The Ministry of Defence Equipment Plan 2018 to 2028 sets out its equipment and support budget for the period 2018 to 2028.

The plan includes equipment already in use, such as the Typhoon combat aircraft, as well as equipment in development, such as four new nuclear-armed submarines.

The report, found here, concludes:

“The Department’s Equipment Plan remains unaffordable, with forecast costs exceeding budgets by £7.0 billion over the next 10 years. This variance could increase or decrease depending on different circumstances, with the Department estimating a worst-case scenario of costs increasing by £14.8 billion should all the identified risks materialise. However, some of its analysis remains optimistic and costs could increase further. The Department is improving its understanding of affordability risks, but we are not yet fully confident in the robustness of some of its underlying assumptions, particularly around efficiencies.

The Department recognises that continued unaffordability of the Plan is not sustainable and has presented the nature and scale of the challenges it faces more clearly in its latest Plan. However, as we have previously recommended, it still needs to undertake the necessary analysis and make the decisions needed for the Plan to be affordable. In January 2018, it established MDP to take the action needed to close the affordability gap, but this work has not yet concluded. Given that 84% of the identified affordability challenge falls in the next four years, the Department must make decisions now. During the current period of uncertainty, the Department has resorted to short-term decision-making, increasing the longer-term risks to value for money and the likelihood of returning to past poor practices.”

To bring the plan into balance, the NAO recommend that the Department must:

  • make the decisions required to defer, de-scope or delete programmes as soon as possible so as to address the affordability challenge;
  • ensure decisions are supported by a full and transparent evidence base to demonstrate longer-term value for money; and
  • outline its decisions, including the financial and broader implications, to Parliament. In setting its Plan for 2019 to 2029, the Department must:
  • continue its current plans to improve cost forecasting and consider, as part of this, what can be learnt from the work of the Cost Assurance and Analysis Service;
  • ensure greater consistency across TLBs and delivery organisations in how risk and uncertainty are reflected in project costs, for example, through further challenge of TLBs, in line with our recommendation last year;
  • continue, for example through delivering its current plans to improve financial leadership, to improve its understanding of affordability risks, and their impact, across the Equipment Plan portfolio. This includes using this insight to inform the size of its contingency budget; and
  • improve central oversight of efficiency savings by ensuring that there is a single point of accountability, a central view of efficiencies included in the Plan, and a clear and accessible audit trail for all the efficiencies included in the Plan.
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Is it just me or does £7 billion over ten years not sound like a lot. NAO always issues catastrophic forecasts along with the jokingly called office for budgetary responsibility as this is the easiest way to not be wrong. However when you are procuring equipment like Dreadnought SSBN’s and F35 Lightning’s that are some of the most complicated machines on the planet it’s difficult to be exactly right on price.

7 billion over ten years is less than 2% of MOD Budget.

Steve Taylor

Again this is all about choices made by HMG and not a question of what we can afford. £7 billion not even one year’s DfID budget. It is under our EU contribution (the headline figure) by a couple of billion.

Yet we can’t afford, apparently.

Daniele Mandelli

Correct Steve.

It is completely artificial and can be negated at the stroke of a minister’s pen.

David Stone

I thought £7 billion was a bit of a result. Weren’t they spouting about a £10b or more a little while ago more

Daniele Mandelli

£20 Billion worst case.

The end result will be the same.

Cuts NOW in MDP to “balance” a budget that does not yet exist, as the money is not allocated yet as its so far in the future.

These figures are virtual reality, they do not exist yet.

A few years pass and MoD will be in another similar situation or another government will be in power and the whole lot is recalculated again with yet more cuts.

Defence money should be ring fenced with a long term plan agreed by Parliament so MoD has certainty.

