An Abundance of Riches: MoD Procurement 2015-25

“An Abundance of Riches” is not a phrase you would normally expect to read in relation to UK defence spending in the 21st Century but I believe it is an accurate description of the growing size of the equipment procurement budget.

A guest post from AndyC

“An Abundance of Riches” is not a phrase you would normally expect to read in relation to UK defence spending in the 21st Century but I believe it is an accurate description of the growing size of the equipment procurement budget.

This assessment is based on the MoD’s defence equipment plan 2014 which can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-defence-equipment-plan-2014.  This plan tends to get overshadowed by the NAO report that comes out at the same time, as the latter tends to be more critical and so generates media headlines.

However, the MoD report provides plenty of detail that can be used to assess the state of the procurement budget by service.  To get an accurate picture of the position as we enter SDSR 2015 there remains one important caveat.  The figures in this report are already twelve months old so to get the true picture we have to remove the numbers for 2014/15 and add in estimates for 2024/25 – to be as uncontroversial as possible I’ve simply repeated the numbers for 2023/24.

For each budget heading this analysis will look at the ‘Equipment Procurement (Uncommitted)’ figure.  As the report is a year old we need to start by including the contracts that have been signed in the last twelve months and then those that are almost certain to go ahead even though the MoD has yet to sign a contract.  Finally, I’ve added in a few TD and personal favourites.

The budget headings below are those used on pages 18-31 have been re-ordered for the largest to go first:

Submarines – £19.1 billion in Uncommitted Equipment Procurement

Included in this are boats 5-7 of the Astute class but the vast majority of this huge total is the Trident successor programme and the maintenance of the nuclear deterrent.  It remains ‘uncommitted’ due to the politics of the Coalition.  While there is a small possibility that the deterrent could be cut to three boats the budget is there to pay for all four.  As this is the MoD’s largest procurement project it provides the greatest risk to the overall budget and will require the closest management.  However, any cost overruns can be controlled by delaying in-service entry and should not present a threat to the project as a whole.  The Submarines budget is therefore in reality fully committed.

Land Equipment – £8.9 billion

Included in this are the contracts of £3.5 billion for SCOUT SV and £1.3 billion for the Warrior capability sustainment programme.  Coming up is the Challenger 2 life extension programme and there’s now a separate budget heading for the ABSV adaptation of Warrior vehicles initially set at £100 million.  These two together could account for a further £1 billion which would cover the cost of a dedicated anti-tank Guided ABSV variant (a definite TD favourite!) and a new gun for Challenger 2.  Finally, there’s everyone’s perennial favourite the Utility Vehicle.  An order for up to 1,000 could replace the Bulldog and Vector and so equip the Light Role Infantry Battalions.  For something like the VBCI or Boxer that would cost about £3 billion.  In conclusion, the Land Equipment budget is fully committed.

Ships – £6.5 billion

Included in this is the contract for £350 million for Offshore Patrol Vessels.  Coming up is the start of the Type 26 programme.  Even if we assume that there is budget growth it’s unlikely that the cost of this will rise above £2.5 billion before 2025.  Then there’s three MARS solid replenishment ships, if they have to be tendered for commercially that should keep the cost down to £500 million.  Finally, there’s a requirement to replace RFA Argus.  If this can’t be done by a refurbished HMS Ocean then a new ship will be required – if we bought one of the Mistral’s or a similar ship it should cost no more than £500 million.

Even after taking into account all of these items there’s still £2.6 billion uncommitted and I can’t see what requires that much money.  Yes, at some point there will be a need for new amphibious ships and the replacement of a whole range of smaller ships but neither of these are necessary prior to 2025.  Perhaps the First Sea Lord is squirreling this away as an additional contingency for Trident or even to buy his own Maritime Patrol Aircraft!  So, unless I’m missing something this £2.6 billion could be returned to Central Provision.

Combat Air and Air Support – £6.3 billion

Included in this are the contracts of £2.6 billion for 14 F-35Bs with support requirements, £500 million for new basic and elementary training aircraft, £300 million for Captor E-scan radar and a further £300 million for Storm Shadow and Meteor integration on tranche 2 and 3 Typhoons.  Coming up is Brimstone 2 integration at £150 million and then there will eventually be an order to bring the number of F-35Bs up to 48 as committed to in SDSR 2010 – this could be as much as £2.4 billion.  However, the Captor E-scan radar is being paid for by an underspend in 2013 so this £300 million could be returned to Central Provision.

