06 June 2002 | Robin Parker
Poor maintenance and data continue to hamper the availability of the UK's military helicopter fleet, a government spending watchdog has warned.
Despite significant progress since the Ministry of Defence set up the Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) in April 2000, it has not yet met its aims of improving availability, according to the National Audit Office's (NAO) report, Helicopter Logistics.
The NAO recommends that the DLO develops a consistent regime for measuring outputs and performance for the ministry's six main helicopter fleets, whose logistics support costs £260 million a year.
Helicopter logistics is managed by integrated project teams. But the NAO is concerned that teams often use the same suppliers and their demands end up competing for the suppliers' time and attention.
The watchdog wants the DLO to make improving relationships with industry a priority, share more best practice, drive better performance from suppliers and ensure that project teams are fully integrated.
Logistical weaknesses were highlighted last year on an exercise in Oman. The MoD aims to have 75 per cent of its fleet available at any time, but in Oman, only 55 per cent were usable because of a spares shortage.