Steve Taylor

Then there is the allusion to ‘losing capabilites’ which is always a mysterious something beyond the platform and things they can’t hide. I never quite understood the mysterious in cost ‘defence out’. An infantry soldier needs a scale of equipment, then a platoon needs more, and so on up the tree. You will need so much training per year. And so on. We live in age where scientists can model mini universes in virtual reality and we have systems that can design can design chips with billions of components and route all the connections. But plan defence? No. It isn’t… Read more »


Whole heartedly agree steve. The only blocker i can think of is internal and external politics. It’s always bloody politics (as anyone who has worked on a large project can appreciate, how bloody hard it is to get the simplest idea implemented)


Exactly what i was thinking


Martins spot on, when you want to smear a fact its about how you present it. A head line ‘MoD 2% over budget’ does sound bad at all so no one would pay much attention. The press has been running 20bn over figures as that sounds enormous. Even 20bn is 6% which many Program managers will tell you is not that bad either.

The problem is the government should set asides money annually (make a provision) and not wait until year 5 to plug the hole as taking the hit in one go is just a bad idea.


mon talk is all well and good but what of the implications on our forces? will the next full SDSR DECAPITATE PLANS OR DECREASE THE ALREADY LOW LEVELS TO MEET THE BUDGET? WHAT COMES FIRST MONEY, OR THE DEFENSE OF THE REALM?

Cam Hunter

They always do this to get the public ready for some defence capabilty erosion! They will decrease numbers of something, like already the Ajax numbers cut by a few hundred, less p8 Poseidons than we actually need, 8 type 26s instead of 13, they have cut almost everything they planed to buy, I think they have cut a new apache squadron aswell! The only thing they have increased in years is the OPVS by 2! They will be very handy and we should have one permanently based at Gibraltar for there squadron.

Steve Taylor

That’s interesting! What do you see an OPV at Gib doing? Anti II and anti smuggling? Keeping an eye on North Africa coast?

Daniele Mandelli

I don’t think the Gibraltar Squadron need a River size vessel myself, but you could always base it there for use in the Med. Likewise one in the Middle East.

I would have a RFA type vessel acting as a “Mothership” too for more fast boats and helicopters for smugglers, pirates, and the like.

Why use a high end warship?

Steve Taylor

You can’t police GIB waters in a River. It would be like patrolling a multi-storey car park in a lorry….

Daniele Mandelli



Can’t use a River to patrol Gib. The current fast patrol boats, GDP, RGP, and Customs vessels are all better suited for that. However, you could indeed base a River *from* there from Med patrol. Currently, Echo is forward based from Malta I believe for this purpose (and at one stage, both Echo and Enterprise were). Whilst our survey ships are fantastically adaptable, they’re perhaps not best suited for the role undertaken by them at the moment. Forward basing a River in the Med would allow these ships to return to their primary roles – supporting the minehunters, and surveying.… Read more »


working in the design of stopping people trafficking, and suitably equipped to do it.


Whilst I agree this is not a lot, if you dig into it some of the figures being bandied about are almost impossible to map to the actual capability. I do wonder how the MOD spend x3 to x10 times as much as a commercial outfit would and yet end up with so little. Warrior and Challenger life extensions now need cancelled. I also just don’t believe Successor are £10bn each when astute are £1.5bn each. Realistically, how can that be? Some of these costs are also as a result of slowing down of work (by as much as 2… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I have highlighted that before myself.

Ten billion for a submarine? Really? Even with the other costs of AWE, Raynesway, reactors, and other stuff thrown in?

Posters here suggested it’s to do with the missile compartment. Really?

Someone somewhere is making a killing and laughing their socks off.

Mark L
has the equivalent costs for the USA next generation SSBN. $8.2B for first of class, $6.5B for follow on boats and $12.9B in R&D. They are building 12 so will have some economies of scale; for a class of four amortising the R&D gives $10.2B a boat. This does not include any of the warhead or missile refurbishment costs, so it looks comparable to the UK costs. But I don’t understand where all the money goes in either program.

Steve Taylor

We could consider that both us and the Yanks might be looking for say an increase in operating depth which would mean a lot of structural work and more exotic metals.

Who knows?

Daniele Mandelli

Ah thanks for this Mark. Interesting….

Maybe the yanks are also being taken for a ride by the Military Industrial Complex!


