Aircraft carrier overspend from MOD

Published on Tuesday, 29 November 2011 09:23
Posted by Scott Buckler

The Commons Public Accounts Committee publishes its 56th report of Session 2010-12, on the basis of evidence from the Ministry of Defence (MOD)

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, today said:

"Once again, a major MOD project will be completed much later, cost much more and offer less military capability than originally planned.

Changes to the aircraft carriers and the aircraft flying from them in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review have changed the risks and costs involved in ways that are not fully understood.

Rather than two carriers, available from 2016 and 2018, at a cost of £3.65bn, we will now spend more than £6bn, get one operational carrier and have no aircraft carrier capability until 2020 – almost a decade.

The second carrier will be mothballed, while the operational carrier will be available at sea for only 150 to 200 days a year.

On top of that, the technology to enable the new aircraft to fly from the carrier is untested. The newly constructed ship will have to undergo immediate modification and the costs of this will not be known until December 2012.

In preparing options, the Department concentrated on short-term affordability and the need to make cash savings, and did not focus strongly on long-term value for money.

While the Department believes the decision will save £3.4 billion, only £600 million of this constitutes cash savings, with the other 80 per cent simply deferred costs.

It is of deep concern that our ability to hold the Department to account was hampered by the Cabinet Office’s decision to withhold from the NAO all the information it requested to make a judgement on value for money. We welcome the subsequent decision by the Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary to make the papers available, following pressure from this Committee and others."

Margaret Hodge was speaking as the committee published its 56th Report of this Session.


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