Helicopters – £2 billion

Included in this is the £500 million contract for Crowsnest radar for Merlin helicopters and coming up soon is the up to £250 million for new helicopter trainers.  We could also add TD favourites up to £150 million in total for such things as integrating Sea Venom on to Merlin’s, dipping sonar on to the Navy’s Wildcats and Martlet on to the Army’s Wildcats.  Even doing all of this would still leave £1.1 billion for the Apache capability sustainment programme which should be enough to upgrade all 66 helicopters and integrate Brimstone 2!  However, the Crowsnest radar is being paid for by the same 2013 underspend and so £500 million is available to cover either any cost overruns on the Apache project or to prepare for a replacement for the Puma helicopter in 2025/26.  The Helicopter budget is therefore fully committed.

Unallocated Headroom and Central Provision – £10 billion

Effectively, the budgeting above, has covered all of the outstanding commitments from SDSR 2010.  In addition allowance is made for some cost inflation with Type 26, a possible contingency is created for the replacement of RFA Argus, there are generous commitments to upgrade Apache helicopters, allow for the replacement of the Puma, develop a Guided ABSV, a new gun for Challenger 2 and a few TD extras.  Then there’s a surplus from the Ships budget of £2.6 billion and £300 million from the Air budgets that can be re-allocated.

Altogether that gives a whopping total of £12.9 billion in uncommitted equipment procurement that could be allocated in SDSR 2015.

Some of the likely contenders are:

  • £4.3 billion for an additional 54 F-35s.  Ordered at a rate of 14 per year from 2019 the total numbers would reach 102 in 2025.  This assumes a unit cost of £80 million which could be less as the production rate accelerates;
  • £3 billion for 12 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (including a replacement for Sentinel R1) and a stock of anti-shipping missiles*;
  • £2.1 billion for a further 700 Utility Vehicles to replace all other infantry vehicles in the Adaptable Force by 2025;
  • £800 million to replace the remaining Hawk T1s with a variant of the Hawk 200.  Personally though I’d go for a mix of secondhand F-16s for the aggressor training role and Hawk 200s for the Red Arrows which I believe could be cheaper and;
  • £600 million for a new basic AESA radar for tranche 1 Typhoons, (any F-16s) and all remaining Hawks plus Meteor integration on tranche 1 Typhoons and AMRAAM integration on Hawks.

So, even after a bit of indulgence in my own hobbyhorses there’s still £2.1 billion left uncommitted in Central Provision.

And then there’s £4.6 billion in the contingency reserve as well!

In fact, there’s even more flexibility provided by both the F-35 and Utility Vehicle purchases which could easily be stretched out to 2026 or 2027 respectively if there was the need.

I guess my point is: does it make sense to be able to buy every shiny little toy in the defence box but be unable to pay for enough infantry battalions or fast jet squadrons or escort frigates?

Maybe one of the key things the MoD should be looking at after 2020 is switching up to £500 million a year from the procurement budget to the revenue budget to ensure we have enough soldiers, pilots, seamen, submariners and engineers!

43 Comments
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Details Details
February 6, 2015 8:18 pm

Dont forget CAPTOR-E production and integration contract at £2bn+. Or all those SPEAR weapons on F-35 and Typhoon.

dave haine
dave haine
February 6, 2015 8:19 pm

£12.9bn?

Rich pickings for a chancellor, looking for a reputation as a fiscal superman, and as savings to bribe ‘hard-working’ voters…

….Or am I being a bit cynical…

Mike R
Mike R
February 6, 2015 8:32 pm

I’ll believe it when it happens – Dave Haine, I think you could well be on the right track but I just hope we are both wrong. This would be very typical Treasury practice.

The Other Chris
February 6, 2015 8:51 pm

Important to note the difference between £12.9b in a bank account and being asked to save £3.5b in a budget per year.

Pick at that bank account to cover up your lack of savings and you’ll only manage to brush the problem under the carpet for less than four years at best – that’s not long enough to make it the following General Election before you have even more embarrassing problems!

