In this article, Shadow Defence Procurement Minister Stephen Morgan MP tells the UK Defence Journal why he believes the Government needs to reform its procurement process.

This article represents the opinion of the author and is part of UK Defence Journal efforts to highlight a wide range of views on topical defence issues.

The UK defence sector goes beyond keeping citizens safe and protecting our borders. It is an intrinsic cog in the economic prosperity, growth of ideas and development of people in the UK.

With that in mind, it falls on government’s shoulders to ensure the sector receives due investment, recognition and priority; and on the shoulders of opposition to apply scrutiny when they fail to do so.

As newly appointed Shadow Minister for Defence Procurement, that is exactly what I intend to do.

With over 135,000 people directly employed by the UK defence industry, an annual turnover of £22 billion and a tradition of producing cutting-edge innovation, we need to be asking the question – is government doing enough to support UK defence?

The 100 page, independently commissioned report by Phillip Dunne MP in 2018 makes a number of recommendations that ring true. None more so than the observation that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) “needs to take account of prosperity in all major procurements”.

In essence, the narrow view adopted by government fails to take into account the wider implications of procurement structures. At present, the MoD does not factor in the socioeconomic value of defence contracts when making procurement decisions.

The consequences? The many benefits of awarding contracts to British companies fly under the radar. From the revenue generated to the Exchequer’s coffers to the higher National Insurance contributions, government currently fails to acknowledge the blindingly obvious benefits of building British.

What makes this government failure all the more cutting is the fact tendering companies are already used to having to prove the socioeconomic value of contracts when bidding with other countries.

It is equally concerning that at a meeting chaired by the PMs top aid, Dominic Cummings, he fired shots at Britain’s defence companies. The reports suggested he wanted to see fewer “bespoke” defence projects and for Britain to buy “off the shelf” from other countries. The government is showing its true colours when the PMs top adviser launches such a scathing attack on British business.

The dialogue around defence procurement needs to be broadened to include the complex myriad of consequences stemming from a contract being awarded.

The structural failings of government’s current procurement strategy are epitomised by the Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. The failure to classify the vessels as warships means they could be built outside the UK. Justification offered by government that “value for money” is at the heart of this decision-making process while simultaneously refusing to consider the socioeconomic impact is deeply concerning.

The school of thought adopted by Sir John Parker, who reviewed the National Shipbuilding Strategy, resonates when he says, “I recommend that UK-only competition should be considered for future defence-funded vessels including amphibious vessels and mine countermeasure vessels.”

Reports by Oxford Economics have highlighted that for every £100 million investment in the UK defence industry around £230 million is generated to the UK economy. Government is not only missing a trick here; they are letting down people across the UK in failing to recognise the untold benefits of internal investment. Trade Unions, British companies and parliamentarians recognise this, why can’t government?

Above and beyond the fiscal fruitfulness of awarding contracts to British companies are the implications this would have for sovereign capability. The Ministry of Defence’s preference for open competition when it comes to defence procurement greatly risks the UK’s operational advantage and freedom of action.

If we do not allow our own to design, develop and produce cutting-edge defence technology a capability rift can occur and mean we are forced to rely more on more on overseas allies. Britain for time eternal has been global defence pioneers, current government strategy heavily puts this at risk.

What is the answer to the government’s defence procurement problems? A Defence Industrial Strategy with a clear vision of what is being procured and what good value looks like. Key to that is understanding the implications for our economy and jobs. Labour has long seen the bigger picture when it comes to defence procurement and remains committed to building British.

Stephen Morgan is the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and the Shadow Minister for Defence Procurement. You can find his website here or on Twitter here.

 

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BB85
BB85
7 months ago

Yeah I think DC needs to focus more on the short falls in government planning and procurement than industry. The two carriers where built at less than half the cost of a single USS Ford, that after the Tories changed their mind mid way through to explore CATOBAR. The army is responsible for the cocks ups on Fres and Warrior by again changing requirements or picking the least credible option on the promise of reduced cost. Astute disaster was down to poor planning and selecting the riskiest option again, T26 delays and slow build rate are down to government plannning.… Read more »

Steve Taylor
Steve Taylor
7 months ago
Reply to  BB85

To be fair the Fords are a more complex than QEC. Even if we had gone for Alpha our carriers aren’t in the same class as US CVN’s. They are big useful ships tailored for our needs not fast fleet carriers. I laugh every time I hear anybody banging on about carrier strike.

