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If BAE isn't hurting, how tough are the cuts?

Robert Peston | 17:20 UK time, Tuesday, 19 October 2010

How tough are the Ministry of Defence's cuts?

Harrier jump jet

 

Well, in the end they can't have been that severe, because I don't expect BAE Systems - which in the case of the UK can be described as our very own military industrial complex (to use that great Eisenhower phrase) - to issue any kind of profits warning, when it makes its interim management statement on Thursday.

What BAE loses in maintenance contracts on the decommissioned Harrier jets and assorted boats, it will make up (in part) putting catapults and "arrestor" gear on those bloomin' carriers (see my post of this morning) so that they can accommodate the conventional model of the Joint Strike Fighter.

Now you might assume that the cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4 programme, as announced by the prime minister, might be painful for BAE.

But what I see at BAE is mild bemusement rather than tears.

The point is that after eight years of delays and 200% inflation in the cost of each aircraft, the diminished fleet of nine reconnaissance aeroplanes is almost complete, at a cost to the taxpayer of more than £3bn.

As I understand it, one plane has already been handed over and another six are almost completed.

Work on the programme is about 90% completed.

There will be a cost to BAE, in that it would have received a contract to maintain the aircraft once it entered service. So a limited number of jobs at BAE that would have been created will now disappear.

But BAE has been paid to build this aeronautical white elephant - a kind of hi-tech Dumbo - which is the big bit of the contract.

If the plane is finished, why on earth is it being ditched by the government?

Well apparently there will be useful savings in running costs. I'll let you know how much, when I can quantify that saving.

So what will happen to these unbelievably wizzy reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering planes, which are equipped with more than 90 antennae and sensors and can scan an area the size of the UK for military threats every 10 seconds?

The MoD will take delivery of them. But officials say that they haven't yet decided what their fate will then be.

The Nimrods could be dismantled, or put in storage (they'd need a pretty big shoe-box).

And I suppose they could be sold - although I am told that's unlikely, because they were designed with the UK's particular defence needs in mind, especially its idiosyncratic nuclear submarine fleet.

That said, if you have a few billion squids lying around, and you fancy the latest in aeronautical cloaking and monitoring technology, I know a prime minister who might well be open to offers.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    We should invite the Plowshare people to a party and these planes can be recycled into useful tools. Or is that premature?

    There is a wee old man living on a mountain (or maybe in luxury) who might be interested. Perhaps some of the mercenary forces might enter a bid on e-bay.....

  • Comment number 2.

    Fiddling while Rome burns. Government dithering on financial reform.

    Break up the banks.

  • Comment number 3.

    The wizzy reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering planes will probably be used to spy on the British people along with the CCTV cameras and other monitoring of the citizenry as their taxes and wealth contine to be funelled to the banksters.

  • Comment number 4.

    Have we been here before? I seem to recall a programme made by Duncan Campbell in the "Secret Society" series from the late 1980s covering a similar topic with an earlier incarnation of Nimrod. On YouTube I can find this clip of Campbell introducing "R for Restricted" in Channel 4's A-Z of Television (from 1990):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQil5jf8k0A#t=4m45s

    Campbell is discussing the broadcast ban of the Zircon Satellite episode of Secret Society, but one of the other programmes in the series concerned Nimrod. Can the programme be found and placed on iPlayer? It dates from 1986-87. And while looking, can the "Cabinet" episode that I think still remains unbroadcast, be found and made available?

    I think the gist of the Nimrod programme was: Nimrod overbudget and overrunning with government wanting to cancel but had already invested massively in an almost-complete project, which sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it?

    And if I remember right, the American AWACS alternative had issues (a blind spot to ground-based missile attack, so needing fighter support) as well as renewed costs. Worth bearing in mind, if today's government proposes buying the American alternative, and whether the same problems still persist.

  • Comment number 5.

    It is only almighty mess, the procurement at the MOD has been insane and I personally would sack the lot. Although Labour were the Architect in demanding that the aircraft carriers could in effect not be cancelled. Self interest and protecting Labours heartlands has cost the UK Billions.

  • Comment number 6.

    Don't worry.

    Who in their right minds would want to invade the UK and become the new owner of a huge debt?

  • Comment number 7.

    No mobile platform for air sorties until 2019? Oil discoveries in the surrounding waters of the Falklands? What odds are Ladbrokes offering on another Argentine invasion?

  • Comment number 8.

    This blog seemed to lose its thread quite quickly.

    Let's be philosophical for a moment and remember that there hasn't been a defence review since 1998 before getting too carried away about the nuances of this afternoon's announcements.

  • Comment number 9.

    8 years to come up with something that is out of date already, smacks of 'oh could you do this' and 'oh could you think about this (top secret last week)' 'and if your not doing anything important could you change the way we encrap intelligence' The MoD have a lot of questions to be answered. I feel sure Bae have been sworn to silence.

  • Comment number 10.

    3. At 5:58pm on 19 Oct 2010, ford7777777 wrote:
    The wizzy reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering planes will probably be used to spy on the British people along with the CCTV cameras and other monitoring of the citizenry as their taxes and wealth contine to be funelled to the banksters.


    No, just those Brits who managed to stay out of debtor prison, or the debt prisoners who made a bid for freedom!

    Another alternative use would be for a credit card company to hunt down all those who don't have and don't one one of their bits of trouble-ccausing plastic!

  • Comment number 11.

    It seems ludicrous to cancel something that has aleady been built.

    Madness to have aircraft carriers with no aircraft to fly from them.

    Insanity to continue with a war that is not in our strategic interests.

  • Comment number 12.

    Perhaps the banks and all Labour party members should rally round and pay for the Nimrods.

  • Comment number 13.

    I think the op is looking through rose tinted glasses. Lets just wait and see but I expect more job losses to be announced by many of the MOD's industrial partners.

  • Comment number 14.

    Jobs aren't created by maintenance contacts, they are sustained. Jobs will be lost which is very different to new jobs not being created. I don't understand how you could make such a basic error?

  • Comment number 15.

    I cant help thinking that the government has missed a trick.
    I agree with keeping the carriers
    I agree with not having any jet aircraft.

    But why i Why do we not invest in equipping these ships with a large battery of Medieval catapults these are the ideal weapon of choice

  • Comment number 16.

    These foul-ups over the cancellation of projects about to deliver goes back as far as I can remember, namely the TSR2 (initially replaced by the General Dynamics F-111 ) and Blue Streak (replaced by Polaris). However, the function that the cancelled project was designed to fulfil, hasn't gone away. However, by the time the government realises this, the country has lost the human skills built up over decades, and the technical and manufacturing capacity that could have built it.

    So, what do we do, we buy it, at a premium, from the Yanks, or more latterly, the French (think Ariane 5, and the huge profits it generates - what did we do during the development phase, sulk and took our bat home, complaining all the while it was (allegedly) too expensive. These countries know enough to invest in modern technology and create the human skills needed to exploit it. Such foresight ensures that these countries continue to develop their economies in a way fit for the new millennium and make a packet into the bargain - whereas, we Brits constantly hark back to Empire, and wonder where it all went wrong.

    The simple answer is that we have a complete tehnophobes in government and the upper reaches of the civil service who neither understand (nor, frankly, care) about the absolutely vital role science and technology needs to have in our economic future. As was pointed out in a BBC item "Why does PPE rule Britain? By Jon Kelly" most of those at the heart of government know all about obscure philosophers, but nothing about the real world.

    Is it any surprise that we continue to develop modern military hardware, with limited applicability outside the UK (viz the Nimrod project's nuances unique to our needs), and marvel that it costs us a fortune with no possibility of generating any payback through international sales. You couldn't make it up - no other developed country would be so dumb.

    What makes me more depressed about our technological future is that the majority of our major corporations are similarly incapable of exploiting technology, preferring instead a quick fix through complex monetary instruments that create no real value, or the provision services that would not be out of place in a 3rd world country.

  • Comment number 17.

    The gap between getting F-35s on the carriers is shocking - at least keep some Harriers for them and reduce the Tornado fleet.

    The idea of mothballing one of the carriers makes no sense - isn't the idea to have one operational while the other gets refits etc!! - hopefully the Tories won't actually be in power to decide on that anyway.

    And the Nimrod MR4 - upgrades just completed and its on the scraphead!!! - this jet (although based on the Comet!) can perform a multitude of peacetime tasks - You have to wonder if these people have got even two brain cells to rub together!!

    And BAE - yep they will be just fine :)

  • Comment number 18.

    If BAE is not hurting, how come jobs are falling like the autumn leaves?Chief Executive, Ian King told the House of Commons Defence Committee that the company had been asked to examine other options in the UK, including reducing the number of vessels to be delivered from two to one or none.
    This suggested job reductions.
    Apparently, jobs will be cut at BAE's UK military air-solutions business because of the reduced work load on the Tornado, Harrier and Hawk programs, plus the retirement of the Nimrod R1 (early 2011) and a reduction in work for Spirit Aerostructures. Spirit Aerostructures builds wing structures for commercial aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing Co.
    Doesn't all this seem like a BIG HURT?
    BAE said the job losses were part of an ongoing program to maintain optimumm efficiencies. BAE Systems employs about 40,000 workers in the UK and more than 100,000 world-wide.
    The bulk of the UK job losses
    - Warton in northwest England, where 298 jobs will go,
    - Brough, in northern England, which will lose 212 positions.
    Other jobs will be shed at Samlesbury, Chadderton, and at Farnborough, but I can't find the numbers.
    Kevin Taylor, Managing Director of Military Air Solutions: "While we regret having to make this announcement we must ensure we remain competitive by having the correct skills, capabilities and resources."
    Mr. Scullion of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions insists that these cuts are premature. "Cuts are being demanded" he said, "before the shape of the defense industry has been decided."
    Yep, it sure looks that way.

  • Comment number 19.

    Defence Review - dont you mean the Cambridge Footlights Defence Revue.

  • Comment number 20.

    BAe might not be hurting yet is has gone aboard for its buisness but what will be hurting is the UK ability to have an "industrial complex" as you put it to support any future requirements. Then the whole support structure will be lost to the French and the USA.

    What you should be looking for is what will happen to the UK defence industry as a whole

    Just think TSR2 and the effect that that had

  • Comment number 21.

    I simply cannot see the sense of keeping trident or any nuclear deterrent. With the best will in the world, what use is a weapon you cannot use? God forbid we were ever attacked - but having weapons of our own wouldn't stop that - and I for one would simply NOT want any retaliatory strike against other people anywhere in the world with ours. What is the point of them? The land is no use, the damage extraordinary, the 'collateral damage' unimaginable.

  • Comment number 22.

    The cuts are absolutely shocking with no strategic thinking at all.

    Harrier jets are among the most versatile in the world, and only a select few pilots get to fly them. But having an aircraft carrier with no aircraft is an absolute joke.

    I was made redundant from the RAF under the last Tory government. Looks like history is repeating itself all over again.

  • Comment number 23.

    All the focus is on what is being cut - not why....

    millions, billions, trillions....its difficult to conceptualise the problems the UK faces:

    * what would you say to a person earning £25,000, with credit card debts of £17,835, and who is adding £2,850 to the card each year?

    * Oh, and by the way, if he doesn’t reduce the rate at which he is adding to the credit card, the interest rate on the card will go up!

    well, i think you'll say: the games's up! you need to stop adding to the credit card. there is no debate

    Well those statistics are exactly what we face in the UK on a macro basis. NOT reducing the deficit (the amount we add to the national debt each year) means the international fund managers who lend money to hte UK will take fright and Not lend us the money.. you really dont want to go down that route. The UK needs thier loans

  • Comment number 24.

    Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
    Britons never will be slaves.

    WRONG WE ARE:
    unable to defend ourselves, small army, a few outdated planes, aircraft carriers with no planes. we where the best army, navey and air force in the world. we are now a joke.
    no credability , and i guess the end of the special relationship ...

  • Comment number 25.

    What is all the fuss about. There have always been downturns. It is very convenient for private sector employers to blame the spending cuts. The MoD is only actually being cut by 2% a year. People retire at a faster rate. So there is no real hardship there. The MoD has been cut back for Donkeys Years as a result of the end of the cold war and defence companies like Thales have been closing their British sites down for years.

    I do not believe the spending review has any thing to do with the many redundancies taking place in defence companies.

  • Comment number 26.

    25,000 civilian jobs to go in the MoD over the next five years. That's almost one in three posts. The Govt. can do this now becuase they brought in a law that limits the amount of redundancy pay. When they tried to tear up the conditions of service earlier in the year, the courts told them to lay off becuase what they tried to do was illegal. By introducing a 'money bill' they can sack everyone on the cheap and this action is, in spirit, contempt of court. It is also breach of contract as far as the employees are concerned. No settlement was negotiated, no compensation was offered for changing conditions of service.
    25,000 bread winners thrown on the scrap heap because there will be no jobs to apply for.
    Perhaps the next war will be civil war.

  • Comment number 27.

    Will the cuts mean we will no longer have depleted uranium armaments?

  • Comment number 28.

    The best defence for this nation would be to end senseless foreign wars, driven egotistical politicians and the lobbying of bankers and the military industrial complex. We are creating the terrorists of the future.

    Free trade and friendship with as many countries as possible. Agree to disagree with those who choose not to.

