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 Post subject: Not a funding issue
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 10:30 am 
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It is easy to get seriously tired of the prevailing narrative, which spreads like swine flu through the system, completely out of control. A typical example comes with a piece in The Northern Echo, with an exclusive interview with Robin Fox, managing director of Northern Defence Industries – a man who is also a colonel in the Territorial Army who recently returned from active service in Afghanistan.

View full article here

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 Post subject: Re: Not a funding issue
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 10:56 am 

Joined: Wed Jul 23, 2008 12:59 pm
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Over spending not under funding. Simple enough argument for the media, MOD and politicians to grasp. It is a competency issue that they do not want to address.

Any idea how much a Blackhawk costs to operate, or NH90? Do other forces spend £23,000 a hour operating the Lynx and £34,000 operating the Merlin? I can't imagine anyone would be that daft when there are cheaper alternatives. If it's about jobs what is stopping British producers producing cost effective kit rather than money-no-object kit?

EDIT: Could some of the cost be down to the way the development and purchase is accounted for as much as the fuel and servicing?


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 Post subject: Re: Not a funding issue
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:23 am 
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There Is No Reason for Us to Be in Afghanistan -- Everyone Knows It, and It Spells Defeat

By Chris Hedges, Truthdig. Posted July 21, 2009.

http://www.alternet.org/world/141478/th ... ls_defeat/


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 Post subject: Re: Not a funding issue
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:46 am 
Surely a lot of the problem arises from the odd accounting system in this country as applied to all public bodies? Basically,if a department does not spend its allocation it gets less in the next round.


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 Post subject: Re: Not a funding issue
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:51 am 
Another interesting article and on the surface I think you are about right. It makes far more sense to use a helicopter that costs less to buy and operate. You also make a good point that it is not always useful to see the problem through the 'underfunding narrative.' However, you once again lay the blame at the feet of the military and seem to excuse the role of politicians. I may have got this wrong and you are equally contemptible of the politicians, but it seems that you place the military at the pinnacle of responsibility.

There is an aspect to defence funding that I think you have missed. Let's say that the Army has that £1.7bn to spend on FLYNX. If it makes a decision to spend £600m on Blackhawk, what do you suppose happens to the other £1.1bn? It does not go back into the Defence Budget to be spent on better mine protected vehicles, or boosting the manpower of infantry or other specialist units, or paying for extra manpower to even meet the existing manpower requirement. No, it goes back to the Treasury to be spent on their pet projects and the possibility of a more capable and, yes, more expensive helicopter in the future is lost for ever.

And this is the problem. You are right that the Services make irrational decisions on equipment at times, but they make them within the framework set by their political masters. I can assure you from my own personal experience, trying to get anything out of the politicians is like trying to get shit from a rocking horse. The only way to do it is shave a bit from its own backside and it is quite obvious what happens in the end if you keep doing this.

You may say that this has nothing to do with getting the right kit for the job, but it does reveal the culture of resourcing in the military. The Chiefs are paranoid about losing money because unless they nail the budget to concrete plans, the money will simply be taken away. The problem with helicopter resourcing (and I accept that it is not quite the issue the media have made it to be) is not that the wrong helicopters are being procured with the resources given. The problem is that the culture of Defence, SET BY THE POLITICIANS WHO LACK THE BACKBONE TO DO THEIR JOB OF PROVIDING POLITICAL LEADERSHIP, is such that the military are not permitted to realistically define the capability requirement and then have the funding to meet that requirement. The result is a culture of procurement where planning and execution is piecemeal. And who sets this culture? The politicians, not the Services.

I probably haven't explained this very well but maybe you have to have seen it in operation to fully understand (maybe you have, but just don't see it the way I do). I am not saying that the Chiefs are saintly, but if I have learnt anything about leadership, it is that you have to look first at the top. And the Services are not led by the Chiefs, but by their political masters.


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 Post subject: Re: Not a funding issue
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:10 pm 

Joined: Wed Jul 23, 2008 12:59 pm
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Procurement as a means to protect the budget? That is rife across Local Authorities too as you get to the end of the financial year.


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 Post subject: Re: Not a funding issue
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:18 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2007 11:26 am
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Location: UK
p wrote:
Surely a lot of the problem arises from the odd accounting system in this country as applied to all public bodies? Basically,if a department does not spend its allocation it gets less in the next round.

I guess we all have different personal experiences, but in my view this used to be quite common in industry, as well. Nowadays, in industry, it’s more likely to be replaced by “zero-base” budgeting. Never mind what you received or didn’t receive in the past – what are you asking for next year, for what, and why can’t you do it for less.

History is only important in that individuals and departments with good track records are favoured over those with poor ones. Track record is delivery on time, and cost control. Under this arrangement, you get more power by under-spending (but the spend must be measured against delivery, not against elapsed time).


