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UK defence procurement

Articles taken from Flight International Magazine.

USAF rules out new F-15s and F-16s to narrow 'fighter gap'

Delays and cost overruns for the Lockheed Martin F-35 have not changed the US Air Force's plans to deactivate about 250 fighters later this year, says its chief of staff, Gen Norton Schwartz.

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Articles taken from Flight International magazine:

8th July: Ninth F-35 joins flight test fleet

Nine of the original 14 F-35 flight test aircraft have flown after the debut on 6 July of the fourth conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant, known as AF-3.

The 42min sortie began at 18:20, local time, outside Lockheed Martin's final assembly plant in Fort Worth, Texas, with company test pilot Bill Gigliotti at the controls. Area storms stopped the flight short, Lockheed says.

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Articles taken from Flight International Magazine.

May 27th: Lockheed waits on Dutch JSF decision

Lockheed Martin is facing a tense several weeks on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme, with the Netherlands' continued involvement in the project in limbo because of political instability.

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Articles taken from Flight International magazine.

1st June:  Israel conducts study on size of F-35 fleet

The Israeli air force is preparing a long-term forecast on its fleet requirements, as part of the decision process leading to its planned procurement of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. In its forecast, the service will attempt to assess its needs for manned combat aircraft 30 years from now. The work is intended to determine whether it has a need for more than the 22-25 F-35s being eyed for purchase.

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By the Autumn of 2002, the Government's efforts to improve the value for money in defence procurement was seemingly running out of steam. The implementation of the much-vaunted Smart Procurement Initiative (now renamed as Smart Acquisition) had been proceeding for four years and, although important progress had been made, some important elements of the initiative were still stalled at the starting gate while new problems were emerging.

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By Peter Luff MP, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology

This is an abridged version of a speech given at the DVD 2010 show on 23rd June 2010

Our first priority must be ensuring that those we deploy on operations, and therefore those exposed to greatest risk, are provided with the best possible tools available.

Our second priority is the responsibility we have to ensure that we are as ready as can be for whatever future operations come our way.

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Reviewded by Roger Green, Principal Reviewer, U K Defence Forum

Anyone reading the newspapers over the last two decades could not help but notice that UK defence acquisition is in a parlous state. It became obvious that a cosy relationship existed between the MoD and defence companies and that with cost-plus contracts and 'requirements creep' the government was being ripped off. The many large scale studies in the 1990s resulted in little change to procurement, defence contracts remained subject to delays and huge cost overruns, programmes ran for years and years with minimal progress and the end result was often a procurement that no longer met the original requirement and was poor value-for-money. The initial effort in 1998 to introduce procurement programmes that

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By Dr. Jeffrey Bradford, Director of Research, UK Defence Forum

UK Ministry of Defence: Defence Equipment Acquisition Announcement

March 22, 2010

Kicking a number of issues into the long-grass by reference to the imminent UK General Election, Secretary of State for Defence made a brief and likely final statement for this parliament regarding certain programs;

1. CVR (T) (Replacement for the Scimitar armed reconnaissance vehicle) reaches Preferred Bidder (PB) stage. This programme dates back to original TRACER/FSCS joint program with the US Army in the late 1990s which has progressed on a low level basis for sometime as a technology development program. The new vehicle will be produced by General Dynamics of the USA leveraging their acquisition of Austrian company SDP and the ASCOD design.

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By Andras Besterczey

The last comprehensive formulation of defence policy, the Strategic Defence Review, is over a decade old, and policy and reality have greatly diverged. Now the British Army especially is overstretched in an unpopular stability operation – critically, unlike in the US we do not consider ourselves to be at war - with little political support. The issue surfaces in mainstream media from time to time with the debate surrounding the shortage of helicopters and criticism of the government for their lack of foresight to spend more on equipment required now rather than planning for future conflicts.

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A major theme of DVD 2010 will be Lightening the load the 21st century soldier has to carry. Colonel Peter Rafferty outlines a coherent approach to providing the range of a soldier's capabilities.