    Allow home gun ownership, nobody would invade a nation with 30 million handguns around.

  • Comment number 29.

    23. At 8:21pm on 19 Oct 2010, nilihist wrote:

    And why is a person equivalent to a country?

  • Comment number 30.

    Congratulations labour - you created a poison pill that your opposition has swallowed and at least secured your heartland vote - well done! By the way I think I agree that the MOD procurement process seems bonkers - might as well task some pre-school children with it - might get a few elastic catapults and foam swords for a bag of sweeties.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    Looks a sensible package.

    Having to take the carriers and not plane them at first might look odd but we need to remember that this government did not order these. In the view of many they are unnecessary, but it turns out that the cost of cancellation of the contracts is prohibitive - so this administration will make the best of a poor decision and poor contract management by Labour.

    On a separate issue, I am beyond gobsmacked that were so many civilians at the MoD in the first place. The axe should have fallen on that number years ago.

  • Comment number 33.

    Robert is right - how can anyone call this cuts?

    Of course our Admirals will argue and dream up every threat they can think of to keep as many ships as possible

    So where is the Taliban navy?

  • Comment number 34.

    Robert,

    The business case for any of these decisions does not make any sense.

    Case 1: Investment into Nimrods may have yielded a considerable - if not outrageous - overspend; but like any business (aren't we supposed to be big society now?), would we not want to reap the functional return of this tangible / deliverable? Particularly as the deliverable is now coming online. The only obvious conclusion is that the government was seeking a short-term Opex saving - rather than the medicine actually 'prescribed' - a Capex reduction. Oh dear. Wrong programme cut?

    Case 2: The carry on (or your quote - carrier on?) regarding our new carriers. In terms of logic and business identifiables, this decision is staggering - inexplicably incomprehensible in fact. I cannot image how the business case is justifiable: naval aviation identified on the critical (strategic) path, yet we are withdrawing this function now (Ark Royal) on the basis of Opex (oh dear not more quick-fix short-termism!) - and scrapping the Harriers with it!

    Regardless, even if the business case would equate (which it doesn't), the case does not seem to consider the other incredible gaffes *this* government has permitted:
    - the carriers will need a sizeable number of support ships and submarines to operate as its intended fleet function (these are not costed - will the carriers be docked at Portsmouth with the occasional sail around the Isle of Wight?)
    - the carriers will need aircraft. This is the functional point in the business case! (Harriers are to be scrapped, VSTOL F35 to be replaced with 'cheaper' standard catapult/hook variant, carriers to be redesigned to accommodate catapults, meaning one carrier shall be obsolete, this is truly outside the parameters of any business case and is the stuff of dysfunctional third-world juntas)

    Such stupidity is not only a sackable offence in the business (real) world - businesses would sue over this, and reclaim costs.

    Alas, and as clearly indicated, *this* government has imitated Thatcher and gone for the very short term fix - pleading economics - and yet not providing the business case to back up the economic decision.

    Which brings me to the point. One big society organisation will profit handsomely from these mind-bogglingly short-sighted decisions. Someone will need to decommission the newly commissioned Nimrods. Someone will need to build and almost immediately thereafter mothball the first carrier (this could be functionally left if the original VSTOL design remained). Someone will need to change the plans for the second carrier and build this as well.

    Quite right Robert. BAE must be laughing to the bank. They will have a good 12-15 years work out of this announcement....

  • Comment number 35.

    Defence Review? More like an exercise in decision-based evidence-making. What is the least we can get away with without upsetting the a)defence industry; b) the jingoistic right-wing press; and c) the Lib Dems?

    All the big, divisive decisions booted into the long-grass. Trident replacement anyone? Best to leave that one to the next government lest the ConDem coalition collapse to the sound betrayed Lib Dem voters.

  • Comment number 36.

    BAE isn't hurting. - Why? Because the cuts aren't meant to hurt BAE.

    how tough are the cuts?

    Ask the thousands that are about to be dumped on the scrapheap of unemployment.
    They are the folk that have been targeted by these cuts.

    I wonder if they will still shop at Top Shop?
    Shop lift more like!

  • Comment number 37.

    Robert dear oh dear your comments on BAE being slightly bemused well where do i start the reason BAE couldn't give 2 hoots is that as far as the Nimrod contract is concerned was milked for all it's worth.

    The 8 years of delays 200% increase in budget is purely as a result of their couldn't care less we're being paid a kings ransom for this attitude whatever we produce.This was based purely around a re-fit & maintenance contract agreed by those fantastic geniuses at mod procurement which in a nutshell said if your efficient we pay you bonuses if you're not hell we'll pay you bonuses anyway.

    The problem is this BAE have and have had for many years a monopoly on MOD defence contracts and for just as long employed a large percentage of their workforce from former ex-forces personnel, a conflict of interest doesn't even begin to describe the sheer level of mutual and dare i say corruptive interests in this sorry state of affairs.

    Didn't anyone watch the recent documentary highlighting this they virually held their hands up and said yes we are incompetent. Unfortunately until the armed forces is brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century instead of being run like a toodly pip jobs for the boys gentlemans club it will continue to happen.Oh but of course that won't happen as a certain coalition government is basically run along the same wot's that old boy ex-Etonian daddy an ex-banker you say join the club mentality.

    So if were assuming as has been mentioned on several of the posts on here that these cuts are borne out of inefficiency and incompetence why not just privatise the whole of the MOD and be done with it. Aah but that won't happen at least as far as the RAF is concerned as the majority of the bases virtually untouched to cuts are in Tory strongholds.

  • Comment number 38.

    "hughesz wrote:
    "It is only almighty mess, the procurement at the MOD has been insane and I personally would sack the lot. Although Labour were the Architect in demanding that the aircraft carriers could in effect not be cancelled. Self interest and protecting Labours heartlands has cost the UK Billions."

    You do know the HM Treasury, the Investment Approvals Board, and Labour ministers signed off on all projects' business cases and contracts (and procurement strategies), don't you?


    And that the NAO and Parliament approved the procurement processes - indeed, set them in place?

    Why not "sack" them?

  • Comment number 39.

    At 9:22pm on 19 Oct 2010, rowerdave1 wrote:

    the carriers will need a sizeable number of support ships and submarines to operate as its intended fleet function (these are not costed - will the carriers be docked at Portsmouth with the occasional sail around the Isle of Wight?)
    - the carriers will need aircraft. This is the functional point in the business case!
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    It is also the functional point of an aircraft carrier.

    The aircraft on a carrier provide a defensive as well as offensive capability - they provide long-range fleet protection. Helicopters cannot do this - they do not have the range. Without fast jets, it is criminally insane to put a carrier to sea.

    Never mind - it can always serve as another visitor attraction in Portsmouth Harbour until the F35s arrive.

  • Comment number 40.

    35. At 9:34pm on 19 Oct 2010, be_afraid wrote:
    Best to leave that one to the next government lest the ConDem coalition collapse to the sound betrayed Lib Dem voters.

    ==================

    No sensible LibDem voter can complain - they wanted Coalition Governments, the party even pushed that as a reason to vote for them - if anything you should be praising the Tories - they are giving you a chance to 'Try before you buy' a new voting system - now if you don't like it, stick with first past the post, and such Coalitions will be a rarity.

  • Comment number 41.

    Throwing away newly refurbished Nimrod aircraft, however late they have been delivered, can only be seen as a terrible waste of resources. BAe have been paid for them so there are no savings of any substance to be made. The same goes for the Harrier fleet. They have all recently been through an upgrade programme by BAe to GR9 standard and still have a useful life. Many of the Tornados are not up to the standard of the 'redundant' Harriers. The problem is that the Defence Review has been driven by our old friend the CDS (a Tornado pilot!!) who should have been taken out of the loop when it was decided that he should be 'retired'.

  • Comment number 42.

    On a previous blog the following was written:

    243. At 9:03pm on 19 Oct 2010, Averagejoe wrote:

    'Some of us know whats really going on, the pain Cameron talks about sharing is for the masses not the rich. The cut backs are going to create a depression, probably the worst ever, simply to service debts that have built up as a result of having a debt based monetary system. In reality, the pain is not necessary for the masses, monetary reform would save our real wealth of the country whilst reducing the power of the banks who keep us in debt slavery. It can be achieved by sticking together, and pressing for change, as we are the majority and those in power are in the minority'


    Seconded.

  • Comment number 43.

    At 10:00pm on 19 Oct 2010, DevilsAdvocate wrote:

    No sensible LibDem voter can complain...

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    A sensible LibDem voter? An oxymoron surely?

  • Comment number 44.

    Well, there seem to be some armchair Generals giving us the benefit of their long military experience. Robert is disturbingly biased (maybe better staying away from military matters?) and is clearly in the thrall of the 'anti-Navy' wing of the military. Perhaps he should research the arguments used against CVA-01 by the RAF - he might find it revealing!

    As for the argument about Nimrod - let us all hope that we do not find ourselves with a major maritime disaster requiring 'top-cover & coordination' which has previously been provided by Nimrod.

    Oh well, I'm sure our French and American allies would never let us down!!!

  • Comment number 45.

    The fact that it's cheaper to carry on taking delivery of the carriers rather than cancelling than now is surely a prime example of how the MOD has been poor at negotiating with its suppliers and BAE in particular. Surely the Government could have renogiated the carrier contract so they could withdraw from carrying on with them when they are not needed but without the full penalty - perhaps they could have offset it against future contract. It seems incompetent that the MOD didn't see this problem in the contract. It's unfortunate that BAE jobs are going to be lost, but the company as a whole survives along with the managers who set up these contracts.

  • Comment number 46.

    26. At 8:32pm on 19 Oct 2010, John wrote:
    25,000 civilian jobs to go in the MoD over the next five years. That's almost one in three posts.

    And not a moment too soon as they are the idiots who signed us up to a contract to build 2 white elephant aircraft carriers that is more expensive to get out of than to have them built then ditch one. We should be demanding £6billion from them never mind giving them redundancy. Waste of space the whole lot of them are incompetent.

  • Comment number 47.

    #16. PaulRM wrote:

    "These foul-ups over the cancellation of projects about to deliver goes back as far as I can remember, namely the TSR2 "

    I believe you will find the the Americans insisted that we scrap TSR2!

    Try looking a little further back at the Sir Frank Whittle's work on the jet engine - given to the Americans!

    And what of the transistor!

    These are not 'foul ups' they are the price of the special relationship!

    Returning to the blog topic....

    There has been so much in the press over the years about BAE's business it needs not be repeated but look it up and follow the money!!!!

    Can their protected position really be only about protecting British jobs?

  • Comment number 48.

    This must surely be the worst ever betrayal of a nation's armed forces by it's own government. May God forgive me for voting Tory.

  • Comment number 49.

    Cancellation clauses such as those on the carriers are standard practice in many areas of business, most people will have them on their mobile phone or broadband contracts. As a business BAE have to protect their own interests. To take on the carrier contracts they need to invest in infrastructure, recruit people and buy materials up front. If they are cancelled the infrastructure and materials are useless and people have to be paid off, which costs a lot of money. They will also potentially have lost work they could have taken on instead. None of this is in principal unreasonable whether the costs are justifiable was a matter for the government accountants at the MoD to work out (civil servants not ministers of the current or previous government). As MoD procurement has been massively incompetent for decades I suspect they've been done by the far more savvy BAE Systems. Could this have been avoided? Well if the Tory's hadn't privatised British Aerospace the company would have effectively been another branch of government and they could have cancelled orders willy nilly and dumped as many people as they liked on the dole. Hoisted by their own petard, which incidently is a small explosive device - roughly what the British armed forces have left to fight with now.

  • Comment number 50.

    Slightly off topic rant but...


    Firstly, the MR4A is most probably the finest maratime patrol aircraft in the world. Certainly has the best systems, performance, payload and flexibility to undertake a myriad of other roles. In fact, even the Mr2 is probably superior to its peers - the low frequency of propellers on say the American P3 Orion travels underwater for some way..... but MR2 has run it's course in terms of life etc.

    I can see the underlying logic in the SDR but cancell Nimrod = madness, we need it, we'll pay to develop it all over again:- see TSR2(cancelled)/F-111(cancelled)/Tornado(multinational so couldn't cancell). Now they wan't to reduce the Typhoon buy, this is why defence companies go pan european - to lock them in. Would you run your busness and deliver value in this environment?


    Secondly, this idea of it wild cost overuns is a little old. One can't accurately estimate or spread the cost as with say the latest airbus (for which you have a very good baseline and customer base - from the previous model). Think how many of the more challenging 'creative' houses go to plan or cost.... Developing the cutting edge of technology always carries considerable risk - projects rarely go to plan (history tells us that much), unfortunately you can't effectively manage the unknown. Not to say it can't be done better but if you want no risk - order the previous generation of vehicle. Unfortunately there is no second place in this game.


    Thirdly, and most importantly. If you buy UK you reclaim ~30% as income tax from wages, of that a soon to be 20% in VAT from, of which a further 20%VAT from the retailer buying from the supplier and so on. You also you have x thousand workers you don't have to pay benifits to and all the advantages of new technology for domestic progression.

    Buy American et al and you get some of their economy of scale, but they ain't gonna give away what they invested time and money developing (unless they really want to squash British industry or have political motivation). The net result is to bleed billions from our economy. The disjointed, compartmentalised way the Uk is run dos not factor this in.

