste to ensure its profits ?”

No Jonathon. What they are is bound by the costs of operating equipment (crew, consumables, maintenance, support contracts) and by the accounting costs under RAB of holding “stuff”. As an aside, Grafton was in sh1t state, requiring almost total rebuild of her HPSW system for one. Not cheap.

Chris. If you want to see about certifying old aircraft, look no further than XH558 and the millions spent to get a couple of hundred flying hours out of her. Once you’re into the “Complex aircraft” regime, you’ve got no chance. I can guarantee you that “the bods in Boscombe” wouldn’t touch your new build old design until it had been design reviewed and safety cased from top to bottom and by that I mean at component level, then subsystem level etc etc. Even then, if you couldn’t prove compliance with current regs, you’d be referred to Mr Haddon-Cave and sent on your way. Mark is quite correct, airworthiness is the hottest of hot buttons – and rightly so. See current TCAS travails of Typhoon, Tornado and potentially F35 for details.

Ian Skinner
Ian Skinner
January 15, 2015 10:48 am

If you want to rebuild old aircraft, there are these chaps:

Slightly Agricultural
Slightly Agricultural
January 15, 2015 11:22 am

– might want to read a little closer. CIPHER was binned, sorry, “brought to a carefully managed conclusion” and replaced with the “Crypto Capability Programme”. AKA, it all went pear-shaped (again. CIPHER was not the first attempt) and they’ve had to go back to the drawing board. The phrase “biting off more than you can chew” comes to mind, as anyone with half a brain for IT could (and probably did) tell them when looking at their plans/aspirations/requirements.

If people knew the state of Defence Crypto in this country I think they’d be unpleasantly surprised. Less like James Bond and more like the I.T Crowd…

January 15, 2015 12:19 pm

Keeping old, lower capability equipment in limited numbers for lower capability tasks sounds sensible – if only because it and its support stuff is already there, and some items can if necessary be cannibalised to support others. But again, the bean-counting ‘Accruals accounting’ system works against this. Seems logical, then, to write down the value to what it would realistically fetch in the market or as scrap.

Re. transferring money from support to equipment – might this be because more contractor support is planned, so has to be part of the acquisition package?

January 15, 2015 2:09 pm

Could someone answer a serious question for me? When did military aviation become so “risk-averse?” Why do high-performance military aircraft have to meet the same safety/environmental standards as civilian aircraft? I’m not saying that the military should send its pilots up in deathtraps by any means, but why handcuff them with civilian-required systems that aren’t needed for the mission and only add cost/complexity?

January 15, 2015 3:18 pm

Kent – I can’t talk for aircraft certification, but I can say the land vehicle requirements include all civilian construction & use regulations, these days that means EU regs. So heavy armour that might burn 20 or 30 gallons of fuel a year on average must all be designed to the latest emissions controls, with all the electronics and testing that invokes – just how much pollution can it contribute from 30 gallons? Worse still under EU regs if emissions exceed the threshold the engine must shut down – absolutely ideal in combat situations, so as a concession to the military, a battle override switch may be fitted to allow the vehicles to run even though they pollute a bit too much. But then the vehicles are suppose (I think) to run on AVTUR which has a high sulphur content so they would need the battle override permanently switched in, meaning none of the emission control guff has any effect. But running too much sulphur through the system damages things like exhaust cats so they have to be changed to make the vehicle legal. So the upshot is we must pay more for emissions control equipment that must be in working condition but which will probably be permanently overridden; its sensors and electronics add to reliability/EMC vulnerabilities; the fuel used may damage components that must be replaced; all of this to reduce pollution for a ridiculously small peacetime annual mileage. Not really any good reason to fit it in the first place except to let a Eurocrat put a tick in a box. Someone somewhere has made a policy decision all health & safety regs, all environmental regs, all civilian regs for the domain will be applied whether appropriate to military equipment or not.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
January 15, 2015 3:29 pm

You can probably trace it to a number of factors, but the primary ones are :

1. Loss of Crown Immunity – when this happened, coupled with the rise of litigation and associated compensation, the MoD 9and other OGDs) were suddenly exposed to a significant financial risk. It isn’t the loss of the aircraft that has people worried, it’s what it might destroy when it hits the ground. Imagine if it totalled a school where the pupils were all children of Blame Direct Legal.

2. More complex aircraft – once upon a time, design tended to be about pure aerodynamics, controlled by either mechanical or hydraulic systems. Now they’re software controlled (as are individual components with their own integral software) there are many more potential points of error / failure.

3. Skill-fade – associated with the second point, there are fewer and fewer people competent to design and most importantly sign-off such systems. Coupled with the first point, that makes people very twitchy indeed and prone to demanding ever higher standards of evidence prior to any approvals /acceptance.

4. It’s the right thing to do (morally) – When you lose aircraft you tend to lose very valuable people aboard them. If it’s a combat loss that’s bad, but if it’s an avoidable (or worse – known but ignored) cause (see XV230, XV179, MoK Chinook and others, plus Mr Haddon-Cave), then that is negligence (see point 1) and not exactly morale-boosting for your ever dwindling troops.

It’s not necessarily overly demanding, provided that competent people are allowed to specify, design, build, operate and maintain the aircraft to the appropriate standard. Trouble is that when expertise is in short supply, people tend to fall back on over elaborate process, often applied by people who are not truly competent, which adds cost and delay and does not truly mitigate the risk.

The Other Chris
January 15, 2015 3:48 pm

Innovation can also stifled often due to a decision point being performed by someone who is not skilled enough to understand the innovation and/or isn’t willing enough to stand by their convictions and take the risk, so they fall back to an established process which was often designed without the concept of the innovation ever being envisioned.

