In a report published today, the Public Accounts Committee commends the Ministry of Defence for delivering two aircraft carriers that form the bases for Carrier Strike but says this success risks being undermined by failure to provide the capabilities essential for the carriers to do their job.

The radar system for Carrier Strike has been delayed by poor contractor performance and inadequate departmental oversight, the MoD lacks the support ships it needs to supply the carriers, and it cannot yet move people and goods to and from a carrier group.

There also remains a lack of clarity about the costs associated with purchasing and supporting the Lightning II jets that will operate from the carriers, as well as about how many more the UK will need – or can afford – in the future.

These issues remain unresolved after many years and there has been “little discernible progress” since the Committee’s 2018 report on the programme, despite it being a “vital component of the UK’s military power”.

The PAC says the MoD must translate its ambitions into a clear, funded plan – and deliver it.

“The link between funding and delivering the major projects necessary for future capability is clear. Decisions are needed to deliver the UK’s defence capability and to avoid yet more additional costs because of delays and uncertainty.”

Chair’s comment

Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said:

“As things stand the UK has two world-class aircraft carriers with limited capability because the wider debate about the UK’s strategic defence capability – and funding – has been repeatedly delayed. This debilitating lack of clarity threatens our national defences yet it’s not likely to be resolved when the strategic defence review and the comprehensive spending review look likely to be out of step with each other once again.

The MoD and the nation it’s responsible for defending cannot afford for this rare beacon of success, in delivering the two carriers, to descend into yet another failure to deliver defence capability. The MoD must recognise that is a real risk, a real risk to a vital part of our national defences, and it must demonstrate now a clear plan to capitalise on the massive investment the UK has already made – and deliver Carrier Strike.”

Read the report here.

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who knows what’s going on with our defense at present,because there are rumours circulating about cutting troop numbers by 10,000 cutting jet aircraft which i can only assume would be the type 35,and the disposal of a couple of ships,as well as tanks and warrior apc,how true these rumours are only time will tell but they reckon it’s because the chancellor has not given the mod a guarantee budget for the next 3 years only for 1 year,i am just hoping that it is only rumour and nothing happens,but given the way our economy has been impacted by the pandemic… Read more »


I think cuts will be unavoidable due to the recession plus spending on Covid. This time last year I actually thought defense would get a boost similar to Sweden and France, but I’m less hopeful now. Warrior is bound to be toast, but I don’t even think that will be enough. The MRV-P program might get delayed with the Army told to make do with the MRAPs while boxer is delivered. I would consider an indirect fire solution as vital as well to replace the towed 105 guns. I don’t see anywhere in the navy we can cut to be… Read more »


agreed with taxes. can’t do austerity again and don’t want to cut anymore. Taxes have to go up. The way I see it is we all want to shop/eat out and take holidays when we can so to enable us to do this, these companies and workers have to be supported. The middle class who can carry on working and keep their livelihoods shouldn’t get away with this, definitely nor should the super wealthy or tax-avoiding tech companies


I think you need to define middle class… It is not as simple anymore. By the definition of middle class (the people that fall between upper and working class), millions of people would be punished by you for merely working hard to provide for their families… Being middle class does not mean you are rich and able to soak up huge tax increases…


Yes, I used the term casually. Let’s just say people who are means tested via their tax return and people who should complete a tax return and don’t. I include myself as easy prey in that category by the way, but would at least be heartened by avoiding defence cuts. A lot of people want more taxation as long as they don’t have to pay themselves


UK defence to get 10% INCREASE.

Amazing, stunned



I agree with them Its about time we decide what we want to be and fund it properly. Its clear that 96 is the bare minimum for the carriers to be operational, plus whatever we need on top of that for testing R&D etc. Its clear we are not spending 2.1% on defence as that would equate to £47bn It think its time we have a major overhaul and given the fact most of the kit we have is knackered. set up some factories in deprived areas to build what we decide we need at the right tempo. so that… Read more »

Peter S.

I agree that we need a long term military industrial strategy, creating jobs and export potential. Buying off the shelf hasn’t really worked, either in saving money or delivering better kit. In the shorter term, the carrier decision has caused and continues to cause massive strain on resources. They may be splendid ships but do we really need them? Are they worth cutting anti submarine capability and air defence of the UK for?I always feared this would happen from the moment the initial decision was announced.

