Tuesday, 16 March 2010

A Nunn McCurdy Breach - why don't we have one?!

Why in the flaming f**k does not the UK have a Nunn McCurdy breach? For those of you who didn't get the memo a McCurdy breach is this
Then the shit hits the fan, and the politicians get notice and start complaining about stuff they do not really know anything about, when in fact they were the ones who were actively involved in the campaigning of said program. Happy days 'innit'?

The British defence books are in a veritable shit-state as it currently stands, where there is a £21 billion funding gap. I will put that in bold for you lest you missed the gist of that lovely factor of 7 number; £21 billion funding gap. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a ridiculous amount of money. Now Labour presided over this ginormous cock-up but as is always with socialists; they will not foot the bill. We will, the taxpayers. Anyhow, they will be lined up and shot by firing squad come may anyway (figuratively speaking of course).

Cost overruns and delays in long-running equipment projects such as the Eurofighter, the Merlin helicopter, the Nimrod MRA4 subhunter planes and the Astute-class submarines began to seriously affect the MoD's finances as long ago as the late 1990s. Most of these projects are still in the delivery stages, costing heavily, many years after they had been planned to finish and drop down to maintenance expenditure.

Nonetheless, Geoff Hoon - Defence Secretary from 1999 to 2005 - not only failed to deal with this situation but signficantly worsened it. He added new and expensive plans like the Type 45 destroyer, the Future Carriers, the rejuvenated Bowman comms network and the F-35 supersonic jumpjets, all without cutting a single one of the previous projects.

Hoon managed to balance his books temporarily in 2004 by swingeing cuts to existing combat units across all three armed services, most controversially by cutting ten per cent of the Army infantry in the midst of one big infantry war and with another looming on the horizon. He was removed and demoted in 2005, before the new Prime Minister's need to rebuild support in his own party brought him back this year in charge of Transport.

But the slo-mo train wreck in the MoD's budget continues, with a £2bn shortfall foreseen in the coming financial year and no real end in sight before the end of the next decade. By that point, however, the need to replace the country's nuclear arsenal will be pressing and it seems likely that the strains will continue; the more so without any economic growth to swell the tax revenues.

You could of course fix this shit-storm by simply, yes I am going to go against the capitalist ideal now, not buying all that expensive kit or just not as much of it. Douglas Carswell has some good and bad points where it comes to defence procurement and in particular he does not like protectionist spending, he wants the best kit. I am one of those staunch optimists who continue to believe that British kit is in fact pretty good regardless of the Great-Wall of Crap surrounding the manufacturing sector and preventing it from growing. That said our indigenous British defence companies are not without blame, what they normally do is to fire people in a slow steady trickle (BAE Systems, just to pluck a name from the air, has ditched more than three in every four Brits it employed in 1990. The firm has made UK workforce cuts of more than 15 per cent just since 2003.) Politicians find that sort of thing hard to resist, and senior forces officers find it hard to resist politicians. Although they stick the Union-Jack on every piece of kit they make, they are actually not that benevolent as they might seem (you will often see BAE playing the 'victim' card).

The American Breach is at 15% ours would need to be more in the area of about 5% because for some reason, industry here is so unbelievably incompetent when it comes to staying within the budget. Why, I know not. Annoying, yes it very much is.

Finally to top it all of I suggest you read this article by the Times. Four major defence projects have been awarded to four American companies/consortiums in as many months. Protectionism issues or not, the really fantastic thing is this; where the fuck are they getting money for £10 billion worth of kit when they can barely keep the TA running?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the socialist la-la land of public finance, though, a £21billion overspend is just £21bn extra on the outturn that can be trumpted as more "investment in public services".