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Taylor

In the sense that they are Nuclear powered and have a new electric CATOBAR system you could say that but when it comes to everything else systems wise the QE class is more complex than the Ford class. The QE class has far higher levels of automation to accommodate the need for a far smaller crew. When representatives of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance went to see the Ford in build they were shocked to see how behind the times HII Newport News was in comparison to UK yards when it came to build practices and tolerances. There was a lot… Read more »

Steve Taylor
Steve Taylor
7 months ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

The nuclear kettle make the Ford’s a factor more complex alone. And US has the luxury of manpower that the RN doesn’t have (even with automation) but there other factors. I would rather have the USN fitted for and with over our fitted for but not with anyday. And I wasn’t talking about the construction of vessels. You should have a chat with somebody from Barrow about what they see going on at Electric Boat. The idea that the conventional Delta design is superior to the Ford? No sorry. We shouldn’t criticise AB for having gas turbines and ‘mechanical drive’… Read more »

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Taylor

“The nuclear kettle make the Ford’s a factor more complex alone. ” – that is why I said aside from the reactor and electric CATOBAR system. “And US has the luxury of manpower that the RN doesn’t have (even with automation) but there other factors. I would rather have the USN fitted for and with over our fitted for but not with anyday.” – Manpower intensive is not good in my book anyday. “And I wasn’t talking about the construction of vessels.” – I am it is a relevant point. “You should have a chat with somebody from Barrow about… Read more »

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
7 months ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

Also I would like to point out that there isn’t actually anything particularly complex about a Nuclear reactor, the technology that wraps around it propulsion wise had its fruition at the end of the 19th Century. It is high pressure steam in the end.

Callum
Callum
7 months ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

Conceptually, a nuclear reactor is incredibly simple, yes. The engineering required to make a nuclear mobile at sea on a combat vessel for the next half a century, is most definitely not.

Aside from that though, I broadly agree with you. The Queen Elizabeths represent a much more modern design right down to the concept phase. Capability and cost are far better balanced than in the Fords, which represent a modern Yamato in many respects: immensely powerful, but insanely expensive, and not available in sufficient numbers.

Paul42
Paul42
7 months ago
Reply to  Callum

Sufficient numbers? The Ford has now completed her compatibility tests and will be operational very shortly. The second vessel has been launched and is currently fitting out with work commencing on building the third. The USN will end up with 10 Fords as opposed to 2 x QE class.
Some aspects of the design could be called a little dated, but the US has many years experience of building this type of vessel and use what actually works.
The Fords with their emals are far more capable than a QE.

Callum
Callum
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

Sufficient numbers meaning enough to consistently meet their commitments. 2 QECs meets the RN’s requirements, 10 Fords doesn’t meet the US’s requirements for a 12-carrier fleet. That’s assuming the programme continues completely as planned. Huge carriers with massive running costs face an uncertain future in a world of hypersonic and tactical ballistic weapons, drones, and networked platforms. Personally, I still think big carriers do have a role as the centrepiece of a network involving everything from large destroyers to small drone sensor platforms, but that does mean moving away from the mentality of investing everything in the carrier. The USN… Read more »

Paul42
Paul42
7 months ago
Reply to  Callum

The US could build 12 Fords if necessary, but considering there are Nimitz class ships with plenty of years left in them mean that’s not an urgent concern right now. There will always be a need for the carriers, airpower is the key to eveything and the ability to project it from the sea, will remain in the forefront. As anti-ship weapons increase in capability, so missile defences will evolve into ever more capable weapons.

Meirion X
Meirion X
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

I agree with you here, including laser warpons and ‘rail guns’, in the future when ready.

Meirion X
Meirion X
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

USS Ford Will Not be available Shortly, she is due for Shock Tests that will take a year to complete, and the work up training after that. Not due to enter service until 2022.

Paul42
Paul42
7 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

To shock, or not to shock – the argument rages on as the USN wants the Ford on her first operational cruise asap. and would rather shick test the new JFK. Incidentally, does anyone know if the QE has been shock tested?

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

“Some aspects of the design could be called a little dated, but the US has many years experience of building this type of vessel and use what actually works.” I hate to break it to you but it is more than some aspects being a little dated. As I said there aspects of the design and build strategy that date back to the Essex class. There is plenty of Forrestal class influence in there as well. The problem is when you have dated design and build techniques it becomes more difficult to integrate in the cutting edge stuff. A case… Read more »

Paul42
Paul42
7 months ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

The US Carriers are the most powerful of their kind in existence, they carry and operate – very effectively a far bigger airwing than any other vessel afloat. The Forrestals were the first super carriers and lessons were learned – and carried forward – incidentally the deck edge lift was first fitted to the Essex class a great innovation even if it did come from WW2.. The problems with the weapons lifts are being ironed out, yes the QE has a manpower saving automated system, and yes it has worked so far In trials, but it is heavily dependent on… Read more »

Darren
Darren
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Taylor

The QE class are around the same size as the Alpha and can be converted to conventional take off and landing and without delay imposed by people not building the ships and the added costs, general arseing about from big to small back to big, but without some armour etc, still much cheaper. They were to be CATOBAR until changed, because it suited some and dispite staff requirments. I don’t know why you laugh. With a future 39 plus feet draught, they are 80,000 tons too. Let alone future stretch.