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 Post subject: Re: Not a funding issue
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:24 pm 
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Arthur ... if you look at procurement timescales, many projects not only span the tenures of different secretaries of state but even different governments. Many of the procurement issues we are dealing with currently started off in the Conservative regime (the Chinook HC3 being only one example). Thus, the projects often transcend the polticos, who are only short-term place-keepers with little real power.

When it comes to selecting kit (as opposed to cancelling it) all secretaries, therefore, are entlrely dependent on the technical advice they get from their officials and the military, "aided" by industry and constituency lobbying. The point here is that the operational need and the recommendations as to the kit to buy emerge from the nexus of military/officials/industry. Rarely does the proposal to by specific kit come from the political end .. from the secretary or one of his ministers. The officials, etc, propose ... the minister disposes.

In the Blackhawk/Mi-17 scenario, the proposals either came from the political side, or were supported by it - but opposed by the official/military nexus. Now, the realities of power are very simple. A secretary can adjudicate between competing proposals, he can steer a proposal, he can make it happen ... but no secretary can force through a proposal against the unanimous opposition of the nexus. They effectively have a veto. Even Churchill recognised that, and would never go against the unanimous opposition of his chiefs.

Thus, in terms of kit ... and especially secondary, relatively small projects like helicopters (even £1.7 billion is small beer) the nexus has extraordinary power. If the minister wants helicopters - as was the case here - he is totally in the hands of his officials and the military - if they say "no" to a type, then "no" it is.

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 Post subject: Not a funding issue
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 11:54 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2006 11:32 am
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Location: Tasmania
I wonder if this suggestion would work wonders over the Army's obsession with the Future Lynx programme. The Army's 34 share of the 62 proposed F/Lynxes for 1.7 billion UKL equals 930 million UKL. Ie the cost of about 93 Blackhawks. Simple solution: offer the Army 93 Blackhawks (or thereabouts) now, while rejecting RAF claims to them on weight grounds, in exchange for the Army only getting 34 F/Lynxes in 5 years time. I can't believe the Army wouldn't say an immediate YES! They'd certainly look foolish to the press if they didn't accept it.

Watchet


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 Post subject: Re: Not a funding issue
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:58 pm 

Joined: Wed Jul 23, 2008 12:59 pm
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Douglas Carswell got out of the Government an admission that the cost of the Future Lynx would be £1.7billion for 62 airframes - £27.4million each.

In response to a question from Robert Key in April last year Bob Ainsworth said
Quote:
The value of the contact awarded to Agusta Westland in June 2006 for the development and manufacture of 70 Future Lynx aircraft is approximately £1 billion. There has been no cost escalation in this contract. The total cost of the Future Lynx project is estimated to be in the order of £10 billion. This figure captures all expenditure forecast through the life of the project, including the cost of the helicopters, supporting systems, manpower, training, maintenance, spares, consumables, fuel and infrastructure costs. While the aircraft are expected to be in-service for 30 years, these costs are incurred from initial concept stages to disposal; about 50 years. This equates to an average annual cost for the battlefield and maritime capabilities to be provided by the Future Lynx fleet of approximately £200 million.

Inflation isn't that bad is it?


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 Post subject: Re: Not a funding issue
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:06 pm 
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gareth wrote:
Douglas Carswell got out of the Government an admission that the cost of the Future Lynx would be £1.7billion for 62 airframes - £27.4million each.

In response to a question from Robert Key in April last year Bob Ainsworth said
Quote:
The value of the contact awarded to Agusta Westland in June 2006 for the development and manufacture of 70 Future Lynx aircraft is approximately £1 billion. There has been no cost escalation in this contract. The total cost of the Future Lynx project is estimated to be in the order of £10 billion. This figure captures all expenditure forecast through the life of the project, including the cost of the helicopters, supporting systems, manpower, training, maintenance, spares, consumables, fuel and infrastructure costs. While the aircraft are expected to be in-service for 30 years, these costs are incurred from initial concept stages to disposal; about 50 years. This equates to an average annual cost for the battlefield and maritime capabilities to be provided by the Future Lynx fleet of approximately £200 million.

Inflation isn't that bad is it?


You can bet that isn't the end of it ... they'll cost even more by the time they've had their final layer of gold plating.

Be careful quoting the average cost though ... the Navy machines, with all the ASW kit, are a heap more expensive.

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 Post subject: Re: Not a funding issue
PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:14 am 

Joined: Wed Jul 23, 2008 12:59 pm
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I've been approaching this from the wrong direction then. The Army are getting the Lynx for a number of reasons and if one is to pad out the orderbook to disguise the cost of the Navy Future Lynx. Find a cheaper way of getting ASW capabilities and the case for Future Lynx is weakened.

Eurocopter Panther perhaps? There has recently been announced an upgrade of the flight systems and the French and British subsidiaries of MBDA are working together on the Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon.(Intended for the Future Lynx, NH90 and Eurocopter Panther). No idea what they cost though.


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