So that equates to say £5bn per sub and if you look at Astute costs against the USN version it is cheaper. I just don’t buy into the massive difference in cost for what is basically a bigger version of Astute class. If it really is nearly 8 times more expensive per boat, then we really do need to reconsider this. The cost of the overall system is one thing – the cost of a boat should be very clear. This lack of focus and granularity is why the costs are massive. Also if it includes the full cost of… Read more »


the MOD as you suggest should be run as you would a business the word you use(FOCUS) is bang on, its a shame many of those involved in policies are totally unacceptable for the job they do. most seem too intent to tow party lines, and not actually to achieve what is needed, a bigger fleet, more soldiers, more pilots.

Steve Taylor

We should have just continued to build SSN’s even if we couldn’t crew them because it is just cheaper. Which sounds odd…………….I know what I mean……… 🙂

Barrow do a lot with small workforce when compared to Electric Boat.

I think Dreadnought are about £1 billion over, easy.


Well the reality is you would in all likelihood never “need” to crew all of them fully as some of them will be in the yard for repairs or upgrades at any given time.

Steve Taylor

If I have 12 hulls on a 4 for 1 basis I will need 9 crews. But I might be only have 6 crews anyway……….


the astutes are too big for their role.vastly expensive and slow to produce the fixation on nuclear propulsion is wrong, the story of the small cheap swedish submarine(google us fleet sunk by cheap submarine, the average conventional, on average, has a crew of under 80. over the coming decade many new conventional type ssk’s will enter service worldwide. it is not so long ago that the u.k with the upholder and oberon classes was the world leader in that kind of area. the aussies are just about to retire their 6 ex R.N upholders and the canadians their 5. astute… Read more »


I would suggest that a lot more new technology is being developed and introduced on successor than we realise. Our CASD has to be absolutely cutting edge to survive in the modern environment. I just hope that these advances will form the basis for our next SSN saving development costs for that programme. I would also like to see the Vanguards kept and retasked as cruise missile barges thus removing the need for this capability from the next SSN. This is what America are looking at doing, going for pure hunter killers in their next design. This would hopefully save… Read more »


Kinda of agree once you’ve taken the hit of design, tooling, upskilling etc the build becomes easier. Stop and start again you add huge one off costs. I wonder if an diesel/electric based on the Astute would be possible. Diesel/electrics are quieter but slower. Weve seen big advances in battery tech with massive commercial investment in electric cars that’s still continuing. By then end of the Astute run battery tech good offer considerable range and submersed times. Faster charging is also likely so time at surface is also reduced. Role would more UK / Northsea waters based more anti-access and… Read more »


why not go second hand in the dreadnaught programme? the u.s has nuclear capable submarines in reserve i.e connecticut save money, let barrow keep work, to build conventional ssk’s for£100 million instead, on that point£1.4 billion for one astute, when, for the same amount you could have 14 or so gotland,scorpene [email protected]£100 million. an old R.N diesel submarine onyx made itself a useful part of the 1982 task force, the u.k FIXATION WITH NUCLEAR PROPULSION, has been shown to be flawed vessels, like trafalgar,astute churchill have actually been to the detremate of the size of the u.k navy submarine fleet.we… Read more »


While it doesn’t seem as bad as previously thought I think we could do a lot more with the defence budget if people in procurement had any sense. £31billion or more for Dreadnought? Why not just build another 4 Astute subs, modified and enlarged to carry 12 Trident missiles? If a regular Astute is £1.4billion then I don’t see a modified SSBN version being more than £2billion each including missiles. 2.5 tops. Even then that’d be saving £21billion which could be spent on more frigates and destroyers to give us a fleet of 25+, rather than 19, a few more… Read more »


Most of the “overspend” is in the next four years. If Carney put up UK interest rates, the pound would strengthen & most of the currency gap would vanish.
The alternative is to delay some purchases by a year or two, so it is not all in the next four years.

Barry Larking

HS2, the pointless railway, is expected to cost more than 50 ‘billion’. Nothing else. Just let that sink in.


HS2 is purely a vanity project & hardly a priority when we’ve been told we need austerity for so long. We’d be better improving the existing rail system & spending the money in more essential areas. It’s wierd what HMG finds it can afford in such difficult times while cutting to the bone & beyond essential services.