I’m not surprised equipment plans that carry light personnel requirements are so popular: One-off up-front cost that can be amortised over the life of the equipment and a modest ongoing cost.

Economically the ideal is to crack the “Iron Man” battle-suit either in fire team numbers or leading a platoon of “Drone Soldier” for man-in-the-loop C&C on the ground (obvious Terminator prophecies can lead on from here). Multiply your ground effect for a fraction of the personnel and you could have £80b freed up every ten years to either pay for your NHS funding woes or refresh your military equipment…

Thanks for summarising the figures on the Equipment Plan side. Think it’s a good start to help address perception of funding.

monkey
monkey
February 6, 2015 8:52 pm

All good if it is all spent as stated. RT should be happy with more money spent on subs the floaty boaty things :-)

Peter Elliott
February 6, 2015 9:11 pm

Andy C – what is your unit cost assumption please for

T26?
F35B?

Both of these are pretty unknowable at the moment but I would be interested to to know your guess.

Overall I agree that the major stress is on the revenue budget. This is kind of inevitable given the major inflation item in any business right now is people.

I missed your point about the big anti-ship missile. What did you buy and and what price?

Mickp
Mickp
February 6, 2015 9:23 pm

Having just seen the summary of where my tax pound goes defence is not as we all know where the major savings and issues lie. Yes, the budget and DPAs needs scrutiny but so does every other. Unfortunately, there are too many sacred cows but throwing money at them, as the electorate will not allow any party to refuse to do, is just stoking up more problems for future generations. It seems the media are now on a weekly tracker of A&e wait times which really is just the wrong way to set targets as it’s just a license to throw money at a problem. Welfare remains the biggest single issue. Yes basic cover for the disabled and needy but for the able bodied where benefits is better than working the balance needs tipping. Again no party will commit to that pre election day.

Peter Elliott
February 6, 2015 9:26 pm

It also opens a tantalising possibility of investing in sailors and airmen to operate the new eqipement at the expense of currently un equipped soldiers, and achieving a tangible increase in net capability while still reducing the overall MoD spend.

Can our resident spreadsheet ninjas can perhaps envisage UK armed forces with 10 Fast Jest Squadrons, 2 Maritime Task Groups, and 10 fully mechanised and deployable Land Forces Brigades? All within current Treasury assumptions?

The Other Chris
February 6, 2015 9:37 pm

F-35B LRIP 8 cost is around the $120m mark / £80m Unit Recurring Flyaway (US Program cost base). Reasonable assumption by the Author for an overview blog post, knowing full-rate will be cheaper and we have significant infrastructure already in place to base the squadrons. Unknown is the UK Program overhead cost base element.

T26 cost as per document with what appears to be Authors license for growth in the next ten years only.

Mark
Mark
February 6, 2015 10:26 pm

It would appear we are still of the assumption that we will be procuring more of the more expensive version of f35 for less than South korea, in the same time frame I wish you luck with that.

The Other Chris
February 6, 2015 10:39 pm

No assumption. Those are the ballpark prices currently being paid on the latest LRIP aircraft. All in the public domain.

That South Korea requires a higher program overhead to establish their fleet and also receive assistance with KF-X as part of the deal is their own affair.

Mark
Mark
February 6, 2015 11:29 pm

And totally irrevent to the cost of a functioning aircraft outside of the USA. as I said good luck with that.

shark bait
shark bait
February 7, 2015 12:22 am

the document reads very positively, if we do get a 2% budget this year all will be well and good in my books. RE the authors point, I do think this buying makes sense, these new things look good and grab headlines and votes, add serious capability, add to the UK’s deterrent, and since we’re not officially at war now, one could argue we don’t require the same troop numbers. Could it also be said its easy to acquire more servicemen than it is acquire new submarines so it makes sense to crack on with the shiny things whilst we have the “spare time”

To me it seems the RN is the biggest winner here. By the mid 20’s they may be at the most credible they have been in many years, second only to the USN. The RAF looks to be a bit thin but there’s certainly room for some more jets in the budget (fingers crossed). If the Army continues as planned they will be ok, which is fine for there current role.

for fun, beyond 25?
Son of taranis?
Canberra class for MARS , Bays , Albion?
Hypersonic Perseus missile?
rivers turned to MCM and new helicopter capable OPV/corvette/light frigate?
that BAE stealthy tank?
V-22 successor?