Dern
Dern
7 months ago
Reply to  Darren

Steve’s been quite active on STRN recently with similar comments, I’m beginning to smell a kremlin troll tbh.

Darren
Darren
7 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Ah, OK.

Robert blay
Robert blay
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Taylor

The USN doesn’t share your opinion.

nathan
nathan
7 months ago
Reply to  BB85

Agreed, I’d argue most of those issues arose because of the government’s unrealistic expectations. You cannot put a workforce on the shelf for a decade, cost free and then expect a de-risked cutting edge design from a group of people who haven’t had the opportunity to do anything really clever for years. Feast and famine is the enemy of efficiency and performance. But every government seems totally committed to it. Perhaps defence and infrastructure needs to be spun out from the goverment and made departments responsible directly to a Monarchical council – away from the 4 or 5 year political… Read more »

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
7 months ago
Reply to  BB85

Any clarification on why you consider Astute isn’t primarily down to BAE Systems as the industrial partner. Audacious is the forth in line on a run of seven and by any normal parameters would be considered a mature design even with tweaks.

BB85
BB85
7 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

I agree Audacious is entirely industries fault. But for batch 1 the mod had the option of selecting a vickers trafalgar batch 2 design that they knew they could build or a completely new and unproven design from bmt who have never built a sub before, had no facilities to build a sub and could still do it cheaper than vickers. It was completely moronic. That and the 10 year gap didn’t help.

Meirion X
Meirion X
7 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

Audacious, has had a internal redesign, due to flaws in HMS Astute.

John Clark
John Clark
7 months ago
Reply to  BB85

Evening BB85, re the Astutes, while the Astute program has given the RN a fantastic weapon, it’s a war winning asset without doubt and something to be feared. However, despite it being an incredible asset, it goes goes from crisis to crisis, mainly due to the snail pace construction of a paltry 7 boats, meaning updates and revision between each build, stops any potential decrease in unit cost. I’m not sure what you mean by the riskiest option, but the only real option was to use the reactor design of the Vanguard class, dictating both the design and displacement. Perhaps,… Read more »

Lee1
Lee1
7 months ago
Reply to  BB85

DC needs to concentrate on not hiring misfits and weirdos who are racist, sexist and promote the use of dangerous drugs in children. He also needs to get help for his own sociopathic behaviour and perhaps stop making up lies…

BB85
BB85
7 months ago
Reply to  Lee1

I know, at first I just thought the media had it in for DC but it looks like he is a bit of a loose cannon looking Sajid Javid to sack his advisors wtf? Also highering someone with racist tweets in the public domain doesn’t say much about his ability to run anything better than anyone else.

Lee1
Lee1
7 months ago
Reply to  BB85

Lets not forget he was also Michael Goves adviser while he was Education Minister. While there he seemed to advise Gove on some of the worst policies to hit our education sector for a long time and was also found to have bullied people with one staff member suing them for £25000… Goves policies at that time still harbour deep resentment from those who work in Education and being a school governor I see the damage he caused still being a major issue. Also while at the Education Department DC made huge efforts to have complete control over education policy… Read more »

Lee1
Lee1
7 months ago
Reply to  BB85

Lets not forget that some of the comments made by Andrew Sabisky were made on DCs own website! He can hardly claim he did not know about them…

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
7 months ago
Reply to  Lee1

Here here, DC is not an elected official and as such, who is his responsible and accountable too. I think the minute he steps out of line, which he surely will, he should face a huge public backlash and clamour to be dismissed.
These consultants are mandarins and quangos who suck the life out of the country. What does he know about defence? Has he served in uniform? Nothing and no are the answers and therefore he should leave the country’s most precious asset, our armed forces, alone and not get involved.

Sean
Sean
6 months ago
Reply to  Lee1

Spot the grumpy Remoaner 😆

Lee1
Lee1
6 months ago
Reply to  Sean

So complaining about over reach of unelected advisors is a Brexit issue is it? This is the same unelected official who has ruined the school system when he was advisor to Michael Gove… Was that a Brexit issue?