A newly-formed group has pledged to continue "pushing the boundaries of technology" in its quest to develop new kit for soldiers. The Personal Combat Equipment team, set up in April having formerly been an element of the Defence Clothing team, is responsible for delivering equipment perfectly tailored to the rigours of current operations. It now sits in the Individual Capability Group in Land Equipment. Col Peter Rafferty, the team's leader and an infantry officer recently returned from a long tour in Afghanistan, said he and his colleagues are constantly striving to reduce the burden on dismounted troops by coming up with lighter, better integrated gear.

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The following is a brief overview of notable developments over the last year regarding the assembly of the Royal Navy's biggest ships.

7 JULY 2009
Ceremonial steel cutting.
A major milestone was achieved when the Princess Royal performed the first cutting of steel on HMS Queen Elizabeth. The ceremony took place at BAES' facility in Govan and was attended by hundreds of dignitaries from the Armed Forces, politicians from Westminster and the Scottish Parliament, members and employees of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, industry stakeholders as well as employees and some apprentices from BAE and Babcock.

AUGUST 2009
First shipment from Babcock's shipyard in Appledore.

The first sponson units were successfully delivered from Appledore to Rosyth, this being the first shipment for the Queen Elizabeth Class from Appledore. The sponson units make up the overhanging upper hull structure.

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Articles taken from Flight International magazine.

Monthly audits show F-35 production plagued by parts shortages

US government auditors monitoring the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme have warned that Lockheed Martin expects delays of aircraft deliveries will continue for at least another year.

The Defense Contracts Management Agency (DCMA) also has expressed fears Lockheed Martin will never fully recover, citing parts shortage trends indicating the F-35 assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas, "will not be able to achieve or sustain [full] rate production".

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Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox has this morning announced the strategy for reforming the Ministry of Defence which will include the formation of the Defence Reform Unit that will lead in the reorganisation of the Ministry of Defence into three 'strategic pillars'.

Speaking to an audience at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Westminster, Dr Fox announced that he is launching a full review of how the Ministry of Defence is run and how the Armed Forces can be reformed to "produce more efficient provision of defence capability, and generation and sustainment of operations".

In his speech Dr Fox began by describing the background to the changes, highlighting the fact that the country faces a legacy of debt - the interest on which for the next year alone will exceed the budget of the Ministry of Defence.

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Defence Industry does want DIS version 2 - but time is not right given funding problems

The Defence Industries Council (DIC), claiming to represent the UK-based defence industry, has restated its position that a second, updated, version of the Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS) is needed to provide long-term guidance to the industry on the country's defence requirements. However, the industry recognises that without the resolution of the issues around the defence budget it is impossible to produce an effective DIS 2 at this time. Therefore, the industry reluctantly recognises that an updated strategy will have to be delayed still further.

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By Ian Godden, SBAC Chief Executive

The Society of British Aerospace Companies has warned the UK Government that the decline in research and technology (R&T) funding for defence will harm both the armed forces' ability to carry out their roles in future and will be a signal to the industry of the Government's declining commitment to maintaining high-skilled research in this country. The MoD's R&T budget has gone down by 7 per cent this year. It stood at £540m in 2007/8 and £502m in 2008/9.

Government and industry both invest heavily in R&T for equipment to ensure the armed forces have the right equipment for the future. This funding also provides the platform on which Urgent Operational Requirements (UORs) and urgent

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Former UK CGS General Sir Mike Jackson, tempted to play a little fantasy defence spending, came out solidly in favour of retaining the carriers, vital to preserving the UK's operational independence.

Speaking at the House of Commons as the guest of the All Party Group on Transatlantic and International Security and the Henry Jackson Society on 28th April, the General stressed that he would like to keep all the sweets in the sweetshop, but, if really pressed, saw the retention of the carriers and the renewal of the nuclear deterrent as indispensable to the defence of the realm.