    The MOD could, for instance, be credited back by the treasury if they buy UK via tax reclamation. Even the 3rd world has twigged on this which is why they insist on products being manufactured by themselves!

  • Comment number 51.

    @ 11. At 7:02pm on 19 Oct 2010, Bob wrote:

    > It seems ludicrous to cancel something that has aleady been built.

    > Madness to have aircraft carriers with no aircraft to fly from them.

    > Insanity to continue with a war that is not in our strategic interests.

    And stupid to fear the Russians, while bankers freely roam our streets.

  • Comment number 52.

    48. At 10:23pm on 19 Oct 2010, nemo102010 wrote:
    This must surely be the worst ever betrayal of a nation's armed forces by it's own government. May God forgive me for voting Tory.



    A young man with something to say and we should think about it deeply.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akm3nYN8aG8

  • Comment number 53.

    Are we selling Gibralter and the Falklands quickly , before they are taken from us ?

  • Comment number 54.

    If the governemnt keeps placing orders and then changing its mind either:
    (a) They get a poorer deal from the suppliers who have to factor in the potential cost of cancellation or
    (b) They negotiate the best deals and give guarantees in the contract if they need to back out.
    The only alternative would be to get the supplies and equipment from abroad which could mean that spares are cut off just when we need them (ie in a conflict) because the supplier doesn't like our foreign policy.
    The MOD may have egg on its face but the long lead in time for the weapons we need means that decisions have to be made well before an informed view can be taken; it's little more than a guess with few facts available.
    Can't blame the MOD or previous government or present one for this mess. No evidence of bad faith so far as I can see, just perhaps a little expensive empire building but we'd all be guilty of that given the choice.
    This goes back to the need for cuts however; little to do with MOD

  • Comment number 55.

    Oh and aircraft carriers without aircraft on them? An island nation with no maritime reconnaissance aircraft? I assume the future defence strategy is to make potential enemies laugh so hard they can't shoot straight.

    To borrow a chant from the terraces "You don't know what you're doing..."

  • Comment number 56.

    @ 48. At 10:23pm on 19 Oct 2010, nemo102010 wrote:

    > May God forgive me for voting Tory.

    Say three Hail Marys and an Our Father and you are forgiven my son.

  • Comment number 57.

    @ Juliet 50 actually i think you'll find a very small minority of the 25000 being made redundant are actually responsible for the procurement and agreement of the contracts which you mention.

    While i agree to the average layman such as yourself £6 billion on 2 apparent white elephants in your eyes seems an astronomical waste of money and will probably run over budget, what you fail to realise is pumping these sums into the economy keeps vast numbers of people in work way beyond the mod,civil service,public service and any other government related office you care to think of or condemn. If this is suddenly cut what do you think happens to the surrounding towns, cities who are heavily reliant on the business and many people that are brought to these areas to carry out specialist works and boost local economy.

    Yes that's right they die on there backsides see that's the trouble it's all good and well being up in arms about government inefficiency and the 'hell to em' sack the lot attitude unfortunately this doesn't just affect them, it affects everyone as we will all find out in good time.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    Evening Robert,
    Defence procurement is a very specialised business. The buyers will buy what they are told to buy. The procurement department doesn't write the technical specification, they merely look after the commercial terms.
    As far as I can see all of the cost overruns and production delays occur because of changes to the technical specifications (see TSR2, Clansman Radio, Nimrod, ANY computer system specified).
    When Government Departments and/or Military Personnel involve themselves in their pet projects, they always seem to fall apart. This is the real problem with MOD procurement.
    If we could only fix that bit we would save billions in the long term.

  • Comment number 60.

    As a patriot with relatives in the Falklands, Mr Cameron can count on me to help in the event of an Argentine invasion:
    On my Narrowboat I will gamely sail the Atlantic to deliver a crack platoon of Berzerker Midlands Morrismen, Bearded, Fearsome, and fully armed with sticks and bells. No need to fear cancelling those contracts!

  • Comment number 61.

    The new Aircraft Carriers are perhaps the most valuable, versatile and most useful units we could possibly have as part of our forces. We live on a planet covered by water and there are very few places far enough away from the sea that can't be hit be a strike from the sea. Nothing provides more flexibility than a big carrier, there are no negotiations to be had with other countries for basing rights in order to fly aircraft and there size would be a major asset to humanitarian relief operations. They can also act as a visble deterrant and reassurance to our many overseas territories that we have an obligation to protect.

    Yes they are pretty much useless without planes, which is why its vital that they are redesgined with interoperability with US and allied aircraft. At least planes could be bought quickly if needed, unlike a carrier which takes years to build.

  • Comment number 62.

    Europe needs to get serious about its defence, in the holistic sense, and therefore these Nimrods may be able to do the job of providing blanket coverage of the EU airspace.

    Or are we Europeans continuing to expect Uncle Sam to protect us?

    Europe must pick up the baton (and the tab).

  • Comment number 63.

    A defence review that cancels a surveillance aircraft that is an order completed (so it sits on the ground un-used); scraps an aircraft carrier and the multi-purpose planes that it launches (that being vertical take-off can land/take-off on/from most terrains) leaving a gaping hole in strategic capabilities; yet again alters the specification of a carrier under development; changes this and fiddles with that. Why not be honest with the public and admit supporting the bankers' vast wealth is a priority - especially as a reward for their part in the fall of the last government.
    We have land troops in a distant campaign that has no strategic air-support, either in monitoring enemy activity or providing air-to-ground attack capabilities. We have an air force that relies on American and European joint-development aircraft, the later that has had its specification altered so many times that its latest version (as a strategic bomber) has to have extended runways to get off the ground.
    This is an exercise in budgetary manipulation, nothing to do with national security, other than having the resources (i.e. troops) at home to deal with the restless population and civil unrest likely over the next five years.
    The tick list of revenge is growing by every day the "coalition government" continues. A Tory Party that has spent 13 years unable to come to terms with 3 major rejections, and one sorry attempt to win an election that could not be lost. The bile has been building, the behind the scenes manipulations have born fruit, in that they did not win a majority in Parliament (even with Lord Ashcroft's millions). The general disdain for the general public who for 13 years could not see their right to rule, the rejection of a business community that even against its own tribalism could see the benefits of a Labour Government. Malicious plans to turn everything that three generations of working people have managed to attain over the past 60 odd years into dust. A military in the Tory government's pocket (else all the toys get taken away); a "privatised by stealth" NHS; destruction of "state education" through a thousand cuts of "private education". Attacks on the "welfare state" of pensions, housing and support for children and others who cannot fend for themselves. While in the background the bankers, the hedge funders, the inherited wealthy gain access to greater wealth, Russell Group university education in the high reward areas of law and medicine, politics and finance. The electorate are constrained by restricted opportunity, removal of security of tenure in employment and housing, fiscal pressures to work for very little and the "new volunteering".
    If the Inland Revenue had collected the £42bn it failed to collect last financial year; if the banking system had not taken in excess of £59bn to keep them from collapse - would the defence of the realm have been put into such dire straits. The notion that the military is formed to combat a "cold war threat" ignores that there still remains a considerable destructive capability to the east, with a power structure not too dissimilar to the Kremlin under Putin (oops I meant Stalin), inflatable tanks aside.

  • Comment number 64.

    63. At 01:56am on 20 Oct 2010, honestgeraldinho wrote:

    That about sums it up.

  • Comment number 65.

    Defence Review? Ideological rants of a government without a clue of the real world more like!
    The "savings" are not driven by the real world threats, the numbers of serving personnel could be made up with having less recruitment over time and a gradual phasing out of equipment as opposed to this mothballing of a entire aircraft carrier.
    And then the savings that could be made with proper purchasing.
    Wednesday's chopping of costs worries me. And when all the public service staff are out of work who will then be paying income tax to solve debt? Why does this question not get answered?

  • Comment number 66.

    Some news for the PM - theres a clue in the name "AIRCRAFT" carrier .. guess what their only true purpose is? It is ridiculous to blame Labour for having to pay for them both - they decided the Nation needed them so they committed to pay for them and they chose to fit them out to fly the short takeoff version of the Planes so they ordered those planes .. sounds logical to me - What is efficient about the Tories now choosing to buy a "cheaper" plane that the Carriers where not designed for which means we dont get what it says on the tin .. running and maintaining a carrier with no "AIRCRAFT" for 10 years? As the Japanese discovered during WW2 when they lost all their planes a carrier without planes is the worst than no carrier - it can't attack and it can't defend itself properly ..

  • Comment number 67.

    Just make sure this government doesn't quietly gave them away or sell them on for less that what the tax payers have paid for these.

  • Comment number 68.

    Its a pathetic state of affairs and i'm ashamed to say I voted Tory (albeit to get rid of the previous shower in power) but the way the coalition is going about things is extremely disturbing.

    As others have pointed out, vested interests seem to be protected here whether it be banking sector, defence sector or voter base interests.

    A pathetic waste of time & money.


  • Comment number 69.

    This debate keeps on missing the point - UK Defence Proc is incredibly poor value for money - we pay 3-5 times as much for EVERYTHING.
    Its been this way for a century - if the Dutch, Germans, Danes, Poles want a battlefield helo they pay £ 5 M, we pay £ 20 M (and we buy more in a batch - its NOT economies of scale). If we had asked a "supplier" for "two 50 plane a/c carriers and planes to fit" we'd have ended up with 2 conventional deck, nuclear powered carriers with steam cats, and 100 Super Hornets and change for £ 9 Bn, not the at least £ 18 Bn we were committing to for extraordinary two fan single engine jets with one noteable capability - the exhaust points down & burns through the carrier deck on VTOL. And ALL a/c carriers (incl helo and VSTOL) are 10 times more effective than ANY Type 45 (we need a/c decks (like Ark and Inv and Ocean AND Atlantic Conveyor NOT large expensive speedboats with no method of defence or attack). Current Royal Navy ship demands are based upon employing the largest number of officers possible and promoting them through multiple boat sizes (so you can have lots of Lieutentants, Commanders, Captains AND Admirals) not value for money.
    And why Kill Harrier ? Well the true cost of RAF Harriers was very low and kept low, but when JSF (F35)was mooted to replace the ancient Harrier it was recognised that these babies will cost £ 200 M a pop and £ 70 M a year to run so RN and RAF got together and formed Joint Harrier, and began doubling the operational budget year on year - why ? So the budget leap to JSF would look cheap in comparison (remembering RAF really need a dedicated ground-hitter (e.g. A-10 Thunderbolt is really very good, but a little workmanlike for the "Chaps"), and the RN really need proper decks and Super Hornets). I saw some silly person yesterday talking about "Marinised Typhoons", pity the Typhoon shares the same specification limitations as the Spitfire of yore - no range, single seat, otherwise it would be ideal and only cost the same £ 200 M a pop as the JSF . . .
    The key is value for money, we could double our equipment levels, and get the Army up to the right size (50 infantry battalions of 4 rifle companies as opposed to the HM Treasury design of 1968) and still achieve 10 % savings if we stopped paying "UK Defence Industry" shareholders such big dividends (does the MoD still pay a 50 % premium for potential defence worker "redundancy" ?).
    Its the unit cost the UK MoD pays that hurts our frontline people and the taxpayer - and we pay double for fun - Barrow messed up building Astute subs, but MoD payed the extra !!! The "supplier" in this relationship is us !
    As a final note - don't forget Dave and Liam, we have specified our JSF WITHOUT a gun . . . I predict one will be needed and will cost £ 15M per plane (new skins new internals, and labour at more than £ 1,000 per hour - cheaper to get your JSF serviced in a Surrey premium motor garage than with BAE). The inefficiency inherent in UK Government is almost as bad as that in the BBC - which is pretty good going - this is only defence, lets not talk about Police overtime, doctors pay or the hundreds of thousands duplicating back-office activities across Local Government. These peoples great grandparents went to the four corners, and fought two world wars, now they expect to travel First Class on the taxpayers expense.

  • Comment number 70.

    The carrier programme was so badly thought through that I strongly suspect that the order was entirely political and aimed at ensuring the W Coast of Scotland continued to vote Labour.

  • Comment number 71.

    It is good to see a public dialogue now on how the UK budget for defence is spent and what issues it is trying to address. While the news coverage on the recent spending review is mostly focused on cuts, the reductions are only 8% over four years or 2% a year. In cash terms spending will actually rise. The UK is the second highest spender, in cash terms, on defence in the world behind only the USA. Britain spends more on defence as a portion of the economy GDP than the NATO European average. I don't think this is a programme starved of funding or one that limits the country's ability to address threats or issues. The real question here is how can EU and NATO countries combine resources even more today to save money and improve cooperation? As we have shared goals with our partner countries, why not build one military and seek peace in the world together?

  • Comment number 72.

    71. At 09:26am on 20 Oct 2010, MARK EMANUELSON

    We do that already - as the lacky. I'd prefer we defended ourselves and defended the victims rather than being part of a global world order more than able to force whatever down the throats of those who prefer not to serve the bankers, the oilmen etc.

    Think about it. This young man has.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akm3nYN8aG8

  • Comment number 73.