Hear, hear! An insane amount of money to shave about 20 minutes off a London-Manchester trip, 20 minutes that any competent business person can fully utilise on a train anyway to process emails, read and write reports, prepare presentations and, if not confidential or in a quiet carriage, make calls too (not that the quiet carriage always stops them). This project should be killed stone dead immediately. Even half that money could be used so much better for loads of other infrastructure projects leaving £25 bn left over for other stuff. Oh, and it’s not even likely to be £50bn… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Interesting Julian.

Being in the rail industry myself I used to be for HS2.

I have now changed my mind.

The infrastructure in my area of control is falling apart. Constant delays as a result.

Railway needs more capacity everywhere but not at that price for 1 line.

I echo Pacmans comment on another thread about Successor vs Astute costs.

HOW can such a thing cost 50 Billion HOW!? Who is making a killing from this?

David Steeper

Maybe we should go back to steam ?


I used to be a supporter of HS2, but having researched what’s go on with Hyperloop technology and how first systems will be running by 2022 in a few countries I feel HS2 by the time its built is so far behind the curve, High speed railways are last century. Britain used to be the first to implement a new technology, we lead the world with transport once now we follow.


I haven’t read the whole report yet but I did look to see that this £7bn overspend prediction is against a total budget of £186.4 bn. With F-35B, P-8A, the Mk41/Phalanx/etc for T26, CMC for Dreadnought and I’m sure lots of other stuff I would guess that about half of that total is US Dollar spending. For easy maths let’s say £100bn is in USD so the £7bn represents a 7% overspend on the USD-denominated stuff. We’ve had something like 30% GBP-USD fluctuations since the Brexit referendum result and who knows what will happen between now and March next year.… Read more »

P tattersall

Just been promised 186 billion for equipment over next 10 years .

R Cummings

Lots of facts and figures to digest in that report and then you have to play spot the omissions. The big picture is that (1) the entire budget has been swamped by two big naval vanity projects that we simply cannot afford, the Dreadnought SSBNs and CVNs. Now that this Government has squeezes AWRE Aldermaston and all its nefarious works into the defence budget, these two goodies remove £40 bn from the budget, with another £10 bn contingency to cover the real cost of Dreadnought. That is getting to 30% of the entire equipment and support budget, no wonder we… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I see it different.

Yes give the army it’s armoured division.

But no more.

Priorities should be the RN RAF and Intelligence community. Power projection assets which along with Trident and our UKSF give the UK punch.

Others here would go further and remove armour entirely.

R Cummings

I love this ‘punch’ claim! If Russian troops start appearing in the Baltic republics or pushing into Ukraine or similar, I wonder what useful rile the Navy or intelligence community would play? The Navy wouldn’t risk venturing into the Baltic or Black Sea, where ships would be a sitting duck. The intelligence community has been caught with its pants down three times over Russia’s asymmetric warfare techniques – the first they knew of the ussians coming to Kosovo was when the planes landed and the troops took over the airport! They were completely caught out by the move into Crimea,… Read more »


Are any of our possible opponents abandoning MBTs? NO. It’s another insane idea for the UK toscrap its MBTs. We have militaries to both deter attack & fight wars. We can’t keep trying to do without essential kit, usually just to save a bit of money. It’s insane to expect enem,ies to not notice & take advantage. Such measures led to the Falklands war. Withdrawing the ice patrol ship, selling the carriers, considering cutting the Falklanders loose?(All in the historic record) The Argies thought they had every chance of a coup de main, so tried it. The UK pioneered the… Read more »

David Steeper

If a Challenger met an Apache where would you rather be ?


For me the question is one of speed and lethality. I think UKDF should be predominantly UK based, and have an expeditionary force that would re-I force mainland Europe in times of need. As such we can get apaches into the war zone far easier than MBT’s. Also we could build tanks far more quickly than apache aircraft if the need arose. An apache can get in cause havoc and get out multiple times, the MBT is just too exposed these days. We have a small military these days and for me the apache is such a force multiplier that… Read more »