Tories don’t demand answers for £5.5 BILLION ‘banana skin’

The Scottish Cons have referred to the Calmac ferry delays as a £250 million ‘banana skin.’

The UK Cons, in sharp contrast and of course in government, had no such term for a £5.5 BILLION MOD contract with NO date for completion.

By stewartb

‘Initiated in 2011: ‘Ajax represents the biggest single order for a UK armoured vehicle in more than 20 years. The Department has a £5.522 billion firm-priced contract with General Dynamics Land Systems UK (GDLS-UK) for the design, manufacture and initial in-service support of 589 vehicles’.

This NAO report is the latest in a series highly critical of MoD procurement. Here are some notable extracts from its Ajax report. Just imagine the media coverage in Scotland of comparable findings from an Audit Scotland report even on matters involving an order of magnitude lower cost!

1) ‘In 2014, the Department extended its expected in-service date by three years when it set an initial operating capability (IOC) of July 2020. The programme subsequently missed a revised target date of June 2021. ………….. These ISSUES REMAIN UNRESOLVED, and the Department has not yet set a new target date for IOC.’ (my emphasis)

2) ‘The Department DOES NOT KNOW WHEN Ajax will be operational and has already extended its expected in-service date by more than four years.’

3) ‘The Department will not set a new target date for IOC until it has agreed with GDLS-UK on how to resolve the noise and vibration issues. It has not yet changed the target for full operating capability (FOC) – April 2025 – even though IT HAS NO CONFIDENCE that this is achievable …’

4) ‘The Department and GDLS-UK DID NOT UNDERSTAND the scale of work or technical challenge, resulting in insufficient contingency in the programme schedule.


On Value for Money, the NAO concludes: ‘… the in-service date has already increased by four years and the Department DOES NOT KNOW WHEN it will be able to start using the vehicles. The programme continues to face significant problems and there is not yet agreement on the causes of critical safety issues or how these will be resolved.

‘There are other technical issues which still need to be addressed and wider problems in developing the enabling capabilities that will allow Ajax to achieve full capability. These problems mean that the Department HAS NOT DEMONSTRATED VALUE FOR MONEY on the £3.167 BILLION IT HAS SPENT SO FAR through this contract.’

‘The Department’s and GDLS-UK’s approach was FLAWED FROM THE START as they DID NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND the scale or complexity of the programme. A series of programme management failures have since led to missed programme milestones and unresolved safety and technical issues. The two parties remain in dispute over unresolved contractual, safety and technical issues.’

‘The Department faces a significant challenge and difficult decisions if it is to deliver the programme, with a risk that THE PROBLEMS MIGHT PROVE INSURMOUNTABLE.’

And finally the NAO states: ‘We have seen similar problems on other defence programmes, and the Department must ensure that it learns lessons to prevent a reoccurrence of failings across its £238 billion equipment programme.’

BBC coverage of this? Corporate media coverage of this? Opposition politicians outrage at this? Of course tax payers in Scotland have effectively zero agency over what the MoD procures and how it conducts its activities.’

But ‘ferries’ and the Scottish Government? Now that’s orders of magnitude so very much worse isn’t it?

11 thoughts on “Tories don’t demand answers for £5.5 BILLION ‘banana skin’

  1. so the cost of this fiasco to Scotland would be between £400-£500mill,
    if my basic maths is right, this’ll be part of the money spent on ‘our behalf’ by the Government in England.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Isn’t it important to get things RIGHT????. We do not want to send ‘our boys’ into combat with inferior kit, do we???? (Think PPE and other ‘kit’ fiascos, military, et al). So there can be NO COMPARISON of this sensible delay with the ferries, which are PURE BAD because it is Scottish. They are no very good. That’s why we need to be Better Together. Signed Jock MacCringe.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Sorry but I have lost the links to the proofs for this. (It’s on the MoD web site somewhere) that aside all six of the new Royal Navy’s type 45 destroyers are tied up in Portsmouth awaiting new propulsion systems. None are currently operable, and are not expected to be for several years at a cost of several billions. Now I am not saying that the MoD are hiding this problem…..but a quick check on Google maps, shows that quite oddly all of the vessels ID No’s are covered. More alarmingly each vessels AIS has been turned off. To disable this without officially notifying the authorities and obtaining permission would automatically trigger a world wide search and rescue operation. (ergo the controversy lately over Russian super yachts going AiS dark). Now military vessel’s would need the ability to go dark simply to avoid detection in a conflict. However I would suspect that this would be a very regulated operation and require permission at a high level within the MoD……….
    But look there’s two ferries being built on the Clyde………… frigates throw.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. yeh! sorry about that. between you, wee ginger dug, speymouth, and all the sensible commentators on here and there.
        I just get a bit wound up, confused, forgetful. maybe it’s the change of life, altitude timers or some such . perhaps I need to be put into a grove induced coma (sic) for a bit, or just a dark room with a bike manual for a bit, think I’ll try that now.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. ‘… all still listed as active ‘

    I assume the distinction is between ‘active’ i.e. not decommissioned, and ‘functioning’, i.e. capable of performing at sea service as intended.

    Source: Evening Standard (7 February 2022) ‘All six Royal Navy destroyers in port for engine repairs amid heightened tensions with Russia – The Defence Select Committee warned in December 2021 that availability of the ships was a ‘major cause for concern’.

    And the Committee report:

    The same Committee report noted: ‘Para 127. ‘Reporting (by the MoD) of (warship) availability must improve to AVOID CONCEALING ISSUES with the availability of specific classes of vessel.’ Implication here that the MoD/RN is prone to massaging ‘availability’ figures?

    The total number of ships available for sea duty is NOT the same as having the most potent, mission critical vessels available.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. A Welly Boot (up their arse) song.

    “If it wisnae fur the ferries, whit wid they say,
    The BBC in Scotland, evry feckin’ day?
    They might hiv tae refer tae HS2
    £80 billion ower budget comin’ fae you!
    Or Crossrail fir London, £4 billion+, maks it a steal,
    Wha’ signed aff oan these, agreed tae the deal?
    Its a thing Red/Blue Tories like tae conceal.
    BBC in Scotland has a “dont ask, dont tell” policy,
    Works fine for the Brit Nats, they all agree”!


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