Sean
Sean
6 months ago
Reply to  Lee1

There’s no “over reach”. The only reach he has is that given to him by our elected PM.
DC is doing the same job he was doing before the election. So given the stomping victory Boris won, the majority of voters clearly have no problem with Boris’ choice of chief advisor, or his reach.

It’s always easy to spot a bad loser Remoaner, they hate DC above all.

As for the education system, I think Blair and his pc brigade wrecked that. Gove and DC were just trying to undo the damage.

Lee1
Lee1
6 months ago
Reply to  Sean

Yep I guess hating someone that supports Eugenics is a real show of a “remoaner”… I mean is is not as if there are any dodgy Eugenics lovers that we could think of that have posed a danger to our way of life before… Advisors are legally not allowed to sack MPs advisors… That is the job of the PM at a push and normally the job of the MP who has hired the advisor in the first place. Advisors are certainly not supposed to wage wars on the civil service or indeed the press. That is over reach. And… Read more »

Sean
Sean
6 months ago
Reply to  Lee1

I’d suggest taking a Valium and having a lie down but I doubt it’d help, you’re too far gone.

PS: no Cummings hasn’t said the £350 million was a lie, it was accurate so why would he. But I know this is a story that goes around Remoaner sites.

Lee1
Lee1
6 months ago
Reply to  Sean

He has indeed done an interview where he admitted to it.

And no the £350 million was not accurate at all (hence the interview answer). Perhaps you should do some fact checking… Next you will be telling me that the EU banned bent bananas and forced us to ship kippers in frozen packets… Stop reading the daily express…

Sean
Sean
6 months ago
Reply to  Lee1

No he hasn’t, which is why you’ve failed to include a url to it. As it was, the figure should have been higher, as that was only the membership fee required as percentage of our GDP… What it didn’t include was the import fees/duties of all goods imported into the U.K. from outside the EU. The U.K. was to retain a max of 2% to cover costs, the other 98% went straight to the EU. In 2016 that was an extra £50million a week. Wrong again, don’t read either the Daily Express, Sun, or Daily Mail. I suspect you read… Read more »

Lee1
Lee1
6 months ago
Reply to  Sean

TOR which is the tax you are talking about is part of the amount (the so called 350 million) we send to the EU is is not additional. We also keep 20% of that tax to cover cost not 2% it is also a proportion of the import tax not the whole amount. As for a link (as you seem unable to use Google) https://beta.spectator.co.uk/article/dominic-cummings-how-the-brexit-referendum-was-won Warning… It is a long but not a riveting read. And you failed to say if you believe in the banana myth or the kipper myth… Both lies perpetrated by our illustrious leader but widely… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
7 months ago

This is all well and good, but unless the MOD is given money specifically to take this into account, I cant see it happening.

The UK has an excellent track record of innovation but a very poor record of commercialising that innovation.

We need to either partner up with a nation that can (Israel or Japan perhaps) or focus on increasing the support frameworks to make us competitive.

It also needs to be said that T31 should be built in Liverpool to give the UK an English complex ship capability, just in case.

BB85
BB85
7 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

This is a good point. I don’t think the UK maximises it’s investments in terms of exports. Why is Thales so much more successful at exporting radars for example. Their industries are happy to invest and develop products aimed purely at exports unlike the UK that is reliant on government requirements.

Pacman27
Pacman27
7 months ago
Reply to  BB85

The real reason is that european governments support their companies, our govt does not. For a company to be globally successful it first needs to be nationally successful in order to get the scale. BAE are a good example of this as were Vodafone, Tesco etc. What has proven difficult is for uk based companies to export what makes them successful in the UK abroad due to the wide gap between the UK and ROW. If we are going to make Brexit a success, then we need govt to get behind companies like reaction engines – through a sovereign wealth… Read more »

Lee1
Lee1
7 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

I also find that the majority of people asking our Government to buy British rarely follow the same rules themselves. I mean how many of those people own British made vehicles, British made hifi equipment, or British made phones, British made household cleaning products or British made computers? Also it is not just about purchasing British products. Investors need to be more risk friendly in order for British products to become viable in the first place. However they are not and so many UK inventions end up being bought by foreign companies that are more willing to take the risk.… Read more »

Mike
Mike
7 months ago
Reply to  Lee1

Very good point Lee. As someone who has always bought British wherever possible I think we the public are as much a problem as the Government. If everybody shifted just 10% of our spending to British made we would massively improve our economy. The pressure on Government to do the same once the public were in the habit would be irresistible as who would then want there taxes being spent abroad.