    #21: "I simply cannot see the sense of keeping trident or any nuclear deterrent. With the best will in the world, what use is a weapon you cannot use? God forbid we were ever attacked - but having weapons of our own wouldn't stop that - and I for one would simply NOT want any retaliatory strike against other people anywhere in the world with ours. What is the point of them"

    Why can't people understand this? The point is we won't ever have to make a retaliatory strike. With it, countries (N Korea, Iran etc) won't attack us using nuclear force because there is just no gain for them knowing the retaliation will come.

    Get rid of trident with no replacement, and there is every reason for them to launch an attack with us being able to offer no real threat in return. It's not there to be used. It's there to stop others using theirs and it serves that purpose perfectly.

    I know it's hard to believe people would actually attack us using nuclear force, but then it's hard to believe people will strap themselves to a bomb and detonate it on london Tube train too...

  • Comment number 74.

    Hope you're all ready!

    Today is the day when we discover the 'true meaning of Christmas' - here's the first question of the day.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11581929

    Mortgage lending falls again - now will 500,000 newly unemployed public sector workers.
    a) Improve mortgage lending
    b) Reduce mortgage lending.

    Don't forget folks that the banks we have stakes in won't make any profit unless they can lend - after all it's the business they're in.

    I have to laugh at the idiocy of the Tories - they really believe that the private sector will instantly re-inflate itself and start providding all the services that were in the public sector to begin with - because the private sector couldn't / wouldn't provide them!

    There seems to be a clear lack of schooling down at Eton - I mean Boris Johnson et al might look clever spouting latin words - but the downside is that whilst filling their heads with that language they lost their sense of reality.

    ...now lets just check on France.....

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11581929

  • Comment number 75.

    The absolute size of Britain's armed forces does not matter as it is the 'preparedness for the unexpected' upon which Britain will most likely be tested going forward. So having huge amounts or troops and weaponry is very little defence against a biological weapon launched against the UK from e.g. a satellite/space terrorism as we need better security service s and sophisticated defence systems to counter the unknwon threats.

    Why can't Britain design and produce a better version of Trident here in the UK and Nimrod etc and save a huge amount of money on foreign defence procurement and create more defence jobs rather than 'MOD non jobs' in the UK.

    Much of Britain's secondhand weaponry gets into the hands of dictators e.g. the possible/likely sale of Harrier jets at hugely discounted prices to ? Is the Harrier jet 'past it' ... I very much doubt it in the hands of our own RAF pilots.

    In recent years, Britain has sold off £ billions in weaponry, submarines ships etc overseas and which, arguably, were/are still serviceable ... and where are all of these weapons now and is the world any better off for it and what is the value/loss to the British taxpayer from continuing extreme, extravagantly expensive defence spending. This is not saying that the troops in Afghansistan should be equipped properly ... but most if not all of their kit should be built and manufactured in the UK (except, of course that many think that they should not be 'there' anyway)

    Is Britain truly incapable of building its own Trident equivalent weapon system for £90 Billion i.e do we really have to buy it overseas?

    Most of Britain's defence spending is wasted on 'what if' equipment and resources and this is soon out of date and then scrapped and sold off on the cheap to dictators and other states with massive human rights violations... being ethical, moral, responsive and multi-task capable should be the way forward for Britain's defence spending as past millitary successes and failures do not resolve Britains' crises in finances and lack of basic strategic planning.

  • Comment number 76.

    @ 73. At 09:59am on 20 Oct 2010, pigfest wrote:

    > Why can't people understand this?

    Because it's a load of rubbish?

    > countries (N Korea, Iran etc) won't attack us using
    > nuclear force because there is just no gain for them
    > knowing the retaliation will come.

    That could only work if Britain knew who nuked us. If we were nuked out of a ship in (say) London docks, the first thing we would know is the last thing we'd know, and we certainly wouldn't know who'd done it because the vehicle would be vaporized too.

    Basically, MAD (mutually assured destruction) requires all parties to know
    each other and what they do. And we don't, so it could never work in a
    million years. Sorry to be so brutal, but there you are.

  • Comment number 77.

    The problem with the defence cuts is that they aren't nearly severe enough.

    Our defense budget exists largely to service companies like BAE, our very own weapons-of-destruction vendors. This sickeningly immoral industry is, after all, one of our biggest earners, and any chance to feed its digestive system by siphoning monetary fluid from the taxpayer into the corporation will be grabbed with similar eagerness by those in government and those in the military.

    As to the question of Need - the military don't actually NEED the majority of weaponry they buy. The don't need the Nimrod, they certainly don't need the super-carriers. The military mind works on simple principles of dominance/submission. If they don't buy as much stuff this year as last, it means they are getting less money, which implies they are less powerful, which means they are Losing The War. If they buy slightly more this year than they did last year, it means they are getting more money, which means more powerful, which means they are Winning. It really is as gruesomely simple as that.

    The fact that they don't really Need the Stuff is totally beside the point. Wastage of public money is about as high on the agenda of the military-industrial complex as the lives or families of the soldiers dying weekly in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the wellbeing of asian civilians. The only possible downside they can see is bad PR.

  • Comment number 78.

    The proposed cuts to the Defence sector are pretty insignificant. 8% over 4 years is something that most businesses could do with their eyes shut.

    It is no surprise the cuts do not substantially affect BAe Systems. This company will see continued unwarranted spending on Aircraft Carriers, Submarines and Aircraft. To be sure the current Ministers have assured their future directorships.

    Whether in the "age of austerity" these trophy weapon systems are needed is the real purpose of the Strategic Defnece Review, sadly few of the leaders of the forces or our country have the skills to see beyond the "boys toys" to define what this country really needs.

    What the country desperately needs are:

    + Low cost multiple marine Weapons platforms capable of launching drones and missiles
    + Low cost easily repaired troop delivery systems that are mine hardened

    In the majority of cases such things are available off the shelf. Had the UK purchased best in class systems we would have AWACs years and billions of pounds cheaper than what we have. In Guns had we purchased AK47s we would not have needed the enhancements to the existing weapons which jamemd regularly in Iraq.

    For too long defence procurement has been a gravey train for British defence contractors and staff. This should stop. As for the cuts - give me a break.

  • Comment number 79.

    It is not surprising that BAE is not hurting too much. It just confirms how much influence big business has over our government. They get tremendous value in return for the money they spend funding our political parties.

  • Comment number 80.

    Nationalise the investment banks, take the money from them and sack and prosecute the individuals that have caused this mess.

  • Comment number 81.

    At 8:21pm on 19 Oct 2010, nilihist wrote:
    All the focus is on what is being cut - not why....

    millions, billions, trillions....its difficult to conceptualise the problems the UK faces:

    * what would you say to a person earning £25,000, with credit card debts of £17,835, and who is adding £2,850 to the card each year?

    * Oh, and by the way, if he doesn’t reduce the rate at which he is adding to the credit card, the interest rate on the card will go up!
    ------------------------

    And don't forget PFI - that is the mortgage payment, and is the main reason health authorities are planning redundancies weven though their budgets are ring-fenced.

    Anyone still think Brown had a clue about numbers ?

  • Comment number 82.

    74. At 10:27am on 20 Oct 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:
    I have to laugh at the idiocy of the Tories - they really believe that the private sector will instantly re-inflate itself and start providding all the services that were in the public sector to begin with - because the private sector couldn't / wouldn't provide them!


    Gosh! They were hoping you wouldn't notice that while they are busy making their moats (gulf between the haves and the havenots) deeper and wider!

    Shssst! Don't tell anyone else - Party pooper!

  • Comment number 83.

    73. At 09:59am on 20 Oct 2010, pigfest wrote:

    "I know it's hard to believe people would actually attack us using nuclear force, but then it's hard to believe people will strap themselves to a bomb and detonate it on london Tube train too..."

    Only one nation has ever used a Nuclear weapon - and that was the Americans. I realise it's nice and easy to cite tin-pot dictators as the real threat, but this doesn't tie in with history.

    As the old man used to say - why would I fear a nutter in Iran having a nuclear weapon any more than the nutter in the whitehouse - in fact the nutter in the whitehouse is more dangerous because they know they could use the weapon and 'get away with it' - whereas the Iranian nutter knows it will mean the isolation of his nation and the destruction of his country.

    ....it's untrue to assume that the desire for ultimate power in Iran somehow overrides the patriotism of the dictator. This is simply a convenient message used to brainwash the easily fooled of this country - that somehow a dictator would assure the destruction of his nation (and ultimately his wealth) in the pursuit of getting back at the Americans.

    The facts of history stand for themselves.

  • Comment number 84.

    ....and another fallecy spouted by Government to control the people of this country is the uselessness of the nuclear deterrent in the bigger picture.

    How will Trident (or any replacement) be able to deter the much more likely nuclear 'attack' of a deliberate or accidental meltdown at one of the numerous 'ready made nuclear bombs' the Government is going to place around the country in the form of it's new nuclear energy programme.

    I mean if you think about it for a second, we're most likely to suffer a nuclear attack from some insane extremist death cult group than another nation - so why are we making the job easier for them?
    We already have the biggest nuclear reactor imaginable 92,955,887.6 miles away which could produce all the power that's required.

    ...however this power source is not 'scarce' and therefore would blow Economic theory out of the water (because it relies on scarcity) - and as a result the Government oddly chooses to build dangerous nuclear plants which require uranium (which is scarce)

    I mean you have to be pretty thick not to spot what's going on here - and yet the majority of people seem to fall for this line time after time after time because they refuse to believe that their own democratic Government would work against their interests - and yet here it is doing exactly that.

    So where does that leave defence spending? - well it's just a way of moving money from the poor to the rich via weapons manufacturers. The idea that we need any of this equipment is a nonsense, based on lies and people's in built fear - which is nicely fuelled by the rampant 'gossipy' media.

  • Comment number 85.

    @ 80. At 11:30am on 20 Oct 2010, cultureboy wrote:

    > Nationalise the investment banks, take the money from them and sack
    > and prosecute the individuals that have caused this mess.

    Too right. This is war on bankers, and this time we must win.


  • Comment number 86.

    Going forward, the UK govt can fund large projects like Trident by:

    e.g. authorising the Bank of England issuing a special reserve funding instrument or 'UK govt SRF investment bond' in the way of e.g. conversion of 'SRF' for e.g. tax credits for British based firms with substantially British interests and employing e.g. 75% of its workforce in the UK.

    This SRF instrument would be issued in preference to ordinary QE and would have the advantage of keeping the QE money away from the rabid UK banking system that dissemenates much of its available money supply, instantaneously e.g. overseas and in bonuses etc.

    This would require UK based competition for operations like BAE systems and the many benefits would be e.g. large scale UK job creation and multiplier benefits from the jobs and UK banks using UK stakeholder funds including e.g. pension fund constributions for the initial investment. Some international investment could also be involved. The key is keeping much of the effects of this in the UK.

    This could raise an enormous amount of money for UK plc but would still allow some limited international investment as a special govt. issue bondholding. i.e. a process of axchanging QE issued bonds for exchange as 'tax credits' on adding substantial process value to UK plc.

    Now if someone at e.g. the BoE/HM Treasury can't arrange something on this to design and procure a UK manufactured replacement for Trident on this or a similar basis for £90Bn or less and on time and budget and with massive benefits to Britain/British workers ... then they should all be sacked and replaced with someone/some persons who can asap/pdq.

    Then do this with aircraft, ships, satellites, security, weapon systems etc ... and put the country bcak on its feet with a very low level of unemployment/ 'economic inactivity'. Also, roll this out across the entire UK manufacturing sector using 'process added tax assessment'.

    END OF ... 'UK RECESSION'.

    P.S. It's just co-incidence if the Coalition govt announce something similar this afternoon.


  • Comment number 87.

    23. At 8:21pm on 19 Oct 2010, nilihist wrote:
    All the focus is on what is being cut - not why....

    millions, billions, trillions....its difficult to conceptualise the problems the UK faces:

    * what would you say to a person earning £25,000, with credit card debts of £17,835, and who is adding £2,850 to the card each year?

    * Oh, and by the way, if he doesn’t reduce the rate at which he is adding to the credit card, the interest rate on the card will go up!

    well, i think you'll say: the games's up! you need to stop adding to the credit card. there is no debate

    Well those statistics are exactly what we face in the UK on a macro basis. NOT reducing the deficit (the amount we add to the national debt each year) means the international fund managers who lend money to hte UK will take fright and Not lend us the money.. you really dont want to go down that route. The UK needs thier loans

    ................
    Why does the UK need those loans? As a nation we are debt slaves to the banks! Why does the state have to borrow its OWN currency from private banks. Its crazy, we need monetary reform. Its time to stop paying the bills and debt that cannot be serviced, and create our own state and debt free money supply. The monetary system is 100s of years old, and no longer fit for purpose. If the banks don’t like it tough, they have had their fill for too long. They are parasites sucking the life blood out our economy, through the cutbacks, to keep their profits growing, its utter madness.

  • Comment number 88.

    #76. At Jacques Cartier wrote:


    ,,,,« Previous | Main | Next »
    If BAE isn't hurting, how tough are the cuts?
    Robert Peston | 17:20 UK time, Tuesday, 19 October 2010

    How tough are the Ministry of Defence's cuts?


    Well, in the end they can't have been that severe, because I don't expect BAE Systems - which in the case of the UK can be described as our very own military industrial complex (to use that great Eisenhower phrase) - to issue any kind of profits warning, when it makes its interim management statement on Thursday.