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
February 7, 2015 1:20 am

Before anyone gets excited, a couple of things to keep in mind;

– The contingency fund (£4.6bn) is designed to cover overspends in projects. As admitted even in this report, the Cost Assurance and Analysis Service estimates that the department has under valued the equipment plan by £3.2bn, so don’t for a second think that the contingency fund can go anywhere else. At this point in time it looks almost certain to be needed

– This line “The headroom is notionally allocated by FLC but will only be drawn down when programmes are at a sufficient level of maturity” would suggest that what they call “headroom” is in fact what I like to call “bullshit”, it’s just money that they’re not sure about and don’t want to commit to yet.

– Some of the future savings have come purely from shifting money about. They’re not really savings, it’s money brought forward to fill the gap left by retired risk factors from existing and past projects.

– The NAO report made it clear (and again it was admitted in this report) that a lot of the “savings” were not firm, known savings, they were simly projections… by an organisation that has a terrible track record of over optimism and faulty costings.

Martin
Editor
February 7, 2015 5:47 am

It shows that if we can keep the budget at 2% of GDP we can afford a decent force. However I believe this spare cash is in their because the MOD fully expects to be subject to another round of savage cuts post 2015 and this extra funding will allow them to meet those cuts without gutting existing programs. We are currently underspending by about £1 billion and have a little over £1.2 billion a year in unallocated funding save another £1 billion by cutting the infantry down by 20,000 and you reach about a 10% real terms saving which is what the treasury is going to be looking for.

Actually the underspending is a very sensible idea.

The Other Chris
February 7, 2015 7:54 am

@Mark

You are still hung up on aircraft costs, do not appear to read the public accounts, criticize the Authors who do without accepting the context AndyC is setting, and are under the impression nobody else appreciates the likes of loggies.

Peter
Peter
February 7, 2015 8:59 am

“£500 million for new basic and elementary training aircraft”

Isn’t this actually really big news? IIRC the Grob Tutors are leased, and were grounded for about 6 months last year because the propellers were shattering in flight. (good training for inflight emergencies, but I gather they like to schedule that sort of stuff in simulators) If this is what this line item is for then it would appear the RAF is quietly buying it’s own fleet of light aircraft to replace the PFI deal.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 7, 2015 9:35 am

If you look (in the report) by category, subs are steadily eating into the overall total. But the only”loser” is combat air. Even that is explained by the past laying of the cuckoo’s (Typhoon) eggs in the other birds’ nests. I.e. them funding the vast cumulative overrun, and now getting those lost”shares” back.

Conclusion: over a longer period, leaving aside the bumps in the road (carriers and Successor) the shares of the total are incredibly stable (so nothing strategic about it) and the real bargaining is within each service (kit, manpower, level of readiness). Well, in plan, until assumptions are changed. We will see something rushed again, hopping over tge review of threat assumptions and driving the whole SDSR through the financials. The Services are like banks: staking their ground with”too big to fail” sticks whilw assuming the coming crunch.

On the detail, I think AndyC may have been a bit optimistic with the Apache costs. NAO has an old-ish piece on the original prgrm, and you can count only with big figures (bn, and drop the decimals) for both alternatives: new build, or remanufacture.

Mark
Mark
February 7, 2015 10:56 am

Toc

No TOC I do read the reports however we the UK have shown time and time again that both mod and them that write reports to be hopelessly optimistic when coming to cost what a capability takes to be delivered and fully supported. in recent history we have had fixed wing and rotary aircraft procured with somewhere between none, minimal or less than full training and logistic support provided (Apache, merlin, typhoon , c17) all spring to mind. Even hawk t2 we appeared to have issues with. Supporting aircraft fleets properly is signifcantly more expensive than buying them however it is were the UK has often choose to cut corners.