Pacman27
Pacman27
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike

This is all part of government policy, but it also has to be said too many British companies concentrate on cost instead of sales and profits. It’s cultural and when the markets pick up we are often too slow to take advantage as we have cut our costs to the bone.

Darren
Darren
7 months ago
Reply to  Lee1

I have a British made computer, a British car and as much British as possible. One thing that gets me is the British (Name only) kettle tha tis made in China. All of them only last for around 6 months until they start leaking. Most Chinese made stuff is crap and I would pay more for Uk made gear. I hope people realise that buying foreign is not cheaper. It usually means the same but only the so-called maker or and importer make money out of us. Similar to foreign worker in the construction industry in the UK. You million… Read more »

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
7 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

‘Reports by Oxford Economics have highlighted that for every £100 million investment in the UK defence industry around £230 million is generated to the UK economy. ‘
Tis a pity that the Labour party never thought of this when they were in power and taking every available chance to cut defence spending.

Meirion X
Meirion X
7 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

It would make sense for sections of the Type 31 frigates to be built at CL, or Appledore,
while the new assembly facility is built at Rosyth, then to be shipped to be assembled there.
This process would speed up the Type 31 program. Ho well, it depands really on how quickly the MoD want them!

Pacman27
Pacman27
7 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

I think the facility should be at CL as we are now building another complex warship building site in a part of our country that wants to cede.

Meirion X
Meirion X
7 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

The contract to build the Type 31 frigate s was Awarded to the Babcock consortium.
It is the decision of Babcock and MoD to sub-contract work and components of the Type 31 frigate.
Contracts are very expensive to terminate!
Scotland has Not Ceded yet! Many hurdles to pass though that Point!

Pacman27
Pacman27
7 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

You are of course correct, however this does nothing to minimise the stated risk of Scotland leaving the union. I am sure CL would jump at the opportunity. The other thing to say is this is a national endeavour, compulsory purchase orders and the like should be used to make this happen.

Once again demonstrates lack of joined up thinking.

Pacman27
Pacman27
7 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Also the T31 is introducing another 40mm gun to the uk when we have just selected another (and yes there is a nasalised CTA gun)

nathan
nathan
7 months ago

It’d be a better document without the mandatory and somewhat childish, he did this we did that bickering – like Labour made no mistakes in the 13, totally unproductive years they were in office (as can be seen, reducing 13 years of effort in to 15 words is superficial nonsense). How about, the politicians just grow up. Point out the benefits and drawbacks of something without the snide remarks and vote on the issue. As for DC – he is right to fire both guns at BAESYSTEMS. They are bloated and slow but, he needs to remember how successive politicians… Read more »

Steve Taylor
Steve Taylor
7 months ago

What would have supported more ‘jobs’? Replacing the SSN flotilla on a one for one basis? Or building the carriers? And which party was in government when the SSN production drum beat was interrupted costing billions? And which party was in government decided upon carriers? If nuclear submarines were built on the Clyde and not in England would the navy look different now? Then again it was another party that compounded the ‘submarine problem’ by putting off ordering what is now ‘Dreadnought’.

Not really interested in what politicians have to say about ship building.

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
7 months ago

Actually our defence industry is very good at delivering. The issue has and always will be poor planning and also changing requirements from the MoD and ministers. If they would take a decision and stick to it then costs would not overrun! Dominic Cummings has never run a defence or indeed ever been involved in science, engineering or technology. It’s all well and good studying ancient and modern history but it really doesn’t tell you much about how innovations in science, engineering and technology as well as delivering complex warships is done. Buying commercial off-the-shelf (COTS whatever that means) can… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter Shaw

Indeed Peter,

Almost all of the cost over runs and delays have been caused by either the MOD or in most cases politicians getting involved. This added c£2bn to the carriers alone and I suggest the same for T26, as these are never £1.2bn ships, more like £800m with the rest part of some bizarre work arrangement that doesnt stack up under scrutiny (slow down the build to stretch work out instead of build and sell at a loss if that is what you are doing).