If cuts are unavoidable, the first out the door may be the air power. 232 Eurofighters – which do not operate from carriers. So we purchase the Joint Strike Fighter, which does, giving us over 400 fast jets. These may represent capabilities whose worth is disproportionate to their expense; ditto our submarines.

The General says that we are making strategic airlift work, with the exception of the C-17, and questions the retention of the DC10 and Tristar, vintage 1962. They are becomingly increasingly, and increasingly expensively, unreliable.

Financially squeezed, US defence spending and procurement is trimmed to deal with today's counterinsurgency requirements at the expense of planning for future conventional conflicts.

The UK, whose long term strategic interests historically coincide with those of its North American ally, has not matched commitments with resources. In the economic crisis defence spending has been bumped to the bottom of the pile. What are the implications of short term responses to immediate crises at the expense of long range planning, and what can be done to balance often contradictory requirements in the face of an unpredictable and ominous future?

The General largely avoids overt prescription, but asserts that the 1998 Strategic Defence Review still underpins defence planning assumptions posited on a world now fundamentally altered by the events of the last decade.

A new administration could and ought to conduct a new SDR to weigh up the new realities and balance our defence spending accordingly. (Speaking today Opposition Leader David Cameron, seen briefly at a defence event yesterday, the parliamentary Welcome Home for the Royal Air Force, said we must "review all commitments across the piece" and while there were good cases for defence spending, in the age of austerity we must "live within our means for the longer term".)

Critical of the current procurement processes (but enthusiastic about Urgent Operational Requirements), the General observes that multinational projects tend to cost twice as long and cost twice as much. If we do not buy British, our industrial and skills base will not be maintained.

This might cost around 50% more than buying abroad; but the excess should not be paid through the defence budget, but through Business and Enterprise.

After all, the General points out, defence of the realm is the first and fundamental duty of any government; but the propping up of British industry is also the job of government – not of defence.

 

The following is a written ministerial statement from the Minister for the Armed Forces Bob Ainsworth on Programme Belvedere; to be published tomorrow (8th May 2009)

"I wish to inform the House today of the decision to close Programme Belvedere - the study into possible rationalisation of the Joint Helicopter Command's Battlefield Helicopter Estate.

During this complex study, the main bases under consideration were Royal Air Force (RAF) Odiham, RAF Benson, Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton, Wattisham Station and Dishforth Airfield. Some other airfields were also considered including RAF Lyneham, in light of the previously announced decisions to relocate C130 aircraft from there to RAF Brize Norton.

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The BBC has reported that the Gray report on defence procurement report is being acted upon by Govenment despite them saying in the last few days that it is not ready yet. It seems that the Ministry of Defence is setting up a new unit to buy military equipment and implement Gray recommendations, despite Quentin Davies saying as late as yesterday that report was in draft form only yesterday. Lord Drayson will oversee the new unit.

Commissioned by then Secretary of State for Defence John Hutton last year, he had said it should be published in July. Downing Street wants it as part of wider defence review. The MoD was very keen to get it out in July because they knew it would be fairly critical, but it had good news story of this new unit under Drayson.

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By our political correspondent at the Lib Dem Party Conference

Paddy, Lord Ashdown, the former EU High Representative in Bosnia, has told Liberal Democrats at their annual conference in Bournemouth that the UK has a huge "black hole" in its defence spending plans. He also said that France faces a similar crisis, and called on the two countries to collaborate more closely in defence procurement.

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The clock is ticking at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. Maybe - or maybe not - for Gordon Brown's government. But certainly for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

As at lunch time today £5,565,257.17 was what it was indicating as the running costs of the current Trident deterrent since the start of the conference. That's the equivalent of £3,700 per minute (excluding AWE Aldermaston, once described by ex Defence Secretary Des Browne as a world class "decommissioning laboratory").

Trident overshadowed the first full day. Could the sacrifice of it (or more likely its replacement) bridge the nation's debt chasm ?

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Latest from the Ministry of Defence

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