You don’t like the korean number or think us lrip is where our cost will be thats your choice I don’t agree. You only need look at norway they have had a consistant budget for f35 for years and it’s higher than ours but then perhaps mod is still in the historic default position of trying to wipe the treasures eye in the hope of gold at the end of the rainbow.

http://www.tnp.no/norway/panorama/4602-multinational-f-35-summit-to-be-held-in-oslo-on-25-september-norway
The Norwegian acquisition of the F-35 is expected to cost NOK 66,2 billion in real 2014-values including related investments, weapons and training. (Roughly equal to USD 10.4 billion.)

Chris
Chris
February 7, 2015 11:09 am

AndyC – ref new flight training – I note MOD DE&S have contracted LM & Babcock (Ascent) who have contracted Elbit & Kellogg Brown Root (Affinity) who – according to a bit of googlesurfing – have contracted several suppliers and offered the package under a 20 year PFI arrangement. Between the Taxpayer and the Trainer then is the Treasury, MOD, standing prime contractor, sub-prime contractor and individual suppliers/service contractors with unknown numbers of sub-subcontractors. With the added bonus of yet another PFI contract, after all the previous ones have gone so well. Train and Gravy are two words that spring to mind.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 7, 2015 12:07 pm

AndyC,
http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2002/10/01021246es.pdf

At that time they were predicting in excess of £4.1 bn (some will be reusable; interesting to hear your opinion as I doubt new ones will be ordered and some kind of remanufacture to achieve commonality with the supported version will be opted for).

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 7, 2015 12:15 pm

The primary and jet transition initiatives between nations have all become non-starters, exc. Some Belgian Alpha Jets in France. The F-16 school in Italy does not count as it is the next up rung on the ladder.

It is disheartening that al Qaida did better (in organising a distributed, multi-nation flight training programme).

PC27
PC27
February 7, 2015 12:16 pm

I would personally get rid of tanks and invest in apaches or wildcats in an apache configuration. Also why upgrade our apaches when long term you are better buying new and use the old ones for training and spares.

I do not believe is life extension programs overall – we should buy new and give the guys the best they can have. This is different to upgrading of these assets within their normal life span.

We should also bear in mind that our manufacturing base will become more efficient if it has order stability and in this respect the 30 year USN navy plan should be adopted by our forces. We can order 4-6 ships every year for £3b pa average and level the work out. The same can be done for the RAF/ air assets (£5b) and Army (£3b).

It not just how much money we spend – its the way we spend it that counts as well. Too often our purchasing is erratic and overly optmistic whilst a more incremenatl approach would benefit all parties and be cheaper in the long run.

mickp
mickp
February 7, 2015 12:17 pm

Fast air does look undercooked for the expectations that may be placed on it in coming years. Closer to 10 squadrons (plus CVF fleet)

We can keep Tornado a bit and or T1 Typhoon. but could really do with a cheaper swing role aircraft (a modern Jaguar) to swell the fleet and look to the future re long range strike. Not sure F35 fits either of those bills for the RAF

MPA is the only other really big ticket that I think we are deficient in

Aside from all that a little bit of swelling of capabilities to signal intent wouldn’t go amiss – thinking an extra Astute, an extra FF, air launched antiship missiles, longer range air (ABM?) defence missiles, and morph 3 adaptable bridges into a tooled up medium fighting division to mirror the heavy division – giving us light (RM / Para), medium and heavy reactionary capability. The rest of the army and RAF regiment becomes a home / contingency force. Thus allowing some slimming of numbers while keeping the smoke and mirrors of no army cuts. Perhaps need to be a little more realistic about reserve numbers.

Topman
Topman
February 7, 2015 12:33 pm

‘The primary and jet transition initiatives between nations have all become non-starters’

Which I thought a little odd, as we used to for example have TTTE here until about 2000.

@ToC

I’d agree with Mark, if it turns up at that price with enough support kit and the right type from the off I’ll eat my hat.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 7, 2015 12:44 pm

The Tornado ttte was akin to what is running for F-16s (the next rung up; even higher up the Empire test pikot something?).

I was targeting the initial, run of the mill stages (prop + jet conversion) where national differences do not play in (sunshine and clear weather a bonus) and money could be saved… Perhaps the PFI will do that, too?

topman
topman
February 7, 2015 1:03 pm

I know it’s the next ‘step up’ just speaking generally. There used to be some joint training at Goose bay I think quite a few a countries did Hawk FJ training there, although I think they just shared the same facilities rather than a shared Sqn.

