More than 320 million pounds ($520 million) has been spent on armored vehicle programs subsequently abandoned by the British Ministry of Defence since 1998, the National Audit Office (NAO) has reported.
The government spending watchdog says the impact of programs either canceled or delayed means the British Army is facing a “significant shortage in the principal armored vehicles they require until at least 2024-25.”
Armored vehicle acquisition has been the victim of repeated government savings measures in response to financial instability in the MoD’s budget.
The NAO said savings of 5.6 billion pounds had been taken from armored vehicle projects in the period 2005-2010, with another estimated 1.8 billion pounds savings expected as a result of decisions made in last year’s government strategic defense and security review.
The watchdog said that in “absolute terms, this means the armored vehicle sector has had the largest amount of funding removed of any individual sector in the five planning rounds conducted between 2005 and 2010.”
The report into the cost-effective delivery of armored vehicle capability here said that in addition to the 321 million pounds wasted on abandoned or suspended programs like Tracer, the Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle and the Future Rapid Effects System (FRES) utility vehicle, a further 397 million pounds has been invested in projects now delayed. The NAO named the FRES Specialist Vehicle being developed by General Dynamics UK, BAE’s Terrier engineer vehicle and the Warrior capability sustainment program as all being delayed.
The upgraded Warrior and the specialist vehicle would not be in service until 2017 with Terrier being ready in 2013, 11 years after the project commenced, said the NAO.
Of the eight programs listed by the NAO, only the Viking all-terrain vehicles and the Titan and Trojan heavy engineer vehicle were in service.
Spending on canceled, delayed or in-service armored vehicles since 1998 totaled 1.12 billion pounds, said the report. An additional 9.1 billion pounds remains to be spent on the delayed Warrior and specialist vehicles programs, said the NAO. Those figures will likely change, though, as the MoD takes further actions to balance its books in the face of ongoing defense spending problems.
Failure of the procurement process to adapt to requirement changes driven by operational experience, unstable budgets and continual changes to financial plans by the MoD lay behind the cancellations and delays.
To meet projected vehicle equipment shortfalls for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the British have spent 2.8 billion pounds since 2003 on urgent operational requirements. Some of those UOR vehicles will likely be taken into the core fleet, but the MoD admits they do not offer a long-term solution to its armored vehicle needs.
London – A. Chuter, Defense News