16 December 2008 | Jake Kanter
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) faces fresh criticism after announcing further delays to its equipment procurement projects.
Lord Craig of Radley and Admiral Lord Boyce, former chiefs of the defence staff and patrons of the campaign group the National Defence Association, condemned the government for making budget cuts and failing to sufficiently support British service personnel.
"Shortages of funds forcing reductions, cancellations and delays in critically important defence programmes are inexcusable; and are incomprehensible to many who fight for this country," said Lord Craig in a statement.
The MoD argued it had not made budget cuts and that providing support for frontline troops was a "top priority". It follows strong criticism from Bill Kincaid, a former MoD buyer, who blamed "farcical" purchasing processes for the deaths of British service personnel (News, 11 December).
Last week, John Hutton, defence secretary, announced a series of measures to overhaul equipment procurement projects in a bid to support front-line operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It has appointed Bernard Gray, former defence correspondent of the Financial Times, to examine the MoD's purchasing reform in an effort to secure better value for money and improve the delivery of major procurements.
Hutton also said the armed forces would have to wait longer for a new generation of armoured vehicles. The "Future Rapids Effects System" project will now be restructured and re-tendered after the MoD could not reach a commercial agreement with supplier General Dynamics.
Meanwhile, changes in specifications will delay the manufacture of two new aircraft carriers for up to two years.