    What BAE loses in maintenance contracts on the decommissioned Harrier jets and assorted boats, it will make up (in part) putting catapults and "arrestor" gear on those bloomin' carriers (see my post of this morning) so that they can accommodate the conventional model of the Joint Strike Fighter.

    Now you might assume that the cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4 programme, as announced by the prime minister, might be painful for BAE.

    But what I see at BAE is mild bemusement rather than tears.

    The point is that after eight years of delays and 200% inflation in the cost of each aircraft, the diminished fleet of nine reconnaissance aeroplanes is almost complete, at a cost to the taxpayer of more than £3bn.

    As I understand it, one plane has already been handed over and another six are almost completed.

    Work on the programme is about 90% completed.

    There will be a cost to BAE, in that it would have received a contract to maintain the aircraft once it entered service. So a limited number of jobs at BAE that would have been created will now disappear.

    But BAE has been paid to build this aeronautical white elephant - a kind of hi-tech Dumbo - which is the big bit of the contract.

    If the plane is finished, why on earth is it being ditched by the government?

    Well apparently there will be useful savings in running costs. I'll let you know how much, when I can quantify that saving.

    So what will happen to these unbelievably wizzy reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering planes, which are equipped with more than 90 antennae and sensors and can scan an area the size of the UK for military threats every 10 seconds?

    The MoD will take delivery of them. But officials say that they haven't yet decided what their fate will then be.

    The Nimrods could be dismantled, or put in storage (they'd need a pretty big shoe-box).

    And I suppose they could be sold - although I am told that's unlikely, because they were designed with the UK's particular defence needs in mind, especially its idiosyncratic nuclear submarine fleet.

    That said, if you have a few billion squids lying around, and you fancy the latest in aeronautical cloaking and monitoring technology, I know a prime minister who might well be open to offers.

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    Previous Next 1. At 5:46pm on 19 Oct 2010, copperDolomite wrote:
    We should invite the Plowshare people to a party and these planes can be recycled into useful tools. Or is that premature?

    There is a wee old man living on a mountain (or maybe in luxury) who might be interested. Perhaps some of the mercenary forces might enter a bid on e-bay.....



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    2. At 5:48pm on 19 Oct 2010, PacketRat wrote:
    Fiddling while Rome burns. Government dithering on financial reform.

    Break up the banks.

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    3. At 5:58pm on 19 Oct 2010, ford7777777 wrote:
    The wizzy reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering planes will probably be used to spy on the British people along with the CCTV cameras and other monitoring of the citizenry as their taxes and wealth contine to be funelled to the banksters.

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    4. At 6:23pm on 19 Oct 2010, Chris McCray wrote:
    Have we been here before? I seem to recall a programme made by Duncan Campbell in the "Secret Society" series from the late 1980s covering a similar topic with an earlier incarnation of Nimrod. On YouTube I can find this clip of Campbell introducing "R for Restricted" in Channel 4's A-Z of Television (from 1990):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQil5jf8k0A#t=4m45s

    Campbell is discussing the broadcast ban of the Zircon Satellite episode of Secret Society, but one of the other programmes in the series concerned Nimrod. Can the programme be found and placed on iPlayer? It dates from 1986-87. And while looking, can the "Cabinet" episode that I think still remains unbroadcast, be found and made available?

    I think the gist of the Nimrod programme was: Nimrod overbudget and overrunning with government wanting to cancel but had already invested massively in an almost-complete project, which sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it?

    And if I remember right, the American AWACS alternative had issues (a blind spot to ground-based missile attack, so needing fighter support) as well as renewed costs. Worth bearing in mind, if today's government proposes buying the American alternative, and whether the same problems still persist.

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    5. At 6:30pm on 19 Oct 2010, hughesz wrote:
    It is only almighty mess, the procurement at the MOD has been insane and I personally would sack the lot. Although Labour were the Architect in demanding that the aircraft carriers could in effect not be cancelled. Self interest and protecting Labours heartlands has cost the UK Billions.



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    6. At 6:32pm on 19 Oct 2010, Anthony wrote:
    Don't worry.

    Who in their right minds would want to invade the UK and become the new owner of a huge debt?

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    7. At 6:36pm on 19 Oct 2010, alterid wrote:
    No mobile platform for air sorties until 2019? Oil discoveries in the surrounding waters of the Falklands? What odds are Ladbrokes offering on another Argentine invasion?

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    8. At 6:37pm on 19 Oct 2010, ARHReading wrote:
    This blog seemed to lose its thread quite quickly.

    Let's be philosophical for a moment and remember that there hasn't been a defence review since 1998 before getting too carried away about the nuances of this afternoon's announcements.

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    9. At 6:44pm on 19 Oct 2010, Rays a Larf wrote:
    8 years to come up with something that is out of date already, smacks of 'oh could you do this' and 'oh could you think about this (top secret last week)' 'and if your not doing anything important could you change the way we encrap intelligence' The MoD have a lot of questions to be answered. I feel sure Bae have been sworn to silence.

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    10. At 6:56pm on 19 Oct 2010, copperDolomite wrote:
    3. At 5:58pm on 19 Oct 2010, ford7777777 wrote:
    The wizzy reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering planes will probably be used to spy on the British people along with the CCTV cameras and other monitoring of the citizenry as their taxes and wealth contine to be funelled to the banksters.

    No, just those Brits who managed to stay out of debtor prison, or the debt prisoners who made a bid for freedom!

    Another alternative use would be for a credit card company to hunt down all those who don't have and don't one one of their bits of trouble-ccausing plastic!



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    11. At 7:02pm on 19 Oct 2010, Bob wrote:
    It seems ludicrous to cancel something that has aleady been built.

    Madness to have aircraft carriers with no aircraft to fly from them.

    Insanity to continue with a war that is not in our strategic interests.

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    12. At 7:03pm on 19 Oct 2010, Wee-Scamp wrote:
    Perhaps the banks and all Labour party members should rally round and pay for the Nimrods.

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    13. At 7:05pm on 19 Oct 2010, Landscape27 wrote:
    I think the op is looking through rose tinted glasses. Lets just wait and see but I expect more job losses to be announced by many of the MOD's industrial partners.

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    14. At 7:09pm on 19 Oct 2010, bod wrote:
    Jobs aren't created by maintenance contacts, they are sustained. Jobs will be lost which is very different to new jobs not being created. I don't understand how you could make such a basic error?

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    15. At 7:22pm on 19 Oct 2010, U14655077 wrote:
    I cant help thinking that the government has missed a trick.
    I agree with keeping the carriers
    I agree with not having any jet aircraft.

    But why i Why do we not invest in equipping these ships with a large battery of Medieval catapults these are the ideal weapon of choice

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    16. At 7:32pm on 19 Oct 2010, PaulRM wrote:
    These foul-ups over the cancellation of projects about to deliver goes back as far as I can remember, namely the TSR2 (initially replaced by the General Dynamics F-111 ) and Blue Streak (replaced by Polaris). However, the function that the cancelled project was designed to fulfil, hasn't gone away. However, by the time the government realises this, the country has lost the human skills built up over decades, and the technical and manufacturing capacity that could have built it.

    So, what do we do, we buy it, at a premium, from the Yanks, or more latterly, the French (think Ariane 5, and the huge profits it generates - what did we do during the development phase, sulk and took our bat home, complaining all the while it was (allegedly) too expensive. These countries know enough to invest in modern technology and create the human skills needed to exploit it. Such foresight ensures that these countries continue to develop their economies in a way fit for the new millennium and make a packet into the bargain - whereas, we Brits constantly hark back to Empire, and wonder where it all went wrong.

    The simple answer is that we have a complete tehnophobes in government and the upper reaches of the civil service who neither understand (nor, frankly, care) about the absolutely vital role science and technology needs to have in our economic future. As was pointed out in a BBC item "Why does PPE rule Britain? By Jon Kelly" most of those at the heart of government know all about obscure philosophers, but nothing about the real world.

    Is it any surprise that we continue to develop modern military hardware, with limited applicability outside the UK (viz the Nimrod project's nuances unique to our needs), and marvel that it costs us a fortune with no possibility of generating any payback through international sales. You couldn't make it up - no other developed country would be so dumb.

    What makes me more depressed about our technological future is that the majority of our major corporations are similarly incapable of exploiting technology, preferring instead a quick fix through complex monetary instruments that create no real value, or the provision services that would not be out of place in a 3rd world country.

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    17. At 7:34pm on 19 Oct 2010, BackOfTheNet1 wrote:
    The gap between getting F-35s on the carriers is shocking - at least keep some Harriers for them and reduce the Tornado fleet.

    The idea of mothballing one of the carriers makes no sense - isn't the idea to have one operational while the other gets refits etc!! - hopefully the Tories won't actually be in power to decide on that anyway.

    And the Nimrod MR4 - upgrades just completed and its on the scraphead!!! - this jet (although based on the Comet!) can perform a multitude of peacetime tasks - You have to wonder if these people have got even two brain cells to rub together!!

    And BAE - yep they will be just fine :)


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    18. At 7:36pm on 19 Oct 2010, BluesBerry wrote:
    If BAE is not hurting, how come jobs are falling like the autumn leaves?Chief Executive, Ian King told the House of Commons Defence Committee that the company had been asked to examine other options in the UK, including reducing the number of vessels to be delivered from two to one or none.
    This suggested job reductions.
    Apparently, jobs will be cut at BAE's UK military air-solutions business because of the reduced work load on the Tornado, Harrier and Hawk programs, plus the retirement of the Nimrod R1 (early 2011) and a reduction in work for Spirit Aerostructures. Spirit Aerostructures builds wing structures for commercial aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing Co.
    Doesn't all this seem like a BIG HURT?
    BAE said the job losses were part of an ongoing program to maintain optimumm efficiencies. BAE Systems employs about 40,000 workers in the UK and more than 100,000 world-wide.
    The bulk of the UK job losses
    - Warton in northwest England, where 298 jobs will go,
    - Brough, in northern England, which will lose 212 positions.
    Other jobs will be shed at Samlesbury, Chadderton, and at Farnborough, but I can't find the numbers.
    Kevin Taylor, Managing Director of Military Air Solutions: "While we regret having to make this announcement we must ensure we remain competitive by having the correct skills, capabilities and resources."
    Mr. Scullion of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions insists that these cuts are premature. "Cuts are being demanded" he said, "before the shape of the defense industry has been decided."
    Yep, it sure looks that way.

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    19. At 7:44pm on 19 Oct 2010, watriler wrote:
    Defence Review - dont you mean the Cambridge Footlights Defence Revue.

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    20. At 7:49pm on 19 Oct 2010, IR35_SURVIVOR wrote:
    BAe might not be hurting yet is has gone aboard for its buisness but what will be hurting is the UK ability to have an "industrial complex" as you put it to support any future requirements. Then the whole support structure will be lost to the French and the USA.

    What you should be looking for is what will happen to the UK defence industry as a whole

    Just think TSR2 and the effect that that had

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    21. At 7:49pm on 19 Oct 2010, The Fickle Finger wrote:
    I simply cannot see the sense of keeping trident or any nuclear deterrent. With the best will in the world, what use is a weapon you cannot use? God forbid we were ever attacked - but having weapons of our own wouldn't stop that - and I for one would simply NOT want any retaliatory strike against other people anywhere in the world with ours. What is the point of them? The land is no use, the damage extraordinary, the 'collateral damage' unimaginable.

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    22. At 8:04pm on 19 Oct 2010, enneffess wrote:
    The cuts are absolutely shocking with no strategic thinking at all.

    Harrier jets are among the most versatile in the world, and only a select few pilots get to fly them. But having an aircraft carrier with no aircraft is an absolute joke.

    I was made redundant from the RAF under the last Tory government. Looks like history is repeating itself all over again.

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    23. At 8:21pm on 19 Oct 2010, nilihist wrote:
    All the focus is on what is being cut - not why....

    millions, billions, trillions....its difficult to conceptualise the problems the UK faces:

    * what would you say to a person earning £25,000, with credit card debts of £17,835, and who is adding £2,850 to the card each year?

    * Oh, and by the way, if he doesn’t reduce the rate at which he is adding to the credit card, the interest rate on the card will go up!

    well, i think you'll say: the games's up! you need to stop adding to the credit card. there is no debate

    Well those statistics are exactly what we face in the UK on a macro basis. NOT reducing the deficit (the amount we add to the national debt each year) means the international fund managers who lend money to hte UK will take fright and Not lend us the money.. you really dont want to go down that route. The UK needs thier loans

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    24. At 8:26pm on 19 Oct 2010, mackemade wrote:
    Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
    Britons never will be slaves.

    WRONG WE ARE:
    unable to defend ourselves, small army, a few outdated planes, aircraft carriers with no planes. we where the best army, navey and air force in the world. we are now a joke.
    no credability , and i guess the end of the special relationship ...

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    25. At 8:30pm on 19 Oct 2010, Dole Warrior wrote:
    What is all the fuss about. There have always been downturns. It is very convenient for private sector employers to blame the spending cuts. The MoD is only actually being cut by 2% a year. People retire at a faster rate. So there is no real hardship there. The MoD has been cut back for Donkeys Years as a result of the end of the cold war and defence companies like Thales have been closing their British sites down for years.

    I do not believe the spending review has any thing to do with the many redundancies taking place in defence companies.

