Welcome to the 2nd in our mini-series on Government Wastage. The topic of today’s blog is not new, you’ve known about it for a while now. You may not, however, have realised the scale of this farce, and that’s what we’re about.
These may not float your boat, but they’re a pet hate of mine. Not Aircraft Carriers per se, we need those, it’s what the government has done with them that winds me up. Once again I don’t blame any particular colour of political party, once again they all seem to be tarred with the same brush, but I do think Dave had a hand in it.
Whilst researching this item I came across an article in The Telegraph from just last month that sums things up quite well.
The 1st paragraph that caught my attention (and it would, wouldn’t it?) was this one
“Government routinely makes an appalling mess of things. Some years ago a single edition of The Daily Telegraph reported that a nuclear submarine suffered £5 million of damage after crashing into rocks because trainee commanders covered vital charts with tracing paper; that a government efficiency drive in the Department for Transport to save £112 million was likely to cost £120 million while sending messages to employees in German and denying them annual leave to which they were entitled; that hundreds of thousands of immigrants were excluded from official statistics by a counting system which was so unreliable that it was not possible to know the true population of Britain; and that more than 8,000 patients had died in dirty hospitals after contracting superbugs. And that was just one day’s headlines.”
The 2nd, which is quite appropriate really, was this one
“Defence, whose dreadful procurement record – including boots that melt in hot weather, helicopters that won’t fly in the rain, radios that don’t fit into battle tanks, naval frigates with no weapons, aircraft carriers with no fighter jets, and military transport aircraft that can’t fly into war zones – amply justifies Ernest Fitzgerald’s maxim that “there are only two phases of a weapons programme: ‘Too early to tell’ and ‘too late to stop’ ”.”
If it wasn’t so serious I’d think I was reading a Monty Python script.
The author, Richard Bacon MP, is clearly a fan of The Big Picture
“In large areas of public life, especially when the government decides to embark on anything new, it is quite normal for things not to turn out as planned. Given the track record, one might expect the quality of government spending and public management to be the subject of national attention.”
In May of this year it was announced in a Daily Mail article that David Cameron’s policy U-Turn (not another one Dave surely) has cost the country £285 Million.
- Government chooses Harrier jump jet-type planes instead of conventional take-off version F-35
- Cost of refitting carriers trebled from £600m to £2bn
- Switching to jump jets means aircraft carriers will be able to operate warplanes from 2018
“Defence sources admitted the Coalition had rushed its ‘high-risk’ decision to buy conventional fighter jets to fly from the Royal Navy’s £6.2billion warships.
Ministers did this after scrapping the last Labour government’s plans to buy a fleet of jump jets, which can take off and land vertically.
Mr Cameron described the order of jump jets as an ‘error’. Instead, his Government ordered conventional planes that would need catapults and arrester gear to take off from and land on aircraft carriers”
An ERROR!! Is that all it was, oh that’s alright then. So, acting on this unfortunate error the government performed a neat U-Turn and ordered some nice American F-35C Joint Strike Fighters and some catapults, and something to stop the damn things when they came home.
Then we had a U-Turn on the original U-Turn when ministers realised that the cost of equipping the carriers with catapults and arresters was spiralling out of control. The costs of fitting the necessary catapults and arrester gear – “cats and traps” – to one of the carriers while the other ship was mothballed is reported to have spiralled from an estimated £400 million to almost £2 billion. So we changed our order back to the jump jet variant of the F-35, the F-35B.
Opting for the jump jet version meant the UK would now have a fully functioning aircraft carrier in 2020 – three years earlier than with a conventional plane. So, we have another 8 years (at least) of not having an operational aircraft carrier and having to ask the bloody French if we can please use one of theirs. It couldn’t get any worse, could it?
Well it could actually.
NEW Harrier-style jump jets set to fly from Navy aircraft carriers could melt their decks, US trials show.
Tests found the fumes which blast out of the £500million Joint Strike Fighters when they land damage the ships’ decks.
Now the UK will have to go cap in hand to the Americans, who are developing a new super-tough, heat resistant deck coating to deal with the problem.
The flaw is the latest problem to hit the Ministry of Defence’s shambolic plan for two aircraft carriers, costing £6.2billion.
Surely this ConDem government has now successfully demonstrated to the world that it is incompetent and hypocritical?
David Cameron’s original intervention and U-Turn cost the country more than a quarter of a billion eye-watering pounds, but I will let the then Shadow Defence minister Kevan Jones have the last word