Daniele Mandelli

Apart from the deliberate 1 year slippage introduced by HMT QEC are on time and budget. Pensions, CASD replacement in core, incompetence, and lack of money drip fed by HMT forcing Mod to delay spends to stay within annual budgets are far bigger issues in my opinion than building and operating strategic assets like carriers, which other nations are building, or aspire to. On ASW, the RN was down to 13 T23 before the carrier programme even started, tailed T23 remain. Only 44 Merlin HM1 were built, now down to 30. Not because of carriers. SSN were also cut further… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Daniele Mandelli

Actually Lord West agreed to a reduction in the frigate and ssn fleet from 35 to 21 and 14 to 7 to get the carriers built. He was Blairs butt kisser and Gordon Brown useful idiot .

Daniele Mandelli

He was, Andy. But your numbers are not correct. The escort force reduced from 35 to 32, and then 31, in 1997 SDSR. West was 1SL from 2002. In 2004 the force was reduced from 31 to eventually become 23 as 11 T42 became first 8 T45 then 6, which wasn’t decided on til later. 3 T23 also cut in 2004. That left 23 escorts, not 21. 2010 SDSR cut 4 T22 B3 to get to the 19 today. As I said above, on my opinion assets like carriers are worth having less escorts. Of course I’d rather the escort… Read more »

Meirion X

I also very much agree with you here Daniele!
I see Cummings has left Downing St.
I think it is to do in with Biden winning in the USA!

Daniele Mandelli

Yes M, I wonder if his reforms to MoD procurement will happen, or if he’s been got at and the military industrial complex and it’s lobbying has won the day again.


It is more to do with the internal coup that was underway by vote leave… Cummings and his mates have syphoned off huge sums of money to themselves and their friends. When a press spokesperson was appointed (an idea by Cummings in order to prevent Boris from being questioned about his actions) they were not happy that this position was reporting directly to Boris. Lee Cain then ordered Boris to move him to a higher position so he would oversee the spokesperson. Boris agreed but then it was pointed out to him by his wife that perhaps it was not… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Where’s your source for that detail on DC Lee? Would like to read further.


Which bit? The part about government deals going to him and his mates is common knowledge and there are hundreds of articles and fact checks regarding it. The bit about his power grab is again pretty common knowledge. I mean the former chancellor’s advisor was sacked by Cummings who should not have any authority to do so. She has now been handed a settlement in order that the government does not have to go to court and have their dirty laundry hung out for all to see. There are a lot of conservative MPs that are unhappy with how much… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Thanks for that.


As ever you hit the nail on the head and your number crunching with the ships is spot on. The carriers are an asset which we now have, therefore we need to fully maximise their potential……..and if we need to reconfigure the Army to even smaller, but a little more capable (chin off the strike concept, chin off the warrior upgrade, put the new 40mm on the Boxer and replace the 432s with the turretless Warriors, then have a look at the Fires and AD for a start) then so be it. And sad to say that’s coming from a… Read more »

Paul C

If the RN is to be a globally deployable force then yes, we do need carriers. As Daniele below points out, successive governments have been pruning back destroyer, frigate and attack submarine numbers for decades. Had the carriers been cancelled I am certain this trend would have continued. The ~£20 billion swallowed up by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and propping up failing projects such as the Nimrod MR4A (almost £4 billion wasted) caused far more financial strain than the carriers. Realistically the choice is between low escort/submarine numbers with carriers or low escort/submarine without carriers. Personally I think the… Read more »


At least having the carriers means there is a hard line the RN can take when the subject of cutting Escorts comes up, which is we need to protect the carriers.

A surface fleet of escorts with nothing to escort can be much more easily cut IMO.


Actually I think to support everything in your first sentence buying off the shelf is exactly whats needed. I’ll qualify that it should be buying British off the shelf. Creating expensive bespoke products for the UK military will not help exports one bit. Securing exports means longer production runs which drives costs down to purchase and support. Exports also adds more to the UK coffers, defence spending can increase as GDP is higher.


Well with economy bouncing back quickly by 15% in the months leading up to the second lockdown ,shows the recession is not going to be as long and deep
as first thought , so again any cuts to the armed forces are just very short sighted.


Why even spend the money to have the carriers if you aren’t going to spend the money afterwards to support them??????Ugh


UK defence to get 10% increase over four years and is on top of the Tories election pledge to grow defence by 0.5% per year.

That’s £24b with inflation!



Last edited 4 months ago by ChariotRider