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter Shaw

Hi Peter, I, like pretty much everyone else on here, am seriously concerned about DC. He is secretive, opinionated and way too powerful for an unaccountable appointee. Having said that he does have a point about procurement across government – it is rubbish and you sum up the main reasons for that quite succinctly. He is also determined to move away from the ‘classics’ and apparently believes that maths and science should play a much bigger role in government decision making. As such he is apparently studying mathematics and physics / engineering in order to be able to walk the… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider
Sean
Sean
6 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

DC is accountable, to the man who hired him, our democratically elected Prime Minister.
As a SPAD, Boris can get rid of him anytime.
It’s a tad harder to remove journeymen civil-servants who pursue their own agenda rather than implement government policy.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
6 months ago
Reply to  Sean

Hi Sean, I understand the concept of a SPAD but I think that DC has way too much influence. As for Boris getting rid of him, yes that could happen Gove got shot of him at Education, but it is the damage that could be done in the meantime that worries me. Does he have any boundaries? Probably not. I agree with the need to shake things up, but it needs to be done constructively and I don’t see it happening that way… As for civil-servants pursuing their own agenda, that is most unlikely. When I was a junior techie… Read more »

Sean
Sean
6 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Well I’m happy with both DC’s ideas, having followed his blog for sometime, and his influence. Personally I’d be happy to see him have more, as the tabloid press are probably overplaying his influence as they seem to be following the pantomime villain agenda. Yes there’s a purdah at election time that prevents civil servants implementing new policies after an election is called. Similarly all SPADS have to resign after an election is called as they are political appointees paid for by the state. I come from a family of civil servants – thankfully not me – and I’ve had… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
6 months ago
Reply to  Sean

Hi Sean, I think our views are actually closer than perhaps we originally thought and I certainly agree that we should not turn a blind eye to mediocrity and mendacity. When I was in the service there were few poor performers, but it was a techie unit (Royal Aerospace Establishment as was) and frankly the techical civil service was home to a bunch of people most of whom were way cleverer than me and the job was a key part of their lives. I look back on those days as the best job I ever had, so I worked hard… Read more »

Martin
Martin
7 months ago

Interestingly labour seems keen on promoting jobs through defence procurement but is not advocating increasing the Budget or giving the MOD a cut of the extra tax revenues raised by UK procurement.

No other government department is required to buy “british” so why should defence be any different? If UK suppliers can’t supply and item at a reasonable cost then why not buy from abroad.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
7 months ago
Reply to  Martin

I agree Martin. Cancel Type 31 orders and replace them with Italy’s FREMM (5-6000 tons and 143m in length) which can be configured as eaither a Frigate or OPV of which two are nearing completion at half the cost of the current Type 26s. Type 23s could then be sold off early as their replacements would arrive sooner rather than later. Focus on our shipbuilding industry with investment in yards and training which could take place during the time it will take to get one Type 31/26 into operational service (7/8 years) while plugging the gap in our defences both… Read more »

Martin
Martin
7 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

I don’t agree, nothing wrong with T31 program at least it went out to competitive tender. I do not agree with self serving politicians using defence as a special case to create jobs while failing to fund defence at the same time. At best labour is offering to match current funding So I think it’s only fair that Mr Morgan get one here and tell us what he is going to cut to have more UK content for the armed forces because make no mistake making more kit in the UK will cost more money. I believe the UK industrial… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
7 months ago
Reply to  Martin

I think it’s a question of whether we want something now or seven years from now and in what numbers?

Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri has two FREMM near completion and is looking for a buyer at half the cost of the Type 26 as an example, so pairing with a partner Nation as we are doing with Tempest makes a great deal of sense to me.

By 2027/28 we would have replacements for the Types 23s and 31s in service.

Martin
Martin
7 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Not really as T31 should cost about half what the Fremm cost and having one or two bespoke Frigates in UK service will only increase cost. T26 beat out FREMM for users looking for high end capability. Not that it’s a bad ship in anyway just does not fit in with what the RN is looking for, not good enough for the high end and too expensive for the Low end.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
7 months ago
Reply to  Martin

In which case would it not make sense to reduce the number of Type 26’s (£1.3Billion) to six for carrier duties and areas of high submarine activity such as the North Atlantic making room for 5x FREMM, cancelling the Type 31 giving us 3x higher-end ships making a total of 8 plus 6 Type 26. FREMM’s would enter service before either the Type 31 or 26 scheduled for 2027. Further decisions can be made at a later date for additional hulls meanwhile filling our current capability gap? If we were quick enough, 2x FREMM would enter service by 2022 and… Read more »

Meirion X
Meirion X
7 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Had this kind of debate on another site, the T26 program Won!

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
7 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

First in class 2027 then, with a less capable Type 31 than the FREMM around the same time frame!

Dern
Dern
7 months ago
Reply to  Martin

Also changing horses now would be a spectacularly bad idea. Not only did nobody offer a FREMM design but switching now would guarantee more cost and a later delivery.