January 15, 2015 4:54 pm

On reading the report, the requirement is still for 8SSNs, so is another Astute on the way?

January 15, 2015 5:07 pm

; @NaB; @TOC – Sounds like an unmitigated disaster to me. Over here we have “greenies” who are demanding that the military start using “biofuels” to “protect the environment.” As a result, with fuel prices plummeting, the US Navy is paying $26.00/gal for biofuel to mix with jet fuel and diesel/fuel oil. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

The Other Chris
January 15, 2015 5:22 pm

A bit more than the $8/gal (rough calculation) I put in my wife’s car on Saturday!

Roll-on the JP-5 from Seawater and airborne CO2 equipment…

January 15, 2015 5:38 pm

@TOC – Our gasoline locally has dropped from over $3.00/gal to as low as $1.59/gal lately. I put over 17 gallons in my pickup truck’s 19 gallon tank for less than $30.00 on Monday and the prices have continued to drop. :D It’s good to live in an oil-producing state!

January 15, 2015 5:59 pm

I think perhaps safety requirements are being misunderstood when compared with being risk adverse. Military flying is a dangerous business it is necessary that it remains a dangerous business low flying profiles and getting shot at. But what should never be allowed is to tell people to get into an aircraft that is either known or has the potiential to kill them though mechanical failures or thru failures to maintain the aircraft correctly, that’s not being risk adverse that’s being an idiot.

It’s also not about emissions it’s about now knowing certain materials used in the past are carcinogenic or processes to make certain parts having the same effect. Also Things like installing kapton wiring that is known to have wire insulation issues which can lead to short circuit and Fire. That’s why airworthiness regulations are continually updated they all have origions in previous accidents or investigations ignore them if you want but if you knowingly ignore them and one comes down you looking at a big big bill and some jail time.

On typhoon, f35 TCAS, if the MAA are as worried as it appears they should do what the FAA does in the civil world issues a mandatory airworthiness directive to have TCAS fitted with in a period of 6-12 months or the aircraft type certification is withdrawn. That really would set the cat amount the pigeons.

January 15, 2015 10:32 pm

@NAB ” grafton was in a sh1t state”

Blimey she was only seven years old what had they done to her ? forgotten the maintenance schedule ? My understanding is even at 10 bar pressure in most HPSW systems you should still be looking at ten years before you need to seriously start your cycle of checks to reduce the risk of pipe failure. Do they do a fresh water then salt water and final flush with fresh water cycle ? or is it just salt water all the time ( civilian systems use the fresh, salt, fresh cycle to maximise the life of the pipes)

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
January 16, 2015 7:50 am

7.5 bar and pressurised all the time with SW, not least because secondary cooling systems and bilge eductors run off it. Not too much FW available at sea for flushing an 8″ ring main…..

However, the real cause appeared to be little nasties in the system that the initial dosing missed.

Slightly Agricultural
Slightly Agricultural
January 16, 2015 1:22 pm

@TD – The USB notice they’re banging on about this year is nothing new, people just aren’t very good at doing what they’re told! Mind you, I’ve heard of some fairly stupid things done with CDs too…

It’s all right though, we’re assured MoD is getting its Dii refresh to Windows 7 this year. 5 1/2 years after it was released and just in time for mainstream support to end. Not bad by defence standards…

January 17, 2015 1:11 am

@ NAB, that’s a worry.

MIC is one of those risks that is known and should be managed. Initial dosing with biocides and anti corrosives should not be a replacement for good annual maintance followed up with annual testing for MIC bacteria. It would suggest the navy may be short a few microbiologists,chemists and metallurgical engineers, or for that matter noisy risk managers that insist your firemain is maintained before it pinholes.

Bad facilities management and maintance is one of my bug bears, short term savings that cost in the long run ( in more ways than one). I’ve seen a lots of savings on maintance bite back, especially with water systems, low pressure or high pressure, they all tend to pinhole, gunk up or give someone a nasty dose of something life threatening if you don’t treat them right.

January 17, 2015 4:26 pm

But is there a TCAS system that actually works for military fast jets? I saw a recent AWST article on the US F-16 TCAS trials but that is not yet a production system. If the design has a high false alarm rate, it won’t get used. Also, does it need to be advisory or automatic? The latter would likely take longer to certify and thus carry more programme risk but if it meets the ALARP test then MoD will probably buy it.

Lightweight, cheap ground attack aircraft would need a high-spec defensive aids system, mission data programming etc to meet duty of care requirements. It is quite possible that the acquisition costs won’t be as cheap as expected, even if the expected running costs are lower (notwithstanding another moronic PFI option!) and thus MoD would opt to mitigate the near-term impact and cancel the programme.

January 17, 2015 5:44 pm


TCAS is fitted to the hawk t2.

January 17, 2015 7:44 pm

“If we’re going to re-incarnate old designs, my vote goes to Buccaneer.” – Sod the Pub Landlord, I’ll be voting for Ron for President.

Malcolm Featherstone
Malcolm Featherstone
January 20, 2015 5:32 am

– my vote as well, modern avionics/weapons (lifted from elsewhere) and EJ200s – bang on!

Also like the two tier system – 100 Gripens (maybe also with an EJ200) would give an awful lot of bang for the buck and be a damned sight cheaper than the F35……………..keep the Typhoon for air superiority but do most of the work dirty with Gripens and Buccaneers

Finally – I don’t really get the expensive mid-life refits/upgrades and then subsequent sale/retirement of planes and ships with better life and capability in them than most of the armed forces we’re likely to come up against…………………don’t refit/upgrade…………….keep buying new kit at a steady rate, and shift the older kit to Tier 2 work/status.