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MoD’s decisions on fighter jets ‘rushed and flawed’

By Vivienne Russell | 5 February 2013

The coalition government’s initial decision to change the jets being procured for new aircraft carriers was ‘closed, rushed and flawed’, MPs have said.

In the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the coalition government ditched Labour’s plans to buy jump jets for the Joint Strike Fighter force. Instead, it chose carrier variants, which have a longer range and carry more weapons.

However, last May, ministers reverted to the original procurement specification amid concerns that costs were running out of control.

In a report on acquisition by the Ministry of Defence, published today, the Commons defence select committee highlighted the original decision and its reversal as emblematic of ‘deep rooted’ problems at the department.

‘It is clear that the decision was rushed and based upon incomplete and inaccurate policy development,’ the report stated.

‘It was taken without the MoD understanding how the change could be implemented. Perhaps the primary example of how little the MoD understood about this decision is the fact that it was supposed to improve interoperability. This turned out to be incorrect. This decision ultimately led to increase costs to the carrier strike programme and a delay in the in-service date of the carrier.’

Committee chair James Arbuthnot added: ‘It is to be hoped that the MoD will learn the appropriate lessons from this flawed decision.’

The committee also urged the government to consider developing a defence industrial strategy that would set out clearly the defence needs of the UK, and to increase spending on research and development into defence technology.

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