McZ
McZ
7 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

You’re talking about the PPA, Thaon di Revel class. It’s not FREMM, it’s the successor of the myriad on smaller frigates and corvettes.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
7 months ago

Please feel free to complete the following statement (from Monty Python or any other choice combination you think suitable):-
Cummings is not the Messiah, he’s a………….

Sean
Sean
6 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

Genius

Joe16
Joe16
7 months ago

I had an interesting conversation with an American on a more US-focussed site just last week, where he praised the UK for getting far better value for money than they do out of their defence budget. I laughed and told him the grass is always greener.
I broadly agree with this guy regarding what we need to be doing going forward. Bit of a shame, as shadow defence minister, he isn’t questioning the government’s arguments that only “warships” are allowed to be built under UK-only contracts- load of rubbish…

Darren
Darren
7 months ago

The argument on whether the tankers were military ships or not was started when Labour was in power, so they are no different. This crazy plicy started under Labour and the Tories carry it on. This is why most people saw Liberals Democrats Labour and Conservatives as the LibLabCon party I guess. All the Same. People up North are voted for change and the selection for the Fleet Solid Support Ships will be the big test.

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
7 months ago

The U.K. leads in talking itself down. You would think we were the only country in the world that produced flops. Even a few of these turn out not to be quite as bad as the armchair procurement experts decided before all the facts were in. For some reason we could not be content to do as our European partners (sic) did for the past seventy years and let the U.S. taxpayer defend us. That would have been so much easier.

Cummings is what we need. A skeptic in the echo chamber of Whitehall. You would have preferred Corbyn?

Martin
Martin
7 months ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

The same Cummings who appointed an adviser that is advocating eugenics, this is what we need? Weirdos and misfits indeed.

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
7 months ago
Reply to  Martin

That individual has been asked to resign. Mr Cummings views on eugenics are unknown but that should not prove an obstacle to those who wish to smear him – or me for that matter. Eugenics was very popular in the fledgling Labour Party; Fabians G.B. Shaw and H.G. Wells were believers. Marie Stopes pioneer of birth control had a motive many do not understand to this day; Winston Churchill and a certain Austrian shared a belief in this offensive nonsense. Muck of course, like anti-Semitism rife on the political left. As for odd balls, a friend working at a distinguished… Read more »

Sean
Sean
6 months ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

Eugenics was also a popular policy amongst the Progressives of the 19th Century – before Socialists decided the ‘Progressive’ would be a less-toxic brand for themselves. Perhaps they should have done some historical research? 😆

rec
rec
7 months ago

This is a good article, a long term defence industrial strategy is needed; I would want to add that additional funding outside of the MOD budget is provided for this, in effect this is infrastructure investment So for example £16 billion over 12 years for a proper national shipbuilding strategy ( excluding ssns and ssbns but including T26 T31 MARS, MCM and LPD replacement, a small fleet of SSKs). I think this would enable companies to plan ahead develop apprenticeships maintain skills

expat
expat
7 months ago

The article seems a bit miss guided. It talks about innovation and seems then call out shipbuilding. Well we’ve place one order outside the UK in as long as I can remember. These were for 3 tankers, which most in ship building would regard as low tech and hardly an area where the UK would innovate. I see research into next gen tech for Tempest returning on the investment at perhaps the ratio quoted in the above article, as materials, electronics, avionics and advanced manufacturing can be leveraged into other areas. T26 is another example where it looks like we… Read more »

Darren
Darren
7 months ago
Reply to  expat

Four tankers which cost at a very favourable cost of 12 billionpounds and a year late, that could have helped Uk shipbuilding invest and be more productive. May be we should get the Tempest made abroad?

Darren
Darren
7 months ago
Reply to  Darren

Four tankers which cost at a very favourable cost of just over 1 billion pounds and a year late from South Korea, that could have helped UK shipbuilding invest and be more productive. May be we should get the Tempest made abroad?

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
7 months ago
Reply to  expat

Good points. Leonardo in Yeovil employ ~2,800 personnel according to their website, so an important existing employer and manufacturer. To the extent we support and buy British for military use then it should be biased towards high value-add markets, where the UK isn’t the only customer and where we can be world leading in capabilities. Outside the fixed and rotary wing markets this tends to be what goes on and in platforms, rather than the platforms themselves. The elephant in the room though is the US Future Vertical Lift program that may provide a compelling solution, with step change increases… Read more »

expat
expat
7 months ago

Yes, Securing the AW159 order is perhaps a short term fix but no more than building the FSS in the UK, after which I’d be fairly confident their would be no follow on export orders for UK built FSS. Its good to see some one else looking at this from a big picture perspective, its not binary question on where the UK should invest it defence budget to give industry a boast or competitive edge. As you state the UK needs to carve out high value niches and grow these.