Perhaps so if there’s some money in it, not doubt they aim to sell excess capacity to other countries. I think the training costs are that much lower than even small countries can afford it inhouse. Type training on F16/tonka/Gripen is more expensive hence more often countries share costs.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 7, 2015 4:38 pm

Interesting… Over the 3 years remanufacture seems to have become the (Apache) business for Boeing, $ 2bn buying you 100 units. And, the UK configuration, potentially going through that process is higher, ro begin with.

Now, if we bought the original quantity of 67 at the new price of $28m a piece, that would be roughly the same (1.876m$ which is about what you quoted to begin with)

Back to the rest (almost £3bn more) spent in the original programme: how much of it will continue to provide a flow of services (i.e. it would become a write off should the fleet not be continued in one shape or another)?

Mark
Mark
February 7, 2015 6:14 pm

AndyC

The prior to 2014 bit was largely as a result of the UK being a level 1 partner, norway is a level 3 partner and contributed not much more the 100m dollars to that phase. At a guess I would think the final 30 aircraft of the 48 will probably cost something like 3.5 -4 billion pounds if you want them useable when they arrive.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 7, 2015 6:44 pm

OK, let’s put also the life cycle costs into the picture, Wikipedia says:

On 24 November 2011, Norwegian officials estimated the life cycle costs for 52 F-35A to be $40 billion, in a hearing in the House of Commons of Canada.[3]

On 14 June 2012, Norway placed an order for its first two aircraft,[158] after receiving a promise of American support for the JSM on the JSF.[159]
– I think they managed to get the Pentagon invest a symbolic $20m in JSM integration. So LM would think twice, before changing contract terms!

monkey
monkey
February 7, 2015 6:58 pm

In terms of a prospective fixed wing fighter jet fleet aproxx 100 Hawks ( single and two seaters adapted for self defence and weapon delivery ) , same again Typhoon and again Lighting. All up fleet to cover from advanced trainer to total air superiority fighter to bomb truck. Would this give sufficient coverage?

Hannay
Hannay
February 7, 2015 7:19 pm

Its worth bearing in mind that the £80m unit cost of F-35B excludes major items such as the engine…

Whole life costs are much more important as all this kit is expensive to operate and support when in service. Hence figures like £25bn for a fleet of 48. Theres a definite peak in the near term to buy the aircraft and set up support systems, but ongoing costs seem likely to be in the order of £500m per year for this fleet alone.

The Other Chris
February 7, 2015 7:41 pm

@Mark

Parliamentary Answer confirmed LRIP cost is what the UK is paying for our aircraft to date, as are all tier partners, so if you want to know what the first four UK units cost UFR (or Italy/Spain/etc) the amounts are all now available thanks to the US laws on public account reporting. Anyone not a tier partner is a FMS. That’s why I don’t care about what South Korea are paying in this context, other than industrial workshare it doesn’t affect the UK’s own fleet numbers in any way, unless we can persuade the Treasury to give back from identified receipts.

Program, ongoing loggies, through-life, etc are a given. APATS mentioned yesterday not having to discuss certain aspects of a topic because everyone in the room is already on the same page…

@Hannay

LRIP 8 is approx. $102m airfcraft, $30m engine/liftsystem which is where AndyC’s £80m comes from. Forex was at the time of negotiation, not the current figure, which has fallen somewhat.

AndyC’s context here is the Defence Equipment Plan. There’s a whole other budget for Operation costs and similar, there’s a parallel discussion we can have in that context as well.

@Thread

AndyC’s putting the costs into context.

These are big numbers – but they are currently budgeted for.

The pots have big numbers – but they’re not large enough make a difference if you dip into it to pay for ongoing costs elsewhere in government.

The knock on reduction in personnel and equipment however, now that would have a significant effect on the Services ability to maintain morale and perform their tasks. The answer isn’t to trade in your Tranche 3 Tiffies for Hawks, that lends to the perception of a lack of value in the high end platforms and highly skilled personnel. Instead defend the budgets and pots against FUD.

