Public Accounts Committee

Delivering Carrier Strike inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Report published 19 January 2018. Government response published 1 March 2018.

Report and response published

Scope of the inquiry

In 1998, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) took the decision to replace its Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers with two larger and more versatile carriers and to replace its Harrier Jets with a new generation of fast-jets. The process of deploying a carrier and jets, with a new radar system, is known as ‘Carrier Strike’.
The Carrier Strike operation brings with it significant costs. The two new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers will cost £6.2 billion, the procurement of the 138 Lightning II aircraft is forecast to cost £5.8 billion and the cost of developing and buying the airborne radar system to protect the carriers – known as Crowsnest – is estimated to cost £300 million.
In March 2017, the National Audit Office published a report on Delivering Carrier Strike, examining how the Department is managing the programme and whether it will be placed to deliver an initial Carrier Strike operating capability by December 2020. It also examined how MoD is handling the technical, cost and schedule risks.
The NAO found that the Department has made good progress since Carrier Strike was last reported on in 2013 but that a number of strategic risks remain. The NAO found that there is potential for slippage in completing the project owing to earlier delays to the construction of the first carrier. It was also found that there is increasing pressure on a few highly trained personnel to operate the capability, a pressure which is compounded by a current shortage of military personnel.
The Department is now entering a phase of high risk as a result of these personnel concerns, and use of new little-tested technologies. In this session, the Public Accounts Committee will assess progress since March, and examine the risk factors which might affect the three core programmes and compromise the planned timeline whereby Carrier Strike would be operational by 2020.


Read all transcripts, written evidence and other material related to the inquiry on Delivering Carrier Strike.


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