Darren
Darren
7 months ago

At the end of the day in terms of UK shipbuilding. The UK shipbuilding sector needs to focus away from just UK MoD shipbuild which is damaging to UK shipbuilding , but needs to say look: If you want hull built on a fair price, we need the facilities in whixch we can compete, because we are not expensive, but give us a chance and the UK gov as Sir John Says need’s to maske sure UK shipbuilding invests after these contracts a certain percentage. A big tonnage build will give us this like the FSSS not the type 26’s… Read more »

expat
expat
7 months ago
Reply to  Darren

Darren, agree that shipbuilding needs to stand on its own 2 feet and win commercial contracts. But UK yards have had 2 very large aircraft carriers to build recently but do not have appeared to have capitalised on the opportunity. Classic example is the Goliath crane was put up for sale!!! Pretty sure the Carrier Alliance would have billed the UK government for the crane as part of the build cost. I think vessels similar to polar research ships is where the UK should focus, not specifically polar research ships but complex vessels that required high skills and technical expertise… Read more »

Robert blay
Robert blay
7 months ago

Can’t you tell this was written by a shadow defence minister. Easy to blame the other guy, when you don’t have any real responsibilities.

Paul42
Paul42
7 months ago
Reply to  Robert blay

Interesting article indeed. All I would say is that I believe it is our priority to ensure that when the shooting starts our boys and girls have the very best kit/weapons and plenty of them to ensure the very best survivability rate. If that means buying off the shelf then so be it, The billions wasted on pointless development costs – Nimrod AEW and MR4 as prime examples simply mean we have less to spend when we wake up and smell the Rose’s.

Jon
Jon
7 months ago

Cool! For every £100m spent (or invested as Mr Morgan puts it), we get £230m generated in the economy. For every £1 generated in the economy, about 40p goes back to the exchequer or local government in tax. So £92m goes back in taxes and we really only spent £8m. Just a little more tax and we could get all the ships we wanted for free.

Can we have a replacement for HMS Ocean now? Something like the £750m HMAS Canberra will only cost £60m. Might as well get two.

expat
expat
7 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Quite, fantasy economics… if the above was true we could just endlessly increase the defence budget and get huge increases in GDP.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
7 months ago

The difficulty for me is the costs of our warships, I know type 45 programme reduced to just 6 vessels hence cost per hull £1 billion , type 26 however has now been sold to Australia and Canada and therefore should NOT cost the current £1.26 billion each. That is just BAE systems being greedy. The Franco Italian FREMM frigates cost circa 700 million a piece are a comparable size, although likely not as capable in ASW role, just as a comparison. If cost per hull came down could we put the hull numbers back upto 13? Surely that is… Read more »

Steve R
Steve R
7 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

The reason that Type 26 cost hasn’t reduced with the Australian and Canadian orders is that their ships will be built in their own countries, on licence. Only 8 will be built in the UK so the cost per ship remains high. If we built more here – either for Royal Navy or as an export – then yeah, the cost would get cheaper. If all of then were being built here in the UK then yes the cost would go down dramatically as there could be considerable efficiencies of scale to building a class of around 30 ships vs… Read more »

Steve R
Steve R
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

*economies of scale, sorry! Struggled to find thec right word then.

Darren
Darren
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Compared to the tax claw back and socio impacts for each country, the saving in this digital day and age is minimal. BAE would not want the facilites to product all of these ships in the UK anyway, but they are building the Australian digital shipyard to produce these ships. All thre variants differ in systems and that’s where the cost is. It’s not in the hull build.

Darren
Darren
7 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

No! Cost per Hull with out weapons was just over 600 million pounds. The UK includes the whole lot including developent and design, unlike other nations.

Darren
Darren
7 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

And the FREMM 700 million is without weapons!

Darren
Darren
7 months ago

Only Yesterday: https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2020/02/damen-inks-contract-for-royal-netherlands-navy-new-combat-support-ship/

The French are building their versions in France, the Germans have and the Italians have. They are all more expensive than the UK despite our government imposed higher overheads. When are we going to stop this self harm on our industry, which is a potential winning industry too. Don’t through the baby out with the bath water for pitty sake. FSSS is a litmus test on this government to build them here with conditions on investment in people and facilities to the winning consortia as Sir John Parker wishes to see.

Darren
Darren
7 months ago
Reply to  Darren

About 320 billion quid to build a 22,000 ton full loaded FSSS ship. No one can say we in the UK cost more to build ships like these.