Fresh off the uproar over a lack of British helicopters available to support troops in Afghanistan, London is now dealing with the fallout of an unpublished 296-page report that essentially says procurement inadequacies are harming the country’s combat capabilities well beyond the helo realm.
The U.K.’s Sunday Times has obtained the report; the paper says the document was due to be released last month. Former defense secretary John Hutton commissioned the report.
The report was compiled by Bernard Gray, an advisor to the Labor party on defense issues. Gray apparently contrasts the slow U.K. defense acquisition process with the ability of current adversaries to respond quickly, noting that the Taliban “are unlikely to wait for our sclerotic acquisition systems to catch up,” the British paper reports.
“It seems as though military equipment acquisition is vying in a technological race with the delivery of civilian software systems for the title of ‘world’s most delayed technical solution’. Even British trains cannot compete,” Gray writes.
Acquisition plans are hampered by “too many types of equipment being ordered for too large a range of tasks at too high a specification,” adding that “the program is unaffordable on any likely projection of future budgets.”The report is a setback for the ruling party, which was hoping controversies over defense equipment would gradually quiet in the run up to next year’s general election. As it stands now, it looks like defense could remain a major issue.