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16 July 2014 | Paul Snell
The Ministry of Defence should pledge to run a competitive procurement process to fill the gap in the UK’s maritime patrol capability, according to a think tank.
A report by CentreForum said the UK has lacked a maritime patrol aircraft since the cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4 programme in 2010.
In 2011 the MoD concluded the Airbus C295 and Boeing P-8 Poseidon were viable contenders to be bought ‘off-the-shelf’. But following suggestions the UK government may choose to single source the Poseidon aircraft - at a cost of £160 million each - the think tank said this was not appropriate because value for money could not be assessed, and effective competition was essential to get best value for the taxpayer.
“A competition shouldn’t be complicated. Run properly, the MoD’s own procurement model (CADMID) works well. It ensures that the military is capable of bringing a capability into service, rather than focussing on the equipment alone. Focussing on equipment was what caused Britain’s Apache helicopters to spend four years in storage – the Army hadn’t planned its pilot training,” said the report’s author Toby Fenwick.
“It is only a combination of good luck, reliance on allies and increased risk that the UK hasn’t been embarrassed since Nimrod’s 2010 cancellation. But we need to make sure that we’re buying the right capability for the right reason – and at the right price.”
The MoD has previously suggested maritime patrol capability will be considered in the next Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2015.