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    26. At 8:32pm on 19 Oct 2010, John wrote:
    25,000 civilian jobs to go in the MoD over the next five years. That's almost one in three posts. The Govt. can do this now becuase they brought in a law that limits the amount of redundancy pay. When they tried to tear up the conditions of service earlier in the year, the courts told them to lay off becuase what they tried to do was illegal. By introducing a 'money bill' they can sack everyone on the cheap and this action is, in spirit, contempt of court. It is also breach of contract as far as the employees are concerned. No settlement was negotiated, no compensation was offered for changing conditions of service.
    25,000 bread winners thrown on the scrap heap because there will be no jobs to apply for.
    Perhaps the next war will be civil war.

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    27. At 8:44pm on 19 Oct 2010, copperDolomite wrote:
    Will the cuts mean we will no longer have depleted uranium armaments?

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    28. At 8:55pm on 19 Oct 2010, truths33k3r wrote:
    The best defence for this nation would be to end senseless foreign wars, driven egotistical politicians and the lobbying of bankers and the military industrial complex. We are creating the terrorists of the future.

    Free trade and friendship with as many countries as possible. Agree to disagree with those who choose not to.

    Allow home gun ownership, nobody would invade a nation with 30 million handguns around.

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    29. At 9:01pm on 19 Oct 2010, copperDolomite wrote:
    23. At 8:21pm on 19 Oct 2010, nilihist wrote:

    And why is a person equivalent to a country?

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    30. At 9:03pm on 19 Oct 2010, EmKay wrote:
    Congratulations labour - you created a poison pill that your opposition has swallowed and at least secured your heartland vote - well done! By the way I think I agree that the MOD procurement process seems bonkers - might as well task some pre-school children with it - might get a few elastic catapults and foam swords for a bag of sweeties.

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    31. At 9:07pm on 19 Oct 2010, reachfar wrote:
    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

    32. At 9:14pm on 19 Oct 2010, Kohinoor wrote:
    Looks a sensible package.

    Having to take the carriers and not plane them at first might look odd but we need to remember that this government did not order these. In the view of many they are unnecessary, but it turns out that the cost of cancellation of the contracts is prohibitive - so this administration will make the best of a poor decision and poor contract management by Labour.

    On a separate issue, I am beyond gobsmacked that were so many civilians at the MoD in the first place. The axe should have fallen on that number years ago.

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    33. At 9:16pm on 19 Oct 2010, reachfar wrote:
    Robert is right - how can anyone call this cuts?

    Of course our Admirals will argue and dream up every threat they can think of to keep as many ships as possible

    So where is the Taliban navy?

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    34. At 9:22pm on 19 Oct 2010, rowerdave1 wrote:
    Robert,

    The business case for any of these decisions does not make any sense.

    Case 1: Investment into Nimrods may have yielded a considerable - if not outrageous - overspend; but like any business (aren't we supposed to be big society now?), would we not want to reap the functional return of this tangible / deliverable? Particularly as the deliverable is now coming online. The only obvious conclusion is that the government was seeking a short-term Opex saving - rather than the medicine actually 'prescribed' - a Capex reduction. Oh dear. Wrong programme cut?

    Case 2: The carry on (or your quote - carrier on?) regarding our new carriers. In terms of logic and business identifiables, this decision is staggering - inexplicably incomprehensible in fact. I cannot image how the business case is justifiable: naval aviation identified on the critical (strategic) path, yet we are withdrawing this function now (Ark Royal) on the basis of Opex (oh dear not more quick-fix short-termism!) - and scrapping the Harriers with it!

    Regardless, even if the business case would equate (which it doesn't), the case does not seem to consider the other incredible gaffes *this* government has permitted:
    - the carriers will need a sizeable number of support ships and submarines to operate as its intended fleet function (these are not costed - will the carriers be docked at Portsmouth with the occasional sail around the Isle of Wight?)
    - the carriers will need aircraft. This is the functional point in the business case! (Harriers are to be scrapped, VSTOL F35 to be replaced with 'cheaper' standard catapult/hook variant, carriers to be redesigned to accommodate catapults, meaning one carrier shall be obsolete, this is truly outside the parameters of any business case and is the stuff of dysfunctional third-world juntas)

    Such stupidity is not only a sackable offence in the business (real) world - businesses would sue over this, and reclaim costs.

    Alas, and as clearly indicated, *this* government has imitated Thatcher and gone for the very short term fix - pleading economics - and yet not providing the business case to back up the economic decision.

    Which brings me to the point. One big society organisation will profit handsomely from these mind-bogglingly short-sighted decisions. Someone will need to decommission the newly commissioned Nimrods. Someone will need to build and almost immediately thereafter mothball the first carrier (this could be functionally left if the original VSTOL design remained). Someone will need to change the plans for the second carrier and build this as well.

    Quite right Robert. BAE must be laughing to the bank. They will have a good 12-15 years work out of this announcement....

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    35. At 9:34pm on 19 Oct 2010, be_afraid wrote:
    Defence Review? More like an exercise in decision-based evidence-making. What is the least we can get away with without upsetting the a)defence industry; b) the jingoistic right-wing press; and c) the Lib Dems?

    All the big, divisive decisions booted into the long-grass. Trident replacement anyone? Best to leave that one to the next government lest the ConDem coalition collapse to the sound betrayed Lib Dem voters.

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    36. At 9:40pm on 19 Oct 2010, prudeboy wrote:
    BAE isn't hurting. - Why? Because the cuts aren't meant to hurt BAE.

    how tough are the cuts?

    Ask the thousands that are about to be dumped on the scrapheap of unemployment.
    They are the folk that have been targeted by these cuts.

    I wonder if they will still shop at Top Shop?
    Shop lift more like!

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    37. At 9:51pm on 19 Oct 2010, Swiggs79 wrote:
    Robert dear oh dear your comments on BAE being slightly bemused well where do i start the reason BAE couldn't give 2 hoots is that as far as the Nimrod contract is concerned was milked for all it's worth.

    The 8 years of delays 200% increase in budget is purely as a result of their couldn't care less we're being paid a kings ransom for this attitude whatever we produce.This was based purely around a re-fit & maintenance contract agreed by those fantastic geniuses at mod procurement which in a nutshell said if your efficient we pay you bonuses if you're not hell we'll pay you bonuses anyway.

    The problem is this BAE have and have had for many years a monopoly on MOD defence contracts and for just as long employed a large percentage of their workforce from former ex-forces personnel, a conflict of interest doesn't even begin to describe the sheer level of mutual and dare i say corruptive interests in this sorry state of affairs.

    Didn't anyone watch the recent documentary highlighting this they virually held their hands up and said yes we are incompetent. Unfortunately until the armed forces is brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century instead of being run like a toodly pip jobs for the boys gentlemans club it will continue to happen.Oh but of course that won't happen as a certain coalition government is basically run along the same wot's that old boy ex-Etonian daddy an ex-banker you say join the club mentality.

    So if were assuming as has been mentioned on several of the posts on here that these cuts are borne out of inefficiency and incompetence why not just privatise the whole of the MOD and be done with it. Aah but that won't happen at least as far as the RAF is concerned as the majority of the bases virtually untouched to cuts are in Tory strongholds.

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    38. At 9:52pm on 19 Oct 2010, AlMiles wrote:
    "hughesz wrote:
    "It is only almighty mess, the procurement at the MOD has been insane and I personally would sack the lot. Although Labour were the Architect in demanding that the aircraft carriers could in effect not be cancelled. Self interest and protecting Labours heartlands has cost the UK Billions."

    You do know the HM Treasury, the Investment Approvals Board, and Labour ministers signed off on all projects' business cases and contracts (and procurement strategies), don't you?


    And that the NAO and Parliament approved the procurement processes - indeed, set them in place?

    Why not "sack" them?


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    39. At 9:55pm on 19 Oct 2010, be_afraid wrote:
    At 9:22pm on 19 Oct 2010, rowerdave1 wrote:

    the carriers will need a sizeable number of support ships and submarines to operate as its intended fleet function (these are not costed - will the carriers be docked at Portsmouth with the occasional sail around the Isle of Wight?)
    - the carriers will need aircraft. This is the functional point in the business case!
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    It is also the functional point of an aircraft carrier.

    The aircraft on a carrier provide a defensive as well as offensive capability - they provide long-range fleet protection. Helicopters cannot do this - they do not have the range. Without fast jets, it is criminally insane to put a carrier to sea.

    Never mind - it can always serve as another visitor attraction in Portsmouth Harbour until the F35s arrive.

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    40. At 10:00pm on 19 Oct 2010, DevilsAdvocate wrote:
    35. At 9:34pm on 19 Oct 2010, be_afraid wrote:
    Best to leave that one to the next government lest the ConDem coalition collapse to the sound betrayed Lib Dem voters.

    ==================

    No sensible LibDem voter can complain - they wanted Coalition Governments, the party even pushed that as a reason to vote for them - if anything you should be praising the Tories - they are giving you a chance to 'Try before you buy' a new voting system - now if you don't like it, stick with first past the post, and such Coalitions will be a rarity.

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    41. At 10:08pm on 19 Oct 2010, peterft wrote:
    Throwing away newly refurbished Nimrod aircraft, however late they have been delivered, can only be seen as a terrible waste of resources. BAe have been paid for them so there are no savings of any substance to be made. The same goes for the Harrier fleet. They have all recently been through an upgrade programme by BAe to GR9 standard and still have a useful life. Many of the Tornados are not up to the standard of the 'redundant' Harriers. The problem is that the Defence Review has been driven by our old friend the CDS (a Tornado pilot!!) who should have been taken out of the loop when it was decided that he should be 'retired'.

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    42. At 10:10pm on 19 Oct 2010, Dempster wrote:
    On a previous blog the following was written:

    243. At 9:03pm on 19 Oct 2010, Averagejoe wrote:

    'Some of us know whats really going on, the pain Cameron talks about sharing is for the masses not the rich. The cut backs are going to create a depression, probably the worst ever, simply to service debts that have built up as a result of having a debt based monetary system. In reality, the pain is not necessary for the masses, monetary reform would save our real wealth of the country whilst reducing the power of the banks who keep us in debt slavery. It can be achieved by sticking together, and pressing for change, as we are the majority and those in power are in the minority'


    Seconded.


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    43. At 10:11pm on 19 Oct 2010, be_afraid wrote:
    At 10:00pm on 19 Oct 2010, DevilsAdvocate wrote:

    No sensible LibDem voter can complain...

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    A sensible LibDem voter? An oxymoron surely?

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    44. At 10:12pm on 19 Oct 2010, ConfusedManchester wrote:
    Well, there seem to be some armchair Generals giving us the benefit of their long military experience. Robert is disturbingly biased (maybe better staying away from military matters?) and is clearly in the thrall of the 'anti-Navy' wing of the military. Perhaps he should research the arguments used against CVA-01 by the RAF - he might find it revealing!

    As for the argument about Nimrod - let us all hope that we do not find ourselves with a major maritime disaster requiring 'top-cover & coordination' which has previously been provided by Nimrod.

    Oh well, I'm sure our French and American allies would never let us down!!!

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    45. At 10:13pm on 19 Oct 2010, AndyF64 wrote:
    The fact that it's cheaper to carry on taking delivery of the carriers rather than cancelling than now is surely a prime example of how the MOD has been poor at negotiating with its suppliers and BAE in particular. Surely the Government could have renogiated the carrier contract so they could withdraw from carrying on with them when they are not needed but without the full penalty - perhaps they could have offset it against future contract. It seems incompetent that the MOD didn't see this problem in the contract. It's unfortunate that BAE jobs are going to be lost, but the company as a whole survives along with the managers who set up these contracts.

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    46. At 10:16pm on 19 Oct 2010, juliet50 wrote:
    26. At 8:32pm on 19 Oct 2010, John wrote:
    25,000 civilian jobs to go in the MoD over the next five years. That's almost one in three posts.

    And not a moment too soon as they are the idiots who signed us up to a contract to build 2 white elephant aircraft carriers that is more expensive to get out of than to have them built then ditch one. We should be demanding £6billion from them never mind giving them redundancy. Waste of space the whole lot of them are incompetent.

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    47. At 10:22pm on 19 Oct 2010, John_from_Hendon wrote:
    #16. PaulRM wrote:

    "These foul-ups over the cancellation of projects about to deliver goes back as far as I can remember, namely the TSR2 "

    I believe you will find the the Americans insisted that we scrap TSR2!

    Try looking a little further back at the Sir Frank Whittle's work on the jet engine - given to the Americans!

    And what of the transistor!

    These are not 'foul ups' they are the price of the special relationship!

    Returning to the blog topic....

    There has been so much in the press over the years about BAE's business it needs not be repeated but look it up and follow the money!!!!

    Can their protected position really be only about protecting British jobs?

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    48. At 10:23pm on 19 Oct 2010, nemo102010 wrote:
    This must surely be the worst ever betrayal of a nation's armed forces by it's own government. May God forgive me for voting Tory.

