Following the SDSR 2015 decision to purchase the Boeing P-8A Patrol Aircraft (Maritime Patrol or Multi Mission Aircraft) the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) notification has been published.
WASHINGTON, Mar. 25, 2016 – The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the United Kingdom for P-8A Aircraft and associated equipment, training, and support. The estimated cost is $3.2 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on March 24, 2016. The Government of the United Kingdom (UK) has requested notification for the possible procurement of up to nine (9) P-8A Patrol Aircraft, associated major defense equipment, associated training, and support. The estimated cost is $3.2 billion
$3.2 billion is about £2.26 billion
Sorry, can’t avoid the temptation to divide that by nine (yes I know the support and training etc.) which comes in at about £250 million each. Now I know this is simplistic, I know there are all sorts of reasons why you can’t divide the programme cost by the quantity and come to a unit cost, but it is still a high level simple way of viewing it.
Torpedoes of sonobuoys I would expect will also be on the optional extras list!
All good stuff, a gaping capability gap will be filled and a road opened to a future where we might achieve some commonality with future replacements for Sentry, Airseeker and perhaps Sentinel.
However, let us not forget the £3.8 Billion sunk on Nimrod MRA4, adding that (somewhat uncharitably, granted) brings the total bill to just over £6 Billion, for the capability as represented by the nine new aircraft.
Just let that sink in for a moment.
Over £650 million each when you look at it like that.
I can hear the howls, and of course, they are not £650 million each, but we had Nimrod MR2, then we didn’t, we will have nine P-8A’s, and the total amount of taxpayers cash being spent is the total amount of taxpayers cash being spent.
People might not like it, they will complain how ridiculous that is and they will point out the difference between the two, but to coin a phrase, it is what it is.
Plus, there will be additional support and infrastructure costs on top of the weapon and consumables purchases, best get ready to dig deep going forward.
No doubt the MoD will follow up on this release shortly and the National Audit Office will provide the full picture in due course.
Not the MoD’s finest hour, Nimrod MRA4 cancellation and no competition to replace it, but still, putting the eye watering cost to one side, this is a very good news story for UK defence so perhaps we should just keep our mouths shut and let the RAF get on with it!