British Defense Spending Update
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The UK’s military equipment procurement process has been hampered by its aspiration for “110% perfection,” but the growing reliance on weapons systems on electronics and software could help solve the problem, according to the UK’s defense procurement minister. .
Jeremy Quin said the long-term problem is the result of the military’s attitude that new equipment should have “all the single-mode communications it will need in 10 years” to secure the future. evidence.
“It essentially means asking yourself and asking the industry to produce assets that haven’t been seen and haven’t been designed yet, hopefully at a set price and at a set time,” Quin told FT. Interview at DSEI, London, Europe’s largest arms fair.
Quin’s remarks underscore Britain’s poor record of munitions procurement, which is littered with late-running and over-budgeted projects. The most recent is a £5.5 billion program to procure a family of armored vehicles for the army known as Ajax.
Vehicles equipped with the latest digital sensors to enhance battlefield surveillance were part of the military transition into a high-tech warfare era.
The UK won a contract for 589 vehicles with US defense contractor General Dynamics (GD) in 2014 based on existing designs for the Spanish and Austrian armed forces deployed in 2002.
Delivery of Ajax should have started 4 years ago, but nothing has gone into service so far. Instead, the vehicle suffers from noise and excessive vibration issues, raising concerns that it could cause lasting hearing damage to crew members.
The problem is so serious that ministers are under pressure to cancel the contract. Defense analysts said the iterative modifications required by the military were part of the problem.
Quin met with GD’s CEO, Phebe Novakovic, to discuss the issue, and said the company “has decided to address this issue.”
However, he acknowledged that there was no “100% guarantee” that a solution would come, and argued that the government would “never accept” a vehicle that did not meet the requirements. He added that independent testing of Ajax has resumed, allowing the Pentagon to identify “the location of vibrations inside the vehicle.”
GD said, “We are working very closely with the British Army to provide these transformative capabilities” and are committed to “fully supporting the Department of Defense to service this important platform”.
Quin said the government’s new defense and security industry strategy announced in March will lead to a more “smart approach” to procurement. It is a product focused on providing services “in a faster and more timely way that has real utility but increases scope”. He added that the process will be easier than it was a few years ago, as upgrades are increasingly electronic or software-related.
He also defended the government’s position on the recent defense takeover, which raised concerns about the void in British manufacturing.
Meggitt and Ultra Electronics, two established players in Britian’s defense industry, are bidding for foreign buyers. Kwasi Kwarteng, business secretary, intervened in the Ultra acquisition offer last month for national security concerns.
Quin said the government has acknowledged that it must maintain a “very close scrutiny” of all acquisition activity while maintaining a “balance” between attracting investment and maintaining core competencies.
“We invest globally in the UK and benefit from having companies that invest in the UK. There are tens of thousands of jobs in the UK. . . Its employees are employed by international companies, including international defense companies, and it is a good place to invest in the sector.”
“I see if there are also British companies that provide specific requirements to the British military. . . is also important,” he said.
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