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    49. At 10:30pm on 19 Oct 2010, DG1969 wrote:
    Cancellation clauses such as those on the carriers are standard practice in many areas of business, most people will have them on their mobile phone or broadband contracts. As a business BAE have to protect their own interests. To take on the carrier contracts they need to invest in infrastructure, recruit people and buy materials up front. If they are cancelled the infrastructure and materials are useless and people have to be paid off, which costs a lot of money. They will also potentially have lost work they could have taken on instead. None of this is in principal unreasonable whether the costs are justifiable was a matter for the government accountants at the MoD to work out (civil servants not ministers of the current or previous government). As MoD procurement has been massively incompetent for decades I suspect they've been done by the far more savvy BAE Systems. Could this have been avoided? Well if the Tory's hadn't privatised British Aerospace the company would have effectively been another branch of government and they could have cancelled orders willy nilly and dumped as many people as they liked on the dole. Hoisted by their own petard, which incidently is a small explosive device - roughly what the British armed forces have left to fight with now.

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    50. At 10:40pm on 19 Oct 2010, Fluke Skywalker wrote:
    Slightly off topic rant but...


    Firstly, the MR4A is most probably the finest maratime patrol aircraft in the world. Certainly has the best systems, performance, payload and flexibility to undertake a myriad of other roles. In fact, even the Mr2 is probably superior to its peers - the low frequency of propellers on say the American P3 Orion travels underwater for some way..... but MR2 has run it's course in terms of life etc.

    I can see the underlying logic in the SDR but cancell Nimrod = madness, we need it, we'll pay to develop it all over again:- see TSR2(cancelled)/F-111(cancelled)/Tornado(multinational so couldn't cancell). Now they wan't to reduce the Typhoon buy, this is why defence companies go pan european - to lock them in. Would you run your busness and deliver value in this environment?


    Secondly, this idea of it wild cost overuns is a little old. One can't accurately estimate or spread the cost as with say the latest airbus (for which you have a very good baseline and customer base - from the previous model). Think how many of the more challenging 'creative' houses go to plan or cost.... Developing the cutting edge of technology always carries considerable risk - projects rarely go to plan (history tells us that much), unfortunately you can't effectively manage the unknown. Not to say it can't be done better but if you want no risk - order the previous generation of vehicle. Unfortunately there is no second place in this game.


    Thirdly, and most importantly. If you buy UK you reclaim ~30% as income tax from wages, of that a soon to be 20% in VAT from, of which a further 20%VAT from the retailer buying from the supplier and so on. You also you have x thousand workers you don't have to pay benifits to and all the advantages of new technology for domestic progression.

    Buy American et al and you get some of their economy of scale, but they ain't gonna give away what they invested time and money developing (unless they really want to squash British industry or have political motivation). The net result is to bleed billions from our economy. The disjointed, compartmentalised way the Uk is run dos not factor this in.

    The MOD could, for instance, be credited back by the treasury if they buy UK via tax reclamation. Even the 3rd world has twigged on this which is why they insist on products being manufactured by themselves!

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    51. At 10:42pm on 19 Oct 2010, Jacques Cartier wrote:
    @ 11. At 7:02pm on 19 Oct 2010, Bob wrote:

    > It seems ludicrous to cancel something that has aleady been built.

    > Madness to have aircraft carriers with no aircraft to fly from them.

    > Insanity to continue with a war that is not in our strategic interests.

    And stupid to fear the Russians, while bankers freely roam our streets.


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    52. At 10:54pm on 19 Oct 2010, copperDolomite wrote:
    48. At 10:23pm on 19 Oct 2010, nemo102010 wrote:
    This must surely be the worst ever betrayal of a nation's armed forces by it's own government. May God forgive me for voting Tory.


    A young man with something to say and we should think about it deeply.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akm3nYN8aG8

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    53. At 10:56pm on 19 Oct 2010, annanan wrote:
    Are we selling Gibralter and the Falklands quickly , before they are taken from us ?

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    54. At 10:57pm on 19 Oct 2010, pietr8 wrote:
    If the governemnt keeps placing orders and then changing its mind either:
    (a) They get a poorer deal from the suppliers who have to factor in the potential cost of cancellation or
    (b) They negotiate the best deals and give guarantees in the contract if they need to back out.
    The only alternative would be to get the supplies and equipment from abroad which could mean that spares are cut off just when we need them (ie in a conflict) because the supplier doesn't like our foreign policy.
    The MOD may have egg on its face but the long lead in time for the weapons we need means that decisions have to be made well before an informed view can be taken; it's little more than a guess with few facts available.
    Can't blame the MOD or previous government or present one for this mess. No evidence of bad faith so far as I can see, just perhaps a little expensive empire building but we'd all be guilty of that given the choice.
    This goes back to the need for cuts however; little to do with MOD

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    55. At 11:04pm on 19 Oct 2010, DG1969 wrote:
    Oh and aircraft carriers without aircraft on them? An island nation with no maritime reconnaissance aircraft? I assume the future defence strategy is to make potential enemies laugh so hard they can't shoot straight.

    To borrow a chant from the terraces "You don't know what you're doing..."

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    56. At 11:04pm on 19 Oct 2010, Jacques Cartier wrote:
    @ 48. At 10:23pm on 19 Oct 2010, nemo102010 wrote:

    > May God forgive me for voting Tory.

    Say three Hail Marys and an Our Father and you are forgiven my son.



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    57. At 11:06pm on 19 Oct 2010, Swiggs79 wrote:
    @ Juliet 50 actually i think you'll find a very small minority of the 25000 being made redundant are actually responsible for the procurement and agreement of the contracts which you mention.

    While i agree to the average layman such as yourself £6 billion on 2 apparent white elephants in your eyes seems an astronomical waste of money and will probably run over budget, what you fail to realise is pumping these sums into the economy keeps vast numbers of people in work way beyond the mod,civil service,public service and any other government related office you care to think of or condemn. If this is suddenly cut what do you think happens to the surrounding towns, cities who are heavily reliant on the business and many people that are brought to these areas to carry out specialist works and boost local economy.

    Yes that's right they die on there backsides see that's the trouble it's all good and well being up in arms about government inefficiency and the 'hell to em' sack the lot attitude unfortunately this doesn't just affect them, it affects everyone as we will all find out in good time.



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    58. At 11:09pm on 19 Oct 2010, Fiona wrote:
    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

    59. At 11:56pm on 19 Oct 2010, splendidhashbrowns wrote:
    Evening Robert,
    Defence procurement is a very specialised business. The buyers will buy what they are told to buy. The procurement department doesn't write the technical specification, they merely look after the commercial terms.
    As far as I can see all of the cost overruns and production delays occur because of changes to the technical specifications (see TSR2, Clansman Radio, Nimrod, ANY computer system specified).
    When Government Departments and/or Military Personnel involve themselves in their pet projects, they always seem to fall apart. This is the real problem with MOD procurement.
    If we could only fix that bit we would save billions in the long term.

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    60. At 00:34am on 20 Oct 2010, Tony Wells wrote:
    As a patriot with relatives in the Falklands, Mr Cameron can count on me to help in the event of an Argentine invasion:
    On my Narrowboat I will gamely sail the Atlantic to deliver a crack platoon of Berzerker Midlands Morrismen, Bearded, Fearsome, and fully armed with sticks and bells. No need to fear cancelling those contracts!

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    61. At 01:29am on 20 Oct 2010, ct29ct wrote:
    The new Aircraft Carriers are perhaps the most valuable, versatile and most useful units we could possibly have as part of our forces. We live on a planet covered by water and there are very few places far enough away from the sea that can't be hit be a strike from the sea. Nothing provides more flexibility than a big carrier, there are no negotiations to be had with other countries for basing rights in order to fly aircraft and there size would be a major asset to humanitarian relief operations. They can also act as a visble deterrant and reassurance to our many overseas territories that we have an obligation to protect.

    Yes they are pretty much useless without planes, which is why its vital that they are redesgined with interoperability with US and allied aircraft. At least planes could be bought quickly if needed, unlike a carrier which takes years to build.

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    62. At 01:35am on 20 Oct 2010, JohnConstable wrote:
    Europe needs to get serious about its defence, in the holistic sense, and therefore these Nimrods may be able to do the job of providing blanket coverage of the EU airspace.

    Or are we Europeans continuing to expect Uncle Sam to protect us?

    Europe must pick up the baton (and the tab).

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    63. At 01:56am on 20 Oct 2010, honestgeraldinho wrote:
    A defence review that cancels a surveillance aircraft that is an order completed (so it sits on the ground un-used); scraps an aircraft carrier and the multi-purpose planes that it launches (that being vertical take-off can land/take-off on/from most terrains) leaving a gaping hole in strategic capabilities; yet again alters the specification of a carrier under development; changes this and fiddles with that. Why not be honest with the public and admit supporting the bankers' vast wealth is a priority - especially as a reward for their part in the fall of the last government.
    We have land troops in a distant campaign that has no strategic air-support, either in monitoring enemy activity or providing air-to-ground attack capabilities. We have an air force that relies on American and European joint-development aircraft, the later that has had its specification altered so many times that its latest version (as a strategic bomber) has to have extended runways to get off the ground.
    This is an exercise in budgetary manipulation, nothing to do with national security, other than having the resources (i.e. troops) at home to deal with the restless population and civil unrest likely over the next five years.
    The tick list of revenge is growing by every day the "coalition government" continues. A Tory Party that has spent 13 years unable to come to terms with 3 major rejections, and one sorry attempt to win an election that could not be lost. The bile has been building, the behind the scenes manipulations have born fruit, in that they did not win a majority in Parliament (even with Lord Ashcroft's millions). The general disdain for the general public who for 13 years could not see their right to rule, the rejection of a business community that even against its own tribalism could see the benefits of a Labour Government. Malicious plans to turn everything that three generations of working people have managed to attain over the past 60 odd years into dust. A military in the Tory government's pocket (else all the toys get taken away); a "privatised by stealth" NHS; destruction of "state education" through a thousand cuts of "private education". Attacks on the "welfare state" of pensions, housing and support for children and others who cannot fend for themselves. While in the background the bankers, the hedge funders, the inherited wealthy gain access to greater wealth, Russell Group university education in the high reward areas of law and medicine, politics and finance. The electorate are constrained by restricted opportunity, removal of security of tenure in employment and housing, fiscal pressures to work for very little and the "new volunteering".
    If the Inland Revenue had collected the £42bn it failed to collect last financial year; if the banking system had not taken in excess of £59bn to keep them from collapse - would the defence of the realm have been put into such dire straits. The notion that the military is formed to combat a "cold war threat" ignores that there still remains a considerable destructive capability to the east, with a power structure not too dissimilar to the Kremlin under Putin (oops I meant Stalin), inflatable tanks aside.

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    64. At 03:18am on 20 Oct 2010, copperDolomite wrote:
    63. At 01:56am on 20 Oct 2010, honestgeraldinho wrote:

    That about sums it up.


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    65. At 07:58am on 20 Oct 2010, barry white wrote:
    Defence Review? Ideological rants of a government without a clue of the real world more like!
    The "savings" are not driven by the real world threats, the numbers of serving personnel could be made up with having less recruitment over time and a gradual phasing out of equipment as opposed to this mothballing of a entire aircraft carrier.
    And then the savings that could be made with proper purchasing.
    Wednesday's chopping of costs worries me. And when all the public service staff are out of work who will then be paying income tax to solve debt? Why does this question not get answered?

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    66. At 08:08am on 20 Oct 2010, Arthur Mills wrote:
    Some news for the PM - theres a clue in the name "AIRCRAFT" carrier .. guess what their only true purpose is? It is ridiculous to blame Labour for having to pay for them both - they decided the Nation needed them so they committed to pay for them and they chose to fit them out to fly the short takeoff version of the Planes so they ordered those planes .. sounds logical to me - What is efficient about the Tories now choosing to buy a "cheaper" plane that the Carriers where not designed for which means we dont get what it says on the tin .. running and maintaining a carrier with no "AIRCRAFT" for 10 years? As the Japanese discovered during WW2 when they lost all their planes a carrier without planes is the worst than no carrier - it can't attack and it can't defend itself properly ..

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    67. At 09:03am on 20 Oct 2010, puzzling wrote:
    Just make sure this government doesn't quietly gave them away or sell them on for less that what the tax payers have paid for these.

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    68. At 09:08am on 20 Oct 2010, Neils wrote:
    Its a pathetic state of affairs and i'm ashamed to say I voted Tory (albeit to get rid of the previous shower in power) but the way the coalition is going about things is extremely disturbing.

    As others have pointed out, vested interests seem to be protected here whether it be banking sector, defence sector or voter base interests.

    A pathetic waste of time & money.