Raise this with your party representatives when they knock on your door before May.

The Other Chris
February 7, 2015 8:15 pm

Informational as it will help you with gauging lifecycle costs.

Harrier GR9 had a design life of 6,000 hours. Fears over rear fuselage issues (Harrier wasn’t immune to problems) luckily did not materialise to reduce these figures (Ebdon, 2009). Numbers have since been validated in AV-8B+ deep maintenance reports. 50% of hours are expended on training.

F-35 has a design life of 8,000 hours. Early production runs are unlikely to achieve this due to cracking. Significant runs since the bulkhead changes have survived the durability testing. A maximum of 25% hours are to be expended on training, with the remainder covered by simulators and T-X or national equivalents if different.

Independent review performed for the USMC following press reports of rocketing through life costs concluded the aircraft has double the airframe hours available for operations compared to AV-8B+ / GR9 (Butler, 2013) i.e. 6,000 vs 3,000. Although lifecycle costs were indeed rising (there’s a “war on cost” in the program), the doubling of verifiable airframe and engine data (assuming it doesn’t catch fire!) kept the aircraft well under the existing operating budgets.

Mark
Mark
February 7, 2015 8:54 pm

F35b suffered a major bulkhead failure and load transfer bulkhead failure on the durability rig in September 2013 as at the end of November last year repairs and testing of the extensive fix had not recommenced there is also some concern the fix may not be entirely successful until full fe analysis completed. Corrective action will be required on all aircraft within 10 years.

UK aircraft programs have used different fatigue scatter factors to US aircraft programs so direct comparisons between UK and US types is difficult.

Brutoni
Brutoni
February 8, 2015 11:04 pm

I’d humbly suggest anyone who thinks successor can be further delayed by extending the life of the Vanguard class submarines yet again over current planning go and do a patrol on them. Then go and do a BMP on one. See how that goes and come back and revise your opinion.

Just a thought

Gerardo
Gerardo
February 18, 2015 2:32 pm

Hi, Bushranger, The M113AS3/AS4 upgrade has a motrar carrier variant. It is carrying the in-service 81mm motrar at present, but Army has a long range motrar replacement project. I expect that motrar when in-service will re-equip the M113 fleet, providing better firepower. The ASLAV-25 was the first Australian armour deployed to Timor during Interfet(in the middle of their wet season). ASLAV’s are also primarily based in Darwin (with some in Brisbane and Puckapunyal) and routinely operate in the far north’s well known wet season. For a wheeled vehicle they have excellent off-road mobility and encountered few significant problems in the jungles of Timor from all accounts. In any case, they are not a close combat, infantry carrying vehicle like the M113, so their off-road capability, despite it actually being quite good, is less important than it is in the case of the M113, due to the ASLAV’s differing role. It doesn’t need the ability to close with the enemy. It’s standoff range capable weapon is very well matched to it’s role. In terms of lighter forces, they work very well logistically. Until you run into a force heavier than yours. Then they don’t work very well at all. Heavier doesn’t always mean equipped with armour. Most conflicts are now fought in built up or urban areas and conflicts are seeing an increase in RPG and other anti-tank weapons, high explosive effects (IED’s, mines etc) heavy machine fire and extensive fortifications needing breaching. In such environments “equalling” the force is not enough. You need heavy armour in such an environment as the Israelis have repeatedly shown. You don’t necessarily need high end cannon equipped IFV’s, but you certainly require armoured vehicles capable of absorbing a huge amount of punishment. Vehicles similar to the Namer APC (based on a Merkava tank chassis) and armoured bulldozers are an absolute must for such environments. Light armour and non-armour equipped light infantry gets chewed up very, very quickly if you have to actually fight there.Army experimented with “light” forces extensively in the 90’s under A21, when light armoured vehicles and 105mm cannon equipped vehicles equipped the brigades (similar to American Stryker brigades) fared very well on open plains and in widely dispersed operations, but extremely poorly in close combat operations in either jungle or urban scenarios. Hence why Army is moving toward a heavier force. A heavier force can work on the open plains and in widely dispersed operations at the cost of increased logistical effort and overall cost, but it can also work in the jungle and in urban operations. The reverse is demonstrably not true for the “light” armies.