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    69. At 09:11am on 20 Oct 2010, Jimbob63 wrote:
    This debate keeps on missing the point - UK Defence Proc is incredibly poor value for money - we pay 3-5 times as much for EVERYTHING.
    Its been this way for a century - if the Dutch, Germans, Danes, Poles want a battlefield helo they pay £ 5 M, we pay £ 20 M (and we buy more in a batch - its NOT economies of scale). If we had asked a "supplier" for "two 50 plane a/c carriers and planes to fit" we'd have ended up with 2 conventional deck, nuclear powered carriers with steam cats, and 100 Super Hornets and change for £ 9 Bn, not the at least £ 18 Bn we were committing to for extraordinary two fan single engine jets with one noteable capability - the exhaust points down & burns through the carrier deck on VTOL. And ALL a/c carriers (incl helo and VSTOL) are 10 times more effective than ANY Type 45 (we need a/c decks (like Ark and Inv and Ocean AND Atlantic Conveyor NOT large expensive speedboats with no method of defence or attack). Current Royal Navy ship demands are based upon employing the largest number of officers possible and promoting them through multiple boat sizes (so you can have lots of Lieutentants, Commanders, Captains AND Admirals) not value for money.
    And why Kill Harrier ? Well the true cost of RAF Harriers was very low and kept low, but when JSF (F35)was mooted to replace the ancient Harrier it was recognised that these babies will cost £ 200 M a pop and £ 70 M a year to run so RN and RAF got together and formed Joint Harrier, and began doubling the operational budget year on year - why ? So the budget leap to JSF would look cheap in comparison (remembering RAF really need a dedicated ground-hitter (e.g. A-10 Thunderbolt is really very good, but a little workmanlike for the "Chaps"), and the RN really need proper decks and Super Hornets). I saw some silly person yesterday talking about "Marinised Typhoons", pity the Typhoon shares the same specification limitations as the Spitfire of yore - no range, single seat, otherwise it would be ideal and only cost the same £ 200 M a pop as the JSF . . .
    The key is value for money, we could double our equipment levels, and get the Army up to the right size (50 infantry battalions of 4 rifle companies as opposed to the HM Treasury design of 1968) and still achieve 10 % savings if we stopped paying "UK Defence Industry" shareholders such big dividends (does the MoD still pay a 50 % premium for potential defence worker "redundancy" ?).
    Its the unit cost the UK MoD pays that hurts our frontline people and the taxpayer - and we pay double for fun - Barrow messed up building Astute subs, but MoD payed the extra !!! The "supplier" in this relationship is us !
    As a final note - don't forget Dave and Liam, we have specified our JSF WITHOUT a gun . . . I predict one will be needed and will cost £ 15M per plane (new skins new internals, and labour at more than £ 1,000 per hour - cheaper to get your JSF serviced in a Surrey premium motor garage than with BAE). The inefficiency inherent in UK Government is almost as bad as that in the BBC - which is pretty good going - this is only defence, lets not talk about Police overtime, doctors pay or the hundreds of thousands duplicating back-office activities across Local Government. These peoples great grandparents went to the four corners, and fought two world wars, now they expect to travel First Class on the taxpayers expense.

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    70. At 09:17am on 20 Oct 2010, Wee-Scamp wrote:
    The carrier programme was so badly thought through that I strongly suspect that the order was entirely political and aimed at ensuring the W Coast of Scotland continued to vote Labour.



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    71. At 09:26am on 20 Oct 2010, MARK EMANUELSON wrote:
    It is good to see a public dialogue now on how the UK budget for defence is spent and what issues it is trying to address. While the news coverage on the recent spending review is mostly focused on cuts, the reductions are only 8% over four years or 2% a year. In cash terms spending will actually rise. The UK is the second highest spender, in cash terms, on defence in the world behind only the USA. Britain spends more on defence as a portion of the economy GDP than the NATO European average. I don't think this is a programme starved of funding or one that limits the country's ability to address threats or issues. The real question here is how can EU and NATO countries combine resources even more today to save money and improve cooperation? As we have shared goals with our partner countries, why not build one military and seek peace in the world together?

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    72. At 09:40am on 20 Oct 2010, copperDolomite wrote:
    71. At 09:26am on 20 Oct 2010, MARK EMANUELSON

    We do that already - as the lacky. I'd prefer we defended ourselves and defended the victims rather than being part of a global world order more than able to force whatever down the throats of those who prefer not to serve the bankers, the oilmen etc.

    Think about it. This young man has.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akm3nYN8aG8


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    73. At 09:59am on 20 Oct 2010, pigfest wrote:
    #21: "I simply cannot see the sense of keeping trident or any nuclear deterrent. With the best will in the world, what use is a weapon you cannot use? God forbid we were ever attacked - but having weapons of our own wouldn't stop that - and I for one would simply NOT want any retaliatory strike against other people anywhere in the world with ours. What is the point of them"

    Why can't people understand this? The point is we won't ever have to make a retaliatory strike. With it, countries (N Korea, Iran etc) won't attack us using nuclear force because there is just no gain for them knowing the retaliation will come.

    Get rid of trident with no replacement, and there is every reason for them to launch an attack with us being able to offer no real threat in return. It's not there to be used. It's there to stop others using theirs and it serves that purpose perfectly.

    I know it's hard to believe people would actually attack us using nuclear force, but then it's hard to believe people will strap themselves to a bomb and detonate it on london Tube train too...

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    74. At 10:27am on 20 Oct 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:
    Hope you're all ready!

    Today is the day when we discover the 'true meaning of Christmas' - here's the first question of the day.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11581929

    Mortgage lending falls again - now will 500,000 newly unemployed public sector workers.
    a) Improve mortgage lending
    b) Reduce mortgage lending.

    Don't forget folks that the banks we have stakes in won't make any profit unless they can lend - after all it's the business they're in.

    I have to laugh at the idiocy of the Tories - they really believe that the private sector will instantly re-inflate itself and start providding all the services that were in the public sector to begin with - because the private sector couldn't / wouldn't provide them!

    There seems to be a clear lack of schooling down at Eton - I mean Boris Johnson et al might look clever spouting latin words - but the downside is that whilst filling their heads with that language they lost their sense of reality.

    ...now lets just check on France.....

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11581929

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    75. At 10:42am on 20 Oct 2010, nautonier wrote:
    The absolute size of Britain's armed forces does not matter as it is the 'preparedness for the unexpected' upon which Britain will most likely be tested going forward. So having huge amounts or troops and weaponry is very little defence against a biological weapon launched against the UK from e.g. a satellite/space terrorism as we need better security service s and sophisticated defence systems to counter the unknwon threats.

    Why can't Britain design and produce a better version of Trident here in the UK and Nimrod etc and save a huge amount of money on foreign defence procurement and create more defence jobs rather than 'MOD non jobs' in the UK.

    Much of Britain's secondhand weaponry gets into the hands of dictators e.g. the possible/likely sale of Harrier jets at hugely discounted prices to ? Is the Harrier jet 'past it' ... I very much doubt it in the hands of our own RAF pilots.

    In recent years, Britain has sold off £ billions in weaponry, submarines ships etc overseas and which, arguably, were/are still serviceable ... and where are all of these weapons now and is the world any better off for it and what is the value/loss to the British taxpayer from continuing extreme, extravagantly expensive defence spending. This is not saying that the troops in Afghansistan should be equipped properly ... but most if not all of their kit should be built and manufactured in the UK (except, of course that many think that they should not be 'there' anyway)

    Is Britain truly incapable of building its own Trident equivalent weapon system for £90 Billion i.e do we really have to buy it overseas?

    Most of Britain's defence spending is wasted on 'what if' equipment and resources and this is soon out of date and then scrapped and sold off on the cheap to dictators and other states with massive human rights violations... being ethical, moral, responsive and multi-task capable should be the way forward for Britain's defence spending as past millitary successes and failures do not resolve Britains' crises in finances and lack of basic strategic planning.



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    76. At 10:46am on 20 Oct 2010, Jacques Cartier wrote:
    (Nucear deterence)....."That could only work if Britain knew who nuked us."

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Absolutely. It has all gone quiet about the Russian suitcase nuclear weapons that have 'disapeared'.

    If there was one on top of the Empire State Building, Canary Wharf, Eiffel Tower,(think of somewhere high and central where you live) then there is a great threat.

    As far as the Defence Review goes, it has long been said that Britain punches above it's weight. What is more accurate would be 'Britain punches above it's WALLET.

  • Comment number 89.

    81. At 11:39am on 20 Oct 2010, dunque wrote:
    At 8:21pm on 19 Oct 2010, nilihist wrote:
    All the focus is on what is being cut - not why....

    millions, billions, trillions....its difficult to conceptualise the problems the UK faces:

    * what would you say to a person earning £25,000, with credit card debts of £17,835, and who is adding £2,850 to the card each year?

    * Oh, and by the way, if he doesn’t reduce the rate at which he is adding to the credit card, the interest rate on the card will go up!
    ------------------------

    And don't forget PFI - that is the mortgage payment, and is the main reason health authorities are planning redundancies weven though their budgets are ring-fenced.

    Anyone still think Brown had a clue about numbers ?

    .........
    Ah PFI, invented by John Major's government I recall. Memories so short

  • Comment number 90.

    86. At 12:09pm on 20 Oct 2010, nautonier wrote:
    P.S. It's just co-incidence if the Coalition govt announce something similar this afternoon.
    .......
    No chance. There are options available as you show, if the government are prepared to "think outside the box" and move away from the rhetoric and ideology of party politics. But alas not likely to happen with the lot from Eton.

  • Comment number 91.

    89. At 12:14pm on 20 Oct 2010, Averagejoe wrote:

    "Ah PFI, invented by John Major's government I recall. Memories so short"

    Tories have to have bad memories - because that's how they justify claims such as "every time the Economy is trusted to Labour it goes bad" - which conveniently erases the 1990 recession brought on by Thatchers government.

    You see if people actually bothered to think about it they would realise that we're been voting in the same neo-liberal idiots for decades (not just the last neo-liberal idiot)

    Eventually people will realise this and look for alternatives to voting - that's when things get very hairy. I mean neither party has a correct answwer to the deficit because both parties deny their part in creating it.

    It was interesting to hear this morning on the BBC a labour politician (can't remember which neo-liberal it was) stating that the Tories were happy with the Governments spending levels right up until 2008.....and then something happened, can't remember what, something about banks - and suddenly the Tories chastised the 'recklessness of Labours spending'.

    ....luckily the people of this country haven't forgotten this (much to the annoyace of the Tories) and every time they trot out "the last government...." it's angering more and more people - because they know it's not true - and it's a statement which insults their intelligence.

    It's never a good idea to insult the intelligence of the electorate - because if you treat them like fools they will start acting like fools - which will involve burning and looting and other such riotus activities......a bit like France I suppose!

  • Comment number 92.

    I think that Mr Peston should start providing positive supportive comments about the UK, UK Companies and UK Government - his constant gloom and doom is talking us down again - his despondency talked many people in believing that the end of the world was nigh with the resultant issues we have now.
    I know that the issue is global, but I am also sure that he is making a bad situation worse by constantly berating anything in UK that is good.
    Perhaps he could leave us and move to one of the countries that he thinks are doing a better job than the UK in resolving the issue?

  • Comment number 93.

    I have just seen Osborne spouting about Growth.

    We cannot stand any more.

    We are out of:

    a) Food
    b) Water
    c) Fuel
    d) Space
    e) - and Money (apparently).

    There cannot be any more growth! When will they get this?

  • Comment number 94.

    What used to be known as RAF Coastal Command is to scapped? And the Nimrods it would have used are almost ready? Doesn't it make you want to weep.
    Regards, etc.

  • Comment number 95.

    Break up the Banks - we would be better off without them even if poorer - a society riven by deep inequality suffers from illhealth crime mental illness inefficiency and a host of other ills that cost all of us (except the very rich) dearly

  • Comment number 96.

    I agree with the comments about the madness of scrapping a near complete project - the money has been spent.

    Robert, Nimrod MRA4 is far from just a spy plane, indeed it - and the earlier versions - have a major role in keeping the sea lanes safe, not just against military threats either.
    In their long service, these Nimrods have often provided vital support in rescue operations around our costs, the Fastnet race disaster, Piper Alpha and other major maritime and pollution accidents.
    As well as helping to protect the fisheries, oil and gas rigs.

    Now the UK - an island with some of the worlds busiest shipping lanes around it - has NO maritime aircraft capability.
    Even smaller nations like Portugal have comparable aircraft.
    Madness, utter madness.

    No good Fox (who actually knows better), banging on about 'Labour buying carriers with no aircraft', when the initial type to fly off them, the recently upgraded Harrier GR.9A's are to be scrapped.
    Also, US aircraft have flown off the current ships, including Ark Royal, US Marine Corps Harriers, their (and the originally intended UK version of the F-35, the VSTOL B version, would do the same from the new ships as planned until this week.

    Why did Nimrod MRA4 go so over budget, be so late.
    Well, they are massively rebuilt 'legacy' Nimrod airframes, new systems, engines, avionics, structures - only the original fuselage pressure shell remaining, indeed so extensive each airframe converted got a new serial number.
    BAE found - after ignoring shop floor advice and experience - that each airframe had been, back in the late 60's/early 70's, been hand built.
    So each new set of wings had to be tailored to each airframe, they went and built to a standard size, the result being major redesigns and cost/delay escalations.

    Why did the not just go and build all new airframes, since the upgraded ones were near to being that anyway?
    Back in 1996 - under the last Tory govt. - the Treasury refused to fund 'new' maritime aircraft, so BAe (as BAE was than), came up with a 'upgrade'.
    Had they allowed an all new aircraft, they would would have been in service years ago, at a much lower cost, likely also avoiding the crash of a legacy Nimrod over Afghanistan in 2006 with the loss of 14 lives.


  • Comment number 97.

    One point that does come through loud and clear is that the MoD / Treasury procurment process for military kit, from body armour, to "jeeps", to Chinooks, to Nimrods to aircraft carriers, is utterly disfunctional - both killing our service men and women and degrading National Security.
    I therefore consider it entirely appropriate that a large number of those MoD and Treasury individuals be sacked forthwith.
    The residual question is: how is the